A few months ago, Fenton freshman David Burch decided to go out for wrestling. Forget the fact that he had never wrestled before, at any level.
Today, he's a regional champion.
Burch, whom coach Brian Hastings said is a "wrestling savant," pinned top-seeded Damian Rosales of Elmwood Park at 120 pounds at a IHSA Class 2A regional at Fenwick on Saturday, which helped the Bison win their third straight team regional title with 189 points.
"My parents were like, 'Just try it out,' and I did," said Burch, who improved his season record to 18-8 by defeating Rosales (22-7). "The seniors and everyone, the coaches, what we do at practice, they pushed me."
Burch was one of four individual regional champions for Fenton, with the others senior Anthony Park at 170, senior Dylan Butts at 182, and senior Isaiah Brock at 285. Brock's match, against top seed Liam Mahon of Fenwick, was particularly interesting because he was down 3-2 midway through the second period before getting the pin.
Fenton also walked away with five other individual qualifiers -- sophomore Danny Ramirez (second at 132); senior Brandon Koskiewicz (second at 138); senior Carlos Mercado (third at 145); junior Ramiro Bracamontes (second at 160); and senior Jack Butts (third at 195).
"It was pretty good results overall," Hastings said. "If I could have some fourth-place guys qualify, I would in a heartbeat, but overall a lot of good wrestling."
Perhaps the most interesting match of the day came in the title bout between second seed Michael D'Orazio of St. Francis and top seed Brad Ritter of St. Patrick at 113. D'Orazio held a slim 4-3 lead with five seconds left in the match, but Ritter ended up winning 6-4 by gaining three single points on a locked hand, an escape and two D'Orazio cautions. It also probably didn't help that Ritter took down D'Orazio outside the ring after the horn sounded.
"Situationally, it just didn't come out our way," said St. Francis coach Dan Page, whose team finished fifth with 105.5 points, just 10 away from St. Patrick. "We validated it, we argued for it, and I can make my case, but at the end of the day, the ref is going to say what they are going to say and you have to adapt to it."
The only regional champion for St. Francis was junior Danny Skold, who won by injury default over Elmwood Park's Olsi Rama. The Spartans had three other wrestlers advance to next Saturday's sectional at Grayslake Central.
Glenbard South finished third as a team with 118 points and got regional championships from sophomore Hector Andres at 106 and junior Minani Alexis at 152. Alexis jumped out to a 7-1 lead after two periods over top seed Collin James of St. Francis and ended up winning 11-2.
"My finals match, the guy pinned me at the Glenbard West tournament, so it felt good coming back," Alexis said
The Raiders also qualified juniors Edin Ahmedtovic at 145, Stavan Plavsic at 160 and Mark Wilson at 170, and seniors Dale Nelson at 182 and Adam Haushahn at 195.
Enrollment-wise, Wheaton Academy was literally the last school to qualify for Class 2A after being in 1A a year ago. But that didn't matter much to senior Connor Scanlan, who defeated Fenton's Ramiro Bracamontes 11-7 in the title match at 160. Scanlan, a regional champ last year, got two takedowns in the final 45 seconds to prevail.