Glenbard North completes redemption
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The second part of the Glenbard North wrestling mission statement was answered Saturday at a loaded Class 3A Glenbard East regional in Lombard.
The Panthers had their 18-year DuPage Valley Conference championship run end last season by Wheaton North.
St. Charles East added to the Panthers' woes a week later by terminating a 16-year run of regional titles.
"That hurt," Glenbard North coach Mark Hahn said not being able to compete in the team-dual state series last year.
But Glenbard North had a late flurry in crowning four champions at Glenbard East to create separation with St. Charles East, which had all four of its champions win via falls.
The Panthers (24-4) advanced to the Oak Park-River Forest dual-meet sectional and a date with Schaumburg champion Conant.
Glenbard North had 201 points to the Saints' 175; Wheaton North and Glenbard East had two champions apiece in finishing third and fourth with respective totals of 168 and 160 points.
Glenbard West (104) had the last of the 14 champions in Catron Frazier (113 pounds) and Aaron Castellanos (132) in finishing a distant fifth.
Geneva, West Chicago and Bartlett combined for four qualifiers to the Larkin sectional next weekend.
St. Charles North was shut out.
The nine-team field was arguably the premier large-school regional.
"Nobody wanted to be here," St. Charles East coach Jason Potter said. "Very rarely do you see four top-20 teams in the same regional."
"It's the toughest one we have been in in several years," Hahn said. "You couldn't relax."
But thoughts of strategic championship encounters ended early and hit a crescendo late. Nine of the 14 champions terminated their matches with falls.
"We are a top-four team," said Glenbard North junior Abe Assad, who not only returned to his customary 170-pound weight class but also used a second-period fall to extend his season-long winning streak to 40 matches. "None of the (teams in the other regionals) are as tough as St. Charles East, Wheaton North or Glenbard East. You can't go to team state if you don't win the regional."
Quintin Terry had a first-period fall in the finals at 220 pounds for the Panthers, and brothers George and Anthony Marre duplicated their teammates' DVC championships from last week with regional titles at 145 and 160 pounds.
Antowon Tolbert (195 pounds) and Jaime Suarez also parlayed titles in the league for Wheaton North into regional championships.
Tolbert, unlike returning state qualifier and defending regional champion Suarez at 126 pounds, was not even on varsity last season for the Falcons.
"I caught (Glenbard East junior Ben Pham) in a move," Tolbert said of beating the second-period horn by six seconds. "I hit the front roll, and the pin was there."
Suarez pinned St. Charles East Upstate Eight champion Justin Benjamin with 25 seconds to go.
Glenbard East senior Cole Martin forged the heroic story of the day. The 152-pounder had a reversal in the waning seconds to upend Glenbard North senior Luke Kohout 7-6.
Martin returned to his school after spending time in an emergency room after his semifinal win.
"When I am on bottom, no one is holding me down," said Martin, who required seven stitches to the bottom of his chin. "The reversal was there, and I pounced on it."
Alec Wolff had the Rams' other championship with a fall in 76 seconds at 182 pounds.
"This is so big for me because it's my house," Wolff said. "I haven't lost at home all year. I take a lot of pride in that."
"It shows that I have improved a lot this year," the Hilltoppers' Frazier said of his 9-2 win at 113 pounds.
St. Charles East freshman Jake Penzato avenged regular-season losses in both his semifinal and finals match to punch his ticket to Larkin.
The Saints' 106-pounder needed only 64 seconds to stop Glenbard North conference champion Ronan Schuelke.
"Potter told us (before the finals), 'From now on, it's just individual (goals),'" Penzato said. "I caught him, so I took it. I just revenged my two losses. Two of my losses."
Two weight classes later, Ben Anderson won for the 37th time in 38 attempts by pinning Glenbard East 32-match winner Reese Martin 34 seconds into the third period.
"I was just trying to wait for the right time," said Anderson, a returning state qualifier.
The 14 champions earned a first-round bye to the Larkin sectional.
"It's a big deal having only one match instead of two (on Friday)," Anderson said. "You want to feel as strong as possible going into that second day."
After Benjamin was pinned at 126 pounds, the Saints' Niko Derain stopped Glenbard North DVC champion Juan Rivera in the waning stages of the third period at 138 pounds.
"I was feeling really good about myself then," Derain said of three straight takedowns bridging the second and third periods. "It worked out at the end. I had enough of my strength left to put it to an end."
St. Charles East junior heavyweight Justin Hull pinned Glenbard East conference counterpart James McNIcholas for the third time this season to claim the last championship of the afternoon.
"I was not overconfident going into that match," Hull said. "I know (McNicholas) is a really strong athlete. He has really strong hips."
It was do-or-die for Geneva athletes Honor Nguyen and Michael Donateli in the third-place matches at 126 and 160 pounds.
But the Vikings' season-long leaders advanced to Larkin with first-period falls.
"I let my nerves get the best of me (in a semifinal loss)," Donatelli said. "I wasn't ready. I focused on going out there and having fun."
Trent Johnson was the lone Bartlett athlete to athlete to advance with his runner-up finish at 170 pounds.