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updated: 1/16/2014 7:49 PM

Huntley improving with every match

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By Mike Miazga
Daily Herald Correspondent

The Huntley wrestling team has put together an impressive body of work thus far this season.

To start the week, the Red Raiders were 14-1 overall in duals and 2-1 in Fox Valley Conference Valley Division action.

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Huntley also has fared well in tournament action, placing third out of 10 teams at Fenton, third out of 15 at Harvard and fifth out of 25 at Sycamore.

Junior Brandon Meyer was second at Sycamore at 138 pounds. Junior Ricky Vigil placed third at 126, sophomore Dominic Swanson was fourth at 220, while junior Chris Gamboa was fifth at 132.

Senior Nick Meyer (113) and Vigil both earned honorable mention accolades in the recent Illinois Matmen state rankings in Class 3A.

Brandon Meyer was 19-5 to start the week, while Gamboa was 18-5 with 46 takedowns. Freshman Josh Stenger was 18-4 at 106, while Vigil was 17-5 at 126 and Nick Meyer was 17-6 at 113. Swanson had 12 wins, all by pin. Senior Trevor Symbal was 16-7 at 152.

"We're learning and improving on the aspect to push the match into our favor by establishing takedowns early and often," said Huntley coach B.J. Bertelsman. "Early in the season they would start the match as a feeling-out process instead of putting themselves in the driver's seat."

Sophomore Petros Mihlapolas (182) has 13 wins this season and 42 takedowns in his first varsity season. "Petros has majorly improved from the start of the season," said Bertelsman.

Bertelsman said Brandon Meyer has found new offense that will help him the remainder of the season.

"We have to wrestle hard and to the best of our abilities to finish off the dual-meet season," the coach said. "We need to be consistent and wrestle up to our competition."

Bertelsman said the team has its sights set on a Top 3 finish in the league and in the regional.

"Hopefully we get a big number out of our tough regional and maybe for the first time in school history, have multiple state qualifiers," said Bertelsman.

Larkin update: The Royals were 10-10 overall and 4-3 in Upstate Eight Conference River Division action to start the week. Larkin scored recent wins over Elgin (50-21), Wauconda (45-27), Loyola (60-18) and Streamwood (67-9) and took sixth out of 14 teams at the Wheaton-Warrenville South tournament.

Duke Bogicevic (126) notched three recent key wins -- a 10-8 victory over Proviso East's Kameron Irvin, an 8-3 win over Fenton's Alex Cowan and a pinfall over Rockford Boylan's Sean Barelli.

Bogicevic took first at Wheaton-Warrenville South, while Ramon Vargas (195) and Alex Duran (152) each placed second. Allan Lau (114) was fourth, while Victor Young (160) and Jerry Hernandez (285) both took fifth. Bogicevic was first at the Geneva tournament.

Bogicevic was a recent honorable mention selection in the Illinois Matmen state rankings. He's 25-1 this season.

Duran had a 15-4 record to start the week, while Young was 12-7. Hernandez was 10-6 and Victor Cuevas sported a 10-8 mark. Pierre Stanford was 9-5. Bogicevic was leading the team in takedowns with 66 and pinfalls with 14.

Larkin coach Steve Hoyt has been pleased with how the season has progressed. Larkin's numbers have spiked to 55 in the program.

"We are filling our lineup and learning how to win duals," said Hoyt. "We have kids dedicated to the program. While we are not seeing as much success as a team in tournaments, we have individuals winning championships."

Hoyt also cited strong wrestling from Bonifacio Lara who now wrestles at 182 after being at 195 last year.

"He put in a lot of hard work in the off-season," said Hoyt. "He is a fourth-year wrestler and is really pushing it his senior year."

Hoyt noted the team would like to finish above .500 in duals this year after going 3-15 a year ago. He noted both Bogicevic and Duran are determined to get to the state meet after falling short a year ago at the Maine East sectional.

"We should have several sectional qualifiers," he said.

Hampshire update: Hampshire sported a 14-11 overall mark through Wednesday (11-3 at home). The Whip-Purs' recent sweep of Elgin and Elmwood Park guaranteed the program's first winning record.

Anton Krocko was ranked ninth in the state at 170 in Class 2A to start the week. He recently placed fourth at the Sycamore tournament. Wylie Allen was seventh at Sycamore, while Kyle Szlenk was ninth.

Kyle Szlenk was 25-5 through midweek, while Jake Szlenk was 24-4. Krocko was 23-5 and Allen was 21-8.

"We are starting to work together as a team," said Hampshire coach Terry Wilkinson. "Everyone is falling into place. We have only one senior in our lineup and two juniors. Despite our youth, we are showing great experience and growth."

Freshmen Jake Oury (145), Max McGowan (138) and Jake Szlenk (106) have been key contributors of late.

"Those three not only have been pleasant surprises on the mat, but their attitudes, work ethic and willingness to help teammates have been a welcomed addition," Wilkinson said. "We appreciate the countless effort that these young men put in. Their passion for the sport has grown more intense."

Dundee-Crown update: The Chargers were 15-3 in duals to start the week. D-C won the Harvard tournament, took second at Geneva and was third at Antioch.

Sophomore Christian Brunner was 26-3 at 182 to start the week. Senior Jeremy Marshall was 25-5 at 285. Senior Jequan Flynn was 23-7 at 126, while senior Martell Thompson was 21-10 at 138. Senior Tim Schanmier was 24-6 at 152, while junior Jarrod Raap was 23-8 at 170. Junior Diamond Flynn was 19-9 at 106. Senior Elijah Velez had 19 wins at 145, while senior Christian Johnson had 19 wins as well at 220. Junior Armando Gutierrez was 13-2 at 145.

Brunner won both the Harvard and Geneva tournaments. Two of his losses this season were to the third-ranked wrestler in the state.

Overall, coach Bob Skillman has been pleased with the team's output.

"We're doing great in duals despite losing one starter for the year and having other guys miss periodically," he said. "We are 15-3, but have some very tough teams on the schedule coming up. I like the way the kids have cared more about the team this year. It makes it much more enjoyable to coach. We hope to finish strong, qualify more guys to the sectional this year and qualify a couple of guys for the state tournament."

Jacobs update: The Golden Eagles were 12-6 in duals to start the week and sported a 1-4 mark in FVC Valley action. Jacobs won the Richmond-Burton tournament and placed fourth at Lake Park.

"For having such a small team, we really are doing well this year," said Jacobs coach Gary Conrad, whose team heads to Champaign this weekend for a 16-team tournament. "Injuries and certain individuals not coming out for wrestling this year has hurt our team chance at a run for the conference title."

Jacobs had 8 finalists at the R-B tournament with 4 champions. Cody Ferencz and Mark Mamola both won their weight classes at Lake Park by beating state-ranked wrestlers. Jacobs also had 5 medalists at Lake Park.

Ferencz scored a recent 7-5 win over Cary-Grove's Mike Cullen. Chris Dranka downed Huntley's Ricky Vigil for another key win recently. Dranka and Mamola earned recent Illinois Matmen honorable mention rankings.

"Cody is on a roll right now," said Conrad.

Ferencz and Mamola each were leading the team with 23-2 marks. Dranka was 21-4 with all four losses coming to ranked opponents. Beau Harrier and Michael Ricks each had 19-6 records.

"Our kids are tough," said Conrad. "Many have only been wrestling for two years and are on the varsity. They find ways to win matches. We are a small team that packs a punch and surprises a lot of teams with our conditioning and toughness.

Jacobs also has been without 195-pounder Carson Shoemaker, who was injured during the football season.

Conrad likes the progress Harrier, freshman David Dudych, Ferencz, Dranka, Ricks and Mamola have made. Mamola is the only senior in that group.

"Cody Ferencz has really amped it up in the past week with some huge wins," said Conrad. "He's an engine that many cannot keep up with. He's the captain of the team and does a fantastic job leading us. He's a dream to coach. Chris Dranka is a sophomore who has a ton of potential and constantly shows great character and growth as a wrestler. I'm excited to see what Chris can do in future matches to come. Mark Mamola has changed as a wrestler this year. He is possibly one of the strongest 220-pounders out there. He's a senior who I expect big things out of during the state series. He's hungry and is starting to believe in his ability.

"These individuals are consistent winners," added Conrad. "Most have come up through the Golden Eagles feeder program, which does a great job with the younger guys. We've changed the attitude in the room. We have a solid base and kids who want to work hard. We have a solid coaching staff that loves the sport of wrestling. You will see this program on its way up."

Burlington Central update: A young Burlington Central team was 8-12 overall to start the week. The Rockets recently went 2-1 at a quad with Mendota, Rockford Jefferson and Rochelle.

"Our team is made up mostly of sophomores and freshmen, but you would not know it by looking at them," said Central coach Vince Govea. "They are the hardest-working group of kids I've had. Kids have come down with different types of illnesses and another one steps up and replaces them. These kids are gaining quality experience and are going to turn some heads down the road."

Nick Maldonado was 17-10 at 113 and was leading the team in takedowns with 35. TJ Titock was 14-14 with 11 pins at 160. Both wrestlers are sophomores. Adam Mengel has shown improvement as well.

"Adam started off slow having some tough matches and falling just short a couple points," said Govea. "He started to find his groove at the Harlem tournament. TJ is a kid who is never out of a match. We wrestled Batavia and he was getting beat 14-0. He turned around and pinned his kid in the third period with a minute left. You can never count him out."

Crystal Lake South update: South's Nick Gil was 25-0 to start the week. He was ranked second in the state to start the week and won the tough Dvorak tournament over the holidays. Eric Barone and Brian Pence also are state-ranked. Barone was 22-4 to start the week, while Pence was 14-2. Garrett Dziedzic and Roland Gastfield also had double-digit wins.

"This team is led by an excellent group of seniors and juniors who are buying into everything and that was evident in our win over Cary-Grove," said South coach Ross Ryan.

South was 10-7 overall to start the week and 4-0 in FVC Valley action.

"Hopefully we can finish the dual season on a high note," said Ryan. "We have the opportunity to claim another division title and compete for conference and regional titles."

Ryan also lauded the contributions of seniors Nick Dorn and Hunter Stroh. "Those two are tough wrestlers scoring points for the team," the coach said.

South Elgin update: South Elgin's Mike Perez earned a recent honorable-mention state ranking at 126.

"Mike has been wrestling well for us all year," said South Elgin coach Mark Cameron. "He has started to turn the corner and is competing at a high level."

Tyler Von Essen (120) went 3-1 during a recent weekend run. "Tyler has been wrestling very well lately," said Cameron. "He has come a long way this season as a wrestler and is looking to turn that into a great finish for his senior year."

Alex Garduno also went 3-1 last weekend and is performing well at 132.

"We have wrestled some very good competition and have steadily improved during the season," said Cameron. "Our guys are starting to execute our style of hand fighting to shots as well as working turns on top. Because of that, we have begun to have more success the past few weeks.

"We are staying focused on the little things and fine-tuning our technique in the next few weeks to get our guys ready for the stretch run in February. The goal always is to get as many individuals to the state tournament as possible. If we put it all together we should have guys down in Champaign again this year."

Elgin update: The Maroons have struggled to field a full lineup this season, but coach Tom Stewart still has seen many positives.

"We graduated a lot of wrestlers from last year and some guys moved out," he said. "We've had to forfeit three and sometimes five weight classes. It's tough going into a dual meet down 30-0 before you step on the mat."

Senior Zach McCullough was 14-2 at 120 to start the week. He was a sectional qualifier last year and a contender for a UEC championship. McCullough reached the finals of the Wheaton-Warrenville South and Hoffman Estates tournaments.

Nate Romero, a junior, was 11-10 at 132 to begin the week.

"Nate has a lot of experience from wrestling in the youth program," said Stewart. "He's had some bad breaks and been in some real close matches."

Senior Abel Barraza also had 11 wins to start the week at 220 pounds. "Abel has had some real close matches," said Stewart. "We're looking for him to make a move the next couple of weeks."

McCullough, Barraza, Isaac Schennum (195), Anthony Ruiz, Abraham Ordino (182) and Isidro Espondoza were honored Thursday at senior night.

Elgin will head up to Rice Lake, Wis., for a dual meet at the end of the month. Rice Lake is the current home of former Elgin coach Steve Salisbury, who is now the assistant principal and athletic director at Rice Lake. Stewart once coached Salisbury in wrestling.

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