The 2017-18 wrestling season has been historic for Huntley and Marian Central, and both teams have a chance to add to it.
Huntley and Marian will head to the IHSA dual team state meet this weekend in Bloomington for the first time in either program’s history.
“The future of our program is looking very bright, and I’m so proud of our effort,” Marian coach David Silva said. “I’ve only been the head coach for two years, and to come from where our program has been to where we are now – going downstate – is a huge accomplishment.”
Marian won its first regional in program history a couple of weeks ago, then defeated Niles Notre Dame in a Class 2A sectional Tuesday night to lock up a trip to state.
Huntley won its second consecutive regional title and reached state for the first time after failing to advance past the sectional in 2017.
Both teams know it only becomes harder from here on out.
In Class 2A, Marian (27-2) will wrestle two-time defending state champion Washington in a quarterfinal at 9 a.m. at Grossinger Motors Arena in Bloomington.
In Class 3A, Huntley (23-3) also will wrestle at 9 a.m. The Red Raiders face Glenbard North, a team they lost to, 42-21, in a dual Dec. 2.
“We did OK with them,” Huntley coach B.J. Bertelsman said. “The only thing I’m afraid with them is their movement at the upper weights. They have a lot of good guys up top.”
Glenbard North had six individual state qualifiers and two medalists. Abe Assad (170) won a state championship. Huntley had seven state qualifiers and two medalists: Sammy Spencer (113) and Zach Spencer (126) both finished fifth.
Washington, on the other hand, had nine state qualifiers, all of whom medaled. Jace Punke (285) won a state title, and four of his teammates finished as state runners-up.
Marian will try to match them with their six state qualifiers and two medalists, including 152-pound state champion Dylan Connell.
“We have our work cut out for us, but we’re up for the challenge,” Silva said. “They have some talent.”
When Silva – a 2002 Dundee-Crown graduate – was hired to coach the Hurricanes, he talked about some lofty goals. “I really want to build a team that will compete for a state title some day,” Silva told the Northwest Herald in June 2016.
The first step, of course, was to get to state. Now the Hurricanes have a chance to prove they belong with the best of the best in Class 2A.
“It’s really important to us,” 195-pounder Zach Gustafson said. “This is what we worked for all season, and we finally got there. But it’s not over yet; we have to keep going.”
After a year in which Marian wrestling has put itself back on the map – conference dual and tournament titles, a regional title, an individual state champion – a win over Washington would take things to another level.
Huntley’s opponent, Glenbard North, is no slouch, either. The Panthers have earned a trophy at state six times in the past nine years, including a state title in 2011.
Huntley 160-pounder David Ferrante said the mentality doesn’t change that much at dual state.
“It’s the same in the aspect of you want to go out there as an individual and win your matches, do what you need to do,” Ferrante said. “But it’s also different because we’re coming together as a team, trying to score bonus points where we need to, trying to not give up bonus points. We’ve got to keep the team in mind.”
IHSA dual team state finals
Saturday at Grossinger Motors Arena in Bloomington
Class 3A quarterfinal: Huntley vs. Glenbard North, 9 a.m.
Class 2A quarterfinal: Marian Central vs. Washington, 9 a.m.
Semifinals, 2 p.m.
Championship and third-place matches, 6 p.m.
Northwest Herald sports reporter Joe Stevenson contributed to this report.