Class 2A Lakes Sectional

By Ed Muniz                                       Photos by Dave Surico


The sectional phase of the IHSA state wrestling series came to a conclusion Saturday (Feb. 15) as 12 sites throughout the state sorted out their top four advancers for the state finals Feb. 20-22 in Champaign.

Year after year, wrestlers begin their individual quest with one site in mind -- the State Farm Center, still better known as the Assembly Hall -- on the University of Illinois campus.

The Lakes Sectional handed out its coveted spots and sent some top wrestlers to the 2A completion.

Representatives from 20 schools moved from Lake Villa into the final weekend of individual wrestling in the state.

Montini led the way with 12 participants, which included nine champions. Crystal Lake Central followed with seven advancers (two champs) and with six other schools sent three apiece.

For the host school, the Eagles were excited to wrestle at home and felt they held an edge coming in; but after qualifying eight, they sent a lone wrestler to the finals.

Unfortunately for others, what looked liked a promising sectional turned into thoughts of “What if?” and disappointment before the final results sheets were printed.

Johnsburg entered the sectional with the possibility of advancing seven, but pushed through only one after a disastrous semifinal wrestle-back round. Five Skyhawk wrestlers needed just one more win to advance but all lost in difficult matches.

Fenton also qualified seven to the sectional, but for the first time in many years the Bison will not be represented in Champaign as injuries and misfortune caught up with them at the worst time.

Wrestling's a tough sport, and it proves it year after year.

 

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Champion Briley Schultz (top), Antioch. Runner-up Marco Padilla, Elmwood Park.


Briley Schultz (33-4), of Antioch, has been one of the top-ranked wrestlers all year. His sectional final effort showed why after he dominated Elmwood Park sophomore Marco Padilla (27-8) by tech fall at 2:44.

A bevy of takedowns and near-falls ended the bout.  

“Went exactly as I thought, I wanted to tech him in the second or third period, so it went right as I planned,” said Schultz, who gave credit to Sequoit coach Willie Borrero. “I don’t think I would be where I am right now in wrestling if it wasn’t for him. He has pushed me from freshmen through senior year and coached me great; he is huge.”

Schultz did face some adversity when he battled Montini’s Jimmy Pawelski in the semifinals. Schultz came away with a 5-2 win in the bout of highly ranked wrestlers. Pawelski (31-8) took home third after pinning Kyle Szlenk, of Hampshire, in 3:45.

 

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Champion: Ben Vasquez (right), Elmwood Park. Runner-up: Gavin Sutton, Richmond-Burton.

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One of the most confident wrestlers out there has to be stateranked Ben Vasquez (33-5) of Elmwood Park. The fourth-ranked wrestler has gone on record and stated he will bring home a medal this year. After the senior's tough 4-2 decision over second-ranked Gavin Sutton (37-4), of Richmond-Burton, you have to think this is now turned into a quest to prove his word.

“He beat me earlier in the season so I slowed down the pace a lot, kept it more defense than offense,” said Vasquez of his match against the freshman. “He was a lot tougher than I have faced in a while so I had to change it up some. This week will be a lot more conditioning for me, but I’m ready for state.”

Also advancing was Grayslake Central’s Kurt Radke and Wauconda freshman Jose Munoz. The two battled into overtime before Radke took the the 3-1 decision.

For Radke, winning this bout was secondary. Last year this senior wrestler wasn’t even close to a sectional berth let alone even thinking of the state finals.

“I didn’t even qualify for sectionals last year, so I have come a long way this year," he said. "I went and wrestled at Team Poeta during the offseason, and it completely changed me as a wrestler. Going into the third-place match I was going to do my best, but I had already gotten the most important thing for me and that was qualifying for state.”
 

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Champion: Dylan Duncan (left), Montini. Runner-up; Jordan Reich, Vernon Hill.

 

Montini gained its first sectional champion of the day when sophomore Dylan Duncan (32-11) recorded a hard fought 5-2 decision over senior Jordan Reich (38-4), of Vernon Hills. The second- and third-ranked 2A wrestlers couldn’t get much offense going as each looked for openings. Two takedowns were all Duncan needed as he frustrated Reich
in his efforts to score.

“It was close but I thought it didn’t go as I expected, I couldn’t get my scores off,” said the modest Bronco matman. "But I have to give him credit for that for sure. I'd rather have competition and wrestle hard.”

The battle for third was won by freshman Lenny Petersen, of Crystal Lake Central, with his 10-9 decision against senior Jeff Morrow, of Grayslake Central.
 

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Photo courtesy of Jim Izzo

Kegan Calkins sizes up previously unbeaten and top-ranked Grant Sutton, of Richmond-Burton, in the semifinals. The Montini senior posted a 1-0 upset win.

Champion: Kegan Calkin, Montini (default). Runner-up: Kenny Barber, Carmel.

When senior Kegan Calkins (30-15), of Montini, took to the mat for his championship bout against Carmel’s sophomore Kenny Barber (35-5), surely he thought this match couldn’t be tougher than his previous match or at least he hoped it wouldn’t be.

Unfortunately it wasn't, because the match didn't happen. Barber was unable to wrestle due to injury, which was a surprise to Calkins.

“I was excited to wrestle," he said. "I just came off a big win (1-0 over Richmond-Burton's undefeated and top-ranked Grant Sutton) so I wanted to keep it going. I had no idea he wasn’t going to wrestle until I got to the mat. I have one goal and that’s to be a state champ.”

Sutton captured third and with a 10-2 decision of junior Peter Vanderbloomer, of Vernon Hills

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Champion: Michael Petersen (right), Crystal Lake Central. Runner-up: Brandon Peshek, Johnsberg.


The title match was between two foes who had wrestled each other several times and the final score showed it. Defense was the main ingredient as Crystal Lake Central sophomore Mike Petersen's third period reversal was all the bouts scoring in a 2-0 decision over junior Brandon Peshek (38-3), of Johnsburg.

“I wrestled him twice before. I beat him in overtime at conference, and I lost at regionals by one point," said an exhausted Petersen (33-6). "All year he has been ranked ahead of me, but we switched after regionals. I knew what he was going to do, so I caught him where he made a mistake. I am very satisfied with this win.”

Advancing to Champaign with third- and fourth-place medals were sophomore Caleb Fortuna, of Montini, and freshman Patrick Shoenfelder, of Antioch. Fortuna won 6-4.
 

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Champion: Vince Turk (right), Montini, Runner-up: Logan Lundelius, Crystal Lake Central.

 

Two juniors vied for the title -- top-ranked Vince Turk (39-6), of Montini, and Crystal Lake Central’s Logan Londelius (29-10). A quick and powerful performance by Turk displayed why he is at the top of 2A. The 17-6 victory still didn’t seem to sit well with the Bronco even after a third period scoring barrage where he looked unstoppable.

“I could have done better, I started the match off slow and what you saw at the end is how I want to start all my matches,” said Turk. “It was a decent effort. I want to put on a show for the crowd. I am very excited for state tournament.”

Third place went to senior Anthony Swindell, of Carmel, with a 10-1 major decision of Clemente junior Goivani Sosa.

 

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Champion: Chris Garcia (top), Montini. Runner-up: Nick Remke, Marian Central.

Watching 2013 state Champion Chris Garcia (35-5), of Montini, you have to admire of how effortless the senior seems to make a bout look. His way of wrestling is almost artistic in his flow of action. Against tough junior Nick Remke (28-4), of Marian Central, Garcia grabbed the lead and never relinquished it. He stymied Remke's power style in a 9-3 score.

“I’m not trying to win, I’m trying to dominate,” said Garcia. “I definitely got some work done but still got a few things to improve this week; the little things. You can always get better.

“I just try to have fun with it, I don’t try to take it so serious, sure at Montini we are serious about the sport, but I try to have fun wrestling.”

Last year Garcia won a state title via disqualification. He wants to make sure things end differently this year.

“I want to go out there and prove to people how good I am," he said. "In my mind, that state title is not mine. This year I have something to prove so I am definitely going to make up for it.”

Sophomore Kevin Zange, of Woodstock, took third place with an 11-1 major decision over junior Brandon Suchyta, of St. Viator.

 

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Champion: Luke Fortuna (left), Montini. Runner-up: Kavan Mulloy, Lakes.

The Broncos continued piling up sectional titles with junior Luke Fortuna's 7-2 win over Lakes senior Kavan Mullo. Fortuna (36-9) gave two escapes to Mulloy (33-6) but that was it. He scored three takedowns en route to the win.

“I ran out of juice a little bit, I don’t think I was eating the right stuff before the match," said Fortuna. "It was tougher on my endurance. I felt myself getting tired right after the first takedown. This week I'll work on a lot of technique and running on my own and build up my endurance.”  

Grayslake Central's Jonathan Makey didn’t waste any time in securing third place. The junior scored a fall in 1:53 over sophomore Nicholas Sundberg, of Woodstock.
 

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Champion: Garrett Sutton (left), Richmond-Burton. Runner-up: Joe Salvi, Carmel.

For top-ranked Garrett Sutton (40-0), duty drives him. The Michigan-bound senior wrestler from Richmond-Burton put on a performance that shows why he just may be the best wrestler in the state.

The 25-10 tech fall victory over Carmel senior Joe Salvi (37-9) was impressive, not by how many points he scored, but at the ease in which he did it. His 12 takedowns came quick and were a scorer's nightmare.

“He (Salvi) really had a very solid base, and it wasn’t as easy as it seemed," said Sutton. "So as a last resort I decided to just do what I do best and that’s takedowns.

“Coming back from a state title last year, I feel it’s my job, my obligation to come back and win another state title. The obligation is what motivates me. I don’t ever think of losing, I go in there to win matches.”

Rounding up Lakes' 160-pound foursome are senior Matthew Wheeler, of Harvard, and sophomore Tommy Welch, of Marian Central. Welch won the third place bout by a 15-3 major decision.
 

 

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Champion: Xavier Montalvo (left), Montini. Runner-up: Kyle Fugiel, Crystal Lake Central.

Not having to worry about watching his weight has really benefitted Montini junior Xavier Montalvo (38-4). The top-ranked 2A wrestler defeated second-ranked Kyle Fugiel (26-2), of Crystal Lake Central, 5-2.

But even after claiming his sectional title, Montalvo was upset at his effort.

“I didn’t show up to wrestle," he said. "I gave a C- performance. I didn’t wrestle that good out there. I didn’t clear my ties, I let him control them. I let him attack me instead of me attacking him in the ties.

"I can’t let them do that. I did a poor job and didn’t chain wrestle like I usually do. I really feel I should have dominated and failed. I am not at all satisfied.”

He’ll get a shot at redemption next week.

Highly ranked senior Mike Kozyra, of Fenwick, took third after edging junior Georgie Sosa, of Clemente, 3-1.
 

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Champion: Michael Zelasco (top), Crystal Lake Central. Runner-up: Derrick Curry, Montini.

For Michael Zelasco, of Crystal Lake Central, matching up against finals opponent Derrick Curry was a mystery.

Zelasco (39-3) had no information on his Montini foe who entered the sectional championship at 7-0, an unusual record for this time of year.

Curry put up a battle and the bout wasn’t determined until late in the match when Zelasco grabbed a pair of takedowns to secure the 9-3 win

“He was a weird wrestler for me. I was asking other teams where he came from because I had never heard of him,” said Zelasco. “He was a pretty tough wrestler and after being hit in the face I decided to really try and take it to him. I want to improve on top to handle awkward guys like that.”

Zelasco said he feels he can make it to the state finals and has a preferred opponent.
 
“I hope I put a whooping on Colin Carr (Washington High School and top ranked). I previously lost to him by a point.”

What irks Zelasco in his earlier loss to Carr is that he felt Carr backed away the entire match and didn’t deserve the win. That could make for an explosive rematch if it happens.

Wauconda senior Alex Schwickrath (34-8) took the third-place match with a 9-5 win over Hampshire junior Anton Krocko (36-9).
 

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Champion: Anthony Ferraro (right), Montini. Runner-up: Andrew Marsden, Crystal Lake Central.

The top-two-ranked 2A wrestlers squared off in the final -- No. 1 Andrew Marsden (39-2), of Crystal Lake Central, squared off against second-ranked Anthony Ferraro (18-8), of Montini. Ferraro knocked off his junior opponet 3-2 after he scored the takedown of the match.

“I’m just not having enough confidence in myself," Ferraro said. "I can take that kid down eight, nine, 10  times!"

"I don’t know why I didn’t. For me, I guess when I'm wrestling someone for the first time that I know im going to wrestle again, I get a feel for them first so then the second match is where I am more productive. He is a very good wrestler and waits for you to make a mistake, good kid. This was a learning match for you. Hope we face off again in the state finals.”

Antioch freshman George Bessette is not the norm in varsity wrestling. You rarely see a big freshman have success, let alone qualify for the state finals. But that’s exactly what the Sequoit did. Bessette topped off his first sectional by handing sophomore Zach Martin, of Harvard, a 9-2 defeat.
 

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Champion: Andrew Ruano (right), Montini. Runner-up: Nate Magiera, Wauconda.

When top-ranked and unbeaten Nate Magiera, of Wauconda, reached the sectional finals, the senior planned on continuing his winning ways. His opponent, senior Edgar Ruano, of Montini, had different ideas.

Previously the two had faced each other in freestyle action with Magiera getting the better of the match. But this time Ruano turned the tables. When the bout concluded, it was Ruano (32-4) who took home the sectional title 3-1 after grabbing a key third period takedown and giving Magiera his first defeat in 45 matches.

“I knew he was a tough kid," Ruano said. "I knew what he did so it made adjusting easier. It feels great that I won but had I lost, I would have felt at least I have another shot next week. And I’m sure he feels the same. It’s all about next week.”

Ruano credited a large portion of his good week of wrestling to teammate Anthony Ferraro, who pushed him in practice. He felt it was just what they needed to get prepared for the state finals.

Romeo McKnight, of Crystal Lake Central, was the last of the Tigers to advance after his third place win. The senior won by 5-3 decision over junior Cody Barnes, of Woodstock North
 

 

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Champion: Michael Johnson (left), Montini. Runner-up: Adam Freimund, Harvard.

The much anticipated titan battle at 285 was the last bout of the evening. Top-ranked Michael Johnson (37-1), of Montini, and senior Adam Freimund, of Harvard, rank among the top three 2A heavyweights.

Freimund had not tasted defeat in 36 matches. What many hoped would be a thriller never materialized as the quicker Johnson used his “little man” abilities to outmaneuver the Harvard senior and pin him at 3:36.

“I came out a little slow,"" Johnson said. "I should have opened up a little more in the first period; that would make these matches go a lot better. He knew what I was gonna do, he made some pretty good adjustments on his feet, and on bottom he did too ... but it didn’t last long.”

Johnson has his eyes set on a coveted trophy besides an individual championship.

“You have to adjust and adapt to what’s going on. I’m really excited. I have watched the IHSA series since I was a little kid," he said. "I want to win, but I want to win and dominate and seek out that OW award at state.”
 
Junior Cole Cunningham, of St. Francis, made short work of junior Joe Blitstein, of Vernon Hills, winning the third place match by fall in 1:53.