Coach: John O'Brien (2nd year).
Last year: 14-7-0 (6th, UEC tournament).
Graduation losses: Sal Annoreno (2012 state champion, 2-time state qualifier, UEC, regional champ, 31w, wrestling at NIU), Brian Boyle (sectional qualifier, 27w, Iowa State), Alex Piedra (sectional qualifier, 19w), Connor Johnson (21w), Kenny Malekian (16w), Jake Dary.
Key returnees: Seniors Anthony Zipparro (132, 25w), Nathan Baer (285, 20w), Ryan Hennessey (145), Ben Wiley (220, 13w), Joey DiSanti (195), Alec Delgado (145), Nathan Dary (160); juniors Sam Valenzia (113), Devin Schrivner (138).
New faces in the room: Senior Jon Cruz (120), Kolin Steele (182), sophomores Dan Malin (126), Alex Montbriand (170).
Lowdown: Nobody was more polarizing last season for his team in the UEC than Sal Annoreno. The former state champion produced eye-popping results nearly each time he stepped onto the mats, while also impressing with equally high levels of work out of the room, which made a lasting impression on his former mates, as well as John O'Brien, whose seen a thing or two during a long coaching career. "Sal set the tone in the room, our duals, and on the weekend, so obviously he's going to be missed as we go forward, but we've got a nice core of returning veterans who are ready to make their mark, and a handful of quality newcomers, who, later in the season will step-up to make their contribution, once they are comfortable with the speed, pace and physical style at this level," O'Brien said, The Hawks will miss more than Annoreno, with his workout partner Boyle also gone following his breakout season, but the return of three-year starter Zipparro, whose been this close in his first two seasons, appears ready to make a big jump this season.
Coach: Vince Govea (2nd year).
Last year: 10-17-0.
Graduation losses: Brady Weinrich (3-time sectional qualifier, 32w).
Key returnees: Junior Matt Overstreet (220, 11w); sophomore Adam Mengal (126, 15w).
New faces in the room: Senior Kyle Coffland (160); sophomores Ray Conklin (145), Nick Maldonado (113), Brandon Spinato (160); freshmen Bret Lopez (285).
Lowdown: Few things went in favor of the Rockets last season, but then it would have been nearly impossible to match the 2012 dream season, when the Rockets celebrated two state medals brought back home by Johnny Major and Omar Awad. In his first season in charge, Vince Govea would inherit a club a club which not only lost some exceptional high profile talent, but also a young one, except for a tremendous four-year player, and leader, in Brady Weinrich, who moved on to college. "With just one senior, three juniors, and the rest sophomores in our starting lineup, it's obvious we are extremely inexperienced," says Govea, who did a magnificent job to get 10 wins out of a roster completely turned over from the year before. "The kids are coming into the room and working hard on a daily basis, and they understand what it's going to take to succeed, and we have the confidence in them for that to happen," he said.
Coach: Ryan Ludwig (3rd year).
Last year: 18-7-0 (5-1-0).
Graduation losses: Michael Underwood (state qualifier, FVC champ, 40w, wrestling at Rutgers), Garrett Glueck (state alternate, 31w, playing football at UW-Oshkosh), Patrick O'Malley (sectional qualifier, 21w), Nick Huff (sectional qualifier, regional champ, 30w), Jeramey Dermont (sectional qualifier, 28w), James Smrt.
Key returnees: Seniors Logan Hanselmann (state qualifier, FVC champ, 120,126, 34w), Matt Hughes (sectional qualifier, 152,160), Emerson Kersten (171,182, 22w), Josh Dermont (171,182); junior Michael Cullen (2-time state medalist, FVC, regional, sectional champ, 113,120, 45w); sophomore John Cullen (state alternate, 126, 34w).
New faces in the room: Juniors Dale Charlier (132,138), Michael Altendorf (138,145), Michael Gomez (220,285), Scott Topole (220,285); sophomore Sean Cullen (126,132).
Lowdown: The Trojans will miss dearly what their captain and four-year star Michael Underwood brought into the room each and every day, but having an elite talent such as two-time state qualifier Michael Cullen on hand will make things a little easier for coach Ryan Ludwig. "You cannot begin to understand how much class Underwood added to our program, and what he meant on and off the mat, but I've seen a new Michael (Cullen) this year, who is not also ready to go to greater heights on the state scene, but also in the role of our leader, and that combination makes us that much better this season," says the head coach. The Trojans' others state qualifier, Logan Hanselmann, will steal his share of headlines from the No. 1 rated Cullen, and will give the club a dangerous mix at the lower part of its lineup, where the bigger, and stronger duo of John and Sean Cullen will make their presence felt each night. Health, and finding sturdy replacements for five sectional qualifiers will figure in the Trojans' hopes of making a run at conference favorite McHenry.
Crystal Lake South
Coach: Ross Ryan (7th year).
Last year: 11-11-0.
Graduation losses: Nick Peters (state qualifier, 33w).
Key returnees: Seniors Nick Gil (138, 4th place state medalist, 2-time state qualifier, FVC champ, 42w), Brian Pence (182,195, sectional qualifier, FVC champ, 35w), Casey Callahan (132, sectional qualifier, 30w), Nick Dorn (170, 21w), Hunter Stroh (182,195, sectional qualifier, 15w), Mike Golden (152, 10w); juniors Eric Barone (145, state qualifier, FVC champ, 35w), Garrett Dziedzic (120, 23w).
New faces in the room: sophomores Buddy Gabric (285), Ethan Weinandy (160), Jake Alva, Justin Katner.
Lowdown: The Gators, just as their FVC rivals from Cary-Grove, have enough depth, quality and firepower to be a huge problem for most of their conference opponents this season, as well as on the tournament scene, thanks in part to the highly rated Nick Gil, his sidekick Eric Barone and Brian Pence, who opened the season with a sparkling effort at the prestigious Moore-Prettyman to capture first-place honors. "We have a lot of talented upperclassmen, and some very good younger guys who will provide us with the extra depth we'll need in a very competitive schedule outside of the FVC, which will be a little easier to take on because of our big three," says Gators head coach Ross Ryan. No. 2 rated Gil, who recently committed to the Naval Academy, ran roughshod through the field last weekend at Barrington, and will be a real contender for a state title in late February. Ryan will also rely heavily on Callahan and Dziedzic, each capable of 30-plus seasons, filled with plenty of bonus point outings, and postseason success.
Coach: Robert Skillman (3rd year).
Last year: 13-11-0 (2-4-0).
Graduation losses: Ray Griggel (4th place state medalist, FVC champ, 19w, playing football at Illinois Benedictine).
Key returnees: Seniors Jeremy Marshall (285, 29w), Tim Schanmier (160, FVC runner-up, 26w), Elijah Velez (152, 22w), Martell Thompson (145, 21w), Claude Bird (15w), DaShun Lloyd (15w); juniors David Campos (120, 24w), Jarrod Raap (170, 20w); sophomore Christian Brunner (182, 22w).
New faces in the room: Juniors Armando Guitierrez (138), Christian Rodriguez (195), Taborist Robinson (138), Brett Peters (220); sophomore Adam Gutierrez (120).
Lowdown: Around this time Last year, Chargers head coach Robert Skillman had no idea what to expect from Ray Griggel, except that his big man would eventually return from another bout of football injuries to provide a much-needed presence, leadership and his share of wins at 220 pounds. What the humble big man gave instead was a stunning joy ride through the postseason, which would end with a well-deserved fourth-place state medal, and perhaps a signal that Chargers' wrestling is on the way back. "Ray was just amazing for us last year, and you have to think he helped inspire others in the program, and now for the first time in a few years, we have guys back with 20 wins who, if they can turn those into 30 will help us have a very good year," says an exited Skillman, who has a new and improved schedule packed with better quality tournaments and weekend quads. A strong third-place finish at Antioch last weekend behind state-ranked Deerfield and Notre Dame gave the club a positive start already. Things are on the upswing at the lower levels also, where the Chargers won the FVC frosh-soph tourney, with a handful of those players at the varsity door and knocking to come in.
Coach: Tom Stewart (2nd year).
Last year: 12-6-0 (6-2-0).
Graduation losses: Ritchie Santana (2-time sectional qualifier, UE8 champ, 31w, NIU), Jeffrey Morrow (sectional qualifier, UE8 champ, 29w, transfer), Charlie Wiltgen (14w, University of Chicago), Tyler VanEssen (sectional qualifier, 18w, transfer), Sergio Tapia (10w), Brendon Giles (Iowa State), Jose Sandoval (10w),
Key returnees: Seniors Zachary McCollough (120, sectional qualifier, 29w), Isaac Schennum (195, 13w), Abal Barraza (220, 10w); juniors Nathaniel Romero (132, 12w); sophomores Matt Gerdritis (170), Ricardo Alba-Perez (182, 7w).
New faces in the room: Senior Anthony Rosado; juniors Scott Velna, Andrew Hardt; sophomore Devin Syavong.
Lowdown: For the first time in recent memory, the Maroons showed remarkable staying power all throughout, thanks in part to a wickedly impressive group at the lower weights, coupled with a terrific senior leader in Richie Santana, who led the way at the top of Tom Stewart's starting lineup, and despite the fact that Santana has moved on to college, it still appears the return of the dynamic trio of Morrow, McCollough and VanEssen would afford the club riches beyond belief. But it wouldn't be. Morrow and VanEssen moved out of the area, leaving behind just one of the Maroons' top guys to lead the way. "Things happen. We wish both Jeffrey and Tyler the best at their new schools, and now we move forward knowing we have McCullough (who just missed qualifying for state) as well as our big guys, Issac (Schennum) and Abel Barraza to step up and give us the type of performance we know they are both capable of," says Stewart, who led his team to one of its best records in recent history.
Coach: Terry Wilkinson (6th year).
Last year: 10-21-0.
Graduation losses: Travis Keeling (state qualifier, 38w, wrestling at Wabash College), Nick Brown (29w, Elgin Community College), Gabe Reyes (sectional qualifier, 10w, football), Kristopher Johnson (14w), DJ Wallace (13w), Joe McAlpin (10w).
Key returnees: Senior Omar Perez (126); junior Anton Krocko (170, state qualifier, 30w); sophomores Wylie Allen (132, sectional qualifier, 23w), Kyle Szlenk (106,113, sectional qualifier, 20w).
New faces in the room: Freshmen Jake Szlenk (106,113), Max McGowan 145).
Lowdown: Despite an ultra-young club this season, the Whip-Purs won't shy away from some of the big boys in the Class 2A wrestling world outside of the FVC. "We are so young this year, and we're going to take our lumps early on with a schedule which is just loaded with great competition, but in the end, we all know it will go a long way toward the development of this team," says Wilkinson, who has sent four wrestlers to the 2A state tournament during the past two years. One of those, Anton Krocko, has a chance to prove he's a top level performer, following a wonderful offseason, which saw the junior become a Greco National Qualifier. Returning lower weight stars Allen and Szlenk, both first-time sectional qualifiers in their rookie seasons, will give the faithful plenty to cheer about also.
Coach: B.J. Bertelsman (5th year).
Last year: 19-3-0 (4-2-0).
Graduation losses: Brandon Mabry (state qualifier, 35w, Missouri), Zach Stenger (29w, wrestling at UW-Parkside), John Walker (24w, Harper), Mike Walker (15w, football), Christian Thompson (11w, football)
Key returnees: Seniors Nick Meyer (112, sectional qualifier, 29w), Trevor Symbal (152,160, 14w), Austin Schofield (162, 25w); juniors Ricky Vigil (120, sectional qualifier, 31w), Brandon Meyer (138, 26w), Chris Gamboa (132, 27w).
New faces in the room: Junior C.J. Darby (182); sophomore Dominick Swanson (220); freshmen Josh Stenger (106).
Lowdown: A 5-0 start last weekend at the Jacobs mega-duals signals the intent of this club in the FVC this season after recording its best season in program history. "We'd like to think we can compete for a top three finish at the FVC tourney, then get multiple state qualifiers for the first in our history, and with our lower to middle weights having plenty of experience at this level, it's possible we can achieve our goals, and maybe take a run at getting 20 victories as well," says the affable B.J. Bertelsman. The attacking potency of the quartet of Meyer, Vigil, Meyer and Gamboa will apply immediate pressure, and will give the club the finishing touch it will need to close out most every opponent the Red Raiders will face. The addition of rookie 106-pounder Stenger likely begins a steady stream of young blood as Bertelsman points to an impressive freshmen group now in the system.
Coach: Gary Conrad (2nd year).
Last year: 11-10-0 (5-4-0).
Graduation losses: Kenny Thompson (26w, SIU), Melvin Pepin (9w).
Key returnees: Seniors Mark Mamola (220, 32w); juniors Cody Ferencz (120,126, sectional qualifier, 26w); sophomore Chris Dranka (120,126, 26w), Jake Orth (132, 11w), Michael Ricks (160, 16w).
New faces in the room: Beau Harrier (106).
Lowdown: The program received some bad news when its two-time state qualifier Austin Ryan, one of the best in the business at his weight decided not to return for his senior year. "Obviously we'll miss him but it was his decision not to come back, but we've got some tough kids to fill-in, and I have supreme confidence that we'll be just fine," said second-year head coach Gary Conrad. The Golden Eagles will look to establish themselves as a true force, not only in the division, but all of the FVC, with a strong group of returning veterans, plus the addition of a couple of young hopefuls. "We'll still be strong at the lower weights, and at the top with Mamola leading the way, but we have to get better in the middle of our lineup," suggests Conrad, who has an explosive bunch, beginning with Ferencz, Dranka and Orth, who will produce plenty of wins and bonus points on a nightly basis.
Coach: Steven Hoyt (2nd year).
Last year: 3-15-0.
Graduation losses: Cory Plate (21w, Elgin Community College).
Key returnees: Seniors Duke Bogicevic (126,132, sectional qualifier, 27w), Alex Duran (152,160, sectional qualifier, 24w), Victor Young (152,160, 11w), Pierre Stanford (106, 8w), Edgar Trejo (120), Quincy Topel (145), Victor Cuevas (182,195), Bonifacio Lara (182,195); juniors Hank Robbins (220, 9w), Ramon Vargas (195, 8w).
New faces in the room: Juniors Jacob Quintanilla (126,132), Edwin Valdivia (220); sophomores Luis Guadarrama (113), Joey Rahn (138).
Lowdown: The Royals surprised more than a few unsuspecting opponents last season with the dynamic duo of Bogicevic and Duran, and a hardworking veteran in Cory Plate, who moves on after enjoying a terrific 21-win senior year. "Our numbers are up, we have terrific senior leadership in our starting lineup, and we fully expect to compete for a top three finish in the River Division of our conference," offered the always upbeat Steven Hoyt, who in just his second year in charge has seen program numbers on the rise. "Both Duke and Alex were just two matches away from getting downstate, and that type of success goes a long way, as it helps foster competition in the room, which is great for the entire program." Hoyt believes his top two can be right there once again during the postseason, while on the other end, there's a pair of varsity newcomers in Guadarrma and Rahn, who arrive after 17-win seasons on the freshman team.
Coach: Mark Cameron (9th year).
Last year: 5-15-0 (1-5-0).
Graduation losses: Cory Pych (4-time sectional qualifier, 28w), Nick Kowalski (sectional qualifier, 14w), Lucas Davis (12w), William Aleman (sectional qualifier, 10w), Joe Garcia (10w), Colton Brandon, Simon Rhoads.
Key returnees: Seniors Ben Abraham (182, 6w), Mike Wetherton (195, 8w); junior Josh Menendez (132, 7w); sophomore Mike Perez (126, 14w).
New faces in the room: Senior Tyler VonEssen (120, sectional qualifier, transfer from Elgin), Diego Gonzalez (285); sophomore Isreal Villareal (106); freshmen Angel Rios (113).
Lowdown: When you go into the room of the Storm, it doesn't take long to realize just how young this club is. "There are so many new faces, and we are so very young, but in time, all of this youth and inexperience will pay off for us," says head coach Mark Cameron, who said goodbye to all three of his sectional qualifiers, while welcoming back just 35 wins from his returning players. "Our numbers are good, we've got a great freshman class, but it's going to take a little time to bring it all together." The Storm caught a bit of a break when one of the top lower weight stars in the UEC, VonEssen, moved in from Elgin, while bringing along 20 victories as well. He will combine with supersoph Perez to give the club a quality back-to-back tandem in the lineup.
Coach: Bill Peach (9th year).
Last year: 2-6-0.
Graduation losses: Alex Curtis (4-time sectional qualifier, 29w, Harper), Evan Klimek (19w), Kyle James (8w), Amadeo Ortiz (9w), Dimitri Niforos (9w), Caleb Menendez, Austin Wohlhart.
Key returnees: Seniors Darrell James (170), Alex Rader (285, 13w), Collin Crumlett (138), Clayton Surges (160), Anthony House (220); juniors Alfred Lim (152); sophomores Brandon Shockey (106), Sunny You (126), Ethan Brown (145), Jeremy Gumila (126,132), Tae Reetz (170).
New faces in the room: Freshmen Andres Luna (106), Juan Ramirez (113), Jordan Ryan (195).
Lowdown: A quick glance at the Sabres listed above reveals just one player, Alex Rader, with double-digit victories who is returning, an ominous statement for the future to be sure, but not one for the ever positive Bill Peach, who sees plenty of sunshine, despite the inexperience on his club. "There's a lot to like about this team, beginning with enthusiasm, the desire to work hard, and try new things in order to improve. If they continue to stay aggressive, while learning the day-to-day stuff, the experience they lack at this level will slowly go away, then we should see some real good results in the second half of the season." The aforementioned heavyweight Rader was fifth at the UEC tournament last February.