Athlete of the Week
Marian Central, fr., 152 pounds
Connell became Marian Central’s first wrestling state champion since Rich Powers won back-to-back Class A titles in 1986 and 1987. Connell defeated Cahokia’s Martell Boone, 4-3, in the Class 2A 152-pound state championship match Saturday night at State Farm Center in Champaign.
Connell admitted he surprised himself a little bit with his performance over the weekend – blowing past four seniors on his way to the title.
He was the only McHenry County wrestler to win a state title. Prairie Ridge’s Nick Fetzner (Class 2A, 170) finished as a state runner-up.
Northwest Herald Power rankings
1. Huntley (23-3): Sammy Spencer (113) and Zach Spencer (126) brought home individual fifth-place medals in Class 3A. The Red Raiders beat Prospect in the Class 3A team dual sectionals and will face Glenbard North at Saturday’s state quarterfinals.
2. Marian Central (27-2): In addition to Connell’s state title, Luke Silva (160) took home a fifth-place medal. The Hurricanes beat Niles Notre Dame at the Class 2A team dual sectionals, and they draw two-time defending 2A champion Washington in the quarterfinals.
3. Crystal Lake Central (19-6): Twin brothers Liam O’Donnell (195) and Seamus O’Donnell (220) finished third and fourth, respectively, in their 2A weight classes. Liam did it while wrestling with a torn ACL.
4. Marengo (13-5): The Kishwaukee River Conference champions had one state medalist in Class 2A; 106-pound senior Landen Pfeiffer earned a fifth-place medal.
5. Jacobs (17-6): Sophomore Jake Harrier earned the Golden Eagles’ first state medal since 2004 with a fifth-place finish at 120 in 3A.
Another freshman: Connell wasn’t the only standout freshman at the state meet. For the first time in three years, Crystal Lake South boasted an individual medalist. Freshman Christian Olsen won a fourth-place medal at
106 pounds in Class 2A.
Olsen lost his first match and had to win three consecutive consolation matches to reach the third-place bout. He lost, 6-3, to Anthony King of East St. Louis in the third-place match. Olsen finished his freshman year 45-3.
After Olsen won a sectional title in the Grayslake Central Sectional a week ago, Gators coach Ross Ryan said that the expectations had been high all year for his freshman.
“I heard when he was coming in that he’s an animal,” Ryan said. “Sometimes that can hold true, or sometimes there’s an ego with that. But he is the most humble, hard-working kid. He’s super coachable, and he’s an animal. It’s a dangerous mix. It’s evident.”
Olsen gained experience in practice going up against sophomore Peyton Timmons, another state qualifier one weight class above Olsen at 113. The two were practice partners all season.
“I notice myself as a different wrestler from when I started the year until now,” Olsen said after the sectional victory. “I just changed how I wrestle. It’s come so differently. I attack more, and I’m an overall better wrestler.
South’s last medalist before Olsen was Eric Barone, a Class 3A state champion at 145 in 2015.
What to watch
IHSA dual team state finals
Saturday in Bloomington
Class 3A quarterfinal: Huntley
vs. Glenbard North, 9 a.m.
These two squared off at a quad meet Dec. 2. Glenbard North won, 42-21. The Panthers had two state medalists at last weekend’s individual finals. Abe Assad (170) won a state title.
Class 2A quarterfinal: Marian Central
vs. Washington, 9 a.m.
Washington has won back-to-back Class 2A dual state championships. The program had nine state medalists over the weekend. Jace Punke (285) won a state title, and four of his teammates finished as state runners-up.
Semifinals, 2 p.m.; Championship and
third-place matches, 6 p.m.