Favorites prevail on first day at Conant
There was little drama on Day 1 of the Class 3A Conant individual wrestling sectional in Hoffman Estates on Friday.
Most all of the favorites had an easy time of it, advancing into Saturday's sectional semifinals. A few provided their coaches and fans a few nervous moments, even in victory, before they moved on as well.
Reese Martin (36-4) made sure the Glenbard East faithful had little to worry about when he was called onto the floor. The junior needed just 36 seconds to secure his place in the 10:30 a.m. Saturday semifinals against No. 4 Nico Bolivar of Oak Park-River Forest.
The Upstate Eight Conference and regional champion is ready to climb the ladder and he hopes the podium in Champaign next weekend, regardless of what stands ahead of him.
"It's go-time, and I'm ready to go," said Martin, a state qualifier a year ago.
Martin credited teammate and workout partner Tyler Salvino as well as his older brother Josh for his success thus far.
"Tyler is great workout partner, and my brother has been a guy who I can roll around with and get that extra help from someone who did so well in college," Martin said of Josh, an All-American at Cornell College after his fifth-place finish at 141 pounds at nationals.
Martin's middle brother, Cole, was a 40-match winner last season, joining Reese in the state tournament field.
"Reese is more mature and dedicated to winning this season. (He) now realizes nothing comes easy to you without working hard," said Rams coach Kevin Carlson.
Martin's first-round pin gives him 22 on the season. Salvino moved on at 126 pounds, as did Alex Posada (34-3) at 145 pounds.
Wheaton North senior, Quinlan Nelson (28-3) made history with his lone victory on Friday with a program record 16th technical fall in a single season.
Nelson, one of over 20 top 10-rated wrestlers in various weights at this sectional, is No. 5 in the state at 170.
Top-rated Abe Assad of Glenbard North was flawless en route to his 40th win on the season, as was teammate Ronan Schuelke at 106 pounds.
Assad, No. 2 in the nation according to InterMat Wrestling, is part of an all-star cast at 182.
The Lake Park duo of Dominik Mallinder (120 pounds) and DeMarco Lee (220) remain in the front draw, albeit for the No. 5 Lee, it took a little doing in yet another first-rate weight class.
Lee (23-1) used a late takedown to close out No. 5 Jake Bellizzi of Maine West, 7-4 and will meet No. 6 Sean Kelly of Maine South.
On the other side of the bracket, West Chicago junior Miguel Rodriguez has a date with No. 1 Ramin Abraham of Evanston, who is the man everyone is chasing in this group.
No. 9 Jake Matthews of Addison Trail stayed in the hunt after recording a pair of victories to insure his advancement into the semifinals against 2018 state champion Fabian Lopez of DeKalb.
York senior Antonio Gutierrez (34-8) impressed during his two matches and is one victory away from his first trip downstate. Next up for the Dukes star is DeKalb freshman Bradley Gillum.