Scouting Saturday's regionals/Northwest

 
By Mike Garofola
Daily Herald Correspondent

Class 3A at Dundee-CrownTime: 9 a.m., finals p.m.

Guest list: Barrington, Buffalo Grove, Palatine, Cary-Grove, Dundee-Crown, Jacobs, Lake Zurich, McHenry, Stevenson.

Advancement: Top 3 from each weight class advance into Barrington sectional. Team champion advances to McHenry dual-team sectional.

Lowdown: A quick glance at the most recent state polls shows the highest rated teams in this regional are No. 16 Barrington (23-3-0) and No. 18 Stevenson at 13-6-0, making these two clubs the favorites, correct?

Barrington head coach Dave Udchik says yes, but some apprehension in his response.

"Stevenson is always a tough opponent for us. In fact our recent dual win (32-24) over them is the first time in four years we've done so, but there's a lot of quality guys at this regional, so none of us in our room are taking anything for granted. Jacobs has hammers down low in its lineup and other tough guys as well, while Gio Jackson (Palatine) is very good at 220, as is (Charlie) Gruen (138) from Cary-Grove."

Udchik continues adding first-class wrestlers with the mention of: Alejandro Mejia (Buffalo Grove, 138, 28-6), Ian McGee (Lake Zurich, 113) and Brody Hallin (138, 31-8) from McHenry. What the Broncos' coach is saying is everyone here has a handful of wrestlers who can throw a weight class topsy-turvy, while grabbing all important victories and bonus points to make his club and Stevenson nervous.

What Udchik does have is what no other team does, and that's a No. 1 rated man in the state -- junior Luke Rasmussen (160, 36-2, 23 pins) -- whose remarkable turnaround from a year ago continued at the Mid-Suburban League tournament when he pinned his way to a league title.

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Next highest rated is No. 4 John Ridle (Jacobs, 27-5), teammate Jake Harrier (31-1, No. 6 at 132) and the dynamic duo from Stevenson, Tommy Frezza (120, 28-5) and Max Gomez (195, 29-6), both No. 5 in their respective weight divisions.

Ridle will likely face 2018 state qualifier Kai Conway (31-8) of Barrington in the 145-pound final, as will a pair of freshmen at 106 -- Brian Beers (Barrington, 32-7) and Cole Rhemrev (Stevenson, 27-9), twice beaten by Rhemrev (11-9, 6-4) this season.

"We're not up there in star power like they have at Libertyville, but this regional is still a real tough one," Udchik said.

Class 3A at FremdTime: 9 a.m., 3 p.m. finals

Guest list: Fremd, Hersey, Prospect, Rolling Meadows, Wheeling, Glenbrook North, Glenbrook South, Loyola Academy, New Trier,

Advancement: Top 3 from each weight class advance into Barrington sectional. Team champion advances to McHenry dual-team sectional.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Lowdown: In previous years, one would expect a three-horse race for the big trophy between the usual trio of Prospect, Wheeling and New Trier. However, all three have gone through heavy graduation losses to help level the playing level somewhat.

MSL East champion Prospect stayed late in the conference tournament, until falling behind eventual champ Barrington and runner-up Conant, but its third-place finish shows it has the fuel in its tank to be considered the favorite at Fremd Saturday.

Of course, Tom Whalen never takes anything for granted, so you can bet the Knights' head coach is reminding his team of the pitfalls of complacency.

Fremd, Glenbrook North and South are much improved since last season, each bringing four conference champs and several top-three medal winners with them to make things interesting.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Wheeling senior John Smith (37-6) will look to re-establish himself as one of the best 145-pounders in the state after a third-place finish at the MSL tourney.

Joe Caringella was one of three from Prospect who claimed a league title and his rise on the charts from a year ago has been fantastic. The senior just missed making it to sectionals last season, finishing at 20-18, but has fired back this year at 34-7, splitting time between 160 and 170.

"When you get used to winning more than losing, it's a real boost in your confidence, and that has really been the difference in me from a year ago," says Caringella. "We have a great room, great partners and coaching staff, and that along with spending time at the Poeta Training Center has helped turn things around for me."

"Joe is the leader in our room, and has an enormous amount of pride in our program," says Whalen.

Class 3A at Lane TechTime: 8 a.m., noon finals

Guest list: Leyden, Addison Trail, Lane Tech, Oak Park-River Forest, Proviso East, Proviso West, Schurz, Willowbrook, York.

Advancement: Top 3 from each weight class advance into Conant sectional. Team champion advances to DeKalb dual-team sectional

Lowdown: Whenever perennial state power Oak Park-River Forest is in the field, rest assured the Huskies are favored to take home the championship trophy. When the first whistle opens action at this storied CPS school in Roscoe Village, it will be OPRF and everyone else.

Leyden, on the rise since coach John Kading took over three years ago, has a lineup that could make a strong run for second place, along with Addison Trail.

Daniel Uribe and Ryan Jaffray have been key figures in the Leyden rebuild, each taking huge steps forward during the last two seasons. Jaffray (220, 22-5) bounced back from a fourth-place finish at the Berman Holiday Classic to win at the Leyden Invite one week later to improve his chances this weekend, while Uribe went one step better. After Uribe (132, 26-2) cruised to his title at the Berman, the junior fell to No. 6 Jake Harrier (Jacobs) in his Leyden Invite final.

"Jake is a great wrestler, but losing in the final at our tournament stung," admitted Uribe, who roared back with a vengeance at the Batavia Invite, where he stunned Drew Nash (Lemont, No. 5 in Class 2A) in his semifinal, before upending-then No. 9 Jake Matthews (Addison Trail) in the final, in what could be the final in this regional. Those results pushed Uribe into the No. 9 spot, just ahead of Matthews.

Class 3A at Maine EastTime: 9 a.m., finals 1 p.m.

Guest list: Elk Grove, Maine West, Evanston, Maine East, Maine South, Niles North, Niles West, Taft, Von Steuben.

Advancement: Top 3 from each weight class advance into Conant sectional. Team champion advances to DeKalb dual-team sectional.

Lowdown: Maine South ended a six-year stranglehold on the Central Suburban League crown by Deerfield two weeks ago when the Hawks edged their league rivals (237-234.5) and third-place Evanston. With Deerfield at the Libertyville regional, the team race will be Maine South versus Evanston, leaving Elk Grove and Maine West to wrestle for top three spots all across the weight classes.

Maine West's Jake Bellizzi (23-4) is on a quest to make his third appearance at state, following his second place finish at the CSL meet, joining teammate Ilia Tomov (126, 24-10).

I cannot tell you how proud I was of Zak (Chrisovitsiotis, 19-15), who avenged two earlier losses to win a CSL title at 120," said Maine West coach Chris Brassell. "Those three are in good shape this weekend, but I also look for good things from Justin Mendoza (113), Steve Chrisovitsiotis (138) and Jake Roback (182), who all are peaking at the right time."

There's been nothing but good news coming from the Elk Grove camp, where the Grens' duo of Griffin McEnroe (113, 23-4) and Tuvshin Zuunbayan (132, 29-11) each brought a big smile from head coach Dan Vargas.

"The difference in both has been the commitment to the process of getting better, making adjustments, and willingness to have complete trust in the coaching staff and their partners in the room," says Vargas.

McEnroe gave the Grens their first MSL title in 11 with a marvelous performance at 113, which included his 11th pin of the season. Zuunbayan lost a thriller to the in the title bout at 132. Three-sport star, sophomore Joey Gaskill (152, 26-7), leads the Grens with 15 pins.

Class 3A at South ElginTime: 9 a.m., 1 p.m. finals

Guest list: Conant, Hoffman Estates, Schaumburg, Elgin, Larkin, South Elgin, St. Charles North, Streamwood, DeKalb.

Advancement: Top 3 from each weight class advance into Conant sectional. Team champion advances to DeKalb dual-team sectional.

Lowdown: Conant will need to dig deep in order to win its third consecutive regional title after the IHSA moved DeKalb (22-6-0) east. The addition of the No. 6 Barbs, and their 304-point destruction of the field at the NI Big 12 tournament last weekend makes them the favorite at South Elgin.

"DeKalb is a great team with a great lineup, which should give them the No. 1 seeds at 106, 113, 132 and 195, so we'll need our lineup to wrestle to their seeds or better and have our guys in the consolation bracket come through with victories and bonus points on the way to third-place matches," says Conant head coach, Chad Hay.

Two of the four top seeds for DeKalb that Hay concedes are reigning state champion Fabian Lopez (132) and Blah Dahnweith (195, 36-0), who appears to be on course to meet nationally-ranked Peter Christensen (Montini) in the state final in three weeks.

Hay likes the chances of his quartet of MSL champs Alex Giuliano (120, 26-2), Dominic Laskero (126, 26-5), Nicky Amato (138, 23-3) and Filippo DeFrenza (152, 28-3) to earn the top seed.

Schaumburg, which hung around the title race at the MSL tourney until falling off at the end, hopes to celebrate sectional advancement of MSL champion Jack Lingle (145, 23-7) and league runners-up Jaylan Claudio (126, 19-9), Franco Fontela (195, 16-14) and heavyweight Hadi Mashhadiabolghasem (25-6).

Hoffman Estates senior Noel Pena (138, 29-9) is after his second straight sectional appearance after going 25-5 a year ago.

Class 2A at LakesTime: 9 a.m., 1 p.m. finals

Guest list: St. Viator, Antioch, Carmel, Grayslake Central, Grayslake North, Lake Forest, Lakes, North Chicago.

Advancement: Top 3 from each weight class advance into Antioch sectional. Team champion advances to Wauconda dual-team sectional.

Lowdown: St. Viator finds itself in the middle of what promises to be an intense fight between four Top 20 teams -- No. 9 and 10, Lake Forest (28-1-0) and Antioch (13-5), plus No. 15 Grayslake Central.

In this talent-laden regional, the trio of Gaetano Console (132, 21-12), Ryan McGuire (17-10) and Brendan Flores (285, 17-8) have the best chance for St. Viator.

"The entire focus of my offseason work was on reaching my goal of getting downstate," said the sophomore Console, fourth last week at the East Suburban Catholic tournament. "I gained so much experience wrestling Freestyle and Greco with Team Illinois, so I feel like I'm ready for the postseason."

McGuire, who began the season on the disabled list, and continued to battle ankle injuries, says he's ready to go at 195, after finishing fourth at 220 at the ESCC tourney.

"I missed the first 2-3 weeks after an injury in football, then rolled my ankle at the end of December at Metea Valley but you rehab, ice and just work through it in order to compete at the most important time of the season," said the junior, who won 27 a year ago.

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