Sometimes a bump in the road can pay off later.
Decimated by the flu and suspensions, the Illinois Valley Central wrestling team forfeited seven weight classes at home Jan. 15 and lost to East Peoria, 72-8, and Peoria Central, 57-18.
"If you want to be one of the best, you need to wrestle teams like that," coach Matt Russell said. "Having some of the guys out is tough because you go into it knowing the dual win is already out of reach."
Against East Peoria, Riley Beard could not dominate his opponent in the 126-lbs. division but managed to win on a 3-2 decision.
In the 195-lbs. division, Jordan Ladd completely outdid his foe to win on a 15-0 pin.
Facing Peoria Central, Nick Norris quickly dispatched his opponent in the 106-lbs. division with a 0:52 pin.
Bret Hoover had no problem with his 120-lbs. division foe and pinned him in 3:32.
Beard again could not create a pin but won his second match of the night with a 7-4 decision.
The last Ghost winner was Ladd when he crushed his opponent with a 6-1 decision.
"We won some really tough matches against East Peoria and Central," Russell said. "Jordan and Riley both won against tough kids. Hoover wrestled a really smart match. In some of the losses, we had kids wrestle really well."
The night was also Senior Night and, before the first match, the senior class of Calvin Campbell, Kyle Walden, Hoover, Austin Terwedo, Dillon Simmerman and Kyle Albaugh were honored.
"The seniors have had their ups and downs this year but have provided good leadership for some of the younger wrestlers," Russell said.
The team then headed to Manual Thursday and beat the host school, 54-3.
Nic Ransom took his opponent down in the 126-lbs. division with a 3:59 pin.
Jared Placher, in the 182-lbs. division, won on a pin in 4:31.
The team also lost to Galesburg, 51-27, that same night.
Beard quickly dispatched his foe with a 1:43 pin and Cox pinned his opponent in 3:42.
Ladd had no trouble with his opponent and won on a pin in 2:33.
"We did what we thought we would against Galesburg and Manual," Russell said. "We had two big wins against Galesburg. Ladd beat a ranked wrestler, as did Campbell."
The team competed in the Randy Bowman Invitational Saturday at LeRoy and finished 10th.
Ladd won the 195-lbs. division on a pin in 2:40 and Beard finished third in the 126-lbs. division.
IVC next wrestles in the Regional Feb. 2.