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David Rivera-Kohr is already reaping the benefits of wrestling a weight class or two higher than his normal weight for at least half the season so far.
The Evanston sophomore, now at 113 pounds as the season heats up for a stretch run, proved Saturday that half a season competing with the “big boys” could result in a Downstate trip.
Rivera-Kohr earned a second place finish at the Central Suburban League tournament held at Niles North High School, and led Evanston to seventh place overall in the team standings. The Wildkits amassed 103.5 points paced by Rivera-Kohr and third place finishers Raven Ahrens (170 pounds) and Malik Pratt (145) to score their middle-of-the-pack finish in the 12-team field.
Deerfield repeated as team champion with 269 points to 205 for runnerup New Trier.
Rivera-Kohr lost a 10-5 decision to Deerfield standout Joey Bloom in the final bout at 113, after advancing to the finals with a major decision and a technical fall in his first two matches. Now 30-8 on the season, at least half of the ETHS sophomore’s losses came at higher weights as he “took one for the team” and filled in at higher weights in the lineup at various points in the regular season to avoid forfeits.
The fact that he competed so well in the two-day CSL test and placed second in a field that included state contenders Bloom and Colin Kenyon of New Trier has Rivera-Kohr eager for the postseason to begin.
“That is my fourth loss at 113, so I do still have some work to do,” he said. “But now I’ve learned not to worry about making my offense work against bigger and more intimidating guys. I’m less scared out there than I was last year. I remember last year when I got to the sectional I was literally the smallest guy there at 106. But I’ve grown into 113 nicely and I feel a little stronger, and it helps to have more experience under my belt, too.
“I’m a little more headstrong (aggressive on offense) now. I still have to tweak a few things, but if I do everything right, I feel I can get Downstate. The Deerfield guy is good — I give him credit — but I feel I’m at his level.”
Rivera-Kohr was unable to generate much offense until the third period against the once-beaten Bloom. He scored two takedowns in the final period after trailing 6-1 earlier in the match.
“I ended up tying up too much with him,” said the ETHS sophomore. “He’s not that strong, but he’s a really slick wrestler. I’m shorter and stockier than he is, and sometimes those guys with the longer reach are the hardest to wrestle.”
“He got beat on his feet with a couple of takedowns,” said Evanston coach Rudy Salinas. “I just hope they meet again Downstate. To me that would be a perfect place for a rematch.
“It just comes down to execution, and in order to be an elite wrestler, you have to execute all the time. David was competitive today, but he gave up too much on the scoreboard. I’ll stick with my guy, though. David has shown us a lot more poise this year. Last year he was an engine that just kept running, but now there’s a method to his madness. And he has less weaknesses, by far. He gave a quality effort today against Bloom and I’m proud of him. I don’t think he has any regrets except for the fact that he lost. He didn’t hold back at all. I know his head is in the right spot, and there’s never any question about his heart.”
While Rivera-Kohr accounted for Evanston’s best finish, Pratt was the wrestler in the field with a flair for the dramatic for the Wildkits. After bowing to Highland Park’s D.J. Penick 9-7 in the first round, he battled back with four straight victories and raised his record to 26-4 on the season.
In the wrestleback semifinals, Pratt produced two takedowns in the final 10 seconds of a 10-9 triumph over Maine West’s Kevin Mendoza. Then, in the third place match, he brought down Penick with one second on the clock for a 4-2 victory and some sweet revenge.
“Our whole coaching staff has aged being in his corner for that,” laughed Salinas. “He’s still really finding himself as a wrestler. He’s working on his pinning and on his riding, and that’s a good problem to have. He has that offensive mindset and if you can score, you can win.”
At 170, Ahrens dominated his third place matchup with Niles North’s Calvin Rosenburgh en route to a 7-3 triumph. Overall he won three of four matches to lift his season record to 29-10.
Evanston also got a boost from fourth place finishers Austin Klopfer (138) and Ben Morton (132), plus a fifth from Derek Hunter (106) and a sixth from Jonathan Silenciuox (120).