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Elmwood Park's Enrique Bernal and Ridgewood's Adrin Kiluk during their 160-pound match. | Jerry Daliege~for Sun-Times Media
Before the Elmwood Park wrestling team pulled off a 41-29 come-from-behind victory over Ridgewood, senior Rich Runyan handed a yellow flower to his father.
The team’s seniors were provided with flowers to give to their mothers as part of the team’s low-key senior night festivities on Wednesday. But because
Runyan’s father was his only family member in attendance, the two shared a laugh before Runyan generated another memorable moment when he pinned Ridgewood sophomore Nick Acevedo.
Runyan, a first-year wrestler, needed just 48 seconds to pin Acevedo. The victory put an exclamation point on a stretch in which Elmwood Park’s seven heaviest wrestlers turned an 18-10 deficit into a 41-18 lead. Runyan’s pin at 195 pounds was followed by two forfeit victories for Elmwood Park.
“We knew that we needed to win.” said Runyan, of the team’s mentality after falling behind early in the meet. “We knew we had to focus. We knew what they were doing and... knew that we could beat them.”
The Tigers (15-10, 2-2 Metro Suburban Conference) stayed positive after Ridgewood senior Joe Perez pinned junior Israel Vega at 2:27. The Tigers’ comeback began with a pin 57 seconds into the 152-pound match by John Tito. It also included victories by senior Enrique Bernal (12-1 major decision at 160 pounds), senior Gabe Talamantes (9-7 decision at 170 pounds), freshman Tony Caruso (pin at 5:17 at 182 pounds) and Runyan.
While winning seven matches in a row to rally for a senior night triumph was exhilarating for Elmwood Park’s wrestlers and fans, it was something Tigers coach Neil Posmer expected.
“I did some scouting on them and I knew where they were tough,” Posmer said. “They’re tough from (132) to 145. That’s where they’re really strong, and they were missing one of their better kids from the lineup (junior Sam Karim). We knew, going in, that they’d be moving some of their kids up that normally aren’t in their varsity lineup. I felt pretty good, going in... The guys went in and wrestled well.”