Waubonsie Valley's Kroening has first loss to motivate him
Mason Kroening was one victory away from achieving a first for the Waubonsie Valley wrestling program this century last Saturday in Roselle.
"It hasn't happened since the '90s," Waubonsie Valley coach Brad Caldwell said of an undefeated regular season by a Warriors wrestler.
But Wheaton Warrenville South senior Andrew Leonard upset the proverbial apple cart.
In avenging his only two losses on the season, Leonard (33-2) ended Kroening's 28-match winning streak with a 6-4 victory in the championship match of the DuPage Valley Conference tournament.
It is not out of the question the two state-ranked 195-pounders could see each other the next three weekends at the Class 3A Batavia regional, the Downers Grove North sectional and the state tournament in Champaign.
"I didn't come into the season saying that I'm going to be undefeated," Kroening said. "I'm not going to let (the loss) affect me in any negative ways. I'm just going to come back and work as hard as ever. I want to win state, and that's still the goal."
Metea Valley sophomore Phillip Sims -- the lone returning state qualifier for the Mustangs -- made it 2-for-2 in conference championship matches with a first-period fall.
Sims needed only 52 seconds to retain his title at 120 pounds.
"It is on my list (for favorite moves)," Sims said of the cradle he employed to secure the fall. "I was just looking for my takedowns."
One weight class earlier, Naperville North returning state qualifier Lucas Van Poucke had a 7-1 championship verdict at 113 pounds.
"I went out there and felt really good," the Huskies' senior said. "Every week you have to make adjustments."
Sims and Van Poucke will begin their postseason at Batavia on Saturday.
In the opening weight class, 106 pounds, Luke Badger earned the sole league championship for host Lake Park with a 4-2 win against Naperville Central 28-match winner Kyle Guttosch.
"I just focused on taking it match by match," Badger said. "My focus (for the Streamwood regional) is to make it to finals (to ensure automatic advancement). To win regional is a big win; you get a first-round bye at the sectional."
Neuqua Valley coach Mick Ruettiger will end his 34-year career after the postseason.
The Wildcats were the lone area team assigned to the Class 3A Normal Community sectional complex.
Neuqua Valley will face quite a test in the regional at Lockport, the top-rated team in the state, at its Saturday.
"I just hope on Monday we still have some kids wrestling," Ruettiger said. "We have an idea of what's going to be (at Lockport). I bet about 12 of those weight classes are going to be stacked, three or four deep."
The Wildcats were sixth at the DuPage Valley Conference tournament on Saturday as 26-match winner Anand Shah (113 pounds) was the lone Neuqua Valley athlete to make the championship match.
Denis Murphy and AJ Lighthall earned major-consolation victories for Neuqua Valley at 132 and 182 pounds.
"This is not about me," Ruettiger said of his closing moments as a coach. "We're trying to get out as many kids (to Normal) as we possibly can."
Seniors Placide Niygena and Cam Martin eclipsed the 30-match win plateau with DVC championships at 170 and 182 pounds.
Niygena is 30-3 for WW South after his 9-1 triumph over Glenbard North sophomore Mike Wellman in the 170-pound championship.
Martin handled Waubonsie Valley senior Zach Grosch for a second time this season to win the 182-pound title.
"I knew what I had to do," said Martin, 31-4 on the year. "I had to get the easy points that came to me."
Veteran Naperville North coach Tom Champion was astounded by the activities at Lake Park that culminated with Wheaton North ending the 18-year Glenbard North stranglehold of consecutive league titles.
"This is one of the best DVC tournaments I have ever been to," Champion said midway through the finals. "Having a nine-team conference makes each (weight) class that much deeper. The first-round matches were insane."
Fenton feeling good:
Fenton will look to defend its Class 2A regional championship this Saturday at home in Bensenville.
The Bison had a monster regular season behind state-ranked athletes Angel Nava (No. 4 at 138 pounds) and ninth-rated Dylan Butts at 182 pounds.
"We were 26-0 (in dual meets)," Fenton coach Brian Hastings said. "We had a really nice (regular) season. We had a lot of kids step up. I think we have a bunch of kids who expect to finish strong."
In addition to Nava and Butts, Kacper Piskorz (132 pounds), Ivan Rodriquez (195), Nikko Castaneda (160), Kyle Higgins (170) and heavyweight Isaiah Brock are the Bison team leaders.
The individuals who advance out of Fenton will seek to punch tickets out of the Wauconda sectional the following weekend.
In Class 2A:
Fellow Metro Suburban Conference members Glenbard South and Wheaton Academy will also be in the Fenton field.
St. Francis is the fourth local team at Fenton.
Vince D'Orazio (126 pounds), Ben Bougadis (113), Colin James (145), Dan Dickerson (152) and Danny Skold (170) look to advance to Wauconda for the nascent St. Francis program.
"As a new coach, expectations were modest," St. Francis' Don Page said. "It was a good season for the first year of the new regime."
Glenbard South features conference champions in freshman 106-pounder Hector Andres and senior Vince Marra at 152 pounds.
The Raiders' Numan Ayhan is a returning state qualifier at 182 pounds.
In Class 1A:
Lisle and IC Catholic Prep, which features Class 1A state-title contender Joey Bianchini, represent the best hopes of the area smallest-school programs.
Lisle will host a regional on Saturday with its individual aspirants seeking a berth to Coal City, the top-ranked Class 1A team in the state.
The Lions are led by returning state qualifiers Drew Sonnefeldt and Mark Pivec and 138 and 160 pounds, respectively.
Sophomore Charlie Waldusky is a state-qualifying threat at 195 pounds for the Lions.
"It's going to be a really good regional," Lisle coach John Ruettiger said. "This (current) team just came out of the blue. We ended up 20-2 (in duals) and set a new school record. We have to beat Chicago Hope (to advance to the Coal City team sectional). They're very comparable to us. I think if we win the regional, we have a good chance to make it to state."