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Wrestling

High school wrestling: Team preview capsules

FOX VALLEY CONFERENCE

VALLEY DIVISION

Cary-Grove

Coach: Mike Buhr (1st season)

Last season: 8-15 overall, 2-4 FVC Valley

Top returners: Jon Cullen, sr., 138; Sean Cullen, sr., 132

Key newcomers: Cadin Koeppel, so., 195

Worth noting: Buhr takes over for Ryan Ludwig in charge of a Trojans program that sent three wrestlers to state last season and had a champion in Michael Cullen. The one qualifier coming back is John Cullen, who has advanced to state twice in his three seasons and will be looking to follow in his older brother’s path.

Crystal Lake South

Coach: Ross Ryan (9th season)

Last season: 9-12 overall

Top returners: Buddy Gabric, sr., 285; Frank Woods, sr., 152; Ethan Weinandy, sr., 160; Vinny Fontanetta, jr., 182; Doug Cain, sr., 120

Key newcomers: Matt Lancero, jr., 126; Tyler Gardner, jr., 138; Shahyan Malik, jr,. 152/160; David Hernandez, jr., 145/152; Anthony Castro, jr., 132

Worth noting: Last season saw Eric Barone capture the first state title in Gators history and South coach Ryan said many of his wrestlers are still feeding off the excitement of Barone’s title. This year, the team is on the younger side, built around a core of sophomores and juniors to go with a few seniors. Among the seniors is Ethan Weinandy, an honorable mention all-area selection last season.

Dundee-Crown

Coach: Tim Hayes (1st season)

Last season: 14-10 overall

Top returners: Chase Raap, jr., 182; Christian Brunner, sr., 195; Christian Rodriguez, sr., 220

Key newcomers: Ricardo Zambrano, fr., 106/113; Nathan Cardinal, so., 106/113; Ivan Gonzalez, fr., 126/132; Michael McCorkle, jr., 152; Jaidan Borja, sr., 152; Jake DeVincentis, sr., 170; John Saucedo, sr., 285

Worth noting: The Chargers are “very young,” coach Tim Hayes said, but have strong leadership from their returners. The Chargers are led by two-time state place winner Christian Brunner. “He is the constant example of a champion, and when all is said and done, that is what he will be,” Hayes said. “I am beyond confident that he will become Dundee-Crown’s first three-time state placer and just the third state champion in our school’s history.” Hayes is also enthusiastic about the prospects for his senior heavyweight John Saucedo, calling him “an animal.”

Huntley

Coach: BJ Bertelsman (6th season)

Last season: 15-10 overall

Top returners: Zach Spencer, so., 113; Josh Stenger, jr., 120; Joey Armijo, jr., 126; Kyle Smoot, jr., 126; Juan Quiroz, so,. 138/145; Riley Brands, jr., 132; Jason Pawlak, jr., 132; Brad Zbilski, so., 152; Petros Mihalopoulos, sr., 195; Jalen Blanchard, sr., 220; Dominic Swanson, sr., 285

Key newcomers: Gannon Kosowski, fr., 106

Worth noting: The Red Raiders sent four individuals to the state tournament last season and are looking for multiple qualifiers again, coach BJ Bertelsman said. Two of those qualifiers – Zach Spencer (113) and Josh Stenger (120) – return to anchor the lower weight classes. Senior Dominic Swanson is expected to be a force at heavyweight. “We will have a young team, but we will be very good in the light weights and in the upper weights,” Bertelsman said. The Red Raiders have a tough schedule – especially a stretch in December that includes Crystal Lake Central – which they hope will prepare them for the postseason. Illinoismatmen.com ranks the Red Raiders No. 21in Class 3A.

Jacobs

Coach: Gary Conrad (4th season)

Last year: 18-2 overall, 5-1 FVC Valley

Top returners: Beau Harrier, jr., 120; David Dudych, jr., 132; Chris Dranka, sr., 138; Dean Lane, sr., 160; Loren Strickland, so., 170; Jack Golnick, sr., 220; Michael Bujacz, sr., 195

Worth noting: The division champion Golden Eagles were one of three local teams to reach a team dual sectional last season. The expectations coming into the new year are much the same, said coach Gary Conrad, the 2015 Northwest Herald Coach of the Year. “Our expectations for this year is to win another FVC title and try to get another chance at making team state,” Conrad said. Illinoismatmen.com ranks the Golden Eagles No. 12 in Class 3A.

McHenry

Coach: Will Gaddy (21st season)

Last season: 19-2 record, FVC Valley regular-season champion

Top returners: Lucas Busse, jr., 120; Trace Conlon, sr., 126; Derek Neises, sr., 132; Mike Conlon, sr., 138; Jacob Brush, jr., 160; Jake Leske, so., 170; Matt Nagel, sr., 182; Josh Little, sr., 220

Key newcomers: Matt Gutierrez, jr., 106; Alex McReynolds, so., 113; Wally Marsh, so., 113; Mike Noles, jr., 145; Cesar Lopez, jr., 152; Alex Lee, jr., 195; Tanner Gazzano, sr., 285; AJ Sweeny, jr.,  220; Brandon Redina, jr., 285

Worth noting: The Warriors sent four wrestlers to the state tournament last season, but all four are gone to graduation. Last season, the Warriors won the FVC Valley during the regular season, but finished second in the conference tournament. “The FVC Valley will be tough, but we expect to be right in the thick of it,” associate head coach Jake Guardalabene said.

FOX VALLEY CONFERENCE

FOX DIVISION

Crystal Lake Central

Coach: Justen Lehr (8th season)

Last season: Team dual regional and sectional champions, 4th at dual team state

Top returners: Michael Petersen, sr., 145; Lenny Petersen, jr., 138, Keegan O’Donnell, sr., 220; Seamus O’Donnell, so., 175; Liam O’Donnell, so., 165; Austin Ernd, so., 132

Key newcomers: Austin Parks, sr., 195; John Barth, fr., 106; Brock Montford, fr., 113

Worth noting: In addition to two individual state champions last year, the Tigers reached the team dual state semifinals, eventually finishing fourth. The Tigers lost their two champions but have returning state qualifiers in the Petersen brothers and the lineup has been bolstered by the transfer addition of Class 2A state place winner Austin Parks.

Hampshire

Coach: Brian Iossi (1st season)

Last season: 15-5 overall

Top returners: Wylie Allen, sr., 152; Casey Allen, so., 132; Josh Bybee, sr., 138; Max McGowan, jr., 160

Key newcomers: Pawel Barnas, jr., 285; Christian Rivero, fr., 106

Worth noting: The Whip-Purs have started the season 3-3 under new coach Iossi, and he has liked what he’s seen. None of the three state qualifiers from last season return, giving Iossi an inexperienced group. “We are a very young team, but our lineup is starting to take shape,” Iossi said. “We have several first-year varsity starters but a nice sprinkling of experienced veterans in our lineup to help the young guys out.” The Whips finished second at the Richmond-Burton Tom DuBois Classic, with Bybee (145) and Wylie Allen (152) winning individual titles and Rivero (106) coming in third.

Johnsburg

Coach: Jon Murphy (3rd season)

Last season: 12-12 overall

Top returners: Jackson Deehr, so., 113; Austin Butler, so., 152; Riley Buchanan, jr., 170; Anthony Moore, sr., 182; Valentino Mendoza, so., 182; Erik Juveland, sr., 220; Blake Boyle, sr., 285

Key newcomers: Jack Clauson, fr., 120; Matt Tobin, so., 145; Mark Mercado, sr., 145; Joey Calhoun, so., 160

Worth noting: The Skyhawks lost a state place winner to graduation, but they get a state qualifier back in Riley Buchanan at 170. Murphy said he expects a lot of competition for lineup spots at the top weight classes. In early-season action, the Skyhawks had three wrestlers – Juveland, Boyle and Tobin – reach championship finals at the Richmond-Burton Tom DuBois Classic. Juveland took an individual title to lead the Skyhawks to a third-place finish in that tournament. The Skyhawks are No. 23 in Class 2A, according to illinoismatmen.com.

Prairie Ridge

Coach: Matt Lopez (3rd season)

Top returners: Trey Fowler, jr., 120; Travis Piotrowski, sr., 120/126; Luke Silva, so., 132; Brendon Ewing, sr., 160; Nick Fetzner, so., 170; Mason Antonson, jr., 195/182; Dereck Pearson, sr., 285

Key newcomers: Jace Sparks, fr., 106; Caleb Harnish, so., 113; Trey Piotrowski, fr., 138; Drake Regenhardt, fr., 145

Worth noting: The Wolves are led by one of the county’s best in Illinois-bound Travis Piotrowski. Beyond the standout senior, Lopez said, “After building the program’s numbers the past two years, we will start to have success as a team. We have a base of experienced wrestlers to build around and a good group of incoming freshmen.”

Woodstock

Coach: John Grell (6th season)

Last season: 7-13 overall

Top returners: Kevin Zange, sr., 160; Nick Sundberg, sr., 182; Martin Halilaj, sr., 196; Eli Kruse, sr., 152; Devante Martyne, sr., 285

Key newcomers: Steven Cunningham, so., 113; Nolan Adams, fr., 126; Tanner Heidtke, so., 145; Aiden Jacobs, fr., 160.

Worth noting: The Blue Streaks are led by senior captains Sundberg and Zange, who both qualified for state as sophomores but missed out last season after struggling with injuries down the stretch. Grell calls the group a “mix of young and seasoned wrestlers” and said they’re focused on getting individuals back to state after sending no one last season. In their final season in the FVC, the Blue Streaks are looking for their first conference title since 2006, Grell said.

Woodstock North

Coach: Tim Creighton (1st season)

Top returners: Jake Fiorito, sr., 160; Randall Kline, sr., 170

Key newcomers: Cole Walkington, fr., 113

Worth noting: Creighton takes over as head coach after three seasons as an assistant with the Thunder and more involvement in the town’s wrestling communtiy. “We look for our leaders Jake Fiorito and Randy Kline to have a big year,” Creighton said. The Thunder will have numerous underclassmen contribute to the varsity roster, and fielding a full, deeper lineup has been a big improvement thus far. “Not giving up five to six forfeits this year has already proven successful as we are winning and competing with teams that we couldn’t before due to forfeits,” Creighton said. The Thunder are 3-1 this season.

BIG NORTHERN CONFERENCE

EAST DIVISION

Harvard

Coach: J.D. Oliva (1st season)

Last season: 22-9 overall, lost in Class 1A Dual Team sectional to Dakota.

Top returners: Josh Fiegel, sr., 113, Sergio Esquivel, 120; Reiss Bielski 126; Justin Wilcox, 132; Sergio Jimenez, 145; Zach Martin, 195

Worth noting: The Hornets have a new coach and move back up to Class 2A, where they were state qualifiers in 2014. Harvard brings back three individual state qualifiers, Fiegel, Bielski and Martin. Fiegel is wrestling at 113 after placing fifth last season in 106 at Class 1A state. Oliva said they have tried to up the level of competition they see during the season with matches against Oak Park-River Forest and Dakota, the Class 1A dual team state championship team that eliminated them last season in a sectional. They are 6-3 this season.

Marengo

Coach: Tim Keefer (5th season)

Top returners: Joe Mier, jr., 160; Bailey Miller, sr., 132; Kyle Gara, sr., 195; James Mier, so., 182

Key newcomers: Dylan Turner, sr., 285; Cameron Miller, fr., 113

Worth noting: The Indians have shown early on they will be a dual team threat this season, winning the Richmond-Burton Tom DuBois Classic in impressive fashion. The Indians won five individual titles at the tournament and placed eight wrestlers in the top three. Marengo is led by Joe Mier, who qualified for state last season as a sophomore, and Gara, who is ranked No. 9 at 195 in Class 2A by illinoismatmen.com. Heavyweight Turner returns to Marengo after transferring to Shelbyville, where he was a state qualifier last season.

Richmond-Burton

Coach: Tony Nelson (1st season)

Top returners: Gavin Sutton, jr., 138

Key newcomers: Brenden Kaminscky, fr., 106; Chase Duncan, fr., 113

Worth noting: Brett Wojcik stepped down after 11 successful seasons in charge of the Rockets, opening the door for Nelson to take over. The Rockets will be led by returning state qualifier Sutton. Early on this season, the junior won an individual title and the most outstanding wrestler award for the lower weight classes at R-B’s Tom DuBois Classic. Other Rockets to place in their own tournament were Kaminscky (second at 106), Duncan (third at 113), Joey Kaht (fourth at 145) and Matt Ferrero (third at 220).

EAST SUBURBAN CATHOLIC

CONFERENCE

Marian Central

Coach: Chris Taylor (4th season)

Last season: 7th in ESCC tournament, 3rd in regional

Top returners: Brandon Bannon, so., 120; Joe Herff, sr., 152; Anthony Randazzo, so., 132; Tom Welch, sr., 170

Key newcomers: Elas Edmondson, jr., 160; Zach Gustafson, so., 195; Joey Fitzgerald, fr., 126; John Cieslak, so., 113

Worth noting: Taylor calls his team “young but experienced with some good postseason credentials.” The Hurricanes will be led by Welch at 170 and Randazzo at 132, who both qualified for state last season and were second-team Northwest Herald All-Area selections. With building depth, Taylor said he expects to field a full lineup and make a run at a regional title.

NORTHEASTEN ATHLETIC

CONFERENCE

Alden-Hebron

Coach: John Cashmore (2nd season)

Last season: No dual victories as the program was kept alive with only two wrestlers

Top returners: Colten Cashmore, sr., 170/182; David Reiter, so., 138/145

Key newcomers: Josh Johnson, sr., 152; Jordan Gricar, so., 132/138; Justin Strand, fr., 138/145

Worth noting: The Giants have more than doubled their numbers this season and are led by Colten Cashmore. The senior won the 170-pound title and the most outstanding wrestler award for the upper weight classes last week at Richmond-Burton’s Tom Dubois Classic. Coach John Cashmore also expects a strong season from Johnson and thinks a year of experience will benefit others.

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