BRADLEY — With the wrestling season being moved to the summer this year, the annual All-City triangular between Bradley-Bourbonnais, Bishop McNamara and Kankakee was nothing short of different given the fact none of the squads had full lineups — especially the Irish and Kays, who brought a combined seven wrestlers.
“It’s summer; kids have jobs, and they want to have their summer off, and I can’t blame them,” Irish coach Jake Kimberlin said. “It was neat to get together and wrestle.
“Everyone wants to see each program do well, and that was the big difference this year compared to the past, where there’s been more animosity and competitiveness between the local schools.”
Given the Boilermakers’ ability to mostly fill a full lineup, it was no surprise they were able to sweep their competition with a 48-14 victory against McNamara and a clean 65-0 against the Kays at home.
“It’s bittersweet, and I’m really happy right now, and trust me, I’d tell you if I wasn’t,” Boilermakers coach Mike Spiwak said. “There were some really good matches, and some of the matches we lost, we lost the right way by competing hard. I’m just mostly happy that we were able to host an All-City this season.”
Bradley-Bourbonnais started the evening by going 0-3 against Bishop McNamara in matches that weren’t decided by forfeits. However, those three matches had superb competition, including 2019’s third-place finisher in the state, Blain Christie.
The Boilermakers’ night started with 145-pounder Anthony Mancilla, who moved up a weight class from his typical 138 pounds to face the Irish’s top dog in Christie. Mancilla got off to a nice start by securing a takedown for a 2-0 lead before Christie managed to notch an escape to cut it within one. The two wrestlers eventually battled their way to a 3-3 tie heading into the final minute of the third period, when Christie secured the match-winning takedown with 53 seconds left in the match to win it 5-3.
“It was fun to get the win in All-City,” Christie said. “Mancilla and I have grown up wrestling against each other since I was 8 years old, and we’ve always gone back and forth.
“To have a close and competitive match against him like that was fun to be a part of.”
Despite the tough loss in the last period, Spiwak was proud of Mancilla for stepping up a weight class and giving the returning state-placer a run for his money.
“That was definitely the match of the night,” Spiwak said. “Mancilla didn’t come out on top tonight, but I’d rather see matches like that and lose to learn from them than go 14-0 against a team that shouldn’t be in the same gym as us.”
McNamara’s Luke Christie (152 pounds) then followed his brother’s footsteps by securing a tech fall before the Irish closed out their matchup with the Boilermakers by snagging a pinfall victory from senior Donovan Golden (182) in the first period against Bradley-Bourbonnais’ Cayden Ghere.
The Irish’s trio also swept its matches against Kankakee moments before their wins against the Boilermakers.
“The big thing with this is we are wrestling in weird times, but that’s life,” Kimberlin said. “I think we did what we coached; we wrestled like we drill and hit the moves we expected to hit.”
After going winless in actual matches against the Irish, the Boilermakers got back on track with a 4-0 sweep against the Kays, including senior Jesh Zirbel, who was coming off his first varsity win last weekend against Dwight.
Levi Greenlee (132) secured a tech fall against Kankakee’s Caleb Dickens before Zirbel picked up his second win of the season by pinfall in the first period against Luis Saldana-Munoz.
“It was definitely nerve-wracking knowing the season is about to be over, and so I have to really show myself now,” Zirbel said. “Coach told me to be loose and try to overwhelm my opponent, and so that’s what I tried to do, and it worked.”
The Boilermakers added two more wins by pinfall against the Kays from Ghere and Nick Slager, who closed out the evening in quick fashion, giving Bradley-Bourbonnais a 4-3 record on the day between the Irish and Kays.
As for Kankakee, head coach Brad Burns noted this was something his relatively inexperienced group can learn from for the years to come.
“We are trying to do the best we can,” Burns said. “We are young, and it showed tonight, but we still have a lot of promise. We need more mat time, and we will take this and learn from it and come back stronger.”