Glenbard North's Pennington finds his spot
Glenbard North senior Anthony Pennington may have trouble pulling a reversal on senior Abe Assad during wrestling practice, but he's doing so quite successfully in the Panthers' state-ranked lineup.
In 2018 the Iowa-bound Assad was an undefeated Class 3A individual champion at 182 pounds, and Pennington qualified at 170.
So far this season, Assad is competing at 170 and Pennington at 182.
"Originally we had wrestle-offs and he beat me. We were both weighing in 170 and then one of us could bump up (to 182)," said Pennington, now 25-4.
"This year (Assad) just got bigger. I just stayed down (at 170). It's a little bit faster pace because at 182 I was just used to snap downs, not used to much motion."
Pennington's 30-second pin Friday was the fastest by the Panthers at Wheaton Warrenville South in their 57-6 DuKane Conference dual victory.
Senior Mershad Bashang at 195, sophomore Kyler Kradle at 138 and freshman Ani Zaimi at 132 also won with pins for Glenbard North (19-3, 5-1).
Seniors Ryan Wahrman at 160 pounds and Evan Williams at 145, juniors Ronan Schuelke at 106 and Alonzo Smiley in the opener at 220 and freshman Paulie Robertson at 285 won by decision with Williams and Robertson needing overtime. Assad (30-0) at 182, senior George Marre at 152 and sophomore Patrick Curran at 113 were winners by forfeit.
Sophomore Aidan Waszak (21-8) at 120 and senior Dominic Duve (24-7) at 126 won back-to-back decisions for the Tigers (10-13, 1-5).
"I think they're going in the right direction, but we've got a ways to go," Glenbard North coach Mark Hahn said of his wrestlers.
"Wheaton South wrestled us tough so give them credit. I think we outconditioned a couple of guys, so outconditioning's good."
The Panthers appear in contention for another Class 3A team quarterfinal berth and the first DuKane Conference championship.
Pennington said having Assad as a teammate helps his higher sights for individual goals.
"We wrestle a lot in practice. He gives me some great positions that I don't really see from other competitors so it's a great look for me," Pennington said.
The Panthers continued the momentum from winning their playoff division at The Clash Jan. 4-5 in Rochester, Minnesota. They opened with a 33-31 loss to Bettendorf (Iowa), but then won five straight, including 41-22 over Sandburg, which beat the Panthers 33-22 on Dec. 28.
"It was a good moment for the team, rallying together, especially with how hard we work in the room every day," Schuelke said.
Schuelke (27-2) was one sectional victory at 106 from individual state last year. Now among the bigger and more experienced in the weight class, Schuelke won 8-1 Friday.
"It's been a good season so far, much better than last season went. I was a little under 106 and now I've got to cut a little weight and I feel I'm a bigger, stronger 106-pounder," Schuelke said.
Waszak also came one 2018 sectional victory short from state at 106. Waszak and Duve are joined by senior Jon Gonzales (22-8) at 195 and sophomore Josh Dorr (21-7) at 132 as current 20-win Tigers.
Duve won 12-6. Waszak beat David Gilliam 11-4 after they split two matches last season at the unofficial frosh-soph state invitational.
"My coaches working with me (helped). We kind of game planned this week," Waszak said.
"It's all because of teammates, coaches, family support all helping me out this year. (The 120) kids are a little bit bigger, but it's the same wrestling, the same people mostly. I'm hoping for (state)."
At 285 the Tigers' Kevin Tochimani lost to Robertson 7-6 when one point for a third-caution call was awarded just before overtime started. Williams edged Rafa Tochimani 9-7 on a takedown 21 seconds into overtime.
Two of the Tigers' forfeits were related directly to injuries.
"Our guys wrestled hard," WW South coach Matt Janosek said. "(Glenbard North is) always tough and fundamentally sound and we've got to find a way to control the pace of the match a little bit better and finish some of our positions a little bit."
The first DuKane Conference Tournament is Jan. 26 at WW South. The Panthers probably will enter the tournament in second place, 3 points behind state-ranked St. Charles East by virtue of the Saints' 39-31 victory Nov. 30.