There are still plenty of questions to be answered for Harper wrestling coach Dan Loprieno heading into today’s Loras Open.
“We lost a lot of talent,” Loprieno said of last year’s Harper team that finished eighth nationally.
The Hawks return three sophomores who were 1 victory away from placing at last year’s NJCAA national champioinships: Conor Infelise (McHenry, 133), Josh Tardy (Naperville Central, 141) and Donnie Simpson (Romeoville, 149).
“We have a lot of sophomores coming back,” Loprieno said. “One year makes a lot of difference.”
The Hawks have a big hole to fill due the graduation of All-American Chris Gonzalez. His spot in the lineup will be filled by redshirt sophmore Steven DeWitt at 125 pounds.
Look for a pair of Mid-Suburban League alumni — Barrington graduate Kalvin Argueta, a sophomore, and Matt Zabrin (Buffalo Grove), a freshman, who joins his sophomore brother Jameson on the Harper squad — to battle for the nod at 174.
The heavyweight division is where the Hawks may have some trouble due to overall inexperience.
“We have some untested kids,” said Loprieno. “We will see how they do.”
Again Harper has a difficult schedule, especially early on. The Hawks’ first six meets will be on the road.
The Sports and Wellness Center in Palatine will host two meets this season. For the first time, Harper will host the NJCAA Division III Invite, on Jan. 26. According to Loprieno, every NJCAA Division III school has been invited.
Loprieno is also looking foward to the National Duels, two weeks prior.
Two seasons ago, Harper earned a national championship. It’s far too early to predict another, but Loprieno likes what he’s seen so far.
“It could be another good year for us,” he said. “The guys have to work hard.”Copyright © 2014 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.