Scouting regional wrestling / Northwest
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Saturday's schedule: 9 a.m. start; 3:15 finals
Advancement: Top 3 individuals into Barrington sectional. Team champ advances to dual-team sectional TBA.
Cast: Fremd, Hersey, Prospect, Rolling Meadows, Wheeling, Glenbrook North, Glenbrook South, Loyola, New Trier.
Storyline: A regular in the dual-team sectional since taking over at New Trier, coach Marc Tadelman has guided the Trevians to three regional titles in four seasons, including last year when his club overwhelmed the current field at this venue, minus Rolling Meadows, which joined the guest list this time around. The Trevs were not at full strength recently when they finished four overall the CSL tournament, but New Trier appears to be returning to form just in time with MSL East champ Prospect (19-8-0) eager to erase a less that satisfactory finish recently at the conference tournament. The Knights put through four into the finals, but came away with just one champion, that coming from Frank Walter at 220 pounds.
"The strength of this team is at the upper weights, and that's where we expect to get bonus points and more, but it's a team effort, and we need to get help from the lower part of our lineup if we expect to challenge for a team championship," said Prospect coach Tom Whalen leading up to the MSL tourney.
Division rivals Hersey and Wheeling, with MSL champs Hunter Rollins (160, 33-2), Matt Korff (170, 25-9), Ricky Muro (126, 22-9) and Tulag Zuunbayan (138, 30-7), cold disrupt the final outcome with another strong day, as can a handful of others, such as Cody Hauser (160, 23-10) and Addison Narter (170, 26-5), who would like nothing more than to shine on their home mats.
Worth the (weight): 220: Walter (29-5), Ed Beyer (Hersey, 21-10), Sal Dominguez (Wheeling, 15-12), Djamano N'Towe (Fremd, 9-9), Jacob Suter (GBS, 27-2), John Benson (NT, 33-6): Walter was behind state qualifier Max Triveline last season, but his coming out party has been a dandy thus far, as has Beyer's, who in 2012 won just six as the Huskies heavyweight. Suter and Benson were 1-2 at the CSL last week, with Suter currently ranked No. 8 in the state polls.
MVP candidates: Rollins, Shola George (Prospect, 285, ), MJ Prtichard (New Trier, 32-4).
AT LAKE ZURICH
Saturday's schedule: 9 a.m. start, 3:30 p.m. finals
Advancement: Top 3 individuals into Barrington sectional; team champion advaces to dual-team sectional TBA.
Cast: Barrington, Buffalo Grove, Cary-Grove, Deerfield, Highland Park, Lake Forest, Lake Zurich, Palatine, Stevenson.
Storyline: Expect a spirited, edgy race to the end from Barrington, Cary-Grove and Deerfield, which all met during the regular season but decided little, except to know just how close they are to one other and how tight the team race will be at this regional.
"This one is going to be a hard fight, so we're going to count on everyone, whether in the front draw or wrestlebacks making big contributions along the way to give us every single point we can get," said Barrington coach Ken Hoving, after watching his club win its third consecutive MSL crown last weekend. The No. 20 Broncos (15-7-0), looking for their third consecutive regional crown, beat Cary-Grove (30-27) but lost to Deerfield (32-30), while Marc Pechters' No. 17 Warriors (25-4-0), fresh off a CSL title, lost to No. 19 Cary-Grove (23-5) on that same day.
"I think most weights will be difficult, and it could just come down to who has the best health, and the better day," said Pechter. Each division appears solid at the top end, making the grab for perhaps the final qualifying spot frenzied.
The host Bears can never be overlooked as Dan Strickler's gritty, hard-nosed team always makes a late push once many of his guys are fit and at weight after extended stays with the school's high-profile football team. NSC champs Brandon Arteaga (138, 32-4), Sean Lynch (152, 15-3) and Alex Zurawski (195, 23-9) are difference-makers, and sure to make an imprint on their respective bracket by the end of the tournament. FVC runner-up Cary-Grove, coached by Ryan Ludwig, hopes to come aggressive and stay alive in the front draw deep into the tournament, then secure a handful of individual titles along the way. "We could have wrestled better at the FVC tournament," said Ludwig, "but the competition in the room has been very high of late, and if we go out and wrestle at a high level, get ourselves bonus points when we can and win those tight matches, we'll be there in the end." The Trojans sent five into the finals last weekend, coming away with three champs -- Michael Cullen (113), Logan Hanselmann (120, 27-6) and Michael Underwood, 138, 34-7) who is on a mission after falling 1 win short of going downstate last February. Teammates Emerson Kersten (170, 20-9) and Patrick O'Malley (182, 16-8) earned second-place FVC medals, and each will look to upend the expected No. 1 seeds, Colton Emmerich (Deerfield, 170, 27-7) and Barrington Mark Shealy (182, 31-6), to get an all important first-round bye at the Barrington sectional next week.
Weight watching: 132: Brian Egan (Buffalo Grove, 29-0), Kevin Conrad (Barrington, 26-11), Gresh Henderson (Lake Zurich, 32-5), Mikalos Jackson (Palatine, 12-19), Jeff Spinello (Deerfield, 15-16): This could be one of the most entertaining divisions, with the top three all state-ranked (with Egan highest at No. 9). Broncos senior Kevin Conrad is coming off a heart-stopping OT final with Conant's Benny Clifford to give him his second consecutive MSL crown. Plenty of indirect wins and losses among the trio, but none have faced each other until this weekend.
285: Ben Calamari (Barrington, 29-7), Jeramey Dermont (Cary-Grove, 25-14), Christian Durant (Buffalo Grove, 15-18), Tyler Gibson (Palatine, 6-11), JJ Nawrot (Deerfield, 30-4): At first glance, it would appear it will be a Calamari vs. Nawrot final, perhaps deciding the eventual team champion as well. However, in the land of heavyweights, anything and everything is possilble. One false move, and one of the favorites is in a head-lock, and sent into wrestle-backs. C-G's (Dermont) took the eventual FVC champ from McHenry (Angel Hernandez) to OT in his semis before falling 6-4.
Fun finals: 113: Cullen (37-0) vs. Jordan Lieberman (Deerfield, 30-3). 145: Justin Weber (Stevenson, 33-2), Coord Wiseman (Barrington, 22-5).
Saturday's schedule: 9 a.m. start, 2 p.m. finals
Advancement: Top 3 individuals into Maine East sectional; team champion advances to Lake Park dual-team sectional.
Cast: Addison Trail, Conant, Elk Grove, Hoffman Estates, Lake Park, Maine East, Maine West, Schaumburg, Streamwood.
Storyline: There are few problems that depth and balance cannot overcome, and twin MSL powers Conant and Schaumburg are lacking in neither, which makes them the favorites on the Saxons' home mats. The long-time conference rivals went 2-3 at the league tournament last weekend, seperated by just a half of a point, and their recent tightly-contested dual narrowly went in favor of the Cougars (11-4-0). Conant coach Chad Hay and Schaumburg coach Mike Levanti are brothers-in-law, so the familiarity between the programs is high. "It's going to be between us and them for the regional title," said Levanti, "but there's plenty of good wrestlers from the other teams that will be diffference-makers, and we're going to have to wrestle a lot better and smarter than we did on the second day of the conference tournament if we expect to move on." The Saxons (12-8-0) sent five into the MSL finals, coming away with titles from freshman Logan Gruszka (106, 31-6), his brother (Luke, 152, 30-4) and Matt Stopka's (195, 29-6). Sophomore Bobby Alexander (120, 27-2) was Conant's MSL champ; his senior brother Mitch (5-0), a sectional qualifier last season, might be the wild card in this tight race if given the green light to go as he recovers from a concussion.
There are plenty of others to watch, beginning with MSL runners-up Alex Tooren (182, 30-8) and Dawid Wilczak (152, 24-7) from Hoffman Estates, in addition to Elk Grove senior Dan Egan (220, 12-2) who had a good showing at the conference tournament.
Four-time Upstate Eight champ Austin Schoen (Lake Park, 29-3) figures to be Champaign-bound, while Streamwood junior Alex Curtis (126, 23-7) hopes to make it, at the very least, his third trip to the sectionals.
A young Maine West club has several talented individuals looking to make their first big splash in the postseason. Adeel Afshar (120, 31-9) and sophomore Joe Vogeney (170, 32-9) spearhead the Warriors' attack, as do Brendon Hanak (160), who missed the CSL tournament with an illness but is ready to go according to coach Lance Weber.
"Adeel is a tough wrestler who works very hard, and it would difficult to find a nicer, more well rounded student-athlete than him," Weber said. "As for (Vogeney), he's had a great season as a sophomore at an upper weight, and when he's wrestling well, his unorthodox style helps keep him in every match."
MVP candidates: Alexander, Luke Gruszka, Schoen, Benny Clifford (Conant, 29-4).
Saturday's schedule: 9 a.m. start, 2 p.m. finals
Advancement: Top 3 individuals into Maine East sectional; team champion to Lake Park dual-team sectional
Cast: Leyden, Glenbard East, Glenbard West, Foreman, Oak Park-River Forest, St. Patrick, Willowbrook, York.
Storyline: Oak Park-River Forest is the most successful team in the state this season, illustrated by its recent defeat over 2A power Montini and a sparkling 29-1 record which includes five victories over nationally ranked teams. The Huskies' lineup is loaded, and with six in the state's top 10, so it's clear who is the overwhelming favorite here. "No doubt, OPRF wins it all, but there's still a lot of very good individuals throughout the classes, and we hope to get our fair share through and into the sectionals next week," said Leyden coach Mike Fumagalli. The Eagles first-year coach will be leaning on the quartet of Jeremiah Recinos (120), Tyler Jones (145, 20-9), Steven Alfaro (182, 25-9) and heavyweight Javier Rhoades (21-4) to break free of the competition. "(D'Andre) Johnson (of Glenbard East, 33-5) is the obvious No. 1 seed here because he beat Javy (9-8) at the Berman, and although Johnson is very dangerous, my guy will be looking for redemption, and I know he'll be ready.
MVP candidates: Javier Rhoades (Leyden), Devonte Mahomes (OPRF, 160, 34-0).
Saturday's schedule: 9 a.m. start, 3 p.m. finals
Advancement: Top 3 individuals into Antioch sectional; team champion to Antioch dual-team sectional.
Cast: St. Viator, Antioch, Carmel, Grayslake Central, Grayslake North, Lakes, North Chicago, Vernon Hills, Wauconda.
Storyline: St. Viator once again found themselves shipped north for the start of the state series, and will be in the middle of what looks like a battle royale between a trio of clubs from the NSC to decide who moves on. No. 13 Antioch (15-15) advanced to its first-ever state series one year ago, however, conference rivals Vernon Hills (17-7) and No. 12 Wauconda (11-7) both stated their intentions on the final week of the regular season with solid efforts at the Antioch super-duals. Sophomore Brandon Suchyta (132) and senior Will Beiersdorf (170) hope to carry the St. Viator flag forward for another week after each earned third-place medals last week at the Marist-dominated finals of the ESCC.
Suchyta (18-12) is in a group led by state ranked Mike Gussarson (Antioch, 32-8) and Wauconda senior Devin Tortorice (31-4), both 2012 state qualifiers. Beiersdorf (19-14) will have Jared Smith (Lakes, 29-15) and Alex Schwickrath (Wauconda, 27-9) to contend with as the likely top two seeds.
MVP candidates: Jake Cochrane (Carmel, 285, 35-0), Nate Magiera (Wauconda, 220, 29-0).
-- compiled by Mike Garofola