Scouting sectional wrestling
Class 3Aat BarringtonFriday: 4:30 p.m. Saturday: 9 a.m. (3 p.m. finals)
The lowdown: Back-to-back second-place finishes in 2012 and 2013 to New Trier at regionals were quickly forgotten when Prospect outscored the Trevians by 55 points (210-155) last weekend at the Glenbrook South regional to earn a championship trophy. "Obviously we are extremely happy with our performance last weekend -- 10 qualifiers, 11 place winners and a big margin of victory over a very good team from New Trier," said Knights coach Tom Whalen. "I am very happy for my coaching staff, the wrestlers and their families. But now, this weekend, we hopefully can put together another nice tournament in order to get as many to qualify as we can for the state tournament."
Whalen's team as a little added incentive to succeed in making it downstate, as former long-time Prospect coach Gary McMorrow being inducted into the Wrestling Hall of Fame while in Champaign.
The Barrington sectional traditionally is one of the best-run events of them all, bringing together a diverse, talented group from the northern half of the state for two days of nonstop action.
Most of the divisions here are loaded from top-to-bottom, so let's look at a few which feature standouts from the Mid-Suburban League.
106: Mitch Stathakis (Barrington, 29-3), Anthony O'Brien (Hersey, 16-19), Vince Lobono (Prospect, 15-13), Josh Stenger (Huntley, 30-8), Joey Locascio (Libertyville, 20-13), Michael Lynch (New Trier, 27-11), Ray Ceniceros (Mundelein, 29-9), Christian Kanzler (Grant, 36-4), Ian Mullen (McHenry, 33-7). With so many freshmen and sophomores usually found in this weight class, nearly anything can and will happen. One sophomore who is highly capable of making something positive happen in his favor is Barrington's Stathakis. The MSL and regional champ won 25 times last year on his way to a spot in the sectional program, and one year later he is a favorite to book his place downstate for the first time. "Having Adrian (Gonzalez) in the room every day has made a big difference in the way I train, wrestle, and approach the sport," said the Broncos' leading match-winner. Gonzalez, a former three-time state qualifier and 2010 state medalist, is now a Barrington assistant under coach Ken Hoving. "Matt works so hard," said Gonzalez, "and you can just see the improvement in him each and every day."
120: Johny Carvajal (Wheeling, 35-10), Chris Rivera (Prospect, 29-11), Michael Cullen (Cary-Grove, 24-3), Keegan Powers (Hononegah, 37-4), Steve Polakowski (Libertyville, 36-1), Andrew Mehrholz (Deerfield, 41-3). There is only one word to describe what is likely to happen in this weight class over the next two days: bedlam. With four of the best in the state here, and the other eight with a combined 220-74 record, the chances for upheaval by the end of the weekend are far greater in this group than any other. MSL champ Carvajal faces Gage Datlovsky of Grant, 27-12 in his opener, then No. 4 Powers if successful. Rivera will meet Gage Griffith (Lake Forest, 24-12) this afternoon, and is one victory away from the two-time state medalist (Cullen) from Cary-Grove.
160: Matt Wroblewski (Prospect, 33-7), Julius Smith (Barrington, 25-12), Dean Simmons (Hersey, 30-10), Jenner Hecox (Harlem, 35-6), Colton Bast (Libertyville, 22-11), Emery Parker (Warren, 33-2), Zach Benkovich (Hononegah, 34-6), Charley Popp (Prairie Ridge, 27-4), Cam Pait (McHenry, 23-4). Many predict a No. 3 (Benkovich) vs. No. 9 (Parker) final, but Hecox, a sophomore, is 1-1 vs. his conference rival (Benkovich). Meanwhile, Pait and Wroblewski are each coming off impressive work on their way to regional titles one week ago. Simmons opens with Bast -- always a chore when facing a Libertyville foe -- while Smith, who battled back in wrestlebacks to get here, has Hecox in his first bout. Wroblewski, a freshman, takes on the winner in a tough second-round battle.
195: Alex Jacobs (Fremd, 26-6), Jackson Wrede (Prospect, 29-11), Brian Pence (Crystal Lake South, 24-3), Kailor Hecox (30-2), Regis Durbin (Lake Forest, 34-0). While all eyes will be on the Nos. 3 and 4 rated Pence and Hecox, those looking the other way might find themselves blindsided by the MSL duo of Wrede and Jacobs, as both are capable of throwing a wrench into the works of others more highly regarded. Wrede, who joined teammate (Ford) atop the podium at regionals, lies in wait of either Matt Jacobs (26-11) of Hononegah or Peter McPike (23-8) of Loyola in a second-rounder, then Durbin, who, along with Luis Hernandez is the only other undefeated competitor here. Sophomore Alex Jacobs meets Mike Walker (19-6) of Huntley, who got a late start in wrestling due to football. A victory here sends the Vikings' hopeful right into the hands of No. 3 Pence, who has aspirations of bigger and better things next weekend in Champaign.
220: James Ford (Prospect, 33-10), Jack Bornhofen (Barrington, 24-9), Djameno N'towe (Fremd, 20-11), Mark Mamola (Jacobs, 33-3) Roland Gastfield (Crystal Lake South, 23-12), Christian Johnson (Dundee-Crown, 28-15), Kevin Barbian (Libertyville, 33-3), Sage Hecox (Harlem, 33-2), Hernandez (McHenry, 31-0). There will some interesting stories coming from this weight class when the tournament comes to an end. It features three top-10 athletes (Hecox, Barbian, Hernandez) with a dazzling 97-5 record between them; two others with 33 victories (Ford and Mamola), and the chance of three represenatives from this sectional standing on the medal stand next weekend in Champaign. The senior from Prospect, Ford, took over for Frank Walter after he graduated and has equaled his win total from a year ago to bolster the Knights' attack up top. He will meet either Mamola or Gastfield from the FVC tonight. Bornhofen takes on Dundee-Crown big man Johnson with No. 6 up next, with a chance to avenge a 1-0 prior defeat.
Friday second-round fun:
126: Chase Ori (Buffalo Grove, 24-4) vs. Noak Drabek (Grant, 21-3). After a year away from the sport, the Bison senior has come back in style to not only win a MSL crown, but also a place in the sectionals after a strong effort at the McHenry regional last weekend. Drabek, who missed some time with an injury around the holidays, has built a nice resume to help validate his state ranking at No. 10.
138: Tulga Zuunbayan (Wheeling, 37-7) vs. Cristian Coronado (Grant, 31-6). Since moving into the program at Wheeling, Zuunbayan has made his presence felt, beginning with consecutive sectional appearances after grabbing regional crowns while amassing 70 victories. The junior from Grant is something of an enigma, having taken over for Nick Fanella after his graduation and earning an NSC title two weeks ago.
170: Cody Hauser (Fremd) vs. Nick Whitehead (Zion-Benton, 35-5). Here's a chance for the Vikings senior to make his statement of intent on his side of the bracket. The No. 9 rated Z-B won 31 en route to Champaign last season.
at LeydenFriday: 4:30 p.m. Saturday: 10 a.m. (3 p.m. finals).
The lowdown: No. 1 Oak Park-River Forest ran roughshot through the Glenbard East regional while sending all 14 of its wrestlers into this venue and validating itself as the No. 3 team in the nation by Intermat Magazine.
Conant, on the other hand, flexed its muscle for yet another weekend, this time with less stress than the week before at the MSL tourney. The Cougars outscored league rival Schaumburg by 41 to earn a second consecutive regional crown and a date with Glenbard North on its home mats when sectional duals take place in two weeks.
"What a good day for our team, as well as on the individual side with (11) qualifiers, (3) alternates, plus (5) champions along the way," said Cougars coach Chad Hay. "It truly was a team effort, but now the shift to the individual side takes over."
Conant, Schaumburg, Rolling Meadows, Elk Grove and Maine West will have 34 athletes scattered throughout the 14 divisions of this supercharged venue, which features many of whom will be in the medal hunt next weekend in Champaign.
126: Adeel Afhsar (Maine West, 35-7), Dylan Thurston (Wheaton North, 37-8), Mikey Perez (South Elgin, 27-17),Marcus Williams (Conant, 21-14), James Marshall-Davis (Evanston, 32-3), Duke Bogecevic (Larkin, 34-2), Jake Barzowski (Notre Dame, 42-3), Jon Marmelejo (Glenbard North, 38-1), Dayton Olson (Glenbard East, 37-8). The pick, unquestionably, is for No. 2-rated Marmelejo to prevail here. But the rest of the field, particularly No. 7 Barzowski and Maine West's Afshar, hope to have a chance. "All of my five guys here appear to be peaking at the right time, but for Adeel, he is extremely motivated right now, and his work rate is very high as well," said Maine West coach Lance Weber of his captain, who captured his first regional crown last weekend. Conant's Williams opens against Marshall-Davis.
132: Bobby Alexander (Conant, 32-2), Brendan Lowe (Maine West, 26-15), Jake Drew (Glenbard East, 35-4), Nathan Romero (Elgin, 23-15), Danny Carlson (Lane Tech, 35-0), Jered Cortez (Glenbard North, 37-2). When you're one of the best in the country, No. 1 in your state, and the clear favorite next weekend in Champaign, everyone else is competing for three available state slots remaining. Illinois-bound Cortez is a one man wrecking crew, but two-time state qualifier and three-time MSL champion Alexander would like nothing better than to meet the Panthers senior in the finals Saturday evening. The No. 5-rated Cougar will keep his eyes peeled for No. 9-ranked Drew in his second-rounder, and later versus No. 11-ranked Carlson, the Public League champ.
138: Logan Gruzska (Schaumburg, 13-1), Pernevlon Sheppard (Glenbard West, 30-5), Jake Davis (Lane Tech, 37-8), Lamart Burres (Rolling Meadows, 26-13), Isaiah Vela (St. Charles East, 37-3), Isaish White (OPRF, 31-4), Isaac Reinemann (Niles West, 33-6). The Saxons' Gruzska was a near miss to get downstate at 106 last season, and in a year's time has grown into a strong 138-pounder who came back with a vengeance after missing nearly a month with a hand injury. The sophomore didn't receive any favors from the bracket lords, who sent him up against No. 6-ranked Davis after a first-round bye. Then, if Gruszka wins, No. 4 Vela, a two-time state qualifier awaits. "There's some very good guys Logan will have to get by, and if he does, he'll be in really good shape," said Schaumburg coach Mike Levanti. Niles West's Reinemann is coached by former Saxons star and two-time state medalist Adam Snow.
160: Dan Andress (Conant, 32-8), Luke Gruszka (Schaumburg, 27-5), Brian Knorr (Niles West, 24-10), Juan Nazario (Mather, 14-2), Kamal Bey (OPRF, 32-6), Ramon Lopez (St. Charles East, 33-7), Tom Brewster (Maine South, 30-1), Marco Orlando (Notre Dame, 35-5). For MSL standouts Andress and Gruszka, there's no avoiding Bey, clearly one of the best athletes around. Should Andress defeat Knorr in his opener, he would meet Bey on Friday. For Gruszka, a 2013 state qualifier, his chance against the OPRF sophomore would come Saturday morning with a win over Nazario followed by another against Lopez, a regional champ. "If Luke decides to wrestle with focus, he can beat just about anyone in the state," says Levanti. Hay, meanwhile, offered this on Andress: "His calm demeanor is really going to help him this weekend when things get tight."
170: Sadarris Patterson (Schaumburg, 31-3), Joey Vogeney (Maine West, 38-4), Sean Oldenburg (Elk Grove, 17-11), Austin Chaon (Geneva, 30-8), Gibson Arlasky (Chicago Taft, 30-16), Davonte Mahomes (OPRF, 37-2), Colin Knowlton (Glenbard West, 30-7), Raven Ahrens (Evanston, 35-11), Niko Rocha (Addison Trail, 32-2), Colton Wegner (Glenbard North, 26-14). Patterson's victory over Joey in the regional final dealt the Saxons star an unfortunate bit of fate as the bracket fed the senior straight into the No. 1 man, Mahomes, in the semifinals. "The bracket didn't do Sadarriss any favors, but advancing to Champaign won't be a concern if he continues the way he has," said Levanti. The Warriors' Vogeney, whom Patterson beat in his regional final, will meet Wegner first, then No. 12 Rocha in the second round. "Joey has some tough kids in his bracket, and although he lost to Rocha in his first match of the season, he can hang with anyone, and he'll be ready for him again should they meet," said Weber.
182: Dardan Kardiu (Rolling Meadows, 35-7), Mike Bruno (Schaumburg, 23-15), Jake Kroger (Willowbrook, 18-4), Carldrail Cannon (Evanston, 18-8), Gio Esparza (Glenbard North, 13-12), Nicola Gallo (Chicago Taft, 39-1). Momentum-building back-to-back championships are just the thing Kardiu and coach Dave Froehlich hope to be the difference when the Mustangs senior takes his shot at a trip downstate. "I don't feel we've seen the best from Dardan yet, but we've been working all week to prepare him for what we think he will encounter, and in just his fourth year of wrestling, all of us feel he's peaking at the right time, and that his chance to succeed is very good," said Froehlich. The long and gritty Kroger should beat Cannon before facing Kardiu, while on the other side of the bracket, Bruno's first encounter will be with Esparza, and hopefully a second-rounder with Gallo, who pinned his way to a Chicago Public League title.
285: Tyler LaBarbera (Conant, 25-8), Matt Zolper (Schaumburg, 27-8), Bobby Carson (Addison Trail, 30-3), Adam Lempke-Bell (OPRF, 27-11), Chris Edwards (Glenbard North), Will Leite (St. Charles East, 22-13), James Edmond (Niles North, 27-9), D'Andre Johnson (Glenbard East, 40-2). Some of the chat in the buildup of this division has to come from both quarters at Conant and Addison Trail and the second-round tilt between LaBarbera and Carson. "Tyler looked very solid all weekend long on his way to a regional title, but, of course, we wish we didn't see Carson so soon in this tournament -- but the third time is a charm, isn't it?" said Hay, whose big man fell twice to the No. 9-rated AT star (26-13 and 15-6). "With as hard as Tyler has trained, and how dangerous he is, we feel he has an excellent chance of getting through and downstate."
Friday second-round specials:
120: Danny Madonia (Conant, 33-3) vs. Zach McCullough (Elgin) or Anfarnee Rodgers (Glenbard East, 32-8). The Conant sophomore rebounded marvelously from a third-place finish at the MSL tourney to win a regional title. Last season, Rodgers beat McCullough in a state qualifier match at the Maine East sectional, and both are just outside of the top 10 in the state poll.
195: Matt Stopka (Schaumburg, 30-4) vs. Noah Fleckenstein (York, 37-5). No doubt the best of all second-rounders this evening, matching Nos. 5 and 6 in the state far too early in the competition. Each has lost to No. 2 Andre Lee (OPRF, 37-3) this season, who also happens to sit on the other side of the bracket from these two 2013 state qualifiers. Stopka defeated the Dukes' big man 8-1 in the third-place bout at the Maine East sectional last February.
Class 2Aat LakesFriday: 4 p.m. Saturday: Saturday: 10 a.m. (3:30 p.m. finals)
The lowdown: With 2A state power and nationally ranked Montini on the guest list, even the casual fan shold take a look in the Lakes gym to see the prohibitive dual-team favorite to win its seventh straight state crown later this month. Coupled with the potential for several finals which feature the Nos. 1 versus No. 2, there's something for everyone here.
For St. Viator, this will be the first time since 2010 that the Lions have sent two into a sectional tournament. Eric Abrahamian, TJ Hohenadel and William Rittmeyer were in the brackets at Fenton, with both Abrahamian and Hohenadel advancing downstate from there.
St. Viator's Brandon Suchyta (145) and Tony Valentino (220) advanced through the Wauconda regional last weekend, and both are poised to make a serious bid to stay alive.
"We had hoped to get five to go on, but maybe the best thing we gained from last week was having so many of our young guys get valuable experience from competing in a regional, while understanding what it takes to be successful at this level," said St. Viator coach Jason Churak.
145: Suchyta (23-7), Raul Garcia (Fenton, 8-5), Sharaka Berry (Chicago Westinghouse, 6-0), Nick Remke (Marian Central, 26-3), Chris Garcia (Montini, 32-5). Should Lions captain win his opener, then Berry -- an unknown entity from the Chicago Public League -- awaits Friday night. One more win there sets Suchyta up for a semifinal with 2013 state medalist Remke on Saturday morning. "We've seen (Remke) so we have a lot of film and notes to watch and review, so we feel we'll be ready for him should that match comes about," said Churak. Reigning state champion Chris Garcia is on the bottom half of this bracket.
220: Valentino (St. Viator, 29-9), Alejandra Valencia (Clemente, 13-9), Edgar Ruano (Montini, 29-4), Nate Magiera (Wauconda, 44-0). The rookie from St. Viator will likely have to make it back through the consolation bracket with No. 1 Ruano as his second-round opponent Friday. Ruano and No. 2 Magiera look to be on course for the fourth and final meeting between the top two ranked wrestlers in the state for the day. "We're familiar with Valencia from early on when we beat him at Round Lake, but Tony has too much experience to take anything for granted at this point of the season," says Churak, who figures his big man will be just fine in the land of wrestlebacks come Saturday.
Take your pick:
170: No. 1 Kyle Fugiel (Crystal Lake Central) vs. Xavier Montalvo (Montini). Montalvo, No. 1 ranked at 160 in the state polls all year long, bumps up one division to make room for Mitchell Navarro, who had no place to go in the Broncos' lineup. Montalvo's move likely opens things up in Champaign for No. 2 Garrett Sutton, who may now have a clear path to his second consecutive state crown before heading off to Michigan next fall.
195: No. 1 Andrew Marsden (Crystal Lake Central) vs. No. 2 Anthony Ferrara (Montini). Plenty of hardware already in the trophy case of each, but this one is for bragging rights.
220: No. 1 Edgar Ruano (Montini) vs. No. 2 Nate Magiera (Wauconda). Likely a precursor to a state championship rematch.