Finishing second in the Mid-Illini Conference wrestling standings is akin to winning the conference championship.
Nobody in the conference can come close to matching Washington’s lineup that is filled annually with state- and nationally ranked wrestlers.
Pekin has finished second to the Panthers in the Mid-Illini three straight years. The Dragons have a good chance to make it a four-peat.
They’ll head to the Mid-Illini tournament Saturday at Canton with a 5-1 conference dual match record, second only to Washington’s 6-0.
The final conference standings are determined by a combination of Mid-Illini dual match and tournament results.
Pekin wrapped up its Mid-Illini and season dual match schedule Thursday night by beating Canton 42-35 and host Morton 54-21.
The big win was against Canton, another top contender for the conference runner-up spot along with Metamora. Metamora beat Canton 37-33 on Wednesday.
“Canton doesn’t have a lot of depth, but what they have is very good,” said Pekin coach John Jacobs. “From 120 through 170 (pounds), they have a murderer’s row.”
Jacobs said Canton wrestlers are proficient at headlocks, “but we did a good job defending against them.”
Pekin winners against Canton were Ryan Haynes (113), Drew Hawkins (120), Brody Haynes (145), Hunter Beasley (160, forfeit), Jared Dowell (182), Dillon Sieh (195, forfeit), Tyler Siddles (220, forfeit) and Andrew Krahn (285).
Ryan Haynes, Hawkins and Krahn won by pins. Brody Haynes defeated Curtis Norton 8-7 in the feature match.
Cael Jacobs (113, forfeit), Ryan Haynes (120), Hawkins (126), Brody Haynes (145, forfeit), Kosmo Green (152), Beasley (160, forfeit), Dowell (170), Sieh (182, forfeit), Siddles (195, forfeit) and Krahn (220) won for Pekin against Morton.
Ryan Haynes, Green and Dowell won by pins.
Pekin was missing two starters Thursday: Eric Garland (sick) and Noah Lamb (knee).
“These were good team wins,” Jacobs said. “The guys made up the gaps in our lineup.”
The Dragons finished 10-10 overall in dual matches.
Steve Stein can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @SpartanSteve.