Crystal Lake Central coach Justen Lehr was impressed with the level of competition at Saturday’s IHSA Class 2A Harvard Regional.
Central had its sights set on a fourth regional title in five seasons before Marian Central dashed those hopes. The Tigers qualified eight wrestlers for sectionals but didn’t make it out of the regional as a team.
“We’re going to see this regional is pretty good,” Lehr said last weekend. “This is one of the better regionals that I’ve been a part of. Every team brought a couple of good kids. We’ll see a lot of these kids maybe get out next weekend.”
All nine teams at the regional were local, so all 42 sectional qualifiers are from the McHenry County area. They will compete in the Class 2A Grayslake Central Sectional beginning Friday and continuing Saturday. The top four wrestlers in each weight class will advance to state.
Marian tops the list with 10 sectional qualifiers. Behind Central’s eight, Prairie Ridge qualified five, Woodstock North, Richmond-Burton and Johnsburg qualified four, Crystal Lake South qualified three, and Woodstock and Harvard each qualified two.
Although the Tigers won’t be competing in team dual sectionals, they have plenty of athletes who will be threats to make it to state individually.
“We’ve just got to get in the room and grind, make sure that our conditioning stays good,” Lehr said.
Crystal Lake Central’s Austin Ernd (138 pounds, 29-10), Liam O’Donnell (195, 32-6) and Seamus O’Donnell (220, 17-0) each won individual regional titles, and each is ranked in the top five of his respective weight class in 2A.
Seamus O’Donnell is unbeaten at 17-0 on the season. A trip to state for O’Donnell, a senior, would be his second. O’Donnell missed the first month of the season with a bicep injury.
The area’s only other unbeaten wrestler is Richmond-Burton’s Jaden Glauser (182, 30-0). Glauser, a sophomore, will seek his second trip to state. In two years, his career record is a 74-3.
As a member of McHenry last season, Glauser finished fourth in Class 3A at 170 before transferring to R-B.
Other wrestlers to watch in the Grayslake Central Sectional include Marian’s Anthony Randazzo (132, 33-5) and Luke Silva (160, 38-1), both state medalists a year ago. South’s Christian Olsen (106, 39-1) looks to cap off an impressive freshman season with a trip to state.
Prairie Ridge’s Nick Fetzner (170, 25-4) finished third in 2A at 170 last year. Woodstock’s Javy Villalobos (285, 31-2) hasn’t lost in some two months.
RETURN FROM INJURY
A little more than a year ago, Cary-Grove’s Cadin Koeppel tore his right ACL in what he called “a freak accident” on the mat. In a consolation match in January 2017 at the Sycamore Invitational, Grayslake North’s Angel Flores caught Koeppel’s foot underneath his.
“[Flores] tried to throw a headlock, and I was just defending him,” Koeppel recalled. “He stepped on my foot and my leg went out and there was a pop.”
The injury halted Koeppel’s 2016-17 wrestling season and put his senior football season in doubt. Koeppel, who wrestled at 195 last season but now competes at 220, missed out on any chance to advance in the postseason.
Koeppel played offensive line for the Trojans’ football team.
“When you have an ACL, it was a high-grade tear, and it’s supposed to be nine months,” Koeppel said. “I was supposed to be out the majority of football season. I busted my butt through therapy. It’s amazing what you can do when you’re young, especially, and you’re able to do the therapy 100 percent.”
Koeppel helped the Trojans’ football team to a 7-4 season and a trip to the second round of the Class 6A playoffs.
“We did not expect him to be back, even for football season,” C-G wrestling coach Will Petersen said. “He worked his tail off. He finished all-conference (in the) football season. Now he’s back, and he’s doing great.”
Koeppel won the 220-pound bracket of the Class 3A Dundee-Crown Regional. At 32-5 on the season, he has a chance to cash in with a trip to state.
“I definitely know I’m there,” Koeppel said. “My conditioning’s there, my skill level’s there, it’s just a matter of executing.”
CLASS 3A BARRINGTON SECTIONAL
Koeppel will be one of three Trojans competing at the Barrington Sectional. Jacobs brings six athletes to the sectional, while Dundee-Crown and McHenry have four apiece.
Huntley leads all local teams with 12 wrestlers at the sectional. Individual regional champions included Sammy Spencer (113, 37-4), Luke Loprieno (145, 30-13), David Ferrante (160, 29-2), Juan Quiroz (170, 38-5) and Justin Allen (195, 22-6).
Jake Harrier (120, 33-3) was Jacobs’ only regional champion. The sophomore will be seeking his second trip to state.
D-C’s Isiah Ziegler (285, 38-3) was a regional champion and will look to qualify for state for the first time.
• Northwest Herald sports reporter Joe Stevenson contributed to this
Individual Sectionals, Friday, Saturday
Top four individuals in each weight class at each sectional advance to state.
Class 1A Oregon Sectional
Alden-Hebron (1 athlete)
Class 2A Grayslake Central Sectional
Crystal Lake Central (8), Crystal Lake South (3), Harvard (2), Johnsburg (4), Marian Central (10), Prairie Ridge (5), Richmond-Burton (4), Woodstock (2), Woodstock North (4)
Class 2A Sycamore Sectional
Hampshire (3), Marengo (5)
Class 3A Barrington Sectional
Cary-Grove (3), Dundee-Crown (4), Huntley (12), Jacobs (6), McHenry (4)
Total: 80 McHenry County athletes competing at sectionals.
• Northwest Herald senior sports reporter Joe Stevenson contributed to this report.