Barrington secures MSL tournament crown
At the start of the wrestling season both Barrington and its 160-pounder, Luke Rasmussen, were looking to make a name for themselves after several athletes from a star-laden lineup from a year ago moved on to college.
Rasmussen and his teammates made everyone forget their former teammates, if only for one night, on Saturday when the Broncos claimed the Mid-Suburban League championship trophy by 30.5 points over runner-up Conant and third place Prospect.
"I don't really think anyone put us up there with Conant, Prospect and Schaumburg at the start of the year but like Luke, who has been terrific, the response from the entire team has been fanstasic," said a proud Barrington coach Dave Udchik.
The Broncos' celebrated three individual titles, and another three second and third-place medals to outscore Conant: 242-211.5, and MSL East champ Prospect, which had 207.5 points.
Tourney host Schaumburg was fourth overall (197) with Fremd, eighth a year ago, rounding out the top five with 114 points.
"When you've been in a lot of tournaments like this one, you know the key is to do very well in the wrestleback rounds which we did, as well as earn as many bonus points along the way," continued Udchik.
"Our goal was to get 25 pins, and we finished with (18) which was close to what we wanted."
"This team has really come through all throughout our lineup after losing a state champion, and two state medal winners, and three other state qualifiers," said Rasmussen.
The No. 1 rated 160-pounder in the state pushed his record to a dazzling 36-2 after recording three pins on his way to first place honors, joining teammates Brian Beers (106, 32-7) and Dayven Shinhoster (195), now 25-2.
"We had a great team last year, but this is a very good one also. We're like a real close family, in and out of the room," Rasmussen said.
After Beers got the final session underway with his impressive technical-fall victory, Elk Grove senior Griffin McEnroe (23-4) earned the first MSL title for the Grens in 11 years following his hard-fought 2-1 decision over Joe Gagliani of Conant.
"Winning today was huge for the program, myself and especially our head coach Dan Vargas, who's been the real difference in me as a wrestler and person," said McEnroe.
His teammate, sophomore Tuvshin Zuunbayan (132, 29-3), fell short in his bid to give the Grens a second title on the day when Chad Vilchez (29-11) of Prospect grabbed the first of three titles for the Knights.
Vilchez went from fourth to first from a year ago, as did Joe Caringella (34-7), who shut out Barrington senior Conor Prettyman, 4-0.
"The difference from a year ago was my commitment to working harder than ever and spending a lot of time training at Poeta," said Caringella.
The No. 2 rated heavyweight in the state, Jose Ramos (34-2), would repeat once again for the Knights, as would the Conant duo of Alex Giuliano (120, 26-2) and Nicky Amato (138), now 23-3.
Amato nearly saw a 6-3 advantage erased in the final 30 seconds by Buffalo Grove junior Alejandro Mejia (28-5), who drew close with a late takedown to make it 6-5 against the two-time state qualifier.
Conant, which could be found chasing Barrington, Schaumburg and Prospect for most of the afternoon finally jumped up and over the pack after 170 pounds.
Filippo DeFrenza (152, 28-3) earned his first MSL crown, albeit not in an easy way, over Andy Madrigal (Wheeling, 22-8) who trailed at one point 6-1 only to get back level at 6-6 until the Cougars' senior closed out his opponent 9-8.
Dominic Laskero (26-5) continued to shine for the Cougars by dominating the 126-pound weight class with three pins in just under five minutes to earn top honors.
"After having a year last year that I wasn't too happy with, I just decided to get in the room and work, lift and do the things needed to get better," said Laskero, who grew six inches over the last 12 months, and has used his 6-foot-4 wingspan to wreak havoc.
The 145-pound weight class would provide some of the most memorable moments on the mats for the audience, particularly if you were a Schaumburg Saxons fan.
That's because senior Jack Lingle (24/7) would first stun top seed and No. 5 John Smith (Wheeling, 36-6) in the semifinals, 6-2, then later upend No. 2 seed Kai Conway (Barrington, 31-7) in dramatic overtime style, 6-4.
"John is such a great wrestler, and just so tough on top, but I had a game plan, and I stayed with it in order to beat him," began Lingle. "With Kai, it was great to beat him today after losing here last year in my final, and then later at the state tournament."
Lingle won his first title with a takedown 30 seconds into overtime, much to the delight of the home crowd.
Fremd junior Isiah Pettigrew would mirror the performance of Lingle of sorts, defeating top seed William Mikes (Prospect) in the semifinals and later using a pin at 5:59 to defeat No. 2 seed Jack Hartman (32-7) in the 182-pound final.
"Isiah transferred here from Texas, and once in our room, hasn't stopped working and absorbing everything he can about the sport in order to improve," said Fremd coach Jeff Keske. "He's a terrific young man, and great athlete, who only began in this sport as a freshman so he's just scratching the surface right now."
Gio Jackson (23-2) gave Palatine its second consecutive MSL title and first under new head coach Chris Winter after his 7-3 decision over Brian Morel (20-12) of Fremd.
The MSL crown was the second major victory of the year for the Pirates' senior, who won earlier at the Bison Invite at Fenton.