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La Salle-Peru senior Jon Hewitt (top) wrestles Pontiac’s Andrew Mays during the 285-pound title match Saturday at the Class 2A La Salle-Peru Regional. Hewitt pinned Mays in 1:28. NewsTribune photo/Scott Anderson
At the beginning of the year, Jon Hewitt grew frustrated with the direction of his season.
Despite putting in the time and the work, the results just didn’t follow.
“I had a very slow start,” Hewitt said. “I faced a lot of good competition, and I just wasn’t confident.”
On Saturday, the La Salle-Peru wrestling team’s 285-pound senior proved how far he’s come.
After a slow start to his season, Hewitt ended fast at Saturday’s Class 2A La Salle-Peru Regional as he earned a first-period pin fall at 1:28 over Pontiac’s Andrew Mays to capture his first regional title and advance to next weekend’s Class 2A Pontiac Sectional.
“I’ve come a long way since the beginning of the season,” Hewitt said. “Earlier in the year, (Mays) beat me, but I came back for revenge. It’s just the best feeling ever.”
Hewitt was one of five area wrestlers who claimed a regional title Saturday and one of 13 local grapplers who advanced to next weekend’s sectional.
The host Cavaliers had an area-best three regional champions in 113-pound senior Riley Sweetland, 120-pound junior Max Kurkowski and Hewitt, as well as runner-up performances from 132-pound senior Jacob Wever, 152-pound senior Alec Freschi and 160-pounder Mike Milasuski.
“All in all, it was a great day for us,” L-P coach Ed Wrobleski said. “I’m happy with how the guys wrestled. Especially for the guys who qualified for the sectionals for the first time, this is very exciting.”
While the Cavs are sending six to sectionals, Ottawa is sending seven.
The Pirates received regional titles from 195-pound senior Alex Fuentes and 220-pound senior Cyrano Rayfield, while 138-pound senior Devon Jones, 145-pound junior Daniel Close and 182-pound junior Paul Turner took second.
Also finishing third for Ottawa was 106-pound sophomore Jakob Weiss and 113-pound freshman Micah Krueger.
“We did pretty well today,” Ottawa coach Peter Marx said. “We got the most kids (to advance to sectionals) that we’ve gotten in a long time. We got seven kids out, which is a nice change for us. The kids are peaking at the right time, and I think the kids are finally getting to the point of reaching how good they can be, so we’re really pleased.”
Sweetland won the area’s first regional championship on Saturday. The 113-pound senior built a 4-1 lead after the first period en route to a 7-2 decision. It’s the second straight regional crown for Sweetland.
A weight class later, Kurkowski claimed his first regional title. The 120-pound junior outscored his opponent 4-1 in the second period to take control of the match, which Kurkowski won by an 8-4 decision.
In the upper weights, Ottawa’s Fuentes systematically built his lead as the 195-pound senior took a 2-0 advantage after the first period and a 5-0 cushion after the second period en route to a 5-1 decision that gave the returning state place winner his first regional title.
A weight class later, Ottawa’s Rayfield gave up a five-second near fall early in the second period to fall behind 3-2, but he countered with a reversal to take a 4-3 lead, which he maintained in the third period to earn the 4-3 decision and claim his first regional championship.
Notes: L-P 132-pound junior Jacob Nolan and 145-pound sophomore Collin Groleau both finished fourth and did not qualify for the sectional. ... Lincoln-Way West ran away with the team title as it finished with 259.5 points to place ahead of second-place L-P (151). Ottawa (136) was fourth. … Putnam County-Hall finished ninth with nine points and did not have a wrestler advance past the consolation semifinals.
Jared Bell can be reached at 220-6938, or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @NT_SportsJared.
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