Athlete of the Week
Marian Central, so., 160
For the second week in a row, Connell brought home some first-place hardware. After winning the 160-pound bracket at Geneva’s Jim Newbill Invitational on Jan. 5, Connell followed it with a first-place finish at the Batavia Invitational on Saturday.
McHenry County’s only individual state champion last season, Connell upped his 2018-19 record to 32-2. Connell is ranked No. 2 at 160 in Class 2A by both Illinois Matmen and the Illinois Wrestling Coaches and Officials Association. In both rankings, he trails only Washington’s Jared Head.
At Batavia, Connell won his first three matches via fall or technical fall. Only his title-match opponent, Plainfield South’s Jake Kendall, could keep it close in a 6-1 decision in Connell’s favor.
Connell’s only losses this season came against Deerfield’s Brock Emmerich, who is ranked in the top three in Class 3A by both ranking sites. Each of those losses were by a single point. Connell helped Marian take home the team title, as well, Saturday.
NORTHWEST HERALD POWER RANKINGS
1. Huntley: At 20-8 and 6-0 in the Fox Valley Conference, the Red Raiders now hold a two-match lead in the loss column in the FVC after Crystal Lake South suffered its second FVC loss. Huntley can clinch its third straight FVC season title Thursday at Hampshire.
2. Marian Central: The Hurricanes were impressive in a first-place finish at the 20-team Batavia Invitational. In addition to Connell at 160, Josh Glover (106) and Elon Rodriguez (113) won titles. Lou Gaddy (195) finished as runner-up. Glover (29-2) and Rodriguez (32-2) are both highly ranked at their respective weight classes.
3. Crystal Lake Central: The second spot in the FVC standings remains up for grabs. Central, South, Jacobs and Cary-Grove all have two losses in FVC duals. Central’s win over South last week put the Tigers right back in the mix for that second spot.
4. Crystal Lake South: The meet against Central was South’s only action last week. The Gators will try to rebound against McHenry on Thursday and at the Oak Park-River Forest Invitational this weekend.
5. Prairie Ridge: Huntley handed Prairie Ridge a sound defeat, 53-15, last week. The Wolves will test themselves against Marian Central, the No. 2-ranked team in Class 2A, on Wednesday.
Win boosts Indians’ KRC hopes: Marengo won the final four matches in a dramatic come-from-behind victory over Harvard on Friday. The Indians, the defending Kishwaukee River Conference champions, took down one of the top contenders in the KRC.
Marengo remains unbeaten in conference duals, although it has only had two thus far. The next two weeks will indicate whether the Indians repeat as conference champions. They face Richmond-Burton and Johnsburg this week before duals against Woodstock North and Burlington Central next week.
The dual against Burlington Central on Jan. 24 could be a big one if Marengo can get there unscathed. The Rockets are 4-0 in KRC duals.
WHAT TO WATCH
Prairie Ridge at Marian Central, 5 p.m. Wednesday: Two of the top teams in McHenry County will square off in nonconference action. JV begins at 5 p.m. with varsity to follow during senior night for Marian Central.
Crystal Lake Central, Crystal Lake South, Huntley at Oak Park-River Forest Invitational, 8 a.m. Saturday: Three local teams head to the OPRF invite. The event also features a girls tournament, one of about a dozen girls tournaments organized by the IWCOA.