Top area teams: Montini, Glenbard North, Hinsdale Central, Waubonsie Valley, Metea Valley, Wheaton North, Neuqua Valley, Naperville Central, West Chicago, Glenbard East.
Top athletes: Addison Trail: Aaron DeLaCruz, sr., 126; Erick DeLaCruz, jr., 113; Anthony Metallo, soph., 132; Jake Plekavic, jr., 120; Niko Rocha, jr., 170. Downers Grove North: Nick Bonomo, jr., 152; Cullen Cummings, sr., 138; Mike Gastadello, jr., 160; Diego Rodriquez, jr., 132; Straw Sopic, jr., 120. Downers Grove South: Alex Anaya, sr., 160; RJ Hickok, sr., 145; Mike Hobbs, jr., 285; Joe Nugent, soph., 126. Fenton: Alex Cowan, jr., 126; Phil Espinoza, jr., 195; Brandon Exconde, sr., 106; KJ Kroeger, sr., 152; Andy Santana, jr., 132. Glenbard East: Matt Chlebek, sr., 182; Jake Drew, soph., 126; Gustavo Garcia, sr., 152; Josh Martin, jr., 138. Glenbard North: Jered Cortez, jr., 126; Johnny Gosinski, sr., 138; Jon Marmolejo, jr., 120; Brian Murphy, sr., 160. Glenbard West: Troy Frazier, jr., 106; Bernie Gallegos, sr., 195; Zak Hassan, sr., 132; Pernevlon Sheppard, sr., 126; CJ Sojka, sr., 120. Glenbard South: Darnel Barrett, sr., 182; Mark Cizek, sr., 132; Will Collins, jr., 145; Steve Straka, sr., 152. Hinsdale Central: Ernest Battaglia, sr., 152; Juwon Edmond, soph., 138; Tim Glavin, sr., 160; Marco Del Rasrio Rivera, sr., 113; George Tolbert, sr., 120. Hinsdale South: Nick Carlson, soph., 120; Joel Lawrence, sr., 138; Justin Maslow, jr., 145; Nick Perisin, jr., 113. Lake Park: Kameran Hardwick, jr., 220; Albert Hogan, sr., 132;; Kevin Korney, sr., 145; Austin Schoen, sr., 138; Henry Stover, sr., 170. Lisle: Ben Buchelt, jr., 138; Brian Czyl, sr., 145; Ryan Kilroy, sr., 145; AJ Pascente, sr., 113. Metea Valley: Kenan Carter, soph., 126; Sam Freedland, sr., 220; Eddie Gonzalez, jr., 145; Austin Graham, sr., 138; Breon Hoosier, sr., 170; Devin Kane, fr., 120. Montini: Chris Garcia, jr., 138; Jordan Laster, sr., 126; Mike Manduko, jr., 170; Tommy Pawelski, sr., 113; Edgar Ruano, jr., 220; Michael Sepke, sr., 145; Jake Turk, sr., 182. Naperville Central: Ryan Berg, sr., 195; Mitch Lee, sr., 120; Luke Roth, sr., 220; Hunter Stephens, sr., 152; Ben Williamson, soph., 138. Naperville North: Blake Bougadis, sr., 138; Ben Brancaleon, jr., 182; Ben Obriecht, sr., 285; Kijuan Walker, jr., 220; Wayne Yuan, sr., 113. Neuqua Valley: Andrew Geers, sr., 285; Justin Killacky, jr., 120; Justin Klein, sr., 132; Alex Skarr, sr., 145; Connor Swier, jr., 195. St. Francis: Alex Alcantara, sr., 132; Michael Andelbradt, jr., 220; Thomas Brundage, soph., 138; Cole Cunningham, soph., 285; Dan Howard, sr., 152; Emilio Salas, sr., 120. Waubonsie Valley: Howard Beatty, sr., 145; Jimmy Davis, jr., 138; Mitch Kroening, jr., 170; Sean Sarkauskas, sr., 152; Anthony Touchstone, sr., 220. West Chicago: John Carlos, sr., 285; Robert Svestka, sr., 138; Tommy Svestka, soph., 120; Tyler Svestka, jr., 126. Wheaton North: Kegan Calkins, jr., 113; Kellen Cleveland, sr., 195. Wheaton Warrenville South: Corey Drummond, soph., 113; Camden Johnnic, jr., 145; Qarin Johnnic, soph., 120; Raymond King, sr., 138; Joe Kirsch, 285. Willowbrook: Danny Draski, sr., 220; Nick Duda, sr., 152; Jake Kroeger, jr., 182; Danny Rowland, sr., 170; Matt Rowland, fr., 126. York: Ryan Bowman, sr., 120; Frank Connell, sr., 113; Noah Flechenstein, jr., 195; Brandon Kupczyk, sr., 132.
Scouting report: The extended football playoff runs by several traditional area wrestling powers will undoubtedly impact the beginning of the season. But come February there can be little doubt that the two benchmark programs in the county -- Montini in Class 2A and Glenbard North in Class 3A -- will be intractable roadblocks for all takers.
Montini has won a team state championship every year since the IHSA expanded the sport to three classes four years ago. The Broncos will seek their sixth consecutive team title behind Stanford-bound Pawelski, a returning individual state champion, and reigning state runner-up Garcia. Whispers the program would petition the state to move up a class proved to be groundless. "(The coaches) didn't disagree with the decision," Montini coach Israel Martinez said of the Broncos staying in the middle tier. Montini will once again be a prohibitive favorite to capture the Class 2A dual-team state championship as Martinez welcomes back four other all-state performers as well as a promising crop of newcomers. The Broncos have won an astonishing 10 state championships since the turn of the century.
Glenbard North, meanwhile, has also made 10 appearances to the dual-team state tournament since 2000. The Panthers' bid to defend their state championship last season unraveled in bizarre fashion when coach Mark Hahn was ejected during their razor-thin loss to ultimate champion Sandburg in the semifinals. The Panthers were hit hard by graduation losses, and their decade-plus run of DuPage Valley Conference championships will be severely tested by the likes of Naperville Central, Wheaton North and Glenbard East. For the first time in recent memory the Panthers were not ranked in the top10 in the preseason rankings, but their quartet of returning state performers constitutes a formidable core. Cortez is seeking a third straight state championship; the junior ran the table last year after claiming a Class 2A title for Marmion as a freshman. Murphy is also a defending state finalist.
Compared to recent years, there is an appreciably smaller number of returning all-state performers. But the Class 3A heavyweight crown already has the makings of a potential titanic showdown with Neuqua Valley senior Andrew Geers and Hinsdale Central junior Allen. The latter defeated the former in the third-place consolation match last year, and the two enter the season occupying the first two slots in the individual rankings. Cullen Cummings' bid for the first individual state championship in Downers North history fell tantalizingly close with his runner-up result last year, and Rowland will seek to become the fourth athlete in Willowbrook history to claim a title. The senior was third at 160 pounds last year.
The three Indian Prairie high schools have been roundly envisioned as the class of the Upstate Eight Valley. "Waubonsie Valley is very good, Metea Valley is very good," Neuqua Valley coach Mick Ruettiger said. "They will be the ones we have to go after." "I have four of five ranked guys," Metea Valley coach Claudio Torres said.
Davis is the lone returning state qualifier for Waubonsie Valley. "We have high expectations," Waubonsie Valley coach Brad Caldwell said. "Our goal is to be competing for the conference championship."
Naperville Central and Naperville North have several battle-tested seniors to anchor their programs. The Redhawks advanced to the team state quarterfinals after edging Downers Grove South by a point at the Huskies' regional. Naperville North will rally around Yuan, its sole returning state qualifier. "I'm really impressed with our senior leadership," Naperville North coach Tom Champion said. "Our goal this is to finish top three in the conference and win a regional championship. I think it's a realistic goal."
Glenbard East could also figure prominently in determining the DuPage Valley Conference champion. "We don't have any weak spots in our lineup," Glenbard East coach Kevin Carlson said. "I think we're going to be right on (the Panthers') tails."
West Chicago is also building a case for greater legitimacy as the Svestka brothers blaze new trails for the program; the two upperclassmen both qualified for state last year.
In the ever-rugged twin West Suburban Conference divisions, Downers South seeks a third consecutive triumph in the Gold. Hinsdale Central is ranked in the top 10, and Glenbard West is becoming ever more viable, but Oak Park-River Forest may be the best team in the state. Hinsdale South has nine returning starters. "I think we're going to be much better than we were last year," Hinsdale South coach Mike Matozzi said.
Fenton is after its fifth conference title in the last six years in the Metro Suburban. St. Francis has also resurfaced as a varsity program after a two-decade absence. After two years of JV competition, Jesse Pierce has seen the Spartans increase their numbers by 15 athletes. "We're still kind of in the infancy (of the program)," Pierce said. "We have some good wrestling talent, but we're still very raw."
Longtime Glenbard South coach Derrick Crenshaw is hopeful the Raiders can make gains after a long-sought feeder program was established last year.
Key dates: Dec. 1, West Aurora Mega Duals; Dec. 7, Ironman Tournament; Dec. 14-15, Hinsdale Central Rex Whitlach Tournament; Dec. 22-23, Dvorak Tournament; Dec. 22-23, DeKalb Invite; Dec. 27-28, Palatine Berman Classic; Jan. 5, Geneva Tournament; Jan 18-19 Conference tournaments; Jan. 26, DuPage Valley Conference championship.
Predicted state champions: Class 1A, Lena Winslow; Class 2A, Montini; Class 3A, Marist.