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Depth does it for Plainfield Central

By Mike Garofola

You have to marvel at Plainfield Central.

Unable to record even one individual title at the 18th Moore-Prettyman Wrestling Invite at Barrington High School Saturday night, coach Jim Kappas' club nonetheless came away with the biggest piece of hardware available when the Wildcats outdistanced 33 other teams to win the championship.

The Wildcats, who would lead basically from start-to-finish, carried away its first-ever title here by finishing with 255.5 points overall, 34 more than runner-up Neuqua Valley (221) and a whopping 91.5 better than Libertyville which tallied 164 over over both days.

Wheeling, with impressive championships from Luke Smith at 125, and at 189 from Danny Vargas, was fourth with 155 points.

Class A runner-up Stillman Valley surprising its big school counterparts with a well-deserved 5th place trophy (150 points) including the title at 119 (Nick Harrison).

"Not really sure what it all means to win the team title over a field of opponents, and yet, not be able ... to win any individual championships," said a smiling Kappas."What it does mean is that we have a terrific group of wrestlers, coaches, families, and an administration who are all commited to this program, and that's something to be really proud of."

The Wildcats were topped by four second-place finishers.

"It's an amazing team to be a part of, and one that we hope will send seven-to=-eight through to the state tournament in

February," offered Eric Oyster who, after missing last season due to a surgically repaired shoulder, finished second at 140. He dropped a hard-fought 3-1 overtime match to Neuqua Valley's Andy Spangler.

Oyster was joined by fellow Wildcat runners-up Steven Bradmueller (119), Dan Deufel (171) and Grant Bushby (189). Deufel fell to Grant junior Lee Munster, who won his third straight title here.

Munster, who would pin his way through four tournament matches, was honored afterwards with the tournament MVP trophy.

This year's tournament surprises included the unexpected runs of freshmen Adrian Gonzalez of Barrington and Dylan Reel of Washington.

Reel, a well-spoken 145 pounder, delighted those looking for a feel-good story. After he stunned No. 1 seed A.J. Knoll 10-1 in the semifinal, he tied up his championship medal with a 9-4 decision over Stillman Valley's Zach Patterson.

"I came here not knowing what to expect, but hoping to get a couple of wins and some experience against big-school wrestlers," said Reel. "I guess I never expected all of this to happen."

Reel broke a 2-2 tie at 3 minutes, then expanded the lead to 6-2 after a take-down. Patterson closed the deficit with a take-down of his own at 4 1/2 minutes, but Reel went to work and quickly made it 8-4 to all but close out his opponent.

Barrington's Gonzalez, who on Friday sent a pair of high seeds into the back-draw, did the same in his semifinal when he sent off Nick Fontanetta (Crystal Lake Central) 6-2, before using a third-period explosion to defeat Matt Garelli of Fenwick 15-3.

"I figured we had a pretty good wrestler in Adrian, but I never thought he would be this good so quick," admitted Barrington head coach Al Strobl after watching his champion erupt for nine unanswered points in less than one minute.

The hosts were a terrific story on their own after its eighth-place finish (129.5 points) to edge MSL rival Hoffman Estates (125) and Lake Zurich (113.5).

Hoffman Estates Patrick Scully, who would fall to the aforementioned Luke Smith 5-0 in the 125-pound final, brought the big crowd to its feet in his semifinal bout with top-seed Diontae Brown of Marist.

Brown bolted to a big lead, but soon found himself hurting, literally and figuratively, when a couple of throws by the Hoffman Estates junior put him up for good at 12-11 before lowering the boom at 5:21.

"I was a little nervous when I got behind early, but figured if I could stay in the match and make him work hard, he would get gassed to allow me to get back in the match and maybe pin him" offered Scully.

Scully's teammate Mike Eisele threw a big scare into the top seed here and No. 1 heavyweight in the state, Chris Narel, before the Lincoln Way-East senior came back defeat Eisele 9-8. Narel later beat Marist senior Bob Bullington by a major decision 11-0.

"Chris got himself into a little trouble with his own doing, and the kid from Hoffman did a nice job of taking advantage of (his) mistake," said East head coach Tyrone Byrd, "but the good thing is we can correct those mistakes now and not have them come back and get (us) later in the season."

Most of the top seeds went clean through, including Danny Fisher (Highland Park, 130), Matt Holmes (Lakes, 135), Danny Vargas (Wheeling, 189), AJ Smith (Marist, 215) and Bobby Barnhisel (Fenwick, 152), who grabbed his second-straight title here.

"The season officially began this weekend," said the smiling three-time state qualifier, who manhandled Anthony Pace of Lake Zurich in a technical fall at 5:25. "From here on out, it's all about getting a little better each week, cleaning things up, eating right, and getting yourself ready for the stretch run at the end of the season."

Prior to his final, Barnhisel would record a trio of falls to help book his place in the final.

First-time champions, in addition to Gonzalez and Reel, were Neuqua Valley junior Matt Cavallaris (112) and his teammate Nick Proctor (160) who was third last year here and is currently ranked No. 2 at 152 pounds.

Cavallaris made his imprint on the tournament by upending No. 2 seed Matt Bystol (Libertyville) in the semifinals (6-3) before putting an exclamation point on his two days of work with a 8-4 decision over top-seed Joe Schwartz of Highland Park.

"I am so proud of Matt because he's worked so hard to get himself into our line-up and was rewarded for all of that work with the championship," said Neuqua head coach Mick Ruettinger.


Today's Schedule: Season Schedule