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High school wrestling: Huntley sets program record with seven state qualifiers

Sam Spencer, Juan Quiroz win titles at Class 3A Barrington Sectional

Juan Quiroz
Juan Quiroz

BARRINGTON – Huntley made history during Saturday's Class 3A Barrington Sectional. 

The Red Raiders qualified seven wrestlers for state, a school record for the most in a season. 

"We work these kids so hard," Huntley coach B.J. Bertelsman said. "Our schedule is grueling. It's not fun, all the hard work we do. But this ... what you see here today, is why we do those things. For moments like these."

Jimmy Pellegrino (106 pounds), Sam Spencer (113), Zach Spencer (126), Gannon Kasowski (138), David Ferrante (160), Juan Quiroz (170) and Justin Allen (195) qualified for a trip to the state meet, which will take place at the University of Illinois in Champaign. 

Among those seven, Sam Spencer (5-2 decision over Prospect's Jack Milos) and Quiroz (8-2 decision vs. Prospect's Ryan Vedner) both won individual sectional titles with their respective victories. Quiroz leads the Raiders with a team-best 41 wins. 

"This is my first sectional championship but my second time qualifying for state," Quiroz said. "When I was here last year, I was a little intimidated. Not this time. This time, I changed my mentality and made sure I was the one in control." 

Cary-Grove senior Cadin Koeppel (220) was the only other area wrestler to win a sectional crown at Barrington. It's marks his first sectional title and his first trip to state. He suffered a torn right ACL a little more than a year ago and endured a grueling rehabilitation to fulfill his dream. 

"After I tore my ACL, I told myself I could look at it one of two ways," Koeppel said. "I could sit around feeling sorry for myself, or I could overcome it all and make what happened today a goal. I chose the latter." 

Other area wrestlers who qualified for state, but didn't win a sectional title, were Jacobs' Jake Harrier (120) and John Ridle (138), C-G's Adam Pinter (132), along with McHenry's Jake Leske (182) and Geoff Cagle (220). 

"I've been working since eighth grade to make this dream a reality, going to camps, putting in countless hours of hard work," said Cagle, fighting back emotion. "This means everything to me." 

Similarly, Dundee-Crown senior Isiah Ziegler (285), who was the last local wrestler to qualify, couldn't hold back tears of joy after his thrilling 3-1 overtime win against Libertyville's Charlie Schmidt, which earned him his first trip to state. 

"I can't even describe this feeling. It's incredible," Ziegler said. "It's what I've worked my whole life for. I can't believe this is real right now."


Juan Quiroz

Huntley, sr.

Quiroz notched his team-best 41st victory of the season, which marked his first sectional title and second trip to state.


7: Huntley wrestlers who qualified for state Saturday, a single-season school record.


Cary-Grove senior Cadin Koeppel (35-5) overcame a torn ACL he suffered a little more than a year ago and earned his first sectional crown and first trip to state. 

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