St. Charles East finishes 2nd at DeKalb regional, advances 12
St. Charles East wrestler Jake Penzato's day of revenge was complete when he came back from a slow start to take DeKalb's Blake McGee to overtime, winning 6-4 with a takedown to grab a 126-pound regional championship.
Penzato had fallen behind McGee, who had defeated him earlier this year, but was able to come from both 2-0 and 4-2 down to force the overtime.
Penzato had also lost to Geneva's Ian Huck, the two seed in Saturday's Class 3A DeKalb Regional tournament, but defeated Huck by fall in the second period to advance to the final.
"I came off two losses," Penzato said. "I had lost to both of them earlier in this season and I really wanted to get those wins back. I had a purpose coming in here."
Penzato was one of 12 St. Charles East wrestlers to advance to Saturday's Class 3A Conant sectional. The Saints finished second as a team to winners DeKalb. The Barbs had 277.5 points to the Saints' 200.
"It was in thrilling fashion in the finals, having to go into overtime," St. Charles East coach Jason Potter said. "We would have liked for him to get into his offense a little bit sooner than going into overtime. I don't think he wrestled his best in his finals match and he was still able to come away with a victory."
Xander Song (285) and Carter Maggio (170) also won regional titles.
"If I know someone is good, I really get focused and really get prepared," Penzato said.
Now a three-time regional champion and one-time state qualifier at the varsity level -- Penzato was a 113-pound fresh/soph second-place finisher at state last year -- the Saints junior sets his sight on the state podium.
He's not the only one for who things have turned around as of late.
"Taking 12 guys is more than we had last year," Potter said. "It's good experience. We struggled in the beginning of the year and really had to turn the corner as it went on. I just think it's reassurance for our guys that our process is working and we're trending in the right direction."
Batavia's Cael Andrews (113 pounds) claimed the Bulldogs' first regional crown of the day, helping lead the team to third place with 165 points.
Andrews went up as much as 11-0 on his way to a 17-1 tech fall of DeKalb's Blake McGee. The freshman said he was beginning to get winded and that conditioning on an exercise bike would be a focus for the week leading up to the sectional. He's hopeful that leads to his first state berth.
"I always went down to watch in Champaign when I was younger and to be this close as a freshman feels good," Andrews said.
Teammate Mikey Caliendo (145) brought home a regional title as well.
"He (Andrews) has (33) wins as a freshman and I think he's starting to realize how good he can be and that's pretty exciting to see this time of year," Batavia coach Scott Bayer said.
Bayer said he was excited for what's to come for Caliendo at the Conant sectional and that Riley Woods had a solid second-place performance at 138 pounds.
"We had six freshmen in the varsity lineup today and three of them are going on," Bayer said. "That's not bad."
Additionally advancing for the Bulldogs were Kaden Fetterolf (106, second place), Marc Romero (132, third), Ryan Whitwell (170, third) and Alex Richards (220, second).
"We thought we'd get more qualifiers to sectionals this year and we did with seven," Bayer said. "Last year we had four with a more experienced team last year."
Rounding out the Saints' sectional qualifiers were Alex Hadzima (106, third), Wrigley (113, third), Max Sztuk (120, second), Peyton Schroeder (132, second), Charles Fialka (145, second), Michael Wirkus (152, third), Gavin Tatar (160, third), Frank Szymanski (182, third) and Diego Sanchez (195, second).
South Elgin and Larkin each brought home an individual title.
South Elgin's Mike Roath (220 pounds) was trailing 4-2 before turning the tide quickly in his match with Batavia's Richards.
"I just felt I had a better position when I brought him down and I just hipped into him and went for the throw because he gave it to me and he went right to his back," Roath said.
Roath, who won fresh/soph state a year ago at the same weight, has found his comfort zone this season. His goal is to make the state podium.
"I feel way more comfortable than last year," Roath said. "I already wrestled there one time and just got stronger, more athletic and I feel more comfortable."
Larkin's regional championship came when Alan Facio showcased his confidence in pinning DeKalb's Tucker Ikens at 182 pounds.
"My plan was to stay confident in my shots and commit to my shots," Facio said. "I believe that you win a match before even stepping on the mat. I was so confident going in."
Seemingly evenly matched with Ikens, Facio put his top-seeded opponent to his back with a quick move that caught him seemingly off guard.
"I was at one point ranked fifth and I lost and I moved all the way dow," Facio said. "I know that was a lot of adversity. My teammates helped me out through it, my family with all the great support and I just believed in myself."
Eric Santana moved on at 145 pounds with a third-place finish for Elgin.
Advancing for Geneva were Huck (126, second) and Hank Smith (285, third).
Drew Surges took second at 152 pounds for St. Charles North to move on. Colman Gonnella also advanced after taking third at 195.