At this time, No. 8-ranked Bradley Central is a little ahead of his No. 10-ranked Hilltoppers. It bore out that way in a 40-30 win for the Bears on Friday evening at the new Science Hill Gymnasium.
State champion Chase Diehl, who is committed to Southern Illinois, won by forfeit at the 170-weight class. Joseph Frye at 145 and Jared Harter at 152 scored back-to-back pins, but the dual match was more about getting the entire team better.
“They’re a highly-ranked team and no excuses, they were a better team tonight,” Miller said. “We’re a little banged up, but we put our best 14 kids on the mat. We’re getting closer to where we want to be.”
Science Hill, last season’s state runner-up, swept Bradley Central in matches last season. Still, there was no illusion that the Bears would give anything other than their best efforts.
There were other high points for the Hilltoppers with Javelle Gillespie earning a 6-1 decision at 113 and Braxton Mann pulling out an 8-7 win over Bradley’s Daniel Mroz at 126.
Science Hill tied the match early at 12-all when Tyler Seeley took just 1:26 to pin Gavin Hughes at 132. The back-to-back pins by Frye at 1:40 of the second period, and Harter in just 1:01, combined with Diehl’s win gave the Hilltoppers a 30-20 lead before Bradley won the final four matches.
The heavyweight bout was closely contested as Science Hill’s Jack Tevis dropped a 3-2 decision to Bradley Central’s highly regarded Gavin Sewell.
“This match is part of the process and our kids know we’re going to keep working the next 3-4 weeks to get better and better,” Miller said. “Eventually, we’re going to climb that mountain together.”
Science Hill will now turn its attention to Saturday’s 19th annual Fandetti-Richardson Brawl. The Hilltoppers are the defending meet champions.