St. Charles East's Schroeder starts strong at sectionals
After finishing atop their group at regionals in convincing style a week ago, both Justin Benjamin (138, 40-4) and Tommy Schroeder (160, 34-9) picked up where they left off on the first day of sectionals in Hoffman Estates.
The St. Charles East duo advanced into Saturday's 10:30 a.m. semifinals at Conant -- one win away from earning a trip downstate at the 3A state tournament in Champaign.
Flying under the radar is just fine with Schroeder who admits the top three to four guys in his weight class deserve the recognition they have received thus far.
Schroeder competes in a talent-rich division at 160, but his recent dominance at the DuKane Conference and regional tournaments signaled his state tournament intentions.
"I'm in a great room, with great coaches, and my athleticism and technique more than make up for the fact that I am not a year-round wrestler. I know I'm ready for this weekend and next," said the Saints star.
One sport isn't enough for Schroeder to excel in, with his days in the fall spent in football, and the spring in baseball, where he shined as the Saints shortstop. He hit a robust clip of .423, which will lead to JUCO power Triton College next season.
"The plan is to play at Triton one year, then transfer," said Schroeder, who sees his future as an investment banker.
Schroeder, 36-10 a year ago and a state qualifier, is No. 7 in the state polls will take on No. 8 Austin Johnson (31-11) of DeKalb, whom he defeated earlier, 10-3.
Elijah Lopez (South Elgin, 31-6) continued his magical junior campaign, winning twice to move into the semifinals where he will face Ricardo Salinas (39-3), a sophomore from Evanston.
Lopez would survive a wild scramble near the end of his sectional opener with UEC rival Trent Johnson (Bartlett, 30-11) and escape with a 3-2 decision.
The Storm junior would then pin Xavier Sierra (Addison Trail, 29-14) at 5:16 to draw one step closer to his first state appearance.
Johnson will now fight his way back through wrestle-backs in his chase for a top four finish and automatic berth downstate.
Wrestle-backs will begin Saturday at 9 a.m., and continue throughout the day at William N. Perry Gymnasium, culminating at 2:45 p.m. when first and third place bouts take place.
Larkin senior Diego Facio (195, 32-4) was in a bit of trouble in his second round bout with Antowon Tolbert (34-9). He fell behind the Wheaton North senior 9-3 in the second period before stunning Tolbert, and his coach Mike Hodge, with a pin at 3:53.
"Yes, Diego was in trouble, but he never lost his composure, and stayed the course to get himself a big win -- (a) win that I am so proud of," said Hodge.
Facio will meet No. 9 James Bartell (Maine South, 14-0) Saturday morning after Bartell outlasted South Elgin's Vince Clinite (22-11) in their second round contest, 15-11.
Geneva sophomore Ian Huck (35-8) looked sharp in his sectional opener, recording a pin at 1:14, but then ran into the No. 5 rated 126-pounder in the state, Josh Ogunsanya (Oak Park-River Forest, 29-6) who ended Huck's stay in the championship bracket by a pin.
Huck will take on Raul Gonzalez (Addison Trail, 12-12) in his first round wrestle-back match.