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Mooseheart 182-pound wrestler Humberto Esparza-Rodriguez (top) competes against Plano sophomore Isaiah Uribe. Esparza-Rodriguez pinned Uribe midway through the second period.
Mooseheart 195-pound wrestler Oscar Camacho prepares to pin a Mendota wrestler. Camacho later suffered a pin defeat from Plano's Austin Ricketts.
MOOSEHEART, IL Dec. 5 – There are many iconic wrestling programs in northern Illinois – but there's no denying that one of those belongs to the Plano Reapers – and Mooseheart got its annual look at the powerhouse on Wednesday night in a dual meet ultimately won 62-12 by Plano.
"I tell the guys that the experience is when you come here and you go into their wrestling room and you see the wall of all the guys who have had successes," Mooseheart coach Mark Johnson said. "We were in a different room today, but I told them that, when they had a chance, to go into that wrestling room."
As the culminating match in a double-dual meet that involved Mendota, Wednesday's matches were Mooseheart's first non-practice action of the season.
"I told the guys when they came here that this was going to be a totally different experience for them – especially those who hadn't wrestled," Johnson said. "I told them to go on the mat and get some experience because, from this point on, experience is obviously going to be a key to progressing on."
With nearly 40 wrestlers, Plano's roster is more than three times the size of Mooseheart's. In many matches, the Reapers gave varsity matches to younger wrestlers. The result was that the matches were mostly competitive, which benefitted athletes from both schools.
"The more time you spend on the mat, the better it is," Johnson said. "Some of these guys got their first wins. Oscar (Camacho) got his first win. Humberto (Esparza-Rodriguez) got his first win. Some of those are going to have that fever now and they'll improve in practice and that will help them improve on the mat."
Through the various matches on Wednesday, Mooseheart's wrestlers showed an aggressiveness that Johnson appreciated. He said sometimes his wrestlers, when they learn of Plano's pedigree, question why they compete against a school with such tradition.
"I tell them it's important to get experience going against decent wrestlers," Johnson said. "If I threw them against poor wrestlers, they won't learn anything. It's when you go against good wrestlers that you learn about balance and some of the things they do against our guys. Maybe they can take that and learn from it."
Mooseheart puts itself in other competitive situations before the Christmas break – including the Walther Lutheran tournament on Dec. 14. But there are other opponents where the Ramblers might be favored as well.
"Hopefully we'll take what we learned tonight and put it to use," Johnson said. "We've got some teams we can compete with coming up."
Prior to wrestling Plano, Mooseheart competed against Mendota, which had a small lineup. Both teams took forfeits in the match and there were exhibition matches wrestled as well. Of the matches wrestled, Oscar Camacho earned Mooseheart's lone victory with a pin at 182 pounds.
Mooseheart's next competition is a Thursday quad meet involving Luther North, Alden-Hebron and Ottawa Marquette.