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Batavia knocks off Kaneland
By Kevin McGavin | Daily Herald Correspondent
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Published: 1/12/2008 12:20 AM

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The Kaneland wrestling program has witnessed a change in the pecking order of the Western Sun Conference.

But it was not what the squad had in mind.

One year after claiming the inaugural conference title, the Knights' regular-season conference slate came to winless fruition with a 35-34 loss in Batavia Friday.

"I knew we were going to have to rebuild, but I didn't think it would be that much," said Kaneland coach Gary Baum, who is retiring after two decades as a head coach with the conclusion of this season. "We thought we could have a couple of upperclassmen come out, and they didn't."

Even with an underclass-laden lineup, which Batavia (14-8, 6-1) exploited with four pins, the Knights (8-16, 0-7) are still dangerous as a tournament team.

Sean Szatkowski is one of two returning conference champions for Kaneland, and the senior needed a mere 25 seconds to dispatch his Batavia opponent.

"You have to expect that when you lose 9 seniors -- all of whom are legends in Kaneland wrestling -- that is going to make a big difference," the Knights' 112-pounder said. "But we're young and improving. I can't wait to see the progress they're going to make."

"Sooner or later, (the youth movement) is going to pay off," Baum added. "The thing about wrestling is, you can have a brutal dual-meet (team) record and still go downstate."

Szatkowski certainly caught the eye of veteran Batavia coach Tom Arlis.

"That kid is a stud," Arlis said. "You have to be on your money to wrestle him."

With Batavia resting some of its key regulars for its annual 16-team tournament today, the Bulldogs used bonus points to create separation from the Knights.

Jake Urban (152 pounds), Matt McCarter (189), Steve Cherry (103) and Charlie Ryan (125) had falls for Batavia as the meet had an explosive beginning with falls in four of the opening five matches.

Jay Levita and Andrew Weaver negated the Urban pin for an early 12-6 lead, but the Bulldogs responded with a 19-3 run to take a double-digit lead.

Luis Campos' 15-5 major decision continued the one-sided trend for Batavia at 171 pounds, and the Knights' outstanding heavyweight, Ben Fabrizius, was the only Kaneland wrestler to win until Szatkwoski followed the Cherry knockout with a first-period fall of his own.

Ryan gave Batavia a 35-21 lead with his second-period pin, and the Bulldogs forfeited the last match to account for the closeness of the final score.