Austin Schoen is on pace to etch his name among the immortals of wrestling in the Upstate Eight Conference.
The Lake Park senior, bidding for a fourth consecutive league title, was one of 14 top-seeded athletes to advance into the semifinals of the individual conference championship Friday night in Batavia.
“(I would be the) ninth-ever wrestler to win all four years,” said Schoen, a returning state qualifier at 145 pounds. “I’m really looking forward to (the possibility), especially with Lake Park leaving the Upstate Eight for the DVC. This is our last chance to win (an Upstate Eight individual title).”
All 14 programs advanced at least one individual to the Final Four.
St. Charles East, the regular-season River champion, and Waubonsie Valley, which captured the Valley, have a combined 16 qualifiers with the Saints leading all programs with nine semifinalists.
Host Batavia also advanced seven individuals, headlined by Joey Shump, the 126-pounder who extended his season-long winning streak to 32 matches with a second-period fall in the quarterfinals.
Waubonsie Valley senior Jimmy Davis is the Warriors’ bedrock in anchoring their first conference championship in 15 years.
Davis will meet district rival Justin Klein in the second semifinal at 132 pounds; both wrestlers advanced with technical falls.
“I had a lot points of tilts (a type of near-fall),” Davis said. “I knew a lot of tilts would work for me.”
Howard Beatty is seeded second to Schoen at 145 pounds for Waubonsie Valley.
The senior is closing in on 30 wins after advancing with a routine win.
There is another Indian Prairie showdown at 170 pounds as Waubonsie Valley junior Mitch Kroening advanced to face top-seeded Breon Hoosier, a Metea Valley senior.
“I’m really happy with the way the guys (who advanced) came out,” Waubonsie Valley coach Brad Caldwell said. “I don’t think any (of the seven) are overmatched (in their semifinal matches). There’s no reason not think (all seven could make the finals).”
As expected, Neuqua Valley stalwarts Connor Swier and Andrew Geers cruised into the semifinals at 182 pounds and heavyweight.
But of the six Wildcats still alive in the championship bracket, the biggest surprise was Brent Lindeman knocking second-seeded Cam Carlson of St. Charles East out with a 5-1 win at 170 pounds.
“I was just keeping the right position the whole time,” Lindeman said.
Twenty-three local athletes in all made the semifinal cut.
Lake Park was fourth among the 14 schools with most advancers with six.
Metea Valley had three win quarterfinal matches.
St. Charles East continued its magical season by leading all programs in semifinalists.
The Saints’ three top seeds — Ryan Rubino, Isaiah Vela and Ramon Lopez had few issues at 113, 132 and 152 pounds — had few issues in advancing.
Keegan Furmanski is one of the Saints’ quiet leaders who has had a major influence on St. Charles East this winter.
The senior 195-pounder will have another try at Batavia senior Mickey Watson, who returned after a prolonged absence in breezing to a technical fall in the fourth quarterfinal.
Watson nosed out Furmanski in the schools’ dual meet last December.
Furmanski scored with abandon in turning back Metea Valley senior Mike Moore-Biscan for the third time this season.
“I only pinned him once,” Furmanski said. “I like to say it has taken 11 minutes and 57 seconds (of total time) to pin him.”
Brad Kearbey ended his match in the second period to advance for the Saints at 160 pounds.
“I got (my opponent) tired and was able to pin him right away,” Kearbey said.
Anthony Rubino won for the 25th time in his freshman campaign for the Saints at 106 pounds.
Ryan Valesh (126 pounds), Keone Derain (145) and Jordan Meadows (182) were the Saints’ final three to qualify.
“Overall, the team looked pretty good,” St. Charles East coach Jason Potter said. “This tournament is a mini-reflection of what the regional is going to look like with all the holes in the some of the (conference) schools’ lineups.”
Charlie Smorczewski and Jon Wagner took entirely different routes in advancing for Batavia.
The former needed overtime to dispatch a determined Jake Mende (St. Charles East) at 138 pounds, while Wagner, the top-seed at 160, terminated his quarterfinal early in the second period.
“I just went for what was there,” Smorczewski said of his overtime takedown.
“I have had a lot of experience wrestling,” Wagner said of his quick night. “I am trusting in my conditioning.”
The Bulldogs have the final three weight classes covered behind Watson, Connor McKeehan and heavyweight Mitch Krusz.
Mike Doranski earned the Bulldogs’ final berth at 106 pounds.
Geneva will have three competitors vying for a conference crown today.
Senior Brad Martens justified his top seed with a fall early in the third period for the Vikings at 120 pounds.
Alex Kunkle also had a fall to advance against the Bulldogs’ Wagner at 160 pounds, and Jake Boser ensured a semifinal berth with his win at 182 pounds for Geneva.
The entire St. Charles North program will have Wes Pasholk as its only conference hope; the senior 220-pounder turned back the Saints’ Peter Banks at 220 pounds.
“We play rugby together,” the North Stars’ top-seed said of Banks. “The first time we wrestled (in the season opener before Thanksgiving which Pasholk won 1-0), there was a lot of pressure on me because it was the last match, and we hadn’t won any of them.”
Eleven athletes from the five Elgin-area high schools advanced out of the quarterfinal round.
Bartlett, South Elgin and Elgin each had three athletes win their quarterfinal matches; Streamwood and Larkin had one apiece.
Brian Boyle emerged victorious in a high-scoring match against Metea Valley senior Alex Toepfer at 152 pounds to earn one of the Bartlett slots.
“You wrestle hard for six minutes, and good things happen,” Boyle said. “I just went out there and wanted it more than he did.”
The Hawks’ Anthony Zipparro had one of the quickest quarterfinal falls to advance at 120 pounds.
Sal Annoreno, the only state champion in history for Bartlett, had an abbreviated night to ease into the semifinals at 138 pounds.
Jeffery Morrow, Zach McCullough and Ritchie Santana continued their splendid work for Elgin; the Maroons’ triumvirate, all coming off invitational triumphs, advanced at 106, 113 and 195 pounds, respectively.
South Elgin has Mike Perez (120 pounds), Cory Pych (126) and Ben Abraham (152) to further its cause in the conference finals.
Streamwood heavyweight Alex Rader had a comfortable decision over Geneva junior Jake Anderson to earn the Sabres’ lone berth.
Kory Plate has the same distinction for Larkin after surviving a grueling 2-1 decision in overtime to Batavia sophomore Noah Frazier.
“My stamina helped me through the match,” the 182-pound senior said. “It really helped me win it.”
“We wrestled some really good matches,” Larkin coach Steve Hoyt said. “This is a tough conference. We had to wrestle a lot of the top seeds.”
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