Life after Josh Marchok has begun in earnest Tuesday for Schaumburg's wrestling team.
The two-time state champion, now in his new surroundings at Stanford, would be thrilled with the results of his former teammates, who defeated Streamwood and Bartlett at the Elk Grove Quad on Wednesday night in a season opener for all four programs.
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Bartlett, with state champ Sal Annoreno, a recent committment to Northern Illinois, on the bench nursing a slight knee injury, opened its season under new head coach John O'Brien by splitting its two matches. The host Grens also split, giving new coach Phil Winter his first win after the Grens were beaten by Bartlett.
"It was good to finally compete against someone other than your partner in the room, and all-in-all its was a pretty good night for most of the guys, but we'll have to wrestle a lot better this weekend, that's for sure," said Schaumburg coach Mike Levanti, who welcomed back eight competitors from a year ago, including four-year veteran Ivan Gomez, who went 27-15 last season and competed in the sectional.
"Josh was flat out the best wrestler I've ever seen," said Gomez, a Saxons captain.
"He was always good for (6) points each and every time he went out there, and his value as a leader on and off the mats was fanstastic. He always knew when to make things light for the rest of us, yet on the other hand he could really put the hammer down when we all needed that as well."
"But I have a really good feeling about this team. The freshmen we have are the real deal, and we've got a lot of experienced guys back from last year. I think we're going to surprise a lot of people."
Gomez led the way in Schaumburg's 65-12 rout over an inexperienced Streamwood club, striking for one of five pins over the Sabres, who were much more competitive in a 33-24 loss to Elk Grove.
"We looked a little overwhelmed against Schaumburg -- kind of that 'deer in the headlights' look -- which you expect with so many first-time varsity wrestlers," said Sabres coach Bill Peach. "We told the guys before our dual with Elk Grove to just go out there and wrestle simply and do the things you've been working on, and the result was much more positive from a technical standpoint, as well as the win column."
Caleb Menendez (132), Will Troman (138) Amadeo Ortiz (160) and heavyweight Alex Rader each recorded wins against the Grens.
O'Brien, no stranger to the sport despite his status as a 'new' head coach, left the Elk Grove gym with less of a voice than at the start. He remained upbeat upbeat about his team's effort against the two Mid-Suburban League programs.
"It was a very good night," said O'Brien with a smile. "We're nowhere near weight right now, and the lineup will still undergo a few changes here and there when everyone makes weight. But I can say if the effort remains as high as its been thus far, things will go very well for for us before the end of the year comes around."
Annoreno, who will back in the Hawks' lineup next week, recently committed to NIU. He will help provide a 1-2 punch along with junior Ryan Hennessey, who last season won 21 matches in his first full season with the big club.
Hennessey would join Anthony Zipparro, Brian Boyle, Alex Piedra and Nathan Baer in the pin column as the Hawks built a 30-13 lead against Elk Grove before finishing things off to the tune of 54-25.
"Brian had a terrific night for us with his 2 pins, and the OT win by Alex with a fall in our match with Schaumburg was an exciting one, and just an excellent effort on his behalf," said O'Brien, who takes his team to the Hornet Invite on Saturday at Hinsdale South.
The Grens broke open a close match with Streamwood by taking 4 of the last 5 bouts, with the senior trio of Ethan Hartowicz, Adam Kramer and Joe Ebert leading the way with a pair of decisions sandwiched between a fall at 3:35 from Kramer.
Even at 18-18, Hartowicz won in OT 9-7 before Kramer's pin made it 24-18.
Ebert, the Grens' captain, methodically put together a strong six-minute match to win 5-2. Mikey Maize, the only other starter from last year, pinned his opponent to help put away the Sabres for good.
"This team is so young, but we've got a great new coach who stresses technique, and I really feel a year from now, this program is going to be on the rise," said Ebert, who won 24 matches last year and qualified into the sectional.
"Jon is a terrific leader, and the type of young man we need to set a great example for a team with so many new kids to the varsity level," said Winter. "I like the group that we have, and its obviously going to take awhile for things to come together. But we'll be so much better when the second half of the season comes around."
The Saxons will be competing Saturday morning at the Marist Thanksgiving duals.