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Article updated: 11/29/2012 3:35 PM

Wrestling: Scouting Northwest

By

MID-SUBURBAN EAST

Buffalo Grove

Coach: Dave Durlacher (7th year).

Last year: 15-7-0 (5-0-0) (MSL East champion).

Graduation losses: Jordan Rathje (two-time state qualifier, sixth-place state medalist, MSL champ, 36w, Iowa), Matt Zabrin (two-time state qualifier, regional champ, 37w, wrestling at Harper), Bryan Wellbank (16w), Joe Madio (13w), Eddie Haro (sectional qualifier, 20w), Chase Ori (sectional qualifier, 21w), Hunter Ori.

Top returnees: Seniors Brian Egan (state qualifier, regional champ, 32w, 138), Jamey Coyoc (171, 15w), Kyle Wisnewski (182, 9w); sophomores Jeremy Lin (120), Zach Masciopinto (126), Richardo Cortez (160).

New faces: Jake Siebert (145), Jake Mathis (120), Matt Korzatkowaki (182), Chris Durant (285), Ulyssess Campo (152), Stevie Guttierrez (106), Peter Cho (126), Tyler Cho (132), Jake Greenberg (106).

Lowdown: The Bison were in the pole position in the MSL East for much of the season and went on to win their first division in years, thanks in part to superb four-year stars Jordan Rathje and Matt Zabrin, who brought similiar discipline, determination and grit to BG and demanded the same of their teammates. "We lost the heart and soul of our team, not to mention the 221 career victories both amassed, so there's no way you can even come close to replacing what they did for us in the room and out on the mats," said Bison coach Dave Durlacher. "Fortunately, we have someone like Brian (Egan) whom we can lean on, and he should have an even better year after coming on so strong at the end to get himself downstate." The three-year starter was truly one of the best stories of the postseason as he somehow navigated himself through a rugged weight class to reach Assembly Hall, where he once again showed he belonged in the spotlight.

Elk Grove

Coach: Phil Winters (1st year).

Last year: 8-13-0 (2-5-0).

Graduation losses: Greg Johnsen (regional champ, two-time sectional qualifier, 26w), Alex Mertes (regional champ, 26w), Joe Hauser (sectional qualifier, 24w), Vince Greco (sectional qualifier, 27w), Tom Jansen (sectional qualifier, 27w), Bart Broda (15w), Kohji Horibe (12w).

Top returnees: Seniors Jon Ebert (sectional qualifier, 170,182, 19w), Mikey Maize (220, 10w); sophomore Gerald Wilson (113,120, 10w).

New faces: Seniors Adam Kramer (182), George Guillan (195), Landon Hertzberg (285); juniors Gino Nessinger (138), Ethan Hartowicz (170); sophmores Dominick Stacey (132), Jorge Gonzalez (145), Matt Pupillo (152), Sean Oldenberg (160).

Lowdown: A nice three-year run from a group that produced plenty of postseason success ended with the graduation of 10 starters and six sectional qualifiers, plus the departure of its coach Craig Johnson, who led the Grens to their best dual meet record (14 wins) in 16 years two years ago. Former Maine West star Phil Winters takes over the club, and his first order of business is to try to find a way to replace at least some of the 150 victories the 10 seniors took with them. "We've got (really) just two full-time starters back, and fortunately Jon (Ebert) has fully embraced the role as captain and our team leader, and that's a great thing to have as a first-year head coach," says Winters. "We know we're going to struggle in the early going, but I look for a lot of these new guys to work through the growing pains they will experience, and come out of it with a strong second-half effort."

Hersey

Coach: Jim Wormsley (10th year).

Last year: 11-10-0 (3-4-0).

Graduation losses: Steph'fon Scales (thee-time state qualifier, MSL, regional, sectional champ, 38w, SIU), Conrad Bugay (state qualifier, MSL, regional champ, 33w, wrestling at Wisconsin-Whitewater), Keith Pedersen (24w, Kentucky), Tim Koepke (14w, Western Illinois University), Brian Reese.

Top returnees: Senior Hunter Rollins (state qualifier, fifth-place state medalist, MSL, regional, sectional champ, 40w, 160,170), Deon Rice (state qualifier, 195, 18w), Mike Conklin (138, 10w), Alex Baratta (152, 160, 12w), Matt Korff (sectional qualifier, 170, 182), Nate Fakhouri (182,195, 15w), Ed Beyer (220); junior Anthony O'Brien (113).

New faces: Juniors Mitchell Johnson (126), Tom Somenek (145,152), Dean Simmons (170,182); sophomores Collin Pape (132), Marc Trevino (132), Tyler Cooke (285), Bryan Castenda (138); freshmen Mitchell MacTavish (106), Grant Warner (120).

Lowdown: Things won't be the same in the Huskies lineup now that its four-year superstar Steph'fon Scales had moved on. The three-time state qualifier, who captured countless tournament and postseason trophies, not to mention over 160 career victories, will leave a large void in the starting lineup, as will the loss of another top wrestler in Conrad Bugay, who helped give coach Jim Wormsley one of the top triple threats in the state. "We're going to miss those two guys a lot, and we won't be able to replace them this season for sure, but we've got a good mix of experienced upperclassmen, along with some quality young guys who are improving with each day," says Wormsley. No doubt, the best of them all is the Rollins, who is primed to make a serious run at the big trophy in Champaign. Deon Rice, who came out of nowhere to join his teammates downstate last winter, is clearly set to be even better this winter.

Prospect

Coach: Tom Whalen (4th year).

Last year: 15-10-0 (4-1-0), 2nd, Niles West regional.

Graduation losses: Max Triveline (state qualifier, regional champ, 34w, wrestling at UW-Whitewater), Jon Bilancia (sectional qualifier, regional champ, 28w), Joe Abu-Bakr (sectional qualifier, 36w), Mike Etchingham (sectional qualifier, 28w), Harry Hamilton (sectional qualifier, 24w), Tom Mensing (14w).

Top returnees: Seniors Oluwashola George (state qualifier, 285, 38w), Dan Fiumetto (182, 17w), Joe Zalewski (170, 15w); juniors Sam Lobono (sectional qualifier, 126, 23w), Joe Benway (sectional qualifier, 120, 12), Brian Maigler (145), Mike Ragucci (145,152); sophomores Adrian Wroblewski (145,152, 15w), Mike Tomasetti (132).

New faces: Juniors Ian Rose (138), Jackson Wrede (195); sophomore Alex Straczyk (106,113); freshmen Frank Mazur (106,113), Tim McDermott (106,113), Frank Walter (220).

Lowdown: By virtue of a strong core group of returning starters from a 2012 team which finished second at regionals, combined with an outstanding cast of at the top of its lineup, the Knights are the early favorites to lift the division trophy come late January. "Not so fast," says coach Tom Whalen, who doesn't believe the preseason hype. "We've got a strong bunch of guys at the upper weights, and a good mix of veterans and underclassmen, but ask me what shape we're in after our first three (Friday) duals -- then we'll have a better idea where we stand." Whalen's team will see, in order, Wheeling, Hersey and defending divisional champ BG. Knights big man Oluwashola George gave Whalen a superb one-two punch last year along with the Triveline, whose 2012 season was nothing short of brilliant. The chance for an equivalent 2013 version is quite possible with 182-pounder Fiumetto ready to make his mark. The junior combo of Lobono-Benway will give the club more bite in the attack at the lower weights while others find their form early on.

Rolling Meadows

Coach: Dave Froehlich (35th year)

Last year: 6-12-0 (0-5-0)

Graduation losses: Joe Caprio (two-time state qualifier, regional, sectional champ, four-time sectional qualifier, 42w, wrestling at Elmhurst College), Aaron Kohlberg (sectional qualifier, regional champ, 2010 state qualifier, 36w, Loyola Chicago), Jordan Diaz (two-time sectional qualifier, regional champ, 25w) Carl Beranak, Luke Perkins (sectional qualifier, 13w, wrestling at Loras College, IA.)

Top returnees: Seniors Zach Shultz (sectional qualifier, 145, 25w); juniors Dardan Kardiu (160,170, 15w).

New faces: Seniors Dominick Bochenek (120), Sean Fitzpatrick (126); junior Bo Sokolov (170), Will Hoppe (132); sophomore Kasey Jauch (132),

Lowdown: Much like its division rivals Hersey, Prospect and Wheeling, the Mustangs have been always been in the chase for the top spot during the last five or six seasons, but after after having lost the star duo of Caprio and Kohlberg along with several prized others, the hope is that after a case of some early growing pains, the Mustangs will have enough to make a run at the upper reaches of the division when the end of the regular season rolls around. "We have a lot of young guys who took their lumps last year, and as we move into our second year of rebuilding, we have to deal with losing (three) of our better kids to injuries outside of wrestling, which means we're probably another year away from being a contender once again," says Froehlich, who figures the junior (Kardiu) is ready to move up the ladder after an outstanding off-season of work and training.

Wheeling

Coach: Neal Weiner (27th year).

Last year: 12-9-0 (3-2-0).

Graduation losses: Eddie Scanlon (two-time state qualifier, two-time sectional qualifier, regional champ, 35w, Harper JC), Igor Romanowski (two-time sectional qualifier, regional champ, 30w, Harper JC), Brandon Jagilewski (14w, Oakton JC), Leo Giordano (sectional qualifier, 27w, ISU), Sam Rosengarden (20w), Scott Steffans (15w, Carroll College, WI), Tim Sennett (Milwaukee School of Engineering).

Top returnees: Seniors Jacob Deltoro (106, 12w), David Rodriguez (113, 20w), Alex Gonzalez (145), Jose Cruz (160), Brandon Harris (171, 9w), Sal Dominguez (220, 16w), Jesus Rodriguez (220); junior Joe Brezniak (132, 6w), Sam Blair (171); sophomore David Gonzalez (125, 19w).

New faces: Juniors Rick Sotelo , James Grady (182), Ed Levine (132); sophomores Ricky Muro (125), John Carajal (119), Steve Montesinos (138), Juan Hernandez (285); freshmen Munkntulga Zuumbayan (132).

Lowdown: This will be the first time in a long time the Wildcats find themselves without at least one sectional qualifier returning to Neal Weiner's starting lineup. Gone is hard-working three-year standout Scanlon, along with big-man Romanowski -- both were nearly automatic for the Wildcats as 30-match winners. "This is an entirely different kind of team than we've had since I can ever remember," said Weiner, who added another former three-time state qualifier, Matt Smith, to his coaching staff this year. While the club returns just 60 victories from last season, it does, however have an experienced senior pair at the start of its lineup in Deltoro and Rodriguez. They combined for over half of those 60 returning wins. "This is a great bunch of kids, whose character and willingness to work makes them fun to be around and coach," said Weiner.

MID-SUBURBAN WEST

Barrington

Coach: Ken Hoving (2nd year).

Last year: 18-5-0 (MSL, regional champs), fourth place in Class 3A state tournament.

Graduation losses: Adrian Gonzalez (three-time state qualifier, 37w, Harper), Jared Parvinmehr (state qualifier, MSL, regional champ, 35w, wrestling at Coe College), Cameron Thomson (state qualifier, regional champ, 40w, wrestling at Iowa State), Nick Shealy (sectional qualifier, MSL champ, 30w, Ohio State), Ryan Wilt (sectional qualifier, MSL, regional champ, 29w, Missouri), Daniel Davidson (sectional qualifier, 31w, Bowling Green), Michael Lurz (sectional qualifier, 31w, Harper), Dan Kush, Joe Thorn (27w).

Top returnees: Seniors Ben Calamari (state qualifier, MSL, regional champ, 37w, 285), Coord Wiseman (state qualifier, sixth-place state medalist, 145, 41w), Mark Shealy (MSL, regional champ, sectional qualifier, 182, 35w), Kevin Conrad (state qualifier, MSL champ, 132, 33w); junior Matt Conrad (126, 15w).

New faces: Seniors Miguel Camarena (120); juniors Kyle Trom (138), Jack Bornhofen (220); sophomores Austin Mazzenga (113), Travis Cysewski (152), John Blanke (152), Julius Smith (160); freshman Mitch Stathakis (106).

Lowdown: Absent are the familiar names which helped the Broncos reign supreme over the MSL for the past two seasons, along with nearly 300 victories combined from a group were among the finest the conference has seen of late. Plenty of new faces dot Ken Hoving's starting lineup, but the cupboard certainly isn't bare as the Broncos look to maintain their winning ways while a foundation for the future is being built. "We've got three returning state qualifiers and seven returning starters, but several with little or no varsity experience," said Hoving. "They're solid, but will grow up fast with the top-flight schedule we always have." Four-year standout Wiseman finds himself near the top of preseason rankings by Illinois Best Weekly. So are Calamari, Shealy, and Kevin and Matt Conrad, whom Hoving praised for his great work in the off-season, and all appear ready to assume a higher status leading up to the postseason. Barrington's tough schedule includes stops at the famed Dvorak, as well as Lincoln-Way Central and Lockport mega-duals during back-to-back weekends in January.

Conant

Coach: Chad Hay (third year)

Last year: 14-7-0 (6-1-0), 2nd at South Elgin regional

Graduation losses: Travis Sylvester (two-time sectional qualifier, regional champ, 34w, Michigan State), Danny Schram (sectional qualifier, 30w), Brendan Penny (sectional qualifier, 22w), Ricky Stanton (sectional qualifier, 26w, wrestling at Elmhurst), Gino Prestia (25w), Kevin Modelski.

Top returnees: Seniors Mitch Alexander (two-time sectional qualifier, 27w), Zak Davis (sectional qualifier, 120,126, 19w); juniors Tyler LaBarbera (sectional qualifier, 195, 220, 20w), Nico Gottardo (sectional qualifier, 152,160, 12w), Ben Clifford (2010 state qualifier, 126,132, 138); sophomores Bobby Alexander (state qualifier, fifth-place medalist, 113,120, 38w), Griff Rose (sectional qualifier, 132,138, 9w).

New faces:Sophomore Dan Andress (160); freshmen Kyle Peisker (106, 3-time IKWF state placewinner), Danny Madonia (106).

Lowdown: The 2012 team regional runners-up came so close to topping tourney host South Elgin last season, but the final match of the day went the way of the home team. The good news is the Cougars return many from that team, including super soph Bobby Alexander who became the first state medalist for the program since Dominic Marella in 2005. "We like what we have coming back, and there's a couple of young guys who are going to make their mark once we get our lineup together and everybody where they should be," says Cougars coach Chad Hay. "I think everyone around here believes we can be there at the end, and for many, the disappointment of falling short at our regional has been the type of thing that keeps everyone working that much harder this year." A return to good health by captain Mitch Alexander is key after the three-year star overcame an injury-filled season to earn another trip to the sectionals. The Cougars received a big boost with the return of former state qualifier Ben Clifford, who was away for two seasons, and his presence helps make the lower part of the starting lineup a real force this campaign.

Fremd

Coach: Ralph Cortez (20th year)

Last year: 5-14-0 (2-5-0)

Graduation losses: Ronnie Hauser (two-time state qualifier, sixth-place state medalist, 37w, wrestling at Wisconsin-Whitewater), Tim Divizio (sectional qualifier, 19w, Harper), Tommy Ignoffo.

Top returnees: Seniors Addison Harter (182, 18w), Josh Schroeder (195, 11w); juniors Cody Hauser (160, 19w), Chad Mirabelli (106), Sean Lemme (12).

New faces: Junior Robert Hasse (152); sophomore Dominic Lorig (145); freshmen Alex Jacobs (182).

Lowdown: Ronnie Hauser's last act as a member of the Vikings wrestling club was truly a memorable one as the four-veteran capped a brilliant career by standing high atop the podium in Champaign last February to collect a sixth-place medal to end an otherwise unremarkable season for a team which lacked the firepower to compete with several teams in a rugged MSL West Division. "We're hoping our seniors will become the leaders that Ronnie was while he was here, and we believe our inexperience will actually be an asset because there are no expectations, and it will allow all of our young guys to just get out on the mat and wrestle," says assistant Ruben Hinojosa, who likes the work rate in the room thus far from the first-timers. Cody Hauser appears ready to step his game after falling one win short of a trip to the sectionals, and the same goes for Harter, who garnered 18 wins in his first full season with the big club.

Hoffman Estates

Coach: Tony Ganas (3rd year)

Last year: 5-20-0 (0-5-0)

Graduation losses: Paul Albani (2011 sectional qualifier), Joe Gundling, Kyle Hendle, Danny Sullivan, Erin Banker, Kyle Luketich, Oscar Sales.

Top returnees: Seniors Alex Tooren (sectional qualifier, 182, 30w); juniors Robert Alvarado (120, 26w), David Wiltczak (13w), Junior Castillo (285, 14w).

New faces: Sophomores David Sweeney (106), Mustafa Hashim (126)

Lowdown: The 2011-2012 season was, on the whole, a rather disappointing one for the Hawks and coach Tony Ganas, made more difficult when its best competitor (Paul Albani) suffered a late injury that took away the three-year veteran's chance of a successful postseason run. One of the few consolations from last year was the first-time appearance in the sectionals for senior Alex Tooren, also a standout on the soccer pitch, and it is the return of this three-year athlete from which Ganas can build. The Hawks also ahve three solid juniors who enjoyed plenty of success last year. "As the rebuilding continues, we still remain a very young team," said Ganas, a former star and two-time medalist at Maine West in the mid 90s. "But the work ethic is very high with these guys, and we're looking to turn the corner this season if we can remain healthy, and if a few of our new guys come through as we expect them to." Alvarado, who was one victory from advancement into the sectionals, as well as Wiltczak, both were members of the Cadet National Team which competed in Fargo last July.

Palatine

Coach: Dan Collins (10th year)

Last year: 6-12-0 (1-5-0).

Graduation losses: Javier Rivera (4th, MSL, 26w, Harper), Connor McDonough (12w), Omar Perales.

Top returnees: Senior Tyler Gibson (285, 23w), Sergio Hernandez (sectional qualifier, 220, 26w), Rocky Allen (195, 22w), Deon Bell (145, 15w); junior Juan Guajardo (126, 20w).

New faces: Sophomores Gavin Frey (106), Evan Heitz (113), Mikalos Jackson (138).

Lowdown: There's never any doubt about Dan Collins' desire to win and succeed, but the former two-time state champ for his alma mater hasn't had the horses to do so of late. That may slowly be changing as the recent first-time father returns four 20-match winners, including sectional qualifier Hernandez. He leads a stable of quality big men Collins hopes will provide the example needed to inspire the less experienced athletes. "We still are young and inexperienced in certain spots in our lineup, but this is a group which shows up every day and give 110 percent, and you see us making strides each day because of that," says Collins. "We will be much more competitive this season because of our returning guys, and a couple of young kids in our lineup who will make a difference."

Schaumburg

Coach: Mike LeVanti (2nd year) Last year: 15-6-0 (5-2-0)

Graduation losses: Josh Marchok (two-time state champion, three-time MSL, regional, sectional champ, 42w, wrestling at Stanford), Mike Baumhart (sectional qualifer, 31w), Matt Stephens (sectional qualifier, 25w), Tim Ferguson (26w).

Top returnees: Seniors Ivan Gomez (sectional qualifier, MSL runner-up, 120, 27w), Tom Palcheck (132), Austin Manetta (182, 14w); juniors Eric Race (sectional qualifier, 21w), Sadarriss Patterson (MSL runner-up, 160, 24w), Matt Stopka (sectional qualifier, 195, 28w), Matt Zolper( 285, 13w), Shady Khourshid (152).

New faces: Junior Luke Gruszka (145, 25w, transfer from Oswego); sophomores Jeremy Claudio (138), Tylor Alanis (220); freshmen Hazen Rice (106, IKWF runner-up), Logan Gruszka (106, Schoolboy freestyle/greco all-american), Tony Vezzetti (126, Schoolboy freestyle All-American).

Lowdown: Watching the wrestler who made your team great, Josh Marchok, walk out of the door and onto the campus at Stanford, had to have been hard to take for his teammates and coach Mike Levanti. But Marchok's will to win and desire to work harder than anyone else stayed with those who are back for another season, so despite the loss of the Saxons' award-winning standout, the Saxons just might be one of the favorites to achieve big success again this year. "There's not much more to say about Josh that wasn't already said, and obviously we're going to miss him, especially when you take a look at an early schedule which includes OPRF, Marist, Barrington and the (Dvorak) -- all before Christmas. But although we'll still be young, we've got a terrific core back, and a very talented freshmen class which should help us through the rough spots," said LeVanti. The Saxons' captain, four-year starter Gomez, is poised for a big season, and the addition of Oswego transfer Luke Gruszka will help bolster the middle of the lineup. The rookie class LeVanti spoke of (Rice, Logan Gruskza, Vezzetti) will make an immediate imprint on the landscape by the first of the year. The Saxons' strength at the upper weights could be the difference in expected tightly contested duals with divisional rivals Barrington and Conant.

WEST SUBURBAN GOLD

Leyden

Coach: Mike Fumagalli (1st year) Last year: 11-12-0 (5-1-0)

Graduation losses: Jake McCabe (thee-time sectional qualifier, 27w, UW-Whitewater), Jesse McCabe (two-time state qualifier, three-time sectional qualifier, 32w, Harper), Andy Cocozza (25w, Jr. National team member, Triton), Luis Pacheco (sectional qualifier, 17w).

Key returnees: Seniors Javier Rhoades (sectional qualifier, 27w, 220, 285), Steven Alfaro (17w, 182), Nate Carrasco (15w, 132); sophomores Ryan Soch (sectional qualifier, 13w, 120), Matt Wnek (sectional qualifier, 10w, 126).

New faces to watch: Senior Todd Cruz (138); freshman Jeremiah Recinos (120).

Lowdown: A new era begins in a couple of different ways at Leyden after former St. Charles star Jason Potter returns to his alma mater to lead the Fighting Saints. Meanwhile, it's the first time since 2000 that a McCabe family member will not be a part of the Leyden varsity roster. The program is fortunate to have the talented Mike Fumagalli, who assisted for five seasons alongside Potter, to run the show. After what will probably a brief rebuild on the fly, the Eagles will once again thrive under the confident and upbeat new head coach. "I am not a fan of the word 'rebuilding' -- it sometimes suggests weakness, which certainly is not the case here. Many will write us off because we're in a supposed transition phase now that Jason is gone, but I can you we will be highly competitive, and the plan is to win the conference," says Fumagelli, who prepped at Joilet, and later assisted under former two-time state champ Brad Smith of Hersey at state power Iowa City High. The Eagles' coach will deal with the loss of Jake and Jesse McCabe and all of their countless victories with a deep and talented bunch at the lower weights, and a ready-to-go crop of freshmen and sophomores.

CENTRAL SUBURBAN NORTH

Maine West

Coach: Lance Weber (4th year)

Last year: 20-4-0 (CSL North champs), lost to Naperville Central in dual-team sectional semifinal.

Graduation losses: Rico Zayas (state qualifier, regional champ, 35w, Iowa State), Colin Gratz (two-time sectional qualifier, 38w, wrestling at Marian Military Institute), Jake Korbecki (sectional qualifier, regional champ, 37w, Montana), Ben Kindle (sectional qualifier, regional champ, 32w, wrestling at Loras College, Iowa), Jordan Passah (state qualifier, regional champ, 27w, wrestling at Harper), Max Hanak (sectional qualifier, 29w), Rogelio Rodriguez (sectional qualifier, 23w, Wisconsin-Platteville, football), Robbie Jones (sectional qualifier, 26w, Illinois), Zach Watson (sectional qualifer, 20w), Tom Sunny (sectional qualifier, regional champ, 20w), Al Dorado (wrestling at Harper), Eric Vogel (wrestling at Knox College), Steve Carlson (15w), Shavin Ellickal.

Key returnees: Seniors Jason Selby (145, 6w), Mitch Riportella (190, 5w), Ryan Lowe (138); junior Adeel Afshar (120, 29w).

New faces: Juniors Kevin Mendoza (138), Jamie Marquez (285); sophomores DJ Meyer (106), Ryan Burkhardt (113), Cameron Burkhardt (113), Joey Vogeny (160), Filipe Libera (126), Leo Bravo (132), Charlie Bowman (126); freshman Jake Riportella (145,152).

Lowdown: Graduation ripped apart Maine West's championship team from a year ago which set all sorts of records en route to its first regional title since 1999, and nearly a spot in the final 8 at the 3A state tournament. Even the most ardent of Warriors fans must have had realized the reign was over after coach Lance Weber waved goodbye to a superb cast of wrestlers, which included two state qualifiers, eight sectional qualifiers and nearly 320 victories from a battle-tested, unselfish bunch which put the team ahead of everything else in its quest for success. "It was a great group of young men who worked hard and enjoyed being teammates with each other, and one that I'll certainly remember," Weber said. "But although we're going to incredibly young this season, we've got a room full of guys who are hard workers and want to do well for themselves as the next generation of wrestlers here at Maine West."

St. Viator

Coach: Jeff Kramarczyk (5th year)

Last year: 3-16-0 (0-6-0)

Graduation losses: Elliot Hilgert (two-time sectional qualifier, 3rd in ESCC, 26w, Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago), Joe Bansfield (13w).

Key returnees: Senior Ethan Jedziniak (138); junior Kyle Koss (126).

New faces: Sophomores Brandon Suchyta (132), Shamon Johnson (152); freshman Joe McIntyre (160).

Lowdown: It seems right when the Lions are ready to make a giant step forward in rebuilding, one of their best moves on to college, leaving behind a less than experienced bunch without a proven leader. Such is the case once again for coach Jeff Kramarczyk, who said so long to three-year star Elliot Hilgert, who was the last of a string of talented veterans who all began just about when the coach did, five years ago. However, although the Lions enter the season with a familiar feeling of too much youth and experience to compete with ESCC big boys such as Marist and Notre Dame, there appears to be reason for optimism at St. Viator. "As a coaching staff, we're very exited about the level of dedication and work ethic we've seen from a very young but enthusiastic group who are all anxious to go out and get a ton of matches under their belts against some of the best," said Kramarczyk. "I feel this is the best young group we've had here, and a great sign for the future of our program."

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