St. Viator sweeps away Ridgewood, North Chicago
With its 2018-2019 wrestling roster filled with plenty of youth and inexperience, the chances for success will be slim for the St. Viator wrestling team.
However, all eyes will be on a trio of Lions poised to make long runs when the postseason rolls around in February.
Lions big men Ryan McGuire (220 pounds) and Brendan Flores (285) are two of the terrific threesome head coach Jason Churak will lean on, while sophomore Gaetano Console looks ready to join his teammates when the season begins to heat up.
Wednesday night in Arlington Heights, the Lions swept visiting North Chicago and Ridgewood to improve their record to 7-3, in advance of their appearance at the 18-team Niles West Invite on Saturday.
"We had four freshmen in our lineup tonight, and along with a freshman class that just works and works, the future looks really bright around here," said McGuire, who recorded two pins, the second which drew the Lions back even with Ridgewood (30-30) before a forfeit victory from Flores closed out the Rebels for good in a 36-30 win.
Earlier McGuire, Flores and Nick Demunno (182) registered pins to help their club defeat North Chicago, 39-20.
McGuire, who missed some time early on while dealing with tendinitis in his knee suffered during the football season, won 27 matches a year ago, falling one win short of advancing into sectionals.
"Yes, it was disappointing not making it to sectionals, but it only increased my motivation and desire to go further and downstate to compete on those blue mats in Champaign," said McGuire, who stays in touch with his former teammate and 2018 state qualifier Jake Wolf, who is a student at the University of Illinois.
Flores, whose season was cut short last season before he was able to compete in the East Suburban Catholic Conference tournament and regionals, is bound and determined to get himself into the Class 2A state tournament, and a chance at a top six finish once there.
"I made a strong commitment to working hard both in wrestling, and in the classroom, which is something I didn't do last year, but will not let that happen again," said Flores, who recently finished third overall at the Fenton Invite.
"Tonight's effort from Brendan was his most complete of the year so far. His work rate and work ethic is better than ever before, but we still have to work on him staying out of those headlocks," said Churak.
Churak would add that McGuire showed confidence, and more belief in his shooting ability, before turning his attention to Console, who despite a second straight loss to North Chicago star Jerimiah Duty, looked sharper than he did two weeks ago at Fenton against the senior Duty.
"Gaetano is one of those special kids who doesn't take a loss to heart and can learn from his wins and losses, and take that knowledge into his next time out," said Churak.
The sophomore was right there with the two-time 2A state qualifier and 2018 state medalist in his first two periods, nearly having the best of a pair of scrambles on the mat in which Duty turned into his advantage to build a lead Console was unable to overtake.
"Jerimiah is a great wrestler, one of the best in the state at his weight, so when he rolled through into a tilt, it was tough for Gaetano to do anything with," Churak said. "We could see Duty one or two more times this season, and I guarantee he'll be ready to go whenever they do meet."
Ridgewood, led by 2001 state qualifier Jared McCabe from Leyden, finally broke into the win column this season when it defeated North Chicago 31-27 in the opening match of the night.