OTTAWA — Max Kurkowski started a trend.
With the La Salle-Peru wrestling team trailing early in Thursday’s Northern Illinois Big 12 Conference West Division dual against Ottawa, the 120-pound Kurkowski wasted little time in his match as the junior recorded a pin fall in 57 seconds.
It was the first of three straight pins by the Cavaliers that turned the dual around and one of six total falls by L-P that helped it pull out a 45-29 victory over the Pirates.
“When we drill, we always work on pinning combinations,” Kurkowski said. “On top, I feel like our whole team can turn people really well. Today, (the pins) really were contagious. It started with one person and went all the way down the line. It was pin after pin.”
The pins provided the difference in the dual. The Cavs won seven contested weights to Ottawa’s six, but the bonus points off the pins provided L-P its win.
“That’s what we worked hard on this week,” L-P coach Ed Wrobleski said. “I knew this dual was going to come down to bonus points, so we worked hard on getting on top and pinning, splitting legs on takedowns and attacking the head. I think some of the stuff is sinking in because the kids did the job today.”
After Ottawa 106-pound sophomore Jakob Weiss started the night with a fall in 39 seconds, L-P 113-pound senior Riley Sweetland put the Cavs on the board with a 5-3 decision.
With the Pirates leading 6-3, Kurkowski’s pin at 120 gave L-P the lead for good.
L-P 126-pound senior Fernando Gil Lucero followed with a fall at 5:20, and 132-pound senior Jacob Wever recorded a pin at 1:31 to give L-P a 21-6 lead.
“With Fernando at 126, he just amazes me,” Wrobleski said. “We recruited him off the soccer team a couple of years ago, and he’s just a super kid. He’s quiet and listens, but he’s a real good kid to have around and has won quite a few matches for us not only this year but over the last couple of years. He’s come through for us big.”
L-P also picked up falls from 152-pound senior Alec Freschi at 2:08, 160-pound senior Mike Milasuski at 2:51 and 170-pound senior Andres Martinez at 1:25.
“For us, the kids at 152, 160 and 170 knew they needed to do their jobs, and they did it,” Wrobleski said.
Despite the defeat, the Pirates wrestled with L-P as they finished with only one less victory in contested matches, and Ottawa pulled out victories in the night’s most-anticipated matches.
Ottawa 145-pound junior Daniel Close rallied from an early deficit to earn a 12-3 major decision over L-P sophomore Collin Groleau.
“As a freshman last year, Collin wrestled very well against Danny — he’s one of their better performers — so Danny knew it was going to be a tough match,” Ottawa coach Peter Marx said. “Collin took him down right away, but Danny kept his composure, got a reversal and went to work from there.”
Ottawa 138-pound senior Devon Jones also picked up a 7-1 decision over L-P junior Jake Nolan.
“Last year in the (regular season) dual, Jones beat (Nolan) pretty handily, but when they wrestled in the regional, Jones won on a last-second victory,” Marx said. “So we knew coming in we wanted to set the pace right away and attack and attack and attack.”
In addition to wins from Close, Jones and Weiss, the Pirates closed the meet with an 8-0 major decision from 182-pound junior Paul Turner, a fall from 195-pound senior Alex Fuentes at 1:45 and a fall from 220-pound senior Cyrano Rayfield at 2:52.
L-P heavyweight Jon Hewitt ended the meet with a forfeit victory.
Jared Bell can be reached at 220-6938, or at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @NT_SportsJared.