85 area wrestlers ready for sectionals

Richmond-Burton’s Garrett Sutton and Montini’s Xavier Montalvo looked to be on a collision course for the Class 2A 160-pound state finals championship match.

Sutton went undefeated last year in winning the state title at 152 and has not been beaten this season. Montalvo won state at 160 and has been ranked No. 1 most of the season at 160 by with Sutton a close second.

The collision got derailed with Montalvo bumping up to 170 at the Elmwood Park Regional. He is now ranked No. 1 at 170.

Rockets coach Bret Wojcik said they had no indication of Montalvo going up a weight class.

"Garrett was really excited to wrestle [Montalvo]," Wojcik said. "He was kind of disappointed he wasn't going to."

The move gives Sutton (37-0) the top ranking at 160 and makes him the clear favorite to repeat as state champion. The preparation, with or without Montalvo, is the same.

“The focus is going to be on the match at hand,” Wojcik said. “I don't know that there's anyone in the state that can hang with [Sutton].”

Sutton will be joined in his pursuit of a state championship by his teammates and brothers – Gavin at 113 and Grant at 126. Gavin (35-3), a freshman, is the only sibling not ranked No. 1. He’s No. 2. Combined, the Sutton brothers are 104-3.

Sectional wrestling tournaments begin Friday for 85 area wrestlers who qualified out of regionals this past Saturday. Class 1A will be at Byron and Class 3A at Barrington. Marengo will be at Pontiac with the other area Class 2A teams at Lakes.

The top four place winners at sectionals advance to the state finals Feb. 20-22 at the State Farm Center (Assembly Hall) at the University of Illinois in Champaign.

If recent history has any bearing, over 30 of the area’s sectional qualifiers will make it through to state. Last year, the area sent 36 to state with 31 going in 2012 and 37 in 2011.

Class 2A has the most sectional qualifiers with 48 but Class 3A with 35 sets the mark for most qualifiers in that class since wrestling split into three classes in the 2008-2009 season.  

Alden-Hebron is the only Class 1A school with Harvard becoming one of the smallest 2A schools. The Giants send Josh Johnson at 138 and Colten Cashmore (160) to the Byron Sectional.

Prairie Ridge sophomore Travis Piotrowski (34-1) placed third at 106 in Class 3A last year at state. He’s hoping that experience will help him this year.   

“I’m more confident now that I know the feel of (state),” Piotrowski said. “I’m definitely more excited.”

Crystal Lake South’s Nick Gil (37-1) is looking to avenge his only loss of the season at state. He lost to Oak Park-River Forest’s Isaiah White at a late-season tournament. Gators coach Ross Ryan said Gil is ready for the challenge.

“[Gil’s] really developed and matured,” Ryan said. “He’s focused. He’s not looking ahead.”

Also in Class 2A, Crystal Lake Central has three highly ranked wrestlers heading into sectionals. Kyle Fugiel (24-1) got bumped down to a No. 2 ranking with the move by Montalvo. Andrew Marsden (37-1) is the No. 1 ranked wrestler at 195 and Mike Zelasco (36-3) is No. 2 at 182. Harvard’s Adam Freimund (34-0) is ranked No. 3 at heavyweight.

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