Ricardo Salinas’ first instinct when he steps on a wrestling mat is to try to score.

But that strategy backfired on the Evanston junior Saturday at the Rus Erb Tournament hosted by Glenbrook South.

Salinas suffered his first loss of the season when Oswego’s Cole Pradel scored consecutive takedowns against the ETHS star in the last 30 seconds and pulled out a 7-5 triumph in the title bout at 170 pounds.

Pradel snapped Salinas’ win string at 22 straight matches as the Wildkits, plagued by injuries, settled for 17th place in the team standings with 41.5 points. Oswego outscored Sycamore 182-174.5 for the championship in the 20-team field.

Head coach Rudy Salinas was missing four starters — Anjual Joyner, Max Morton, Jacob Vice and Charlie Fox — from his starting lineup for the mid-season test. So Evanston only entered 9 grapplers in the two-day tournament, but did count sixth place finishes from heavyweight Valery Jean Jacques and 113-pounder Julian Sims.

“From our best (his middle son) to the rest of the team, we’ll just work from here to try to get better,” said Coach Salinas. “Ricardo just didn’t finish that last match. He took a good shot, he just didn’t execute at the end.

“That Oswego kid is a quality kid and he beat some quality kids to get there (tourney finals). That’s the farthest Ricardo has been pushed all year and it’s the first time he’s been taken down. He was not feeling well, but there are no excuses. He was in control of that match until the end.”

Ricardo Salinas moved into the top 10 on Evanston’s all-time list for career victories this week, passing Angel Sierra (104) and jumping to 106 victories with another season and a half to go to challenge the all-time total of 159 set by older brother Rafael Salinas, a 2019 grad.

He opened on Friday with a technical fall  (15-0), then topped Norbert Crecan of Glenbrook South with a major decision (12-4) in the semifinals’ despite having to deal with the same bronchial problems that kept him out of the tournament entirely as a sophomore.

“Maybe I need a new humidifier or something. I’ve been sick the last 2 weeks and I wasn’t feeling my best,” Ricardo Salinas said. “But I’ll get that one back, for sure, at some point this season. I definitely believe I should have won that match. He’s a good wrestler — but I kinda choked.

“I got in there good on him at the end, but I couldn’t keep myself in a good position. I feel good about taking the shot, but I don’t feel good about the way I finished it.”

At 285 pounds, Jean Jacques had an opportunity to stake a claim to the starting job in a 3-way team battle in that weight class, but instead dropped his last 3 matches, two of them via falls. The junior hopeful didn’t compete for the Wildkits as a freshman and only logged 3 varsity matches as a sophomore. His record now stands at 8-4 on the season.

Sims battled his way back from an opening round 6-4 loss to Sycamore’s Sam Sprinkle with victories over Jorge Montes of Wheeling (8-3), Alex Sullivan of Glenbrook South (2-1), then lost a first period pin versus Loyola Academy’s Kevin Tedeschi and dropped the 5th place match by a 12-2 margin to Oswego’s Aidan O’Meara.