After five matches, the tone was set.
Moline High School wrestling jumped out to a 29-0 lead and held on for the eventual 47-25 dual victory over rival Rock Island on Thursday at Wharton Field House.
The night got started with the 138-pound weight class with Moline’s Kole Brower, ranked No. 1 by the Illinois Wrestling Coaches and Officials Association (IWCOA), facing Rocky’s Aoci Bernard.
The Illinois wrestling commit came out aggressive, attacking Bernard’s legs and forcing him to the ground what seemed like every 10 seconds. Brower kept pushing Bernard outside the circle and eventually won by technical fall 19-3 in the second set to give Moline the early 5-0 lead.
“It’s all a mental game,” Brower said. “I was pushing him out of bounds and onto the actual basketball floor. They’re going to give me that first warning, but I’m going to do it until they tell me.”
He walked off the mat with his hands raised after the referee raised his arm to declare him the victor, earning him a loud ovation from his bench and the student second in the second deck.
“I like starting out duals because I can come out hot and bring the whole morale up,” Brower said. “I know if I can get the bench yelling the rest of the dual is going to be hype. We got super fans right in front and I like to pump them up. I want to be chirpy.”
Noah Tapia, also one of Moline’s top wrestlers, pinned Rocky’s Tristan Willoughby in the 145-pound class in the second period (1:45) after building a 14-3 lead. Both matches were quick and dominant, just what Moline coach Jacob Ruettiger wanted.
“Starting out with Brower and Tapia, both defending state champs, we expect them to get bonus points,” Ruettiger said. “It was a huge momentum boost.
“(Brower’s) making statements. He’s really good on his feet, and he’s really good in all positions. That’s what he is going to do. He is going out there to make statements and that was a big statement win.”
And the Maroons weren’t done. Moline rattled off three more wins beginning with Zander Ealy pinning Amare Overton with 17 seconds left in the third period. Moline’s Parker Terronez followed that up with another pin in the 160-pound class against Matthew Cook in the second period (0:59). And not to be outdone, sophomore Pablo Perez pinned Eian Marshall in the first period (0:24).
After five matches, it was 29-0 Moline. All were victories by fall except Brower, who had his reasons.
“We are pinners,” Brower said. “We will put you on your back and we will pin you. The only reason why I didn’t get a pin out there is because I’m going for the tech and takedown record at Moline. I’m going to go get those and I know the rest of the kids on my team can get pins.”
Rocky responded with four wins of their own. The Rocks' Steven Marquez pinned James Soliz at 182 pounds and then Andrew Marquez won by major decision (10-1) against Aidan Lewis in the 195-pound class.
Moline freshman Bennett Gorgal, making his first varsity appearance, fell 3-0 to Nayler Gay. Then, Rock Island’s Eli Gustafson pinned Nano Sepeda in the first period (0:48) to cut the Moline lead to 29-19.
From there, the matches were split. Moline’s Devon Jones responded with a win over Truth Vesey in the 106-pound class. Rocky’s Daniel McGhee defeated Kayden Serrano at 113 pounds and the Rocks' Samuel Niyukuri won a hard-fought match 10-8 against Antonio Parker.
The Rocks had to forfeit the 126-pound weight class before Moline’s Alec Schmacht pinned Omareon Gay in the second period (0:58) to seal Moline’s 47-25 dual meet victory.
It was the second straight dual meet win for the Maroons over the Rocks.
“It’s a big team win,” Brower said. “We have been saying all week 'Beat Rocky.' It’s our focus. I put it on my water bottle every day and every kid asked what it meant. I told them I lost two duals to Rocky my first two years at Moline and I would not again. I said we will come back and go 2-2 and split matches with them. Now we just have another big step at the conference tournament.”
The Maroons (6-1) will return to the mat Saturday for the I-74 duals at Wharton. Rock Island (0-1) will travel to Yorkville High School on Saturday.