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Morton senior Cardenas learns from losses, likes chance at sectional tourney

LA GRANGE – Regional wrestling is just about advancing to the next stage, but that doesn’t mean Adrian Cardenas couldn’t be disappointed he lost in the final.

Morton’s 170-pounder advanced to this weekend’s sectional at Hinsdale Central after placing second at the Lyons Township regional, but initially had trouble getting past the final defeat.

“Overall, I think I did good, I just got to get better,” Cardenas said. “It could be better I think, it could be way better.”

The senior will bring a 30-5 record into the sectional. He likes his chances to make a first ever state appearance.

“I’m pretty confident going into it because the losses I have just make me better,” Cardenas said. “I learn through the losses that I get. Next week, I just got to work hard and push myself through.”

The top four wrestlers from the Hinsdale Central sectional will advance to state at each weight class. Last year, Cardenas came up one win short of qualifying for state.

Cardenas was one of four Mustangs to get out of the regional. Donny DiNardo (120 pounds) and Jesus Ceja (195) also lost in finals. Kevion Anderson (220) placed third to advance.

Freshman Joewan Smith finished his impressive season with a 25-8 record but lost in the decisive third place match. Morton coach Steve Eckert said Smith was nervous in his last match.

“He’s had a great season, but I would have liked to have him get the opportunity to go to the next level,” Eckert said.

Anderson’s third place finish at 220 came with plenty of drama.

He escaped with one second left in the fourth overtime to narrowly get past Downers Grove South’s Zach Muller.

The 220-pound weight class had three wrestlers with 30 or more wins once Anderson won his final match to improve his record to 30-6. Getting out of the regional against a tough field, and doing so with a close win, is nothing new for Anderson.

“That’s how he wins, by one,” Eckert said. “He gets the escape or whatever it takes.”

Overall, the Mustangs were seventh in the nine-team regional, but for the most part matched the individual expectations Eckert had for the team.

“I was hoping five [would get through], but realistically I thought four,” Eckert said. “Those were the four guys. The only other guy I thought would get out was maybe [Smith].”

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