Previewing the dual-team state tournament
36th dual-team state wrestling tournament.
Where: Grossinger Motors Arena, Bloomington
Schedule: 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. quarterfinals (all classes); 2 p.m. semifinals (all classes); 6 p.m. finals (all classes)
Marmion Academy (19-2-0) vs. Prospect (18-9-0)Two surprise additions to the state field open the tournament, No. 4 Marmion Academy and Mid-Suburban League East champion Prospect, which stunned No. 10 Huntley on Tuesday to advance for the third time in program history under head coach Tom Whalen.
"This is a proud moment for Prospect wrestling, with all of the guys doing their part to beat a terrific team from Huntley," said Whalen following the Knights' 36-33 victory at its dual-team sectional in McHenry.
"Individually, we did not do as well as we wanted to at state last weekend, so to come out here and wrestle smart, win the ones we needed to, means a lot to all of us especially the seniors," added Joe Caringella, who sealed the Knights' victory over Huntley with his major decision victory.
Harvard-bound Michael Jaffe could not hide his emotions one day after the Cadets edged No. 2 Mt. Carmel (27-26) when Nathan Callaway claimed the final bout of the night to send Marmion into the state tournament for the eighth time and seventh in a row.
"(Mt. Carmel) beat us by 40-plus points the first time we met but at the time we were fighting so many injuries and weren't at full strength," said Jaffe, third a week ago in Champaign at 120 pounds. "That win would show just what this team is made of, and how much of a close knit family we all are.
"If we can get past our first two opponents, and get ourselves into the final, I know we'll give it a good run to capture a state championship."
Lockport (17-5-0) vs. Oak Park-River Forest (21-3-0)This is the match that all eyes will be on Saturday morning, and why not? Nos. 2 OP-RF vs. No. 5 Lockport, two high profile clubs with plenty of power in their respective starting lineups.
Thirteen state qualifiers between them, three state champions -- Eddie Bolivar, Matt Ramos and Baylor Fernandes -- and nine state medal winners, making this one feel like a state final bout.
Aurora Christian (21-7-0) vs. Peotone (15-8-0)Don't be fooled by the number of losses of the defending Class 1A state champion Aurora Christian, all are against Class 2A and 3A opponents, making the Eagles still the favorites despite a year filled with all sorts of adversity.
"Last year we went injury free -- you're lucky when that happens -- everyone did the jobs we asked of them, and that's one of the big reasons we won a state title," said AC coach Justin Pearch.
"But in sports, one year can make a difference and this year, we've lost a lot of guys to injuries and a variety of other things, the biggest coming last weekend in the 126-pound final when Cameron (Johnson) suffered a serious shoulder injury moments into his match."
Johnson was denied the chance for a third consecutive state title and for Saturday, his loss leaves a big void in the AC starting lineup.
"As I said, we've dealt with a lot this year, but there's no doubt in my mind the rest of the guys will step it up this weekend to help fill in for the loss of (Johnson) and if they do, we'll see how things go for us in Bloomington."
The Eagles' state champions were Joel Mylin (106, 43-5) and Noah Villarreal (132, 43-4 with Nathan Orosco (42-8) taking third at 120.
Should AC finish fourth or better, it will then be moved up to Class 2A next winter, based on the IHSA's success factor.
Fourth place is certainly within sight against Peotone then the first real challenge of the tournament comes against No. 4 Vandalia, which boasts three state medal winners from a week ago, including Jarek Wehrle whom Mylin beat early in the tournament on his way to a state title at 106.
Barrington (24-3-0) vs. Montini Catholic (24-2-0)Barrington could have drawn into an easier state opener but to the MSL champions making it to Bloomington represents a giant step for a club which lost enough stars from last year's state team to fill the night sky.
"Nobody figured us to be in the hunt for the conference title, or really anything past that but the guys had something to prove after losing so many great wrestlers from a year ago," said Broncos head coach Dave Udchik.
The No. 15 Broncos' only losses were to teams ranked ahead of them in the state polls -- Glenbard North, Lincoln-Way West and Lockport -- and seven of the 10 who were sectional qualifiers will return next season.
No. 1 Montini Catholic appears on course to lift its 15th championship trophy in program history, and ninth under current head coach Izzy Martinez. Montini is currently the No. 5 team in the nation (InterMat Wrestling) and would celebrate three state champs last weekend, including Wisconsin-recruit Peter Christensen, No. 2 in the nation at 195 pounds.
DeKalb (22-6-0) vs. Edwardsville (29-1-0)No. 11 Edwardsville came back from 19 points down to Lincoln-Way West last Tuesday to win at Taylorville to reach the state finals for the first time in 10 years.
The Tigers cannot afford to chase No. 6 DeKalb because the Barbs have strength of depth all throughout their lineup, witnessed by the ten 10 they advanced to Champaign, four of whom medaled, including 195-pound runner-up Blah Dahnweih.
This is the ninth time here for DeKalb, but first since 2003.