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Photo courtesy of Akayna Calkins

Triumphant Montini poses with its Elmwood Park Regional plaque.


As usual, Montini suceeds
in state series start

By Ed Muniz    

Top-ranked Montini (Class 2A) was back in its usual dominating form in the first leg of the IHSA state wrestling series Feb. 8 at the Elmwood Park Regional.

This Bronco team wrestles a little different than previous squads, but the result was the same. Montini easily outdistanced runner-up Fenton (Bensenville), 286-124.5 in the nine-team regional.

Coach Israel Martinez’s squad advanced all 13 of its wrestlers, each of whom vied for an individual regional title. Eleven topped the podium. The Broncos could not compete for a 12th regional championship because state-ranked Dylan Duncans’ move up to 120 left Montini without a 113-pounder.

“We have an interesting balance of guys,” said Martinez. "We have four good solid leaders and some young guys with so many differences between them. We have guys that like to do all types of different moves and many different attitudes. It’s exciting to be around them, and it’s fun to coach.

“When I took over the job, part of what I wanted to do, and continue doing, was build wrestlers and get different types of wrestlers in here  and find and pick out the finer things and really help, and find ways to make them better. And it’s just an awesome challenge with that spectrum of guys.”

It was evident that these Bronco wrestlers understood that this was just the beginning and that there was much more wrestling to come. They showed little excitement, even after title wins.  It's a team of battle-tested grapplers who look at the bigger picture and will turn it up a notch next week at step two of the state competition--the Lakes Sectional which begins Feb. 14.

“Our boys are ready," Martinez said. "They've been to the toughest competitions, the toughest meets, the big scenarios, the big gyms, the small gyms. I think we’re ready. We’re ready to wrestle the Illinois boys; we’re ready to wrestle the 2A boys, and we’re just excited to put it on the line. Our goal every year at Montini is to win the state tournament and continue to progress”

Photo courtesy of Akayna Calkins

Jimmy Pawelski (top), of Montini, works for the fall against Elmwood Park's Marco Padilla in the 106-pound title match.




Jimmy Pawelski (28-7) began the regional champions parade for Montini with a tech fall at 4:00. The second-ranked state contender kept constant pressure on Elmwood Park’s Marco Padilla and barely let him breathe. The second period featured a barrage of near-falls that sent the score 5-0 to 16-0.

“I like to push the pace and work on stuff I learned in practice,” said Pawelski. “Knowing I’m already going to sectionals, I like to keep the longer matches. I didn’t want to get the fall right away; sure I’d get the fall if it came. I prefer a long match in this scenario. I’m happy moving on but looking forward to sectionals and state.”

Also advancing to the sectional meet was third-place winner Adonis Silva, of Ridgewood, with a fall in 41 seconds over Logan Rayburn, of St. Francis.



Host Elmwood Park had a regional champ in Ben Vasquez (30-5). The state's seventh-ranked wrestler continued his winning ways with a tech fall over Ryan Mencini, of Fenton, at 5:31. Vasquez overpowered his freshman opponent and found takedowns easily. But he was frustrated at his inability to gain a fall.

“He was a squirmy guy, and I couldn’t get that pin," the senior said. "I was expecting a pin; I’m upset. My offense, it’s getting there and working well. But I have to work at turning guys more.”  

One thing Vasquez isn’t lacking is confidence--he said he is going to medal this year.
Taking third and advancing was Matt Humes, of St. Francis, with an 8-2 decision over Younis Dhaher, of Glenbard South.



Montini's Dylan Duncan (29-11) demonstrated why he's the third-ranked wrestler at 113 in Class 2A with an impressive run a step up. He grabbed the title with authority with a fall of Fenton’s Antoine Bess (23-11) in 52 seconds. Duncan put Bess on his back in a cradle he couldn’t break.

“I thought it went as I thought it would be, I just wanted to get out there and get it over with," Duncan said. "With a short one like this, I’ll just work hard in practice.” The sophomore said he was looking forward to the rest of the state series.

Third went to Alex Kamberis, of St. Patrick, with a fall over Glenbard South’s Eric McGovern in 1:10.

Photo courtesy of Jim Izzo


Montini's Kegan Calkins battles Ridgewood's Rocco Caringella in a 126-pound semifinal bout. Calkins won by fall,



The final featured two state-ranked seniors: Fenton’s Alex Cowan (23-6) came in at No. 7; and Montini’s Kegan Calkins (27-15) ranked third at 120. Cowan took the lead early with a takedown, but it didn’t last. Calkins collected a penalty point and reversal to end the first period.
The match ended abruptly when Cowan’s right shoulder became dislocated after lifting and bringing down Calkins to start the second period. What looked like the beginning of an exciting match ended due to injury default.

“I wish the match kept going, I thought I was coming back and wanted to finish the match strong and on top,” said Calknis. “I thought I need to refine my technique. It's only regionals so it’s a good start.”

Also advancing to the sectionals was Al Aguilar, of Fenwick, after his 11-5 decision of Ridgewood’s Rocco Caringella.




Fenton’s lone title came when Oscar Ledezma (22-11) held on to a 3-1 decision over Montini’s Caleb Fortuna.

The junior thought he could be better.

“I felt I could have been a little more dominant on my feet," Ledezma said. "I know I’m a little better on my feet, but he was a strong kid from a great wrestling program obviously. So it feels good to get the win.”

Ledezma thanked Fenton assistant coach Mike Manganiello for encouraging him to do legs.

After seeing limited action this year, Fortuna reached the finals with an upset of the top seed.

Nathan Munoz, of Ridgewood, moved on to the sectional after his 16-4 third-place major decision over Miguel Gomez, of St. Patrick.


Photo courtesy of Jim Izzo

Vince Turk finishes off St. Patrick's Brian Godsell during their 138-pound semifinal bout at the Elmwood Park Regional.


A much anticipated match of the top two state-ranked 2A wresters never materialized. No. 1 Vince Turk (36-6), of Montini, received the title after second-ranked Sam Karim (25-2), of Ridgewood, was unable to wrestle due to an knee injury.

Ridgewood head coach Jared McCabe felt Karim would be better healed for the sectional competition.

Turk was the runner-up at 120 at last year’s state finals, while Karim was fourth at 145. Prior to the injury default, Karim’s lone loss was at 152 pounds.

The third spot went to Brian Godsel, of St. Patrick, with a 7-2 decision of Zach Bess, of St. Francis.



Top-ranked Chris Garcia (32-5), of Montini, went the same route as teammate Turk when he received an injury default regional title when opponent Willie Collins (20-7), of Glenbard South, was unable to wrestle.

Raul Garcia, of Fenton, also advanced with a 9-5 win over Bobby Jurewicz, of St. Patrick.


Photo courtesy of Jim Izzo

Montini's Luke Fotuna is in control of Chumiya Powell, of VOISE Academy, during the 152-pound bout.



Another top-ranked Montini wrestler took home a regional title when Luke Fortuna (33-9) pinned Chumiya Powell, of VOISE Academy, at 3:51. Five takedowns proceeded the fall before Fortuna finally found the position to end the match.

In three bouts, Fortuna showed why he deserves his lofty rating. He overpowered his opponents and ended each match before the second period buzzer.

Advancing to the Lakes Sectional with a third place finish was Anthony Giovannielli, of Ridgewood, with a fall over Arturo Alvaro, of Fenton, in 33 seconds.



Having to control his temper during the regional worked wonders for St. Patrick’s Anthony Jarvis (20-12), who withstood the pressure and efforts of Mitch Navarro, of Montini.

Jarvis started strong and after two periods was in total control of the match with a 15-3 lead. But at the start of the third period, it appeared Jarvis stamina was dissipating like the air leaking out of a balloon.

Jarvis became defensive and won 16-5 but was totally spent as time wound down.

“I was trying to keep it under control, not letting my temper get the best of me,” said the exhausted winner. “To his credit, he had a good solid base and was kinda deceiving in his strength. My coaches really push me so hopefully I place in the top four next week and go down state.”

After finishing third with a fall in 4:48, Jim Wise, of Fenwick, will also head to the sectional after his defeat of Keithen Johnson, of VOISE.


Photo courtesy of Jim Izzo

Xavier Montalvo (left), of Montini, looks for an opening against championship opponent Mike Kozyra, of Fenwick. Montalvo took the title at 170 with a technical fall at 5:55.



When Xavier Montalvo, of Montini, decided to wrestle up at more of his natural weight of 170, folks knew he would still be a contender after being ranked as the top wrestler at 160. After his convincing show of skill and domination of highly ranked Mike Kozyra (22-5), of Fenwick, there is now no  doubt he belongs.

Montalvo (35-4) was smooth and strong. He impressively controlled and limited Kozyra and recorded a tech fall at 5:55.

“It went pretty good, but there are still a few things I want to do better -- like my shots," said Montalvo. "At 170 I feel real good. No more worrying about my weight; I just get to focus on my wrestling. I’m ready to go.”

The third place match saw Mike Scholl, of Glenbard South, advance after a pin of Fenton's Joe Oweina at 2:38.



Even entering the regional after just two matches at the varsity level, Derrick Curry was prepared to represent Montini. When it was all said and done, Curry (5-0) joined Montini's parade of regional winners after his 3-2 decision of Fenton’s Juan Alfaro.

Curry earned the only offensive score of the match when he took down Alfaro (20-15) midway through the second period. This turned out to be a wait-and-see match dominated by a lot of edge-of-the-mat efforts that produced no scoring.

Alfaro did snag Currys’ leg, but couldn’t stay in bounds. For nearly the whole third period, the wrestlers competed near the mat's edge.

“This was my first full match of the season, so I was getting tired too quick," said the hard-breathing Curry. "I’ll work on more full matches in practice and work on setting more stuff up. I could still have gone a little more if I had to in this match. He was just very strong.”

Completing the trio of sectional qualifiers was Dan Allegretti, of St. Patrick. He posted a 9-6 victory over Elmwood Park’s Tony Caruso.



Power and speed were featured when Montini’s Anthony Ferraro (15-8) pinned Frank Stramaglia, of Glendbard South, in 1:55. Ferraro may have tired of taking down his opponent and decided to try to end the match after being up 8-3.

“We always know that it’s regionals so we might not have the toughest competition, but we still have to come in and work," said the second-ranked Ferraro. "When this is done we get work done in practice and get better for sectionals and then after sectionals. The big prize is winning that state bracket. So that’s our main goal."

Elmwood Park’s Isaiah Arce moved on with a third place fall win in 1:15 over Nick Sacramento, of Fenwick.




In a bout that saw five takedowns from Montini’s Edgar Ruano, (29-4) you could still see some frustration on his face after the 11-2 victory over Michael Andelbradt (25-3), of St. Francis. After a long talk with one of his coaches, the second-ranked Ruano seemed to really want to hear what he needs to improve.

“I got it all, and what he was telling me was stay consistent on attacks. He was tough to turn," Ruano said. "I can’t really explain why. I wasn’t completing moves all the way through. I have to work on doing just that, all the way through state.”

After losing his opening match, Glenbard South’s Zack Georgitsi must have seemed like a longshot to advance to the sectional round. However, the senior made it happen with his 5-1 over Elmwood Park’s Chris Valadez.



The heavyweight title featured another top bout. Once-beaten Michael Johnson (34-1), of Montini, squared off against ninth-ranked Cole Cunningham (24-3), of St. Francis.

After gaining an early takedown, it looked as if Cunningham would push Johnson. But it was soon apparent that Johnson’s ability to outmaneuver Cunningham would take over. Johnson is a rarity for big men. He is willing to shoot on his opponent and try to grab single- and double-leg takedowns, and he did just that in his win via pin in 3:54.

“Growing up I was at the lighter weights and middle weights and kinda grew into heavyweight," said Johnson. "I wasn’t a big guy my whole life and bring that into my style of wrestling.

“It’s a lot of positioning. Growing into heavyweight my first couple years there, it’s a lot different than wrestling any other weight class. Position and weight is such a big thing you can really get in trouble because of the weight.

"So I had to learn that into my littler guy moves. I won’t be overlooking anyone. This is my first time in the IHSA series, so I’m really looking forward to next week and beyond.”

Final team standings

1st Montini 286
2nd Fenton 124.5
3rd Glenbard South 81.5
4th St. Patrick 79
5th tie, Elmwood Park 70
         Ridgewood 70
7th Fenwick 57
8th St. Francis 55
9th Voise Academy 28

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