Scouting dual team wrestling
The 29th dual-team state series, and fifth since the move to a three-class system, gets under way with Tuesday's sectional around the state.
The athletes and team involved face plenty of challenges. The bulk of the competitors on each team have been idle as the individual state championships were finished, but wrestlers still need to make weight while trying to stay match-fit and injury free.
Here's a quick peek at two area sectionals, the winners will advance to the Elite Eight in Bloomington on Saturday morning:
Barrington (15-7-0) vs. Grant (20-1-0), 6 p.m.
How they got here: Barrington broke open a close team race with both Cary-Grove and Deerfield to win the Lake Zurich regional in dramatic fashion to advance to its fourth straight dual-team sectional. Ben Calamari, who earn a fifth-place medal last weekend in Champaign, proved the deciding factor for the team race with a victory in the final match of the tournament to help the Broncos ease past Deerfield by just 1.5 overall points. Kevin Conrad, Mark Shealy and Calamari each won their second straight regional title to help give their club important bonus points in order to stay ahead of the hard-charging Warriors and FVC runner-up Cary-Grove. There was less stress for Grant in its 21-point win over long-time NSC rival Libertyville in what became a two-team race after FVC champ McHenry ran out of steam in the upper weights. The Bullodgs' second straight regional crown was fueled by superior depth throughout the lineup with nine medalists, including four from 182 up.
Who to watch: Barrington state qualifiers Miguel Camarena (26-14), Conrad (32-13), Coord Wiseman (31-9) Shealy (36-7), Calarmari (37-9), plus Mitch Stathakis (106, 25-16), Austin Mazzenga (113, 20-12), Matt Conrad (126, 29-15), Jack Bornofen (220, 31-11). Grant state qualifiers Nick Koch (106, 38-11), Tony Cashmore (182, 33-2), plus Gage Datlovksy (113, 31-15), Troy Parent (120, 30-9), Nick Fanella (138, 28-12), Mike Kouvelis (145, 29-15), Jared Lalanda (195, 34-9), Conor Haran (220, 38-10), Dan Haeffele (285, 33-8).
Storyline: Barrington has had the Bulldogs' number in the last two meetings, the first coming last season at these same duals, when they eliminated coach Ryan Geist's club, then again during the regular season this winter in a 32-15 decision.
"Barrington got us pretty good the first time around, so obviously we're pleased to have another chance at them tonight," said Geist, who watched both Koch and Cashmore go home with individual state medals Saturday night. "The hope, as always, is to have your guys still in shape, and ready to go after many of them haven't competed (now) in two-plus weeks. And for some of those guys, they will have the chance to bounce back after they were unable to qualify to go downstate. "
Broncos coach Ken Hoving feels the win early on over Grant is a good thing, especially for many of his first-year wrestlers. But as always in the dual team tournament, it's all about matchups.
"We figure it to be your typical high-profile dual where we'll need to keep a careful eye on how (Grant) might play it, then we hope to stay away from bonus points and certain guys in their lineup who might have an advantage over your guy. It all sounds simple to do, but the bottom line is your guys have to go out and wrestle hard, because their kids are always well coached and especially dangerous this time of the season," said Hoving, who was on the 1999-2000 Conant state team under Jim Cartwright.
Next move: The winner advances into the 3A state quarterfinals at 11 a.m. Saturday to take on the Edwardsville-Lincoln-Way West winner at the U.S. Cellular Coliseum in Bloomington.
New Trier (15-9-0) vs. Machesney Park Harlem (16-2-0)6 p.m.
Storyline: Coach Marc Tadelman guided the Trevians to their third regional in four years two weeks ago at Fremd, outscoring runner-up Prospect by 19 points, while watching four of his guys winning it all, including senior Chris Alcock ( 31-8) who would later go on to garner a fifth-place state medal at 126 pounds. The Trevians advanced five wrestlers into the state tournament, and each will need to be in peak form to upset No. 7 Harlem, which boasts strength up and down its lineup beginning with senior Jordan Northrup (126, 43-1), a three-time state medalist and 2012 state champion who is currently rated No. 20 in the nation by Intermat Magazine.
Next move: The winner advances into the 3A state quarterfinals at 9 a.m. Saturday to take on the Glenbard North-Notre Dame winner in Bloomington.
AT LAKE PARK
Conant (11-4-0) vs. Oak Park-River Forest (31-1-0), 6 p.m.
How they got here: After missing out on winning a regional title last year to South Elgin on the last match of the tournament, the Cougars fired back with more urgency this season to capture the top prize at Schaumburg over its division rival Saxons by 26.5 points. The MSL West runners-up celebrated with four individual titles while advancing eight individuals into the Maine East sectional. During the regular season, Conant coach Chad Hay made sure his club remained sharp by having state-ranked opponents Libertyville, Lyons Township and Notre Dame on the schedule, and it paid off when the Cougars won the team title at Leyden for a second consecutive time before later capturing its regional crown.
Who to watch: Conant state qualifiers Bobby Alexander (120, 34-4), Mitch Alexander (152, 11-2), plus Danny Madonia (106, 28-9), Zack Davis (126, 25-14), Ben Clifford (132, 32-6), Griff Rose (138, 22-15), Nico Gottardo (160, 18-12), Tyler LaBarbera (220, 19-11). Oak Park-River Forest's Isaiah White (126, 45-3), Larry Early (132, 45-0), John Gahagen (145, 37-9), Kamal Bay (152, 28-6), Davonte Mahomes (160, 44-1), Joe Arreola (182, 46-0), Andre Lee (195, 31-8).
Storyline: That's right -- 31 victories for the Huskies. Coach Mike Powell's club has gone everywhere and beaten everyone, except for its lone defeat to No. 5 St. Michael-Albertville (Minn.). The No. 9-rated team in the nation crushed the field at the York regional, sending 13 of 14 weight classes to the sectional. OPRF then sent 11 downstate, where White, Early, Bay and Mahomes all medaled, with Areola (46-0), a senior, winning it all at 182 pounds. This is the first time since 2005 that the Cougars have appeared in the postseason, when then-coach (and now athletic director) John Kane directed his club into the dual-team state series and brilliant 160-pounder Dominic Marella, a state runner-up, led them on the mats.
"It was truly a team effort that helped us with that regional title," said Hay. "The guys worked hard all season to get better, which helped this group achieve the success late in the season, and for many of them who were a part of that team which fell just short last season, it was something they used as motivation all throughout the year." The Cougars are led by Bobby and Mitch Alexander, as well as Clifford, who came back after a two-year hiatus to become captain and lead by example in the room. Regardless of the outcome tonight, Hay and his staff have a wonderful returning core from this club and should once again be one of the best in the MSL next season.
Next move: The winner advances into the 3A state quarterfinals at 9 a.m. Saturday to take on the Hinsdale Central-Sandburg winner in Bloomington.
Glenbard North (15-6-0) vs. Notre Dame (16-4-0) 6 p.m.
Storyline: The Panthers have appeared in so many dual-team sectionals on the first Tuesday after the individual state tournament each year, the day is always listed in bold print on the official team schedule as a regular stop. Since the inception of the three-class system in 2009, the Panters have advanced into the state tournament, winning it all in 2011 over Minooka. Coach Mark Hahn led his team to yet another regional title on its home mats this season, then a week later sent seven downstate with junior phenom Jered Cortez (126, 47-0) easily winning his second straight title. Three others medaled for Glenbard North. The Panthers' strength at the lower weights (Patrick Augustyn, 103; Jon Marmolejo, 120; Johnny Gosinski, 132) is probably too much firepower for the Dons to overcome despite the talented trio of Jimmy Gallardo (113, 33-4), Sean Heneghan (152, 31-9) and heavyweight Gino Orlandi (32-10) in the lineup for longtime coach Augie Genovesi.
Next move: The winner advances into the 3A quarterfinals at 9 a.m. Saturday to take on the New Trier-Machesney Park winner in Bloomington.
-- Mike Garofola