The only thing better in high school wrestling than winning a state championship is winning another one.
Richmond-Burton’s Garrett Sutton and Harvard’s Anthony Luis will try and do just that this year, but it won’t be easy.
That’s especially true for Luis, who will wrestle in Class 2A this season after winning the title in 1A. Harvard moves from being one of the largest schools in 1A to the smallest in 2A.
Luis said, when he heard about the news, he wasn’t too happy but is now looking at it as an opportunity to face even tougher competition that will help prepare him for wrestling after high school.
“At first, I was a little concerned,” Luis said. “I need that in the future.
His approach this year will be the same as it always is, prepare and practice as hard has he can.
“I don’t really think about what I did last year,” Luis said.
Hornets coach Tim Haak said moving to 2A is a little unusual because Harvard’s enrollment has actually gone down the past few years.
“Class A just keeps getting smaller and smaller,” Haak said.
Haak said the only thing his team can control is its attitude, not who they wrestle. The team’s schedule typically includes 2A and 3A competition, along with the best 1A schools.
“It only impacts you in a negative way if you let it be negative,” Haak said.
Sutton is looking not only to repeat his championship but also help his brothers, Grant and Gavin.
“My job is not only to get myself another state championship but to help them win their first,” Sutton said.
As a top-ranked wrestler last season, Sutton knows what it’s like to have a target on his back. As a state champion, that target is even bigger.
“It does add an additional chip on my shoulder,” Sutton said. “It’s the same goal. I know what it takes to achieve it.”
Rockets coach Bret Wojcik said Sutton needs to fight being complacent, but he isn’t worried about his senior season.
”He’s so focused. He does everything so well. He’s an intelligent young man,” Wojcik said.
As for having three Suttons in the room, Wojcik said the were just as good off the mat as on.
“They’re just a special breed of kid. They’re so down to earth and coachable,” Wojcik said. “They pick up things from all over the place and bring them back to the room.”
Early Success: The season is still young but several area wrestlers are putting their mark on the season already.
At the Moore/Prettyman Invitational in Barrington Nov. 30, Crystal Lake South had two individual champions. Nick Gil won at 138-pounds and Brian Pence at 195 to lead a pack of five place winners for the Gators.
Also at Barrington, Cary-Grove’s Michael Cullen (113), Johnsburg’s Branden Peshek (132) and Prairie Ridge’s Charley Popp (160) all placed second.
Kyle Fugiel (152), Michael Zelasco (182) and Andrew Marsden all won titles at Conant.
Tigers coach Justen Lehr said he was pleasantly surprised at how well his team was prepared at their first tournament.
Marsden, ranked No. 2 in Class 2A by illinoismatmen.com, nearly technical falled the No. 3-ranked wrestler from Bloomington, 15-1, in the finals.
Lehr said Fugiel is motivated this year to get a place on the place winners stage.
“Kyle’s on a mission,” Lehr said. “He’s tired of dressing up for the big dance and not having a date.”
At the Carmel dual tournament, R-B had wins against St. Patrick, Carmel, Waukegan and West Chicago. After a depleted lineup last season, Wojcik said having a larger team that is more competitive is good motivation for everyone.
“Anytime you have more kids in the room there’s more options. You can just do a lot more,” Wojcik said. “Building in some team success helps with that too.”
State title hopefuls: In addition to the two state champions, the area returns seven other place winners looking to improve and possibly win a title.
Prairie Ridge’s Travis Piotrowski in 3A and Marsden in 2A both placed third and Gil was fourth in 3A. Marian Central’s Nick Remke, Zelasco and Grant Sutton all finished fifth in 2A and Cullen was sixth in 3A.