Scouting Fox wrestling sectionals
Team wrestling is over for now, and with it comes sectional tournaments in all three classes across the state.
The top four in each weight division advance to Champaign next weekend, and climbing atop the podium to receive one of six state medals.
Let's take a closer look at four area sectional venues:
Class 3A Barrington
Friday: 4:30 p.m.; Saturday: 10 a.m. (2:30 p.m. finals)
Lowdown: Two sensational men from Jacobs happen to be in a weight class which features the top three in the state -- a fact in which no other 3A sectional in the state can boast of.
No. 3 Jake Harrier (36-1) sits just behind Joel Vandervere (Warren, 26-1) and Danny Pucino (32-3) from Libertyville at 138 pounds in a weight class that is deep and strong behind this dynamic trio.
"This is the weekend, aside from the state tournament, that all of the extra work you put in is all about," said Harrier, who is 1-1 versus Pucino, and looking to advance to his fourth state tournament.
The Old-Dominion bound Harrier defeated No. 7 Jeremy Jakowitsch (36-6) in his regional final making the Huntley junior yet another to watch this weekend at this weight.
Harrier is set to meet Vandervere in the semifinals, same as Jakowitsch vs. Pucino.
Harrier's teammate at 220, Ryan Golnick (34-3), holds down the No. 1 spot ahead of Gio Jackson (Buffalo Grove, 34-1) and Evan Roper (27-4) from Barrington.
"Where you're at in the state polls mean nothing -- it's where you're standing on that last day of the state tournament that matters most," said Golnick after his thrilling win over-then No. 1 Jackson at the Batavia Invite vaulted the Jacobs junior to the top of the polls the next week.
Golnick will face Roper in his semifinal.
Others to watch: 170: David Ferrante (Huntley, 39-1) vs. Luke Rasmussen (Barrington, 38-0). Nos. 1 and 2 in the state.
145: Gabriel Scales (Dundee-Crown, 13-0). The Chargers senior is here for the fourth time, after he won his first tournament of the season after spending most of the season on the injured list with a broken arm.
"When I was out, I spent a lot of time staying in the best shape that I could, working hard on my conditioning, and just believing and trusting in my coaches," said Scales. Jacobs senior Alex Epstein (24-4) has an excellent chance of getting downstate following his regional championship last weekend.
Class 3A Conant
Friday: 4:30 p.m.; Saturday: 9 a.m. (finals 1 p.m.)
Lowdown: No. 1 Montini joins the guest list this season, adding yet another powerhouse club to an already impressive group which includes No. 3 DeKalb and No. 7 Glenbard North.
Most of the 12 individual regional champions from Montini will be considered the favorites.
To a man, coaches say there are 7-8 first class divisions here, and while it may lack the overall depth of some, there's no doubt the 145-pound group is one that fans will keep a close eye on.
That's because No. 2 Fidel Mayora (Montini, 36-4) and No. 4 Mikey Caliendo (Batavia, 34-1) are on opposite sides of their bracket, meaning if all goes to plan, these two giants will meet in the final.
Mayora is a three-time state medal winner, Caliendo, in his first trip downstate a year ago, brought back a fourth place trophy.
The St. Charles East duo of Jake Penzato (126, 23-6) and Carter Maggio (170, 34-7) earned top honors at regionals last weekend, and each has a wonderful chance to move on.
Seniors Ian Huck (Geneva, 126, 32-8) and Elijah Lopez (160, 21-4) from South Elgin are chasing a second straight trip downstate, while Bartlett big men Jacob Cwenar (182, 33-3) and Joey Vinson (195, 29-6) have been a source of pride to the Hawks program, and coach John Glorioso.
"We took a lot of time at the start of the season to breakdown the fundamentals," Glorioso said. "Those two have been really coachable all year long in the room, focusing on the little things, especially after we spent a lot of time at the start of the season (breaking) things down. They've both bought into everything we're selling, and right now, they are at their absolute best heading into the weekend."
Class 2A Rochelle
Friday: 4:30 p.m.; Saturday: 9 a.m. (2:30 p.m. finals)
Lowdown: Aurora Christian won its fourth consecutive regional title last weekend at Sycamore, and will now compete at the Rochelle 2A dual-team sectionals later this month.
AC advanced an impressive 12 into this sectional, eight of which lifted regional championship trophies. It all begins with reigning state champions Cameron Johnson (132) and Noah Villarreal (138) who are in search for their third state title of their brilliant prep careers.
With its youthful rosters, Burlington Central, Hampshire, and Kaneland combined to send 11 into this sectional, none of which are seniors, which bolsters the hopes of the future of all three clubs. The Kaneland trio of Cameron Phillips (106, 24-10), Caden Grabowski (113, 23-10) and Miles Ripper (24-9) at 220 each claimed second-place medals last weekend at regionals.
Class 2A Deerfield
Friday: 4:30 p.m.; Saturday: 10 a.m. (3 p.m. finals)
Lowdown: You could start an all-star team with all of the extraordinary talent that can be found throughout the weight divisions, beginning with returning state champion Christian Olsen (113, 24-3) from Crystal Lake South, as well as two-time state champ, Dylan Connell (Marian Central Catholic, 170, 37-0). At 132, Danny Valeria (Marian Central Catholic, 38-0), Danny McPherson (Antioch, 37-5), Colin Husko (Wauconda, 37-10) and Lucio Morgan (Deerfield, 30-8) are all in the top 10, but Cary-Grove senior Charlie Gruen (31-8) is right there at No. 6. The 2019 state qualifier is one of seven Trojans to advance this far, and coach Will Peterson knows why his best man is ready for the challenge. "Effort, attitude and commitment, Charlie has it all. (He) strives to be the best, and wants to wrestle the best," said Peterson.
In a wide-open 152 weight class, No. 8 Shane Moran (Crystal Lake South, 21-3) is one of five Gators in which Ross Ryan feels can make it downstate. "Everyone appears to have a good draw, but at this point, it's all about the guys wrestling (their) match in order to move on," said the Gators coach. Ross gave Moran some extra time after coming back from football, and after a late start to the season, it was full speed ahead for the junior. "Shane is so coachable, he's like a sponge, just soaking everything we throw at him, and since last year, his technique has become so crisp and clean."