There are five freshmen among the 13 wrestlers in Pekin’s starting lineup. And one first-year wrestler.
That’s nearly half of the Dragons’ lineup who are getting on-the-job training.
If the first week of the season was any indication, the rookies’ learning curve isn’t going to be that steep.
Pekin went 3-7 last week in dual meets, competing in two super duals and a match against Mid-Illini Conference opponent Metamora, but plenty of positivity emerged for the Dragons.
Junior 195-pounder Jared Dowell went 10-0. Junior Ryan Haynes went 9-1 at 126 and sophomore Drake Hawkins went 9-1 at 132.
Tyler Haynes, one of the five freshmen, went 8-2 at 160. Freshman 182-pounder Karson Lamb went 6-4.
Demarcus Watson (106), William Carson (113) and Mason Vicary (120) are the other freshmen in Pekin’s lineup. Junior Devin Tovrea (145) is the first-year wrestler.
They were a combined 11-27 during the first week.
“But they improved. They fought harder as the week went on,” said Pekin coach John Jacobs.
“They took their lumps, but they battled. I could see at our first super dual that they were deflated by the time they got to their third match.
At the second super dual, though, I told them to start gearing up for their next match after they finished their match, and they did that.”
Also in the Pekin lineup are junior 138-pounder Chase Roepenack (4-6), junior 152-pounder Kanon Clark (2-7), senior 170-pounder Logan Bailliez (2-8) and junior 220-pounder Dillon Sieh (2-8).
“We don’t have a heavyweight. There isn’t one in the room,” Jacobs said.
Pekin hosted a super dual Dec. 1 in Hawkins Gym.
The Dragons beat East Moline United Township 58-24, but lost 49-27 to Normal Community, 66-9 to Moline and 60-22 to Normal West.
They gave Metamora a battle Thursday before losing 34-28 in the final match of the night.
Roepenack’s pin of Metamora’s Tristan Fitz at 4:38 was a rerun of last season. In each match, Roepenack wiped out a Fitz lead by pinning him.
“We wrestled well against Metamora. They’re a consistently solid team. I had no idea how we would stack up against them,” Jacobs said.
Pekin had five matches Saturday in a super dual at Bloomington.
The Dragons lost 42-31 to Collinsville, beat Belleville East 46-33, lost 36-28 to Mahomet-Seymour and 47-30 to Mascoutah, and finished with a 48-30 win over Granite City.
“I was pleasantly surprised how well we did at Bloomington against big schools,” Jacobs said.
Ryan and Tyler Haynes, Hawkins and Dowell each went 5-0 at Bloomington. They combined for 12 pins and two technical falls with Tyler Haynes recording four pins and a technical fall in his matches.
Steve Stein can be reached at (248) 224-2616 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @SpartanSteve.