Wrestling/Fox Valley preview
Bartlett senior Sal Annoreno, right, is the returning 132-pound Illinois state champion. He will defend that title this season before moving on to wrestle at Northern Illinois next year.
Paul Michna | Staff Photographer
Compiled by Mike Garofola
Coach: John O'Brien (first year).
Last year: 15-5-0
Graduation losses: Tom Gbean (UEC runner-up), Jake Joiner (28w), Anthony Radun (22w), Nick Mokodanski (21w), Lee Flores (16w).
Top returnees: Seniors Sal Annoreno (132, state champ, UEC, regional, sectional champ, 3-time sectional qualifier, 38w), Kenny Malekian (152,160, 13w), Nathan Baer (285), Sean Polheber (152,160), Connor Johnson (112), Brian Boyle (145,152); juniors Anthony Zipparro (27w, UEC runner-up, 120), Nick James (132, 13w), Ryan Hennessey (145,152, 21w), Joey DiSanti (195, 13w), Alex Piedra (220).
New faces to watch: Senior Kolin Steele (170); juniors Andrew Pineda (132), Ben Wiley (195); sophomores Sam Valenica (106), Alex Pineda (126).
Lowdown: Sal Annoreno was the rock upon which Bartlett built its success last year, and this season he represents a firm pillar for new boss John O'Brien to construct his team with the hope of bigger and better things following a 15-win campaign under former coach Karl Bratland, who came over from North Central College to lead the Hawks for just one season. "This is going to be a very good team once we get everyone where they belong, and at (weight) and I am excited about what this team will do as things progress," says O'Brien, who may be in his first season as Bartlett's head coach, but is no stranger to the sport as he resume shows nearly 30 years on the prep and club scene. The NIU-bound Annoreno gave an Oscar winning performance to stun a high profile 132-pound division last February in Champaign, and the four-star star has his sites set on another big trophy in early 2013. The Hawks' captain has a terrific cast of mates all around him this season, including UEC runner-up Zipparro, who along with another junior, Ryan Hennessey, was one win away from joining Annoreno on the sectional guest list. O'Brien promises to introduce a handful of freshmen all throughout to help continue the building of the future.
Coach: Vince Govea (first year).
Last year: 17-7-0
Graduation losses: Johnny Major (3-time state qualifier, 5th place state medalist, 31w Illinois), Omar Awad (state qualifier, 38w, 4th place state medalist, regional champ, NIU), Buddy Toth (regional champ, 32w, wrestling at University of Cumberlands), Jon Wright (23w), Nate Reed (transfer), Andrew Yearwood (transfer, 18w).
Top returnees: Seniors Brady Weinrich (138, 29w), Dishon Rambo (sectional qualifier, 152, 19w), Andrew Brooks (120, 20w), Andrew Brown (126, 5), Kyle Holtz (195, 9w); sophomore Ryan Gannon (132, 3w).
New faces to watch: Sophomore Craig Klein (170), Matt Overstreet (285).
Lowdown: After a handful of near-misses at the state tournament, the Rockets watched two of their best ever climb the podium to give the program its second and third medals in its history. BC captain Johnny Major capped a brilliant four-year career with 114 victories and a 5th-place finish, while his teammate Omar Awad grabbed a 4th-place award. This duo, along with another star, Buddy Toth, whose injury in the sectionals took away his chances at the state tournament, have all moved on, as has longtime, and highly respected coach Tony Rigitano, who stepped down to spend more time with his growing family. "That's a big loss for our program with those (three) graduating, and Tony moving on, but we've got a strong core back, and two terrific seniors who are ready to assume control as our leaders, so we should be in pretty good shape this season," says the new skipper, Vince Govea, who as the middle school wrestling coach, has seen many of his lads in their early years. The senior Weinrich, in particular, came through the youth pipeline Govea had been in charge of, and he, along with Andrew Brooks have impressed the new coach with their ability to lead, and push their mates to work even harder. Govea plans on slowly breaking in 3-4 freshmen along the way, and he feels the future is extremely bright thanks, in part, to the continued growth of its club programs.
Coach: Ryan Ludwig (second year).
Last year: 12-7-0 (4-2-0).
Graduation losses: Max Kersten (sectional qualifier, 3rd, FVC, 26w), Matt Fina (sectional qualifier, 26w), Andy Stennard (15w).
Top returnees: Seniors Michael Underwood (sectional qualifier, FVC champ, 138, 33w), Garrett Glueck (3rd, FVC, 152, 29w), Patrick O'Malley (182, 29w), Greer Bozeman (195, 14w), Jeremy Dermont (285, 15w), James Smrt (132), Nick Huff (220); juniors Logan Hanselman (120, 11w), Matt Hughes (160, 10w); sophomore Michael Cullen (state qualifier, 5th place state medalist, FVC champ, 113, 43w).
New faces to watch: Sophomore Michael Medina; freshmen Sean Cullen, John Cullen.
Lowdown: Once the return of five starters from their state runner-up football team is complete, the Trojans should enjoy a winter season of several achievements under second-year head coach Ryan Ludwig. "Once everyone is back in wrestling shape, and at weight, we should be in a position to challenge in the FVC and regional tournaments," says Ludwig, who enters the season with a premier player at 113-pounds in Michael Cullen, who is poised to make a run at the reigning state champion Kris Williams (Thornton) following his 4th-place finish during a brilliant rookie year. "He is so much better prepared physically and mentally than last year, but then again, he was just a freshman, yet look what he accomplished," offers Ludwig. Cullen was 5th overall at the Cadet National Freestyle tournament, and won a tournament crown last weekend at the Moore-Prettyman. FVC champ Michael Underwood was this close to joining Cullen downstate, so the bar is raised for the C-G senior, as it is for Glueck, who won 31 two years ago. The Trojans have quality in youth as well, namely Cullen's twin brothers, Sean and John, on the roster.
Crystal Lake South
Coach: Ross Ryan (sixth year)
Last year: 17-5-0, FVC runners-up.
Graduation losses: Nick Fontanetta (3-time state qualifier, 2-time state medalist, 3-time FVC, regional champ, University of Dubuque), Tom Gerszewski (2-time state qualifier, 4th-place state medalist, FVC, regional, sectional champ, 43w, wrestling at UW-Whitewater), Mike Romanelli (state qualifier, FVC, regional champ, 36w, wrestling at Harper JC), Jake Peters (sectional qualifier, 25w).
Top returnees: Senior Nick Peters (sectional qualifier, 35w, 138); juniors Nick Gil (state qualifier, regional champ, 42w, 126), Casey Callahan (sectional qualifier, 2nd, FVC, 27w, 113,120), Brian Pence (195); sophomores Eric Barone (sectional qualifier, 2nd, FVC, 132, 28w), Garrett Dziedzic (106), Joe Fetherling (113).
New faces to watch: Seniors Vince Emory (285), John Crawford (220), Neil Crawford (138); juniors Nick Dorn (170), Hunter Stroh (182), Mike Golden (145), Joe Baietto (132); freshmen Frankie Woods (113).
Lowdown: Led by the star triumvirate of Fontanetta, Gerszewski and Romanelli, the Gators were one of the leading bright lights in the FVC, as well as around the area during the regular season, before hitting the postseason jackpot by sending two of the aforementioned trio, along with then freshman phenom Gil on the road to Champaign. "We have been so incredibly lucky to have three young men like Nick, Tom and Mike with us for so long, and we'll miss having them in the room so much," said South head coach Ross Ryan. "But we've got an excellent core back, beginning with Nick, Barone, Peters and Callahan, who have assumed the role as our team leaders, and because they learned from the best, I have all the confidence in the world that we will have the opportunity to do some very good things this season and beyond." It all begins with Gil, ranked in preseason polls as the No. 4 rated 126-pounder in a high profile state group, who showed early he means business after capturing the big prize at the Moore-Prettyman last weekend to help the Gators finish fifth overall in the team race there. Ryan says he's impressed with the work rate and determination of all, and the tight bond his club has formed with each other.
Coach: Robert Skillman (second year).
Last year: 9th, FVC.
Graduation losses: Jimmy Kuczynski (sectional qualifier, 2nd, FVC, 33w, wrestling at Milwaukee School of Engineering), Dillon Muscat (21w).
Top returnees: Senior Ray Griggel (2nd, FVC, 20w, 220); juniors Elijah Velez (145, 18w), Tim Schanmier (152, 28w), JeQuaan Flynn (120, 18w), Jeremy Marshall (285), Fabian Ramirez (152), Martell Thompson (138).
New faces to watch: Sophomore Armando Gutierrez (138); freshmen Christian Brunner (132).
Lowdown: It didn't take long for the Chargers' lead man to build the program numbers, and although coach Bob Skillman's youthful additions will need time to grow, a fresh and vibrant group has emerged to give hope again to what once was one of the best around out in the FVC and statewide. "We've doubled our numbers at the freshman level, and we've got over 70 kids in the program, but the funny thing is we still have a few holes we can't quite fill right now in our lineup," smiles Skillman, who has also beefed up his underclass coaching staff to help meet the challenge of what's ahead. The Chargers' lone senior (Griggel) has unlimited potential if he can shake an injury bug which has followed him around during his first three seasons, including the first weekend of the 2012-2013 campaign, so in the meantime, Skillman will lean on a trio of juniors (Schanmier, Flynn, Velez) who combined for nearly 70 wins while the rest of the club gets up to speed. "The guys are working hard, and want to be in the room everyday, and that can go a long way toward success now and for our future," adds Skillman
Coach: Tom Stewart (first year).
Last year: 5-9-0 (2-5-0).
Graduation losses: Jorge Zavala (state qualifier, 25w), Wardell Roseman (sectional qualifier, 30w), Elrich Keophilalay (17w, Millikin University).
Top returnees: Seniors Richie Santana (sectional qualifier, 23w, 195), Charlie Wiltgen (13w, 132), Brendon Geils (138); juniors Jeffrey Morrow (sectional qualifier, UEC runner-up, 29w, 106), Zach McCullough (112); sophomores Daniel Easter (112), Nate Romero (120).
New faces to watch: Sophomore Tyler Con Essen (112).
Lowdown: Just as it appeared the Maroons were ready to make a big jump forward, the club took a big hit from graduation, then welcomed its third head coach in as many years. Not to worry, says 1971 Elgin grad, Tom Stewart, who cut his wrestling teeth on the Maroons' mats, before coming back through the system, both as an educator and coach. "I am very exited about taking over this fine group of kids, and I am lucky in that we have three great kids to take over the role as captains for a team that has started out setting goals in which they all seem to want to work hard to reach them," says Stewart, who was the Maroons' freshman coach for 12 years, among other stops along the way. The tri-captain unit of Santana, Wiltgen and Geils are ready to put a stamp on their collective games this season, and so is the junior Morrow, who begins his third year with the big club after back-to-back sectional appearances, and 55 wins under his belt. Morrow was one victory away from advancing into the state tournament last season, and finds himself listed among the top in his division in the Illinois Best Weekly preseason polls.
Coach: Terry Wilkinson (fifth year).
Last year: 15-16 (2-4-0).
Graduation losses: Tyler Espino (state qualifier, regional champ, 38w, wrestling at Elmhurst College), Ray Stagen (2011 sectional qualifier, 23w), Cody Kleiser (25w), Zak Oragner (state qualifier, 24w, Concordia, WI).
Key returnees: Seniors Nick Brown (sectional qualifier, 138, 28w), Travis Keeling (sectional qualifier, 160, 23w).
New faces to watch: Kyle Szlenk (106), Wylie Allen (106,113).
Lowdown: The Whip-Purs made a giant leap forward last season by sending a pair to the 2A state tournament, including one of the school's top student-athletes, Tyler Espino, who became the first in program history to go over the 100-win mark, before moving on to wrestle at Elmhurst College this fall. "We lost three guys who've been with us from the very start (Espino, Ray Stagen and Cody Kleiser) plus our state qualifying heavyweight (Zak Oragner) but we've got some great returning leaders coming back, its just that we're going to be very young this season," says head coach Terry Wilkinson. "Our season is frontloaded to get guys matches and the necessary experience early on knowing they'll learn on the job, but later on, better rested, and hopefully healthier for the tournament push." The Whip-Purs' two best, Nick Brown and Travis Keeling, turned undefeated performances into USAW National Championships last July in Rochester, N.Y. at the USA Beach Nationals.
Coach: B.J. Bertelsman (fourth year).
Last year: 13-8-0 (3-3-0).
Graduation losses: Josh Symbal (2-time state qualifier, 6th-place medalist, FVC, regional, sectional champ, 40w, playing football, wrestling at Augustana College).
Key returnees: Seniors Zach Stenger (sectional qualifier, 113, 32w), John Walker (138, 29w), Brandon Mabry (sectional qualifier, 182,195, 23w); sophomores Ricky Vigil (120, 25w), Brandon Meyer (126, 23w).
New faces to watch: Junior Nick Meyer (106); sophomore Chris Gamboa (132).
Lowdown: Josh Symbal dominated the headlines for the Red Raiders all throughout his career, and was a fixture in nearly championship match he competed in, including the trifecta he hit last season when he garnered FVC, regional and sectional titles. The 2-sport star, who broke or set countless program records, has moved on to the collegiate level, leaving a giant void in the Huntley lineup, as well a pair of shoulders in which head coach B.J. Bertelsman would have his club lean on when the going got rough. "It will be strange not having him around, and watching him have all that success in Huntley colors, and for himself. But we'll be strong at the lower weights, have some question marks up top, and just wait to see how our youth will play out later on," says the always affable, good-natured Bertelsman, whose club opened the season going 4-0 at the Jacobs mega-duals with 32-match winner (Stenger) one of six who went undefeated on the day. A redesigned and tougher schedule includes stops at Fenton and Sycamore tournaments for the Red Raiders.
Coach: Gary Conrad (first year).
Last year: 8-10-0
Graduation losses: Gabe Difecchio (sectional qualifier, 26w, wrestling at Wabash College, IN.), Collin Zaio, Jared Mrzak
Key returnees: Senior Kenny Thompson (120, 9w); juniors Austin Ryan (2-time sectional qualifier, 2011 state qualifier, regional champ), 113, 33w), Mark Mamola (sectional qualifier, 220, 27w); sophomores Cody Forencz (5th, FVC, 126, 19w) Jake Orth (126).
New faces to watch: Sophomore Anthony Vana; freshmen Chris Danka, Anthony Vana, Dean Lane.
Lowdown: There's no lack of enthusiasm or vigor in the Golden Eagles' room as the program welcomes Gary Conrad, who becomes the third new coach in four seasons to lead the club in the FVC. In its current state, it's doubtful Jacobs has sufficient experience to succeed against the big boys within the conference, but what the Eagles do have is a wonderful third-year star (Austin Ryan) who was well on his way to a second consecutive trip downstate, as well as a terrific young trio who will reinforce the ranks for the new coach. They should move up the ladder within their respective weight divisions. "We are going to be tough at the lower weights, and we have some strength up top also, and I feel with a good base already in place, we can surprise a lot of people who might not be expecting much from us," says Conrad. The Eagles will dearly miss their former captain (Difecchio) m who came this close to earning a well-deserved spot in Champaign after showing the way with a high level of play and leadership that a young, and inexperienced club needed last season.
Coach: Steve Hoyt (first year).
Last year: 4-16-1 (1-5-0).
Graduation losses: Brett Barry (3-time sectional qualifier, 31w), David Perez (2-time sectional qualifier, 29w), Ian Keller, Joshua Brooks (sectional qualifier, 20w), Deontae Joshua (regional champ, 23w), Hugo Gonzalez (16w), Tyler VonEsson (14w), Justin Seversen.
Key returnees: Senior Kory Plate (182, 14w); junior Alex Duran (145, 14w).
New faces to watch: Juniors Duke Bojicevec (120,126), Edgar Trejo (113), Quentyn Jackson (285); sophomores Hank Robins (220), Francisco Calderon (138), Ramon Vargas (170).
Lowdown: The heart and soul of Royals' club left for college, including their academic all-star Brett Barry, who was awarded the prestigious U-46 Ed Washington Sportsmanship Award last season. "We have terrific leaders, our numbers are up over 50 and we are looking to to finish near the .500 mark when everything is said and done," says new head coach Steve Hoyt, who could welcome up to six new starters when the Royals kick off the new season. The lone senior returning (Plate) was one victory from advancing to his first sectional appearance, while some late-season experience earned at the South Elgin regional should be of help to the big sophomore Robins. "We lost a lot of experience, including four sectional qualifiers, but we've got a lot of good kids who I am looking forward to working and coaching with," said Hoyt.
Coach: Mark Cameron (eighth year).
Last year: 7-11-0 (3-4-0), regional champs (lost to Glenbard North in dual-team sectional semifinal).
Graduation losses: Cody Pych (2-time state qualifier, 4th place state medalist, UEC, regional champ, 37w, wrestling at Lindenwood University, MO.), Marco Aguirre (regional champ, 20w, Illinois), DJ Greene (U.S. Navy), Adrian Garduno (U.S. Marines), Nick Citta (Purdue), Will Brock, Rashawn Johnson, Nick Skoczylas.
Key returnees: Senior Cory Pych (state qualifier, UEC champ, 120), Joey Garcia (182), Jacob Bergroschtje (220), Nick Kowalski (285).
New faces to watch: Seniors Colton Brandon (138), Simon Rhoads (160); juniors Alex Garduno (132), Ben Abraham (152), Mike Weatherton (195); sophomore Josh Menendez (126).
Lowdown: The Storm made program history with their first regional championship, and although they drew the short draw in the postseason to face state power Glenbard North in its dual-team sectional opener, head coach Mark Cameron had plenty to proud of, and loads of positives to build from going forward. "We went into the postseason with a lot of our guys having .500 records, or a little better, but our beefed up nonconference and tournament schedule helped prepare them for our regional, and I firmly believe that's why we were able to win it, and why our program will continue to improve from top-to-bottom," says Cameron, who sent his club into the high-profile Moore-Prettyman last weekend and came out with just one finalist, Cory Pych. The four-year star fell just short in his bid to lift the big trophy, but the senior is primed to reach the state tourney for a second straight year, only this time, finishing on the podium when all is said and done. The Storm said so long to Pych's brother Cody after a brilliant career, culminating in a 4th-place state medal, and a quartet of veterans who all helped build a winning program and atmosphere in the room. The senior Bergroschtje is back after missing all of the 2012 season to injury, and his appearance in the lineup, along with another big man (Kowalski) gives Cameron a solid 1-2 punch at the upper weights to give most opponents plenty of trouble.
Coach: Bill Peach (eighth year).
Last year: 1-16-0
Graduation losses: Kevin Moncada (sectional qualifier, 17w, BYU), Mike Alvarado (sectional qualifier, 15w), John Brewer (15w), Jimmy Gabioud. Robert Rader (8w), Ryan Cook (7w).
Key returnees: Seniors Alex Curtis (sectional qualifier, 2nd, UEC, 126, 22w), Caleb Menendez (132), Dimitri Niforos (170, 7w), Evan Klimek (182); junior Alex Rader (285).
New faces to watch: Seniors Amadeo Ortiz (160), Kyle James (182), Austin Wohlhart (220); juniors Uriel Huerta (120), Will Troman (138); freshman Brandon Shockey (106).
Lowdown: No team can thrive early when there are not only so many newcomers to the lineup, but also raw first-time varsity performers in a wrestling rich conference like the UEC. But the always upbeat Bill Peach doesn't waver on his enthusiasm, nor positive approach when talking about his Sabres' club. "We lost a half dozen starters, and a couple of others as well, and yes, we're going to be young again. So we will take our lumps early on, but I really like this team because of their hard work, and willingness to get better, and we all know that will lead to a very good second half of the season for this team," said Peach. The Sabres' best, Curtis, arrives with a pair of top 4 finishes at the UEC tournament, as well as back-to-back trips to the sectionals, but aside from the senior Menendez, who is the only other starter who competed in the conference tournament, many will be learning on the job from the start.
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