Class 3A at Barrington When: Friday, 4:30 p.m.; Saturday 9 a.m. (finals, 3 p.m.)
Storyline: The road becomes even tougher beginning Friday at a sectional venue which features far too much talent in most divisions here. Last weekend, Cary-Grove and Crystal Lake South not only did well for themselves at the McHenry regional, they also played role of spoiler in the final session as they knocked off a handful of Warriors from Deerfield to put an end to their hopes of overtaking eventual champ Barrington.
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Dundee-Crown, Huntley and Jacobs were unable to slow the unstoppable express from Hononegah, which rolled to the team title at DeKalb, however the FVC trio earned its share of sectional qualifiers in the process.
If Christian Brunner Jeremy Marshall garner two more victories this weekend, the Chargers will have their first 40-match winners since the 2004 season when they came home with a fourth-place team trophy. Chargers coach Bob Skillman was an assistant then to the legendary Al Zinke, and one of its stars is current assistant, Matt Wahl, who won 34 that year.
Brad Fiorito and Jason Ryan both would reach the 40-win mark during D-C's memorable run that season.
Weight watching: 113: Nick Meyer (Huntley, 30-9), Alec Riportella (Mundelein, 27-13), Colin Kenyon (New Trier, 30-6), Travis Piotrowski (Prairie Ridge, 34-1), Nick Koch (Grant, 36-4), Brady Powers (Hononegah, 27-8). Huntley head coach BJ Bertelsman has the perfect formula for his man (Nick Meyer) to advance out of this wickedly strong weight class. "Nick has to win his first match Friday afternoon (versus Joey Locascio of Libertyville) to help set himself up for a good spot if he has to go into wrestlebacks," Bertelsman said. The junior would face MSL, and regional champ Stathakis Friday, and if tossed into the consolation bracket, perhaps a date with Alex Rader of Hononegah, who he recorded his team-high 14th pin against.
120: Michael Cullen (Cary-Grove, 24-3), Garrett Dziedzic (Crystal Lake South, 29-10), Cody Ferencz (Jacobs, 31-4), Steve Polakowski (Libertyville, 36-1), Keegan Powers (Hononegah, 37-4), Andrew Mehrholz (Deerfield, 41-3), Gage Datlovsky (Grant, 27-12). Keep your hands and feet outside of the wrestling mats will be the proper warning if caught standing too close when this group is in action. There's no way to sugarcoat it -- it's the house of terror -- even for the highly-rated. "You go into this weekend expecting something to happen, so you have to be ready for just about everything," says Cullen, who is one of four who are rated in the Top 10, with a the junior in line to meet No. 4 Powers in the semis. Dziedzic and Ferencz will meet for the third time this season, after splitting their first two bouts, and the curtain-riser for both puts them one win closer to either No. 2 Polakowski or No. 8 Mehrholz, who Cullen beat in an ultimate breaker to win a regional crown last weekend at McHenry. With an early exit from regionals last year still etched in his mind, the junior Dziedzic is sure to be on the front foot from the opening whistle. "I didn't enjoy having to come back through wrestlebacks to get into sectionals, but I wasn't able to last year, so maybe that whole experience will help me this time around," he said. Fans will be wishing for a Cullen-Polakowski final but the Hononegah camp has its sites on that spot also, as his record proves he's worthy of such a chance.
126: Logan Hanselmann (Cary-Grove, 26-6), Ricky Vigil (Huntley, 30-7), Chris Dranka (Jacobs, 26-6), Dan Arteaga (Round Lake, 35-6), Alex Lopez (Loyola, 25-15), Ricky Muro (Wheeling, 33-11), Zach Ellis (Zion-Benton, 20-14), Brian Spinello (Deerfield, 37-10), Alec McKenna (New Trier, 36-3), Noah Drabek (Grant, 21-3), Chase Ori (Buffalo Grove, 24-4).
The FVC can be found all over the place in this weight class, so the guess here is a boarding pass to Champaign awaits come Saturday night. The favorite is the reigning league and regional champion Hanselmann, who is on course to make his second consecutive trip downstate. "After having to get through the hard way through wrestlebacks last year at regionals and sectional, I know the value of getting a good start this weekend, and just finding a way to win to stay in the championship bracket," said Hanselmann, who won 34 last year. Bertelsman likes the chances of Vigil to go south, after capturing the first regional title of his career. "Ricky finally had that breakout tournament we knew he was capable of doing, but he has to continue that way beginning by winning his opener," he coach said. The Red Raider junior would feed into his FVC rival Hanselmann with a Friday victory, with the hope of breaking a four-match losing streak.
138: Nick Gil (Crystal Lake South, 37-1), Brandon Meyer (Huntley, 32-7), Sage Heller (Deerfield, 38-7), Tulga Zuunbayan (Wheeling, 37-7), Cristian Coronado (Grant, 31-6). The class in this division is clearly the No. 2 rated Gil, who is behind the wheel of a hard-driving, well tuned machine that is clearly pointed toward a rematch with No. 1 Isaiah White (OPRF), who dealt the Gators' star his lone loss of the season two weeks ago in the OPRF final. "We'd like to reach the final here and get a chance at (Nick) but Brandon, who is competing at a high level right now, must win his first match tonight (against Heller or Brooks) then likely beat (Coronado) who finished fourth at the Sycamore Invite when Brandon finished second overall," says Bertelsman.
182: Christian Brunner (38-3), Joe Greenhill (Round Lake, 30-10), Zach Horwitz (Stevenson, 22-15), Ryan Wysocki (Loyola, 39-6), Colin Thomson (Barrington, 23-13), Colton Emmerich (Deerfield, 40-1), Austin Koziol (Libertyville, 26-5). The Chargers' supersoph is coming off impressive back-to-back championship efforts at the FVC and DeKalb regional, and a quick glance at the bracket shows all the heavy hitters on the other side. Brunner has a 7-0 victory over Wysocki in the books, his likely semifinal opponent.
220: Mark Mamola (Jacobs, 33-3), Roland Gastfield (Crystal Lake South, 23-12), Charles Johnson (Dundee-Crown, 28-15), James Ford (Prospect, 33-10), Kevin Barberian (Libertyville, 33-3), Jack Bornhofen (Barrington, 24-9), Sage Hecox (Hononegah, 33-2), Luis Hernandez (McHenry, 31-0). With a quartet holding 33 wins each, and three of the Top 10 (Hecox, Barbian, Hernandez) in this bunch, the spotlight will shine brightly when the contest begins for the four spots available in this division. "Even though Mark lost in his final last weekend at DeKalb, it may have actually put him in a little better of a spot in his bracket," admits Conrad. The Jacobs senior, who has won four tournament crowns this winter, opens with the gritty Gastfiel, where a victory sends him up against a quality opponent in Ford, who won his regional title at Glenbrook South. No. 6 Barbian awaits in the semifinals.
285- Jeremy Marshall (Dundee-Crown, 38-4), Michael Gomez (Cary-Grove, 29-11), Alex Gomez (Waukegan, 23-14), David Vanderloot (Deerfield, 18-24), Sawyer McCaffrey (Warren, 34-6), Alex Zantner (Barrington, 9-6), Tyler Cooke (Hersey, 24-9), Chris McDermand (Libertyville, 34-3). The Chargers' likable big man will look to put the finishing touches on a wonderful tournament season by marching into the into the final and a match with the No. 5 rated, and 2013 state qualifier, McDermand. "McCaffrey (from Warren) is tough, but we feel Jeremy's side is winnable, with the best of the best waiting for him on the other side, should he get through," says Skillman. Cary-Grove's Gomez continues to shine, and may be the dark horse in this land of the giants. "He's worked so hard once he fully committed to the sport, and the combination of speed and quickness is one of the main reasons for his success thus far," says coach, Ryan Ludwig of his regional champion.
YouTube worthy finals: 145: Nick Barone (Crystal Lake South, 35-4) vs. Fernie Silva (Hononegah, 39-3). This would be the second consecutive high profile final for the Gator juniors following his victory over No. 7 Arteaga at the McHenry regional. The Lake Zurich star will try his luck against No. 3 Silva in the semis, and if he fails, Barone awaits if he holds serve on his half of the bracket.
195: Brian Pence (Crystal Lake South, 24-3) vs. Kailor Hecox (Hononegah, 30-2). While the road is smoother for Hecox on the top side of this bracket, all signs still point toward a much-anticipated Pence vs. Hecox final Saturday night. Both lost to No. 1 Tyler Johnson (Lockport) at the Dvorak, Hecox in the final, Pence earlier before earning fourth-place honors. "My whole family was sick just after the Dvorak, and they took me down with it, then I missed a week with some academic issues in one of my classes, but now I am up and running, and ready for the big push forward from here on out," says the South senior.
Class 3A at Leyden When: Friday 4:30 p.m.; Saturday: 10 a.m. (finals at 3 p.m.)
Storyline: The area took a big hit at the regionals it attended, advancing just 11 into this sectional, including 4 from South Elgin which led the way under the helm of head coach Mark Cameron.
"Watching us wrestle the past couple of weeks, these four guys (Mikey Perez, Zach Crosby, Raustin Lopez and Diego Gonzalez), have improved with each week, and I am excited and proud of each of them, and we cannot wait to see what they can do over the next two days," says Cameron.
"It's going to be tough on them and all of them are going to have to beat some guys that people outside our program feel we can't, but we believe in each of them, and anyone around this sport knows anything is possible this time of the year."
Weight watching: 120: Zach McCullough (Elgin, 25-4), Anfernee Rodgers (Glenbard East, 32-8), Danny Madonia (Conant, 33-3), Ciaran McCarthy (Lane Tech, 27-11), Jacob Breitz (Wheaton North, 27-9), Gabe Townsell (OPRF, 24-4), Patryk Augustryn (Glenbard North, 33-7). If the Maroons' star is still in the front draw after Friday, he will have truly earned his place in the semifinals. That's because his opener with Rodgers then No. 12 Madonia represents the two best on his side of the bracket, and victories over both will give his chances to book his first trip downstate a significant boost. "Anfernee is the guy who beat Zach (8-3) in his state qualifying match, so we feel fortunate to have another opportunity against him," says his head coach, Tom Stewart. "Obviously every competitor here at this point is dangerous, and Zach will have to be at his best to move forward, but I feel his chances of getting downstate are very good if he wrestles like I know he can."
126: Duke Bogicevic (Larkin, 34-2), Perez (South Elgin, 27-17), Jaime Hernandez (OPRF, 29-9), Jake Barzowski (Notre Dame, 42-3), Adeel Afshar (Maine West, 35-7) Dylan Thurston (Wheaton North, 37-8), Jon Marmelejo (Glenbard North, 38-1), Dayton Olson (Glenbard East, 37-8). "This is as brutal a weight class, but with that said, I believe Duke has a good shot of getting out," says Larkin head coach Steve Hoyt. "He's very good at taking it one match at a time, and if he ends up having to go through wrestlebacks to qualify, I have every reason to believe he'll be mentally ready to do so." The Royals' senior went 27-13 a year ago. The UEC champ opens with Hernandez then goes directly into No. 7 Barzowski, who has beaten No. 9 Thurston and is the first match of Perez. Perez needed heart-stopping 4-2, and 3-2 decisions to advance last weekend.
152: Alex Duran (Larkin, 25-8), Tony Vezzetti (Schaumburg, 22-9), Matthew Rundell (OPRF, 34-8), Keone Derain (St. Charles East), Griff Rose (Conant, 27-4), Matt Rowland (Willowbrook, 39-3). "We like Alex' chances to win his first match, but the road is uphill from there as he would have to go through the No. 2 kid (Rundell) in the state," begins Hoyt of his two-time sectional qualifier. "A loss there sends him into a likely battle with either No. 9 (Derain) or No. 10 (Rowland) but strange things happen to guys in the consolation bracket, so we'll remain positive about Alex this weekend."
220- Ben Wiley (Bartlett, 33-6), Tyler Alanis (Schaumburg, 21-19), Mario Pagonis (Maine East, 23-11), Emote Logan (OPRF, 29-6), Anthony Yanan (Wheaton North, 35-12), Michael Mulcrone (Notre Dame, 39-2), Jordan Hassan (Glenbard West, 16-4), Niko Daniello (Lake Park, 16-4), Lucas (South Elgin, 18-13). There's a lot of talent in this bunch, but it's spread out evenly to enhance the chances of Wiley, who meets the Alanis-Pagonis winner. Last year at this time, the Hawks' star was two and out at regionals, ending his season with a record of 13-13. The stunning 180 for the senior was highlighted by his marvelous performance at the South Elgin regional where he dominated the field to earn his crown, and 33rd victory of the year.
Class 2A at LakesWhen: Friday, 4 p.m.; Saturday 10 a.m. (finals at 3 p.m.)
Storyline: Hampshire head coach Terry Wilkinson was still beaming earlier in the week after his club set a record number to a sectional tournament.
"We're thrilled to send the most sectional qualifiers ever (6) in program history, but in a venue like the one at Lakes High School, which is so tough, our guys know from the start that you have to beat someone good to make it."
The Whip-Purs' strength all along has been at the lower weights, with the trio of Kyle and Jake Szlenk, as well as teammate Wylie Allen leading the way.
"Our 'little' guys will have difficult second round matches, but state rankings really don't mean much at this time of the year, so each of them will, in addition to my other three guys, have to wrestle tough, and most importantly, smart. If we can do that, then we improve our chances with each match."
Omar Perez (8-4) the lone senior on the roster who missed all of last year and most of this season with injuries, was rewarded for his leadership by making his first sectional appearance according to Wilkinson.
Heavyweight Jonathan Jimenez (16-7) is also here for the first time as well.
Weight watching: 106: Kyle Szlenk (32-6), Jerryco Bosito (Roosevelt, 9-7), Jimmy Pawleski (Montini, 28-7), Briley Schultz (Antioch, 30-4), Justin Wilcox (Harvard, 29-4). Should he stay alive in the championship bracket Szlenk could meet No. 8 Wilcox, who was part of the Harvard contingent which sprang the biggest upset of the regionals when the Hornets stunned favorite Crystal Lake Central for the Hampshire regional crown. No. 2 Pawleski awaits the Hampshire sophomore in the second round.
113: Jake Szlenk (33-7), John Banna (Chicago Northside, 8-9), Ben Vazquez (Elmwood Park, 30-5), Brodie Palm (Carmel, 27-9), Gavin Sutton (Richmond-Burton, 35-3). The Hampshire freshman will have his hands full in the second round with the No. 7 rated Vazquez after a winnable opener against Banna.
120: Wylie Allen (26-14), Alex Kamberis (St. Patrick, 23-11), Jerry C. Flores (Amundsen, 24-1), Jordan Reich (Vernon Hills, 36-3), Lenny Petersen (Crystal Lake Central, 30-8), Jeffrey Morrow (Grayslake Central, 29-5). "Wylie has a tough kid from St. Pat's (Kamberis) to open, then an unknown from the Chicago Public League (Flores) Friday night. A win there gets him the No. 2 rated kid in the state (Reich) but if he gets sent into wrestlebacks, we figure he'll be fighting for a state spot with Morrow and (Nathan) Dlugopolski (29-13) from Antioch," said Wilkinson.
182: Anton Krocko (33-7), David Thiel (Grayslake Central (21-17), Stefan Zuriz (Chicago Lakeview, 14-3), Julio Ramirez (Antioch, 22-9), Derrick Curry (Montini, 5-0), Michael Zelasco (Crystal Lake Central, 36-3), Alex Schwickrath (Wauconda, 31-7): The Whip-Purs' returning state qualifier enjoys a nice spot in the bracket, with his opening match against a rival from the FVC (Thiel) whom he's beaten this year, followed by Zuriz, also from the Chicago Public League. Two victories sets up a rematch from the FVC tourney with No. 2 Zelasco, who held off the Hampshire junior 13-10 there.
Class 2A at PontiacWhen: Friday 4:30 p.m.; Saturday 9 a.m. (finals 3 p.m.).
Storyline: Talk all around and the word on the wrestling circuit is this venue is the toughest in the state -- and why not? Not only are countless state-ranked teams feeding in along with the individual talent brought along, but Pontiac draws from such a wide geographical swath it insures a dynamic, diverse bunch.
Burlington Central is the smallest fish here in a big bowl, and its lone survivor from regionals is its little big man, Nick Maldonado at 106 pounds.
"We're in a killer sectional, but it seems to be that way every year," begins BC head coach, Vince Govea. "But the best thing about wrestling, is anyone can be beat at anytime. Last year, Nick went downstate to watch the finals, and during the grand march his name is going on that jumbotron but he knows in order to reach that goal, he will have to work hard. He's as determined as young man as anyone, and one who understands about setting your goals high, and working hard to achieve them. That's real life, and so is wrestling."
Weight watching: 106: Maldonado (BC), No. 5 Dack Punke (Washington), No. 9 Nick Norris (IVC), No. 11 Austin Anderson (Freeport), Trenton Rilea (Canton). The Rockets' freshman opens with another rookie six-pounder (Rilea) and should he get past him, next up will be Punke, a freshman who gave 3A star Isaac Jacquez (West Aurora) all he could handle in a 3-1 loss at the Granite City tournament recently.