Eight Hilltoppers win crowns at own invite
Glenbard West had a run of wrestling dual matches like few others at DeKalb over the holiday season.
The Hilltoppers' impressive season-opening winning streak came to a screeching halt with losses to the host Barbs, the second-ranked program in Class 3A, as well as Class 2A
juggernauts Washington and Deerfield.
Highly-regarded Class 3A power Prospect handed Glenbard West -- ranked No. 17 in the coaches' poll -- a fourth consecutive defeat at the bracketed-dual tournament.
But the Hilltoppers responded with alacrity and vigor in crowning eight individual champions at their 10-team invitational over the weekend.
"We dominated that tournament," Glenbard West coach Nick Posegay said of the Hilltoppers' 254-142 victory over runner-up Prairie Ridge.
Ulises Rosas (113 pounds), Isaiah Perez (126), Jacob Lachs (132), Jeremy Iman (145), Brennan Skoda (152), Max Konopka (160), Patrick Shadid (170), Philip Dozier (195) and
heavyweight Morely Coval all climbed to the top of the podium for Glenbard West on Saturday.
Skoda, Konopka and Dozier are the anchors as veteran state-tournament qualifiers.
Dozier has been anointed as the top Class 3A competitor by the coaches' association, the IWCOA.
Dozier (25-1) suffered his lone defeat against defending Washington state-champion Donnie Hidden in DeKalb.
"We learned a lot from that match and hopefully it will pay dividends," Posegay said.
Dozier is a gifted and versatile athlete who is currently weighing his collegiate options.
"He would like to play football and wrestle," Posegay said of the Hilltoppers' edge rusher who was the defensive player of the year in the West Suburban Silver last fall.
Dozier has acquired an intimidating reputation.
"(Dozier) is going to find ways to score points," Posegay said. "He has a motor that keeps on going. He has a reputation for so many pins in his career that guys are hesitant to wrestle him."
Montini enters new chapter:
Twenty-two-plus months ago, Montini was on the state mountaintop.
The Broncos -- in the final boys state tournament of the 2019-20 school year -- extended their state-record-run of titles to 16 with a one-sided triumph over fellow Catholic League rival Mt.
Less than two years later, however, former Glenbard West all-stater Pernevlon Sheppard is the third head coach in as many seasons at the Lombard high school.
The Broncos have been reclassified to 2A for the upcoming postseason; lofty national rankings, media attention and their galaxy of future Division-I athletes have essentially vanished.
"We have zero seniors in the program," Sheppard said of the Broncos' current state.
But Sheppard is determined to conduct business as usual.
"We still wrestle a high-level schedule," Sheppard said of the Broncos' continued participation in such nationally-recognized tournaments as Dvorak, Ironman and Cheesehead. "We have taken some lumps but are also holding our own. I think we are headed in the right direction heading into the postseason."
Sheppard has grand expectations for the all-sophomore triumvirate of Jalen Colon (145), David Mayora (152) and Nick Ranquist (220).
Caldwell faces tough choice:
In recent memory, the most accomplished wrestlers at Waubonsie Valley have invariably hailed from the upper weights.
Brad Caldwell, the Warriors' veteran coach, has a carbon-copy dynamic this winter.
Luke Buntin is 17-6 as the starting heavyweight; Andrew Meissner has 22 wins as the Warriors' 182-pounder.
Caldwell assumed Jacob Houshour would be the obvious choice to pencil in at 195, but the senior made his season debut only last weekend due to a lingering football injury.
Ashton Phillips, a sophomore, filled in admirably for Houshour during the interim, winning 15 times.
"He has placed in every one of our tournaments," Caldwell said of Phillips' emergence.
Caldwell will face a conundrum between the veteran Houshour and the determined Phillips as the Class 3A postseason beckons.
"It is an issue I have to start facing," Caldwell said of his regional preference at 195. "One of the boys is going to have to move to 220."
Antonio Torres is back in the fold for Waubonsie Valley after a controversy-filled junior year at Naperville Central.
All-state for the Warriors in 2020, Torres has two invitational titles among his 16 consecutive wins at 160 this season.
"The sky is the limit for (Torres)," Caldwell said. "He has the ability to wrestle with anybody."