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Four Bulldogs win titles for tourney camps
By Kevin McGavin | Daily Herald Correspondent
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Published: 1/20/2008 12:37 AM

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The Batavia wrestling team has yet more hardware for its lucky No. 50 season.

With seven wrestlers reaching the finals of the Western Sun Conference tournament Saturday afternoon in Rochelle, the Bulldogs made a dramatic statement over regular-season champion Yorkville and the rest of the league.

Four of the Batavia wrestlers were victorious on the day, and the 180 points accrued by the Bulldogs earned them their third tournament victory of the season.

Yorkville was second with 162, followed by DeKalb, Sycamore, Kaneland, Glenbard South, Rochelle and Geneva.

"It didn't have to come down to the sixth tiebreaker this time, did it," Batavia coach Tom Arlis facetiously asked. "We have a heck of a tournament team."

Yorkville was awarded the conference title on the basis of is perfect dual-meet record, which included a victory over the Bulldogs' on the fourth criteria.

But sophomore Logan Arlis set the tone for Batavia, routing the field at 103 pounds.

The Bulldogs' dominance in the lower weights was later reflected in championship runs by Charlie Ryan, who had three falls on the day, and Rocco Wade, the No. 4 seed.

The wins at 125 pounds and 135, respectively, by Ryan and Wade offset Tyler Patton falling to Kaneland senior Jeff Stralka at 119 pounds.

"I was just going for the win," Ryan said. "As it turned out, I pinned everybody. I was anxious to get the win at (the) conference (tournament)."

Batavia junior Andrew Rudd fell in the finals at 152, but his classmate at 160, Danny Watson, had the quickest championship verdict on the afternoon.

Watson needed only 36 seconds to claim the title, making amends for a runner-up finish from last year.

"I thought the final would be tougher," Watson said. "I knew what I had to do."

Matt McCarter was engaged in a defensive struggle against Yorkville junior Matt Steht at 189 pounds, but the Bulldogs' senior had a takedown at the third-period buzzer to win 3-1.

"Matt is smart and knows how to win," Arlis said.

Kaneland was the defending team champion, and the Knights had a pair of champions and two runners-up to ameliorate a winless conference campaign.

Stralka not only defended his title for Kaneland; the senior improved his season-long winning streak to 24 matches with his 12-4 major decision over Patton at 119 pounds.

"I didn't like sitting in the stands watching," Stralka said of his emergence from the doghouse for disciplinary reasons. "I didn't think I would do it (run the regular-season table). I set my goals high."

Ben Fabrizius also made up his two losses in the regular campaign.

The Knights' heavyweight stormed to the title, avenging a loss to Geneva sophomore Frank Boenzi in the semifinals and taking the grand prize with a second-period fall.

DeKalb sophomore Alex Robinson stunned previously undefeated Sycamore senior Jason Schepler in the semis to reach the finals.

"I really went in there fired up," Fabrizius said. "(The loss to Boenzi) was the first time I've been pinned all year."

Sean Szatkowski and Christian Gayton were second at 112 and 130, respectively, for Kaneland.

Nick Bradberry (125) and Boenzi were the only Geneva wrestlers to place.

"Even if I thought up a worst-case scenario, it wouldn't be this bad," Geneva coach Tom Chernich said. "Hopefully, it will serve as a wakeup call."

Mark Griffin is the heart and soul of the Glenbard South team, and the senior had a much easier path to the championship than a season ago.

In defending his crown at 145 pounds, Griffin extended his unblemished run to 34 matches with falls in the semifinals and finals. Griffin had a bye in the quarterfinals.

"(Going undefeated) was my main goal, but I made a new one: to go undefeated through the state series," Griffin said. "I wanted to go out there and take care of business. (My championship opponent) got in the wrong position, and I rolled him."

"I wish he were on my team," Arlis said of Griffin. "I think his work ethic is going to take him a long way."

It is his ability to confuse, said Glenbard South coach Derrick Crenshaw, that distinguishes Griffin on the mat.

"(Griffin) is an unorthodox wrestler," Crenshaw said. "He does things that I can't coach."

The Raiders' Ryan McKean, Rutger Glocker, Mike Oratowski and Austin Tiestma advanced to the third-place match, where Tiestma was the lone major consolation winner at 215 pounds.

"(The overall finish) is better than last year," Crenshaw said. "Six guys in the final round versus two (last season)."