Montini tops OPRF at Beat the Streets Brawl

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By MIKE CLARK
Illinois Matmen

It’s not often that a high school wrestler gets a second chance after losing to an opponent from halfway across he country.

But Montini senior Peter Christensen did on Saturday, and he didn’t waste the do-over.
Christensen beat Jacob Cardenas of Bergan Catholic (N.J.) 3-1 in the marquee bout of the Beat the Streets Brawl at Oak Park-River Forest.

A week earlier, Cardenas decisioned Christensen 10-5 in the finals of the Doc Buchanan Tournament in Clovis, Calif. Cardenas, a Cornell recruit, is ranked No. 1 nationally by Intermat.com and Christensen, who is bound for Wisconsin, is No. 2.

How did Christensen prepare for the rematch?

“I just went over a lot of with with my coaches, watched myself and figured out what I had to do,” he said.

“Pete beat the No. 1 kid in the county today,” Montini coach Israel Martinez said. “We’re looking for him to get the No. 1 ranking.

“We’re excited. Pete’s a senior leader. What most people don’t know about Pete. his freshman year he was 21-21. We’ve got some freshmen on our team that have similar records. We’ve got to capitalize on them (too).”

Montini went 2-2 in the Beat the Streets event, which, brought together five of the top 28 teams in the Intermat national rankings. The Broncos beat No. 17 Poway (Calif.) 31-24 and No. 28 Oak Park 40-24 while losing to No. 9 Lake Highland Prep (Fla.) 31-30 and to No. 4 Bergan Catholic 43-18.

“They had a good match against us,” Martinez said of Lake Highland Prep. “We didn’t have our heavyweight but that’s no excuse. They beat us today, they’re a better team than we were today.

“But I’ll tell you what, come February we’re going to be ready.”

By then, the Broncos will have back senior heavyweight Mike McNicholas, a Kent State football recruit who missed Saturday’s duals because he was in Texas for an all-star game.

“Once we get him back, we’ll open that gap a little more,” Christensen said.

The Broncos were coming off a second-place finish in the Doc Buchanan Tournament, which was a good experience on and off the mat, according to Martinez.

“Our goal is to send these boys to college to wrestle,” Martinez said. “So we want to give them a little bit of the idea of traveling across the country, sleeping in these hotels, mom and dad not around, no friends. You’ve got stinky clothes, you’re roommate’s stinky. You’re across the country (from home).

“It made us better.”

“It was a very fun experience, spending time with my brothers and coaches,” Christensen said. “It was a whole new scene.”

Like Montini, Oak Park spent the holidays on the road. The two weeks before Beat the Streets, the Huskies finished second in the Powerade Tournament in Canonsburg, Pa., and won The Clash in Rochester, Minn.

On Saturday, Oak Park went 1-3 with a 33-28 win over Poway and losses to Bergan Catholic (38-24), Lake Highland Prep (42-21) and Montini.

“It was a great day of wrestling,” Oak Park coach Paul Collins said. “This is why we compete with guys at this level — we need to see where we’re at.”