Scouting the 2019-20 season in the Northwest suburbs
Mid-Suburban EastMSL East champion Prospect has seen plenty of quality from its roster leave through graduation over the past few seasons, but coach Tom Whalen and his staff always find a way to replace what they lose to stay in the trophy hunt.
This season will be no different for the Knights, who were also regional champs a year ago and advanced to the Cass 3A team state tournament.
"We have a lot of guys training with plenty of intensity, so there's competition in the room to get better with each day," Whalen said. "We have a difficult schedule which hopefully will prepare us for the end of the season, so the expectation is for us to keep working together at a high level and to learn to fight for each other in order to navigate our way through the season."
The Knights lost nearly 200 victories to graduation but the return of 2018 MSL and regional champion Jack Milos after a year away should bolster the attack.
•The Buffalo Grove lineup welcomed 2019 state qualifier Gio Jackson (28-5), who transferred from Palatine during the offseason, giving the Bison attack another weapon in its quest to move up in the division.
"Gio is a quality guy in our room, so to have him with us is a real bonus and along with Alejandro Mejia (152,160, 29-7) and Michael Goubine (25-10) at 195, we have the makings of a team that should be able to compete in the MSL this season," said BG coach Kurt Kutska.
•Elk Grove has made tremendous strides forward since Dan Vargas took over the program and the former Wheeling star sees nothing but more improvement from his team this season.
"Our freshmen numbers are bigger than they have been in quite some time so we're excited to gain some momentum at the lower levels and to groom those athletes for the future," said Vargas.
The Grens return frosh-soph state champion Tuvshin Zuunbayan (31-5) as well as 2019 regional champ Joey Gaskill (29-9) in addition to sectional qualifier Brady Tosterud.
•Four-year star Zach Joyce (126, 30-14) will be a serious contender for postseason honors for Hersey this season, while Huskies heavyweight Austin Korba (29-13) won't be far behind according to coach Joe Rupslauk.
•Elciro Domingo (113, 24-14), Mikael Dukes (138), Miguel Luna (160) and Sam Dombos (170) return for Rolling Meadows, while Wheeling continues its rebuilding project after another round of heavy graduation losses.
Mid-Suburban WestFremd appears ready to make its move and Conant will be doing all it can to overcome the loss of 19 sectional qualifiers and five state qualifiers during the past two seasons.
"We have a solid group returning, but we graduated nine starters so we'll be looking to get a lot out of our younger guys," said Conant head coach, Chad Hay.
Junior Jack Hominac (160) was a frosh-soph runner-up during the offseason.
•Coach Jeff Keske at Fremd added depth to his club with the addition of Palatine transfer Konnor DelMar (145,152) and freshman Jake Crandall (106), whose father is a former all-state wrestler, also from Palatine.
Together with a quintet of sectional qualifiers -- Charlie Fifield, Jorge Martinez, Michael Mondus, Isiah Pettegrew and Jack Riemer -- the Vikings have the makings of a very solid bunch.
"Fifield, Mondus and Pettigrew are each capable of having breakout seasons so the hope is to compete for a MSL and regional title when they come around," said Keske.
•Schaumburg coach Mike Levanti will head into the new season with plenty of young and inexperience athletes on a roster that will include 30-match winners Grant Hansen (152, 33-8) and Tyler Bobnick (160-30-9) along with five others who accounted for 74 victories between them.
"Our nonconference schedule has been scaled back a little, but our opening week won't be without its challenges with Prospect early on before heading to Plainfield South and a very competitive quad," said Levanti. "So it truly becomes one day at a time for us and trust that the process will have us at full strength come February."
•Hoffman Estates and Palatine both will look to fill their lineups after another heavy round of graduation and transfer losses,
Central Suburban LeagueSince winning the league crown back in 2011, Maine South and the rest of its league rivals have been chasing Deerfield, which has had a stranglehold on the big trophy.
Last season, with state runner-up Jon Halverson (37-2, Illinois) and teammates Jim Nuzzo, Jim Bartell and Sean Kelly leading the way the Hawks would end the Warriors' reign.
This quartet has all moved on, leaving state qualifier Noah Beltran (113, 28-16) as the man coach Kevin Hansen will lean on.
"We have a lot of new faces this season, but as always, our goal is to win the CSL South, the conference tournament, and to repeat as regional champs," said Hansen.
•There's been a steady rise from all the clubs in the league of late, beginning with Chris Brassell's Maine West team, which said goodbye to three-time state qualifier, and 2019 state medal winner Jake Bellizzi.
The Warriors were 15-6-0 overall a year ago with a senior dominated roster.
"We graduated nine but we expect to continue to build on our success from the last couple of years because of a hardworking group of wrestlers and an influx of new talent," said Brassell.
One of the Warriors' best is Isco Isuf (132, 22-9), who was a first-time sectional qualifier, and seventh-place medal winner at the frosh-soph state tournament.
•Maine East is also on the rise with sectional qualifier Angel Villegas (37-5) back and ready to go.
East Suburban CatholicFor the majority of its existence, the ESCC has been dominated by a small fraternity of teams, led by Marist which has collected 26 championship trophies, including another last season. The recent addition of Class 2A state power Marian Central Catholic has taken some of the headlines away from Marist, Marian Catholic and Notre Dame, making for some impressive results when the postseason arrives.
Coach Jason Churak lists Gaetano Console (152), Nick Demunno (195) and four-year starter Ryan McGuire (220) as his go-to guys at St. Viator following a 12-9-0 season.
"We expect a breakout season for those three and others after coming off a rebuilding season, so the hope is continued hard work and attention to detail will have us in a good place when the postseason begins," Churak said.
West SuburbanSince the West Suburban Conference became what it is today as far as wrestling, it's been Oak Park-River Forest that has dominated the league, and state series. Several clubs have closed the gap with the Huskies, most recently Lyons Township and Downers Grove South, but none can match the firepower OPRF has continually flashed in its impressive starting lineup.
Leyden has made a big step forward of late, winning 15 matches last season while sending seven wrestlers into sectionals, including its dynamic duo of: Daniel Uribe (35-5) and Ronald Massari (32-8), who are among six who return this season.