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East Suburban Catholic preview

Marian seeks to start a new league dynasty


By Jack Froelich

When Marian Catholic powered itself to the league championship last year, it marked the first time in nearly 30 years Marist hadn’t won the East Suburban Catholic Conference. It looks like Marian is the favorite again, though some feel that St. Patrick (third in conference a year ago) might have the best team, top to bottom.

Marist, of course, will also have a say in how things are sorted out by the end of the season. Perhaps the most intriguing development among these top three will be how Marian’s top half of the line-up develops. Due to graduation losses, there will be new faces in the starting line-up from 152 pounds on up.

Carmel Corsairs
Coach: Bob Kuykendall
Last season's record: 11-10

Top returnees
103/112--Matt Oliva, sr. (20-12); 130/135--Will Robinson, sr. (19-12); 119/125--J.P. Hough, jr. (22-15); 140/145--Frankie Swindell, jr. (regional fourth); 285--Steve Lester, jr. (25-12); 140/145--Shane Siefert, jr. (22-15); 152--Bobby Dandino, so.; 285--Logan Lester, so.; 125/130: Jeremy Schnur, jr.; 140--Nick Stineberg, jr. (fourth in conference).

Top wrestlers lost
171--Ryan Williams (27-8); 152--Ryan Unrein (29-6).

After the untimely death of decades-long coach Joe Scordino in May, the Corsairs will be looking for a bit of a new identity this year. Bob Kuykendall, who assisted Scordino for 26 years was given the reins, and the athletes have responded. The squad will be relatively young again this season (only two or three seniors). Kuykendall feels hard work might make up for a relative lack of experience.
“Throughout the spring and summer, if you accumulate altogether what's occurred, they've wrestled 692 off-season matches" Kuykendall said.
Carmel had a couple of other huge losses due to graduation, conference and regional champs: Ryan Williams, a two-time state qualifier at 171
pounds now playing football at Winona State; and Ryan Unrein at 152, a state qualifier as a junior who now wrestles at Luther College.Three sectional qualifiers lead the returnees: senior Matt Oliva at 103 or 112 (20-12, regional runner-up last season), classmate Will Robinson at 130 or 135 (19-12, third at regional) and junior J.P. Hough at 119 or 125 (23-18, regional runner-up). A top newcomer is soph LaRon Biere at 160. This season the Corsairs will be wearing new
uniforms embroidered with JPS in memory of Scordino. The veteran coach’s death “hit really hard last year – he was teaching on a Thursday and passed away Friday morning,” Kuykendall explained. “He had kind of evolved into a grandfatherly presence to these guys. They pretty much decided to carry on because that's what they thought he'd want.”

Joliet Catholic
Coach: Cory McLaughlin
Did not respond.

Marian Catholic Spartans
Coach: Joe Gilbert
Last season's record: (24-4)

Top returnees:
135/140--Mark Marianovich, sr. (fourth in the state at 130 last year , 27-3); 145/152--Elias Larson, sr. (sixth in the state at 140, 44-4); 112/119--Steve Murphy, jr. (sectional champion and state quarterfinalist, 25-6); 125--Brendan Murphy, sr. (Steve's brother, state qualifier at 125, 26-2; 152--Mike Glenn, jr. (sectional qualifier); 125/130--Matt O’Boyle, jr.; and 125/130--Damonte Riley, sr.

Top newcomers

103--Tyler Nagel, fr. (state placer jr. high); 112--Nathan Jackson, fr. (state placer jr. high).

Top wrestlers lost
152--Kyle Wright (two-time state qualifier, 14-2); 285--Richard Wilson (sectional qualifier now playing football at Southern Illinois); 152/160: Gino DiGiulio (sectional qualifier at 171); 152/160--Alex Pignotti; and 189--Matt Paul.

While most everyone else is giving Marian the front-runner label to repeat as conference champs, coach Gilbert tells people it’s going to be tougher this year. After all, he quickly pointed out, graduation wiped out the starting line-up
from 152 on up. Then he makes a key admission: “I always try to use the Lou Holtz theory: Play down your team,” he says, referring to the coy former college football coach. “I expect us to defend our conference title, but my main goal is to win the
regional title. We’ve got some kids, by the time conference rolls around, they’ll be all right and able to compete. “Right now most realistic goal is get eight kids
qualified for state, and five to place in state. That’s the big picture for us.”

Marist RedHawks
Coach: Brendan Heffernan
Last season's record: 16-13

Top returnees
189--Arthur Smith, sr. (fourth in the state at

189); 112--Sean Raddatz, so. (freshman state qualifier); 119--Diontae Brown, sr. (state qualifier in 2007); 135/140--Drew Salzman, jr. (fourth in sectionals at 125); 152/160--Ron Galason, sr. (won more than 30 matches last year).

Top newcomers
135/140--Chris Lewis, jr.; 103--Dominic Olivieri, so.; Ryan Conlin, so.


Brendan Heffernan might be entering his first season as head coach at Marist, but one can hardly call him a newcomer. A 1999 Marist graduate, Heffernan assisted former head coach Mark Gervais for three years. The succession plans had been discussed for about a year and half. The legendary Gervais' announced his “retirement” plans around the first of the year. He will remain as freshman coach to help develop younger wrestlers, Heffernan said. Last year, with just one senior in the starting line-up, the RedHawks had an “off” year, according to their coach. For the first time in 29 seasons, they didn't win the conference championship. Heffernan thinks with so much returning experience in the line-up, fortunes are looking up – though he's not ready to say a new string of conference championships will begin. Or that one needs to. “Certainly last year was a big bump in the road," Heffernan said. "But conference championships aren't really the goal. The goals are sectional titles, state titles. That's not to demean the conference. It's good to win it, but it's just not what we train for.” Heffernan thinks Marian will be tough again. And “I love the fact that St. Pat's has a good program and Carmel has some good, tough kids.”

Three starters will be missing from last year's line-up, including one senior and two students who transferred to public schools. Another trio may very well prove even more important: 1997 Marist grads  Ryan Egan, Mike Fons and John Sears join Brad Janacek, another Marist grad, to form Heffernan's assistant corps. Leading a studded line-up on the mat, senior 189-pounder Ryan Smith “can compete with anybody in the state and is looking for a state title” while sophomore Sean Raddatz “will be tough to beat” at 112, Heffernan said.

Notre Dame Dons
Coach: Augie Genovesi
Last season's record: 9-13

Top returnees
103--Matt Sommers, so. (3-3); 112/119--Kevin Heneghan, jr. (18-17); Rodrigo Arcibar, so. (19-2 at freshman); 125/130--Dylan Steigerwald, jr. (8-27); Vince Metzger, sr. (20-19); 135--Bill Gavin, sr. (18-17); 140/145--Jim Wallenberg, so. (20-18); Matt McNulty, jr. (24-2 at underlevels); 152--Tim Gavin, sr. (21-14); 160--Denis Walsh, sr. (30-11); 171--Eric Damlos, sr. (10-17); 160/171--Matt Bascom, sr. (10-16); 171/189--Anthony Czahor, sr. (2-6); Brian Ridge, jr. (29-8); 215--Marc Nunes, sr. (17-11); 285--Mike Carr, sr. (3-1).

Top wrestlers lost
215--Bo Cisek (now playing football at Northwestern); 112--Alex Tsankasis (wrestling at Triton); 135--Nick Notowoski.

The Dons enjoy a healthy number of returnees and an experienced underclass. They’ll need everything they can get from them if they want to peck into he higher echelon of the ESCC. But it will be tough to break through the choke hold that
Marian seems to have on the top of the standings. Coach Augie Genovesi sees Marian as a favorite to repeat, along with his squad, Marist
and St. Pat as contenders.


St. Joseph Chargers
Coach: Shawn Forst

Top returnees
140--Zach Moreno, sr. (sectional qualifier, 26-8); 125--Bryant Roby, so. (sectional qualifier, 6-6);  215--William Milleville, SO. (frosh-soph state qualifier); 160--team captain Marcus Watson, jr.

Top wrestlers lost
135--Timmy Flores (28-7, now wrestles with Division III powerhouse Wartburg).

There’s no escaping it: St. Joseph is a basketball school. But Coach Shawn Forst has been able to make modest progress, building a wrestling program of about 45 competitors from just the dozen or so he had when he arrived in Westchester five years ago. A couple of top returnees and a decent freshman class could bring a handful of personal highlights during the season.

St. Patrick Shamrocks
Coach: Patrick Duggan
Last season's record: 23-10

Top returnees
145/152--Jimmy DiNino, sr. (went downstate as a sophomore, 33-16 record as 2008 sectional qualifier); 152/160--Alex Ortiz, jr. (35-14 as a state qualifier at 145); 103--Anthony Sciaccotta, sr. (sectional qualifier, 33-12); 119--Ariel Vazquez, jr. (6-7, won several key matches at 112 at the end of last season); 171--Joe Rau, sr. (37-8, sectional qualifier at 160); 189--Matt Ortega, sr. (33-13, fourth in sectional at 171); 215--Carlos Martinez, so. (19-17).

Top newcomer
112--Anthony Ferraris, fr. (state placer last season at the junior-high level).

Top wrestlers lost
285--George Vitzileos (two-time state qualifier, 42-6 last season); 130--Joe Romano (four-year starter, 39-12, qualified for state, set school all-time and
single season takedown records); 119--Robert Peters (30-17).


With a large returning contingent, St. Patrick is looking to make its mark this season. In fact, this could be the year the Shamrocks earn a conference title. “We actually felt it could have been our year to win it last year," Duggan said. "They (Marian) just had a little bit too much for us. We’re excited about what we can do this year.” Among 10 returning starters are five with 30 or more wins, no small feat given St. Pat’s schedule. “You never know when you get to the conference tournament. If someone has a good day …” Duggan said. “Teams like Notre Dame and Carmel have tough kids who can kind of run interference a bit.”

St. Viator Lions
Coach: Jeff Kramarczyk, Jr.
Last season's record: 3-25

Top returnees:
112--Danny Sabatello, so. (sectional qualifier, 35-9; 171--Richard Rittmeyer, sr. (wrestled up at 189 to help team, 5-11); 152/160--T.J. Hohenadel (7-7).

Top wrestlers lost
130--Vince Sabatello (three-time sectional
qualifier); 160--Chris Corey (fourth in
conference and regionals); 171--Jack Joyce (39-9, regional champ).

How thin was the St. Viator roster last year? Coach Jeff Kramarczyk puts it in interesting perspective: Take away the forfeits the team had in each dual (103, 189, 215 and 285 pounds) and that 3-25 record would have been 19-9. "We just didn't have the numbers in the room,” Kramarczyk says.

The varsity had about 16 competitors, the program overall 40. Kramarczyk is
hoping for more this year, though the team still might compete without someone at 103 or heavyweight. “I think we'll be better than a couple of other (conference) teams,” he said.Kramarczyk, who was given the top spot about six weeks before the season started, knows he has his work cut out for him. Former coach Ben Hamilton resigned to pursue graduate studies, but will remain with the team as an assistant coach. “Everybody always underestimates us, which puts us on the back burner,” Kramarczyk said. “That’s the way we want to keep it. We want to shock people.” Perhaps to help signal the regime change, the team has jettisoned its theme shirts, which say “Fortune favors the strong” in Latin. Instead, the
message on new shirts is: “We work harder than you.” “We’re not going to be beaten physically or out-conditioned,” Kramarczyk said.

Predicted order of finish for conference

1, Marian Catholic; 2, St. Patrick; 3, Marist; 4; Notre Dame; 5, Carmel; 6, St. Viator; 7, Joliet Catholic; 8, St. Joseph. 


Today's Schedule: Season Schedule