Coach: Dave Durlacher (8th year)
Last year: 9-11-0
Graduation losses: Brian Egan (2-time state qualifier, 2012 , 38w, Augustana), Jamie Coyoc (sectional qualifier, regional champ, 26w), Rob Mowery (23w), Zach Masciopinto (12w, soccer)
Key returners: Seniors Jake Siebert (152, 25w), Christian Durant (285, 17w), Steve Gutierrez (113, 8w).
New faces: Seniors Chase Ori (126), Blake Yonan (132), Dillon Eaton (138), Ulysses Ocampo (152), Kris Biestek (195); junior Jeremy Lin (126); sophomores Jake Greenberg (106, 113), Colin Bush (106,113); freshmen Sam Haro (182).
Outlook: Departures in recent years have persistently weakened the Bison's chances, and the exit of recent standout Brian Egan is a blow to the rebuilding hopes of coach Dave Durlacher. "For the first time since I've been here, we will be without a state, or sectional qualifier in our lineup, and with just three returning starters from a year ago, we're going to have some trouble in our duals," says Durlacher, who will lean on Egan's workout partner Jake Siebert. He appears ready to take a big step forward. Bison big man Christian Durant was 1 win away from advancing to sectionals and should be one of the best at his weight in the MSL this season.
Coach: Phil Winter (2nd year)
Last year: 4-14-0 (0-5-0)
Graduation losses: Dan Egan (regional champ, 15w), Jon Ebert (24w, SIU), Mikey Maize (sectional qualifier, 18w), Landon Hertzberg (14w).
Key returners: Seniors Senior Ethan Hartowitz (182, 17w); juniors Sean Oldenberg (170, 10w), Dominic Stacey (145,152, 8w), Luis Gonzalez (138, 7w), Eugene Art (152, 7w); sophomore Mike Olsen (160, 14w).
New faces: Juniors Jimmy Rushing (113), Dan Jamison (220), Pedro Martinez (285).
Outlook: Phil Winters is hoping his Big Three from last year made enough of an impression on a super-young roster to inspire better things this winter for the second-year head coach. "Egan, Ebert and Maize brought so much intensity and a great work ethic, and despite another young group this season, I feel those returning guys now understand what it takes at his level, and how much it will pay off in the end," says Winters. The Grens will still have a few holes in its lineup as they continue to rebuild, but will look to its lone senior, Hartowitz, in the lineup for leadership.
Coach: Jim Wormsley (11th year)
Last year: 14-8-0 (4-3-0)
Graduation losses: Hunter Rollins (2013 state runner-up, 3-time state qualifier, 2-time state medalist, MSL, regional, sectional champ, 42w, wrestling at Central Michigan), Matt Korff (MSL champ, sectional qualifier, 29w, Indiana University ), Deon Rice (2012 state qualifier, sectional qualifier, 30w, Harper), Ed Beyer (22w, Elmhurst College), Mike Conklin (15w)
Key returners: Seniors Tom Somenek (152, 22w), Dean Simmons (160, 7w), Anthony O'Brien (113, 9w); juniors Tyler Cooke (285, 16w), Mark Trevino (145); sophomores Mitch MacTavish (106, regional champ), Grant Warner (132,138, 12w).
New faces: Seniors George Vladimirov (220), Artem Myshlyaev (138); juniors Bryan Casteneda (132), Jorge Montesinos (170,182), Steve Psaradellis (195), Austin Wade (145,152); sophomore John Perricone (120,126); freshmen Jalen Shaw (126,132).
Lowdown: It will be strange not seeing the headline-making machine of Rollins in the Huskies lineup for the first time since stepping onto the mats four years ago. Coach Jim Wormsley knew his standout would help keep his club on or near the top of division with his leadership, bonus points and sheer determination. "It's nearly impossible to replace a young man like Hunter who gave us so much while he was here, but we've got a couple of seniors who are stepping up and trying to fill that void, and I am sure it will only get better as the year goes on," said the Huskies coach. One of those veterans, Somenek, enjoyed a nice first full season with varsity last winter, while MacTavish is the lone returning sectional qualifier and one that bares watching in his division.
Coach: Tom Whalen (5th year)
Last year: 19-6-0 (5-0-0), MSL East champions
Graduation losses: Shola George (two-time state qualifier, regional champ, 43w, playing football at Mankato State), Dan Fiumetto (regional champ, 40w), Frank Walter (MSL champ, 32w, Merchant Marines), Joe Zalewski (regional champ, 30w), Abe Henker (Harper).
Key returners: Seniors Brian Maigler (145, sectional qualifier, 30w), Jackson Wrede (195, regional champ, 23w), Joe Benway (120, sectional qualifier, 20w), Sam Lobono (126, 2012 sectional qualifier, 16w), Ian Rose (138), Mike Ragucci (145); juniors Alex Straczek (106,113, sectional qualifier, 16w), Adrian Wroblewski (152, regional champ, 28w), sophomores Frank Mazur (106)Tanner Strobel (160, 9w).
New faces: Seniors Alex Peck (220), Nick Ragucci (195); juniors James Ford (195), Dema Govalla (220), Chris Rivera (120,126), freshmen Matt Wroblewski (160).
Lowdown: A team which has enjoyed tremendous strength at the upper weights to help in a successful two-year run in the conference returns this season with excellent depth and strength at the other end of the lineup. The Knights are the favorite in the MSL's East Division, much to the surprise of coach Tom Whalen. "We obviously have concerns about how to replace all the bonus points our big guys gave us last year, and although we lost a lot through graduation, we still have a nice group back up top, and a lot of competition everywhere else," Whalen said. "But we'll have to see if everything falls into place." The Knights nearly lifted a regional trophy last winter when their big men mashed the competition from 182 and up. Regional champs Wroblewski and Wrede appear ready to shoulder more responsibility, as do four others who enjoyed sectional qualifying seasons.
Coach: Dave Froehlich (36th year)
Last year: 6-16-0
Graduation losses: Zach Schultz (regional champ, 33w, Harper), Richard Stubing (sectional qualifier, 19w), Sean Fitzpatrick (16w).
Key returners: Seniors Lamart Burres (138, sectional qualifier, 18w), Dardan Kardiu (180, sectional qualifier, 20w), Art Salas (120), Bo Sokolov (170), Ruben Guerrero (220), Malack Shahata (285); junior Kasey Jauch (145); sophomores Grant Palmer (195), Luigi Priami (120).
New faces: Seniors James Cheng (170), Brett Hernandez (126), Will Hoppe (132); junior Raumeen Husseini (145); sophomore Eric Chalupa (160); freshmen Liam Collins (113), Nick DelPorte (152), Jackson Kohlberg (106)
Lowdown: A season of one injury after another ravaged this club last season, leaving them to bare bones at times, most clearly illustrated when Dave Froehlich was able to pencil in only half of a lineup at the MSL tournament. "I don't remember in all of my years having the amount of injuries, and how hard it was at time to find enough healthy bodies in order to be comeptitive," Froehlich said. Now Froehlich hopes his 36th and final year at the helm brings better health to a team he thinks can cause trouble for its opponents. "There's a lot of questions marks, but some nice possible answers to what could be a very good team at the end of January," he said. Captains Burres and Kardiu are a dynamic duo, while Jauch, who began last year strong only to felled by a season-ending injury, is another to keep an eye on.
Coach: Neal Weiner (28th year)
Last year: 17-6-0
Graduation losses: Jesus Rodriguez (sectional qualifier, 15w, U.S. Marines), David Rodriguez (sectional qualifier, 24w, Harper), James Cooke (sectional qualifier, 20w), Sal Dominguez (17w, Harper), Jacob Deltoro (15w, Robert Morris), Brandon Harris (14w), Alex Gonzalez (10w, Harper), Jose Cruz (9w).
Key returners: Junior Ricky Muro (125, MSL champ, 23w), David Gonzalez (132, sectional qualifier, 17w), Johny Carvijal (119, 18w), sophomore Munkhutulga Zuunbayan (138, MSL, regional champ, 34w).
New faces: Seniors Sam Blair (170), James Grady (182), Ed Levine (132), Jesus Zaccarias (125); juniors Juan Hernandez (285), Steve Montesinos (152); sophomores Yoni Medina220), Chas Guest (106), David Vergal (125, Josh Diaz (152), Alex Rybak (220), Andrea Bravo (113), Carlos Gils (170), Martin Sanchez (160).
Lowdown: There was a time, not too long ago, that during a four-year stretch when Luke Smith was turning in one brilliant season after another, that the Wildcats enjoyed plenty of success, not only in the MSL, but during the postseason as well. However, the now Central Michigan star and many of his teammates proved simply irreplaceable when bunches of them graduated all at once. So, while those glory years have been difficult to replicate, coach Neal Weiner has done well to make the Cats a competitive group, even without the aforementioned starpower. "Our division will be led by Prospect, which looks to be the best of the group, but we return a couple of MSL champs, and once some of our new guys get some experience in duals and at tournaments, we should be pretty competitive as well when the postseason arrives," said Weiner, who will take over as the dean of all MSL coaches after Meadows' Dave Froehlich moves on.
Coach: Ken Hoving (3rd year)
Last year: 15-8-0 (7-0-0), MSL, regional champions, regional champion, lost to Grant in dual-team sectional semifinal.
Graduation losses: Ben Calamari (5th place state medalist, two-time state qualifier, MSL, regional champ, 38w, NW Missouri State), Kevin Conrad (state qualifier, MSL, regional champ, 32w, Iowa State), Coord Wiseman (2012 state medalist, two-time state qualifier, MSL champ, 31w, TCU), Mark Shealy (state qualifier, two-time sectional qualifier, MSL champ, regional champ, 36w, Notre Dame), Miguel Camarena (state qualifier, regional champ, 26w, Iowa State).
Key returners: Seniors Matt Conrad (132, sectional qualifier, 29w), John Blanke (152, 25w), Jack Bornhofen (220, sectional qualifier, 30w), Jacob Bulandr (195, 6w); juniors, Julius Smith (160)Travis Cysewski (160, 11w), Colin Thomson (182, 10w); sophmore Mitch Stathakis (106, sectional qualifier, 24w).
New faces: Juniors Nick Patino (120), Charlie Erdman (126), Connor Boundy (145), Alex Zentner (285); freshmen Jake Cysewski (106).
Lowdown: Over the past four years, the team in the red-and-black singlets has proved itself the class of the MSL, lifting three straight MSL championship trophies and two trips to the team state tournament as proof. But heavy graduation losses in consecutive years has tested the tremendous depth this program has enjoyed, and this winter, it appears the Broncos have fallen back closer to the rest of the division and to the terrific two-some of Conant and Schaumburg. "We have a tight group which is extremely focused and hungry, and will be there for each other throughout," said coach Ken Hoving. "But our true weakness is our inexperience after losing all five of our state qualifiers, and with them their amazing ability to lead and take charge." Once the Broncos get through an early bout of a variety of injuries and illness, their coach still likes the chances of his team, which features the talented trio of Conrad, Bornhofen and Stathakis (frosh/soph state champion).
Coach: Chad Hay (3rd year)
Last year: 13-6-0 (6-1-0), regional champion, lost to Oak Park-River Forest in dual-team sectional semifinal.
Graduation losses: Mitch Alexander (state qualifier, regional champ, wrestling at Northern Michigan University), Ben Clifford (sectional qualifier, regional champ, 32w), Zach Davis (sectional qualifier, 25w), Aly Ahmed, Cory Ross (11w).
Key returners: Seniors Nico Gottardo (160,170, two-time sectional qualifier, 16w), Tyler LaBarbera (220,285, two-time sectional qualifier, 17w), David Atkin (4w), juniors Bobby Alexander (132, 2012 state medalist, two-time state qualifier, two-time MSL champ, regional champ, 34w), Griff Rose (145,152, two-time sectional qualifier, 21w); sophomore Danny Madonia (113,120, regional champ, 27w).
New faces: Senior David Atkin (145,152), Gus Karapanos (138,145); sophomores Jason Giuliano (106,113), Nick Catalaono (132,138).
Lowdown: A strong run in the final weeks of the season led to the Cougars to their first taste of postseason victory since Chad Hay took over as coach, as Conant won a regional. There's no reason to believe the club cannot duplicate its postseason delight once again -- and the Cougars are hoping an MSL title isn't out of the question, either. "It's a hard-working, solid group we've got back," said Hay, "and there's no doubt we can compete. But we also lost some great talent that we have to find a way to somehow replace." That last part is a reference to Mitch Alexander and Ben Clifford, who were fantastic captains and brilliant individual competitors. Bobby Alexander will be leading the charge from here on out, and the already two-time state qualifier, along with potential standout Danny Madonia delivered their statement of intent by winning titles at the Cougars' own Hruska Classic last weekend. A trio of sectional qualifiers are also back and ready to reinforce the Cougars' attack.
Coach: Ralph Cortez (21st year)
Last year: 1-4-0
Graduation losses: Addison Narter (3rd, MSL, 17w), Josh Schroeder (15w), Greg Klen (16w), Nick Brietzman.
Key returners: Seniors Cody Hauser (170, 26w), Chad Mirabelli (120, sectional qualifier, 14w), Djameno Ntowe (220, 10w), Jake Ellin (138, 13w); junior Dominic Lorig (160, 18w)
New faces: Sophomores Alex Jacobs (195), Tevor Kristo (152)
Outlook: Another long-time MSL coach is in his final season as Ralph Cortez will exit after the current school year comes to an end. The always energetic and passionate Cortez has slowly been turning things over to his younger assistants, including Dave Morelli and former Providence Catholic four-time state qualifier Dan Ruettiger, so the transition has already begun for the Vikings. "We're excited about the strong young nucleus we have in place, but on the other side, we have just one sectional qualifier (Mirabelli) on our roster, and there's just a few who have real varsity experience with us this season," says Morelli. One of those is three-year veteran Hauser, who won 26 times last season but fell 1 victory short of joining his teammates at sectionals.
Coach: Tony Ganas (4th year)
Last year: 3-17-0 (0-5-0)
Graduation losses: Alex Tooren (two-time sectional qualifier, 2013 regional champ, 35w, wrestling at Illinois Wesleyan), David Witczak (sectional qualifier, transfer to Hinsdale South, 28w), Jeremy Halverson, Jose Cruz.
Key returners: Seniors Robert Alvarado (120,126, 22w), Junior Castillo (285, 9w)
New faces: Juniors Mustafa Hashim (132,138), Cliff Eiring (138,145)
Lowdown: The Hawks continue to make strides during their rebuild, albeit not without a few road blocks along the way. After making inroads last season with the 1-2 punch of sectional qualifiers Tooren and Witczak, coach Tony Ganas figured the strong returning trio of Witczak, Robert Alvarado and Junior Castillo would provide enough firepower to make a run at the middle of the pack in the division. "It was tough hearing that (David) had moved out of the area," said Ganas, "but we have a lot of guys back with us, who are capable of having better seasons this year, and appear ready to make a big step forward."
Coach: Dan Collins (11th year)
Last year: 15-12-0 (3-4-0)
Graduation losses: Rocky Allen (sectional qualifier, 26w, SIU), Javier Rivera (Golden Gloves boxer), Austin Hoening (17w), Sergio Hernandez (19w), Tyler Gibson (7w), Omar Perales, Deon Bell (10w), Connor McDonough, Nick Bucholtz (8w), Antonio McBean (6w)
Key returners: Senior Juan Guajardo (126, 14w); juniors Mikalos Jackson (145, 12w), Matt Buffo (138), Austin Tipper (285)
New faces: Sophomores Carsten Anderson (285), Jason Lopez (182), Oscar Rodriguez (106)
Lowdown: With the Pirates slowly coming of age last season after a couple of lean years, heavy graduation losses might slow things down a bit as a host of newcomers get their first taste of varsity competition. "We will be very young, but it's a group that is dedicated, and giving 110 percent each day in the room, and I know that will pay off later on," said coach Dan Collins, who will look for his team to take the initiative in hopes of reaching double-digit wins again after reaching 15 victories a year ago.
Coach: Mike LeVanti (3rd year)
Last year: 13-8-0
Graduation losses: Ivan Gomez (2012 sectional qualifier, 26w, DePaul), Austin Manetta (sectional qualifier, 19w), Tom Palchek (Purdue, 10w)
Key returners: Seniors Matt Stopka (195, state qualifier, MSL, regional champ, 37w), Luke Gruszka (152, state qualifier, MSL champ, 37w), Sadarriss Patterson (170, state qualifier, regional champ, 23w), Matt Zolper (285, sectional qualifier), Eric Race (120, sectional qualifier, 19w); junior Tylor Alanis (220); sophomores Logan Gruszka (132, state qualifier, MSL champ, 34w), Tony Vezzetti (145, 12w), Phil Avela (160)
New faces: Junior Mike Bruno (182, Greco-Roman National Team); sophomore Hazen Rice (106, F/S and Greco-Roman National Team).
Lowdown: The Saxons figure to provide plenty of theatre in their chase for division and conference crowns, along with a concerted effort at winning a regional trophy. "We have a nice mix of youth and experience, and hopefully more depth than we've had in the past to help carry us through when we really need it," said coach Mike LeVanti, "but our concern early on will be the impact felt on the top half of our lineup from the playoff run by our football team," says LeVanti. Hersey still has the horses to compete early on in a power-packed schedule, featuring trips to the Dvorak during the holiday break and later in the high-profile Illini Classic at Lincoln-Way East. Of the nine returners to the lineup, three are state qualifiers (Luke Gruszka, Patterson and Stopka); the off-season success of seven who earned spots on the Junior and Cadet Greco Team further illustrates what the Saxons' attack can deliver. Newcomer Mike Bruno and Stopka garnered all-American honors at Fargo, while Logan Gruszka, and Hazen Rice just missed that recognition.
WEST SUBURBAN GOLD
Coach: Mike Fumagalli (2nd year)
Last year: 11-7-0 (1-5-0)
Graduation losses: Javier Rhoades (state qualifier, sectional, regional champ, 26w, playing football at Carthage College), Tyler Jones (sectional qualifier, 25w, wrestling at Lakeland College, WI.)Steven Alfaro (21w), Nate Carrasco (19w), Dante Fries (19w), Andrew Vernola (9w).
Top returners: Seniors Miro Momchilov (182,195, 11w), Dominick Miro (120,126, 8w); junior Sergio Garcia (106), Matt Wnek (138, 145); sophomore Jeremiah Recenos (132, 22w).
New faces: Seniors Aaron Farkas (145,152), Anthony Lonigro (285), Gabe Santillanes (132); sophomore Fidel Hernandez (132); freshmen Shane Dziadosz (106).
Lowdown: Naturally, for such a young team, the Eagles will be a little rough around the edges in the early going. For the vast majority of this club, it will be their first taste of varsity competition. But in time, coach Mike Fumagalli knows his athletes will learn to deal with the likes of state and conference powers Oak Park, Lyons, Downers Grove South on a nightly basis. "We have a lot of 'big' shoes to fill afer losing four guys who won 20-plus matches, including seven seniors and one of the best in Javier (Rhoades), who led by example on and off the mats in an extraordinary way," said Fumagalli. "We'll be at our best from 120-145 with terrific depth to help us keep us strong in tournaments, but our overall balance will test us early on in our duals."
CENTRAL SUBURBAN NORTH
Coach: Lance Weber (5th year)
Last year: 16-6-0 (4-1-0)
Graduation losses: Mitch Riportella (sectional qualifier, 27w), John Manicke (20w), Brian Hanak (20w), Ryan Lowe (sectional qualifier, 18w), Jake Gice, Jason Selby
Top returners: Seniors Adeel Afshar (132, sectional qualifier, 36w), Brian Cutro (220, sectional qualifier, 26w), Jamie Marquez (285, sectional qualifier, 25w), Kevin Mendoza (138, 18w); juniors Joey Vogeney (182, regional champ, 35w), Brendon Lowe (13w).
New faces: Senior Jakari Glover (170); sophomores Jake Riportella (152), Nikolas Apostopoulos (120).
Lowdown: Warriors coach Lance Weber seemed like a magician as he conjured up yet another stellar year after losing nearly 300 individual victories to graduation. Maine West still won 16 duals. This season, Weber won't need as much wizardry as he returns a wonderful core group, which includes three sectional qualifiers, as junior Joey Vogeney, who raised enough eyebrows with his 35 wins, and fifth-place finish at frosh/soph state in his first full season. "There's some real good quality and talent we have back, and we've been fortunate to have a terrific group of kids who are not afraid of hard work, and this bunch is no different," says Weber. Afshar has recorded 65 wins during his last two campaigns, and was one away from earning a trip downstate. He'll provide a potent charge as a bridge to his teammate Vogency at the higher weights.
EAST SUBURBAN CATHOLIC
Coach: Jason Churak (1st year)
Last year: 4-14-0
Graduation losses: Will Beiersdorf (3rd/ESCC, 21w, Winona State), Ethan Jedziniak (4th, ESCC, 15w), Colin Bailey (8w), Shannon Johnson (7w).
Top returnees: Senoir Kyle Koss (138, 11w) Charles Wallberg (195); junior Brandon Suchyta; sophomore Joe McIntyre (182, 13w)
New faces: Patrick Spanier, Marc Mason, Tim Cullinan, Nick DeBartolo, Jack DeBartolo; freshmen James Valentino, Arlan Hermanson, John Augustyn.
Lowdown: Jason Churak becomes the third coach in six years to direct a program which desperately looks to break free of a long streak of sub-500 seasons which has fueled, of late, by low numbers and defections along the way. "Like every coach before me, it's been about getting more guys into the program early and keeping them around in order for them to grow, and I feel like we have a good start with four freshmen ready to go at this level," said Churak. "We'll have a big push with a get-back-to-basics attitude, and old-school training, with an emphasis on hard work and better technique." The Lions' new man can lean on 2012 ESCC medal winners Suchyta and McIntyre, who was a freshman conference champ before being called up late in the season. Koss is the lone two-year senior veteran on this still young roster. Marist is still head and shoulders above the rest in the league as its enters the season at No. 3 in the preseason state polls.