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Battle of new head coaches goes to Sandburg


By Curt Herron

It's not unusual to see two head coaches making their debuts in a season-opening meet.

But when a coach has been a key part of one of the state's top programs, then it's a pretty big deal.

And when both coaches were graduates of the same college where they enjoyed great careers, it's even more interesting.

That was the case when Eric Siebert and his Sandburg squad met Tyrone Byrd and his Lincoln-Way East team in a dual meet Tuesday in Orland Park.

The host Eagles won six of the first eight matches and jumped out to a 31-9 lead to help them capture a 46-22 SouthWest Suburban Conference victory.

Siebert, who served as an assistant coach to former coach Mike Polz for 10 years, was a national champion at Illinois, where Byrd was a four-time national qualifier.

"On the first day you think that you might know what to expect, but you're not going to get a good indication until they get out there," Siebert said. "But I thought our kids wrestled hard, which is important.

"We knew that Lincoln-Way East had some good quality guys and that Tyrone will do a great job, so this wasn't an easy match by any means. We needed to be prepared and I thought for the most part our kids wrestled well."

While Sandburg showed that the beat goes on for its program, Byrd realizes that Lincoln-Way East has a ways to go to be able to compete with the state's top-ranked teams.

"When you wrestle against a team of this caliber, you're going to find out where you are real quickly," Byrd said. "As I told the kids, the fortunate thing is that we have a lot of room to improve.

"From 103 to heavyweight, every kid has room to improve, and that's the great thing about the first dual. But if I do my job well, by the end of the year, they're going to be a much better team."

The Griffins (0-1) grabbed the early lead when A.J. Knoll got a pin in 1:50 over Billy Crowley at 145, but the Eagles (1-0) got falls in the next three matches and won five in a row to go up 25-6.

Sal Dorado pinned Jimmy Wilson in 1:57 at 152, Juan Soliz followed with a fall over Adam Deyoung in 1:14 and Chris Frostman won by fall over Curt Martini in 5:17 to make the score 18-6.

Joe Schneider captured a 12-4 victory over Pete Merenowicz at 189 and Saed Al-Azzam picked up a 12-6 win over Collin Langenderfer to cap the run of five-straight triumphs.

East halted the streak when Chris Narel, who is the state's top-ranked heavyweight, recorded a 9-2 victory over Nick Stanko.

Sandburg answered with another fall as Jimmy Panozzo pinned Joe Manos in 3:21 at 103 to give the hosts a 31-9 advantage.

The Griffins pieced together wins in their next two matches. Steve Digrazia beat Kevin Katalinic 11-1 and Kyle Vaulman pinned Mike McMahan in 1:14.

After seeing their lead cut to 31-19, the Eagles claimed three straight victories to finally wrap things up.

Manny Ozoa won by technical fall in 3:32 over Ryan Martini and Ryan Soraghan followed that with a 15-3 win over David Rollins.

Defending state champion Jon Morrison, who is top-ranked at 125, needed just 36 seconds to record a pin over Ryan Wendt at 135.

The Griffins closed things out with their fifth victory of the evening as Mike Murphy edged J.P. Garrity 4-3 in the finale.

"We're normally not used to competing this early," Siebert said. "That put all kinds of rushes on certification-type stuff and other things that you might not think have any impact, but ultimately do."

Byrd realized that his squad still needed some more conditioning, and that fact was driven home against an Eagle squad that only figures to get better as the year goes on. 

"It's always hard to get everybody to the strength that they need to be at during the first two weeks," Byrd said. "And when you wrestle against Sandburg, your conditioning has to be good. Some of their kids were relentless and stayed after us.

"The bottom line is that our kids need to work in order to improve every day and I'm not talking about wins and losses. It's not going to be an overnight process, it will take time, but that's what happens whenever you're building something."



145 A.J. Knoll (E) pinned Billy Crowley (S), 1:50

152 Sal Dorado (S) pinned Jimmy Wilson (E), 1:57

160 Juan Soliz (S) pinned Adam Deyoung (E), 1:14

171 Chris Frostman (S) pinned Curt Martini (E), 5:17

189 Joe Schneider (S) dec. Pete Merenowicz (E), 12-4

215 Saed Al-Azzam (S) dec. Collin Langenderfer (E), 12-6

285 Chris Narel (E) dec. Nick Stanko (S), 9-2

103 Jimmy Panozzo (S) pinned Joe Manos (E), 3:21

112 Steve Digrazia (E) dec. Kevin Katalinic (S), 11-1

119 Kyle Vaulman (E) pinned Mike McMahan (S), 1:14

125 Manny Ozoa (S) tf Ryan Martini (E), 3:32

130 Ryan Soraghan (S) dec. David Rollins (E), 15-3

135 Jon Morrison (S) pinned Ryan Wendt (E), 0:36

140 Mike Murphy (E) dec. J.P. Garrity (S), 4-3 


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