With the 160-pound match about to begin at the Class 2A dual team sectional, Br. Rice freshman Colin Goggin was ready to go.
However, he wasn’t sure if he’d wrestle in that match or the one at 170 pounds.
Finally, his coaches made the call: go in at 160.
“I found out about five seconds before the match,” Goggin said with a smile. “They told me I was up, and I went out there and did the best I could. I was ready for either.”
Goggin delivered for his team in a big way, claiming a thrilling 8-7 decision over Lemont’s Nico LoCoco to help host Br. Rice pull away for good.
Br. Rice outscored Lemont 38-29 to clinch a berth in the state quarterfinals.
“I was definitely feeling like, if I lose the match, I’m letting the team down,” Goggin said. “Once you step on the mat, you just focus on the other guy and try to do your best. You go with one move at a time and try to chain wrestle.”
Br. Rice advanced to the Class 2A state quarterfinals with the win, but the Crusaders’ season came to an end with a 50-17 loss on Feb. 24 to Geneseo.
The state meet was held at Grossinger Motors Arena in Bloomington.
Goggin (Most Holy Redeemer) has bounced back and forth between the junior-varsity and varsity team as needed this season.
But, over the last part of the season, he’s been a staple in the varsity lineup.
“It’s a little nerve-wracking not knowing if I’ll go varsity or junior varsity, but I feel like I’ve got some of the best teammates in Illinois,” Goggin said. “They have my back. It’s been a fun season. I’ve learned from my mistakes and moved on.”
Goggin was up late against LoCoco and narrowly avoided getting pinned in the closing seconds as he held on for a one-point victory.
“I thought he was as gassed as I was and let my guard down,” Goggin said. “It’s a mistake I won’t make again. I will never make that mistake again. I’ve got to learn from that and keep the experience.”
Br. Rice Coach Jan Murzyn has been impressed with Goggin’s mindset as a freshman competing with the varsity.
“Colin was the call at 160,” Murzyn said. “We’ve used him all over the place, and he has the attitude where he embraces the challenges. It’s fun. Hats off to all our guys. The effort has been there.”
Other winners for the Crusaders included sophomores John Vega (120, sudden victory-1, 4-2 decision), Bobby Conway (126, fall :32), Jimmy Crane (170, fall 3:16) and Gambino Perez (195, sudden victory-1, 3-1), juniors James Bennett (132, technical fall 23-8) and James Bowes (106, fall 1:08) and senior Charles Connolly (182, fall :35).
Goggin’s win was the start of four wins in a row for the Crusaders as Crane, Connolly (St. Cajetan) and Perez also claimed victories.
Bowes closed it out with his pin before Br. Rice forfeited the 113-pound match.
“It was a great win for the team,” Bowes said. “I knew that all I had to do was go out there and stick to my moves and do what I had to do. He had no way of beating me with the mindset that I was in going into the match.”
Connolly was a state qualifier at 182 pounds but did not medal.
He was thrilled with the opportunity to get back and compete with his team.
“I wasn’t happy with how I performed, so this meant a lot to me,” Connolly said. “I really wanted to get this one in. I was pretty focused on winning today. My match wasn’t the key though. It was Bowes and Gambino winning tight matches. They really carried us.”
Perez finished fourth at state at 195 pounds.
He delivered with an exciting sudden victory over Nathan Wrublik, producing a huge takedown in overtime.
“I love that moment. It gets me going thinking that the best at 195 are competing,” Perez said. “It was really cool. I knew I’d have to play my defense. It was definitely going to be a defensive match. We’re really excited to get the win as a team.”
Br. Rice 17
Conway (132, 13-9 decision), Crane (160, fall 1:59), Connolly (182, 15-0 technical fall) and Perez (195, 8-4 decision) were winners for the Crusaders in the state quarterfinal matchup.
Geneseo went on to finish fourth in state.
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