Leyden pair shine at Berman

By Mike Garofola
Daily Herald Correspondent

Minooka had simply too much for the field at the 64th Berman Holiday Classic wrestling tournament Thursday afternoon at host Palatine, but then so did a quartet of area wrestlers who each lifted individual trophies at the end of the day.

For the second consecutive year Minooka carried off the team trophy, using 10 medal winners, five of which were champions to score 226 overall points, 24 more than second place Maine South (182) and a whopping 84 points clear of third-place Zion-Benton.

Class 2A state power Oak Forest (135) then Leyden (116.50) would round out the top five teams in this 17-team field.

The dynamic duo of Daniel Uribe (132 pounds, 20-1) and Ronnie Massari (152, 20-2) were shining stars for Leyden head coach John Kading, who watched them overwhelm their respective divisions to earn well deserved first-place trophies.

"This sport needs guys who can go out there and light up the mat with wrestlers who go out there and attack, and both Daniel and Ronnie do just that, and it's nice that their work ethic rewarded like it was today," said Kading.

Uribe would advance into his final with Josh Bess (Maine South) with a major decision, then a tech-fall before methodically building a lead in which his opponent never took a bite out of.

"All year my strength has been going after (legs) so I knew it was there in my final, and after I was able to get the lead, it was all about pushing harder to earn bonus points for my team," said Uribe.

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Massari, who came over to Leyden after two years at national power Oak Park-River Forest, was in control from the onset of this longest running tournament in the state of Illinois.

Two majors sent the junior into his final with Daniel Alaniz (Zion-Benton) and once there, he never took his foot off the gas pedal.

"It felt good to get my first varsity tournament championship," admitted Massari, who has been a welcome addition to the Eagles' lineup this season.

"Being a part of the OPRF program was pretty intense, but I really like our room, my teammates, and the coaching staff at Leyden."

Massari was a Fargo national qualifier in Freestyle and Greco during the offseason.

Lake Park freshman Dominick Mallinder (14-2) gave first-year head coach Ryan Ferguson and the Lancers their lone title on the day after a hard-fought 6-3 decision over senior Eric Guerra (13-2) of Rolling Meadows, whose teammate Elciro Domingo fell short in his bid at 106 pounds.


"After riding out (Guerra) for almost all of the second period, I knew once I went up 6-2 in the third period that I could ride him out the rest of the way," said Mallinder of his victory.

The Lancers' rookie 120-pounder would defeat Brad Ritter of St. Patrick, the No. 4 rated 2A 120-pounder, to claim the top prize at the Glen Erb Invite recently.

Lake Park would finish just outside of the top five with 102.5 points, just clear of seventh-place Mundelein, which saw senior DJ Preston dominate the field at 195.

"This is a good way to end the first half of the season, and a good way to get the second half of my season off in the right direction," said Preston.


The Mustangs were without their two other stars -- Reece Durlacher and Logan Kvien -- both on currently on the injured list, with a return to the starting lineup drawing nearer.

"Logan and I have been rolling around together in the room for 14 years so I miss having him as a practice partner, so I cannot wait to get him and Reece back very soon," said Preston, who last year went 35-13, yet fell one victory short of going downstate.

"Yes it was disappointing not to make it to state, but I have to admit some of that was on me because I wasn't as coachable as I should have been. This season, I have complete faith and trust in our coaching staff, and they were a big reason for my success today."

Preston (14-2) pinned his way into the final where he blasted Osbaldo Garcia (Zion-Benton) 13-0.

Tourney host Palatine celebrated one top three finish with junior Gio Jackson (14-2) earning a third-place medal at 220, while its crosstown rivals from Fremd grabbing a trio of third-place medals to help Jeff Keskes' team to finish ninth overall with 83.5 points.

Charlie Fifield (113), Jack Riemer (152) and junior, Michael Mondus (145, 20-6) are claimed third-place honors.

"Michael has been a pleasant surprise thus far, plus he's been a strong leader in the room for us as well," said Keske of Mondus, who won 13 a year ago.

Charlie Gruen (18-4), who won at the Marchese Invite (Hoffman Estates) recently, was fifth Thursday at 132 pounds to give Cary-Grove its best finish on the day, while Hinsdale South junior Jeremiah Kinsey (170, 13-6) gave his club its highest medal at third.

The spotlight match of the tournament was at 182, where the No. 2 rated wrestlers in Class 2A (Tony Kluk, Oak Forest, 22-3) and 3A (Jon Halverson, Maine South) met. Halverson would show why he was named the Outstanding Wrestler of the tournament following his brilliant effort during a 13-7 decision, a result which was not as close as the final result would show.

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