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Wrestling Insider: Knights eye early-season test

Charlie Smorczewski (top) of Batavia wrestles Kristof Larsen of Geneva in the 132-pound weight class during their dual meet last January at Batavia. Smorczewski won the match.
Charlie Smorczewski (top) of Batavia wrestles Kristof Larsen of Geneva in the 132-pound weight class during their dual meet last January at Batavia. Smorczewski won the match.

Kaneland avenged last season’s loss to Burlington Central during a Saturday quadrangular sweep that also included wins against Freeport and Wheaton Warrenville South.

With respect to the regional rival Rockets, Kaneland’s bigger item of unfinished business arrives with tonight’s Northern Illinois Big 12 East dual at Sycamore. The Knights have not defeated the Spartans in five seasons.

“We’ve been preaching the importance of the rivalry and that we last won in 2007,” Knights coach Monty Jahns said. “[The Spartans] are the returning conference champions. The winner Thursday is well on their way to a conference title.”

The NI Big 12 East includes plenty of depth outside of Sycamore, which has qualified for the team state dual meet for three successive seasons. Along with the Spartans and Knights, Yorkville and Morris are ranked as part of’s Class 2A Top 25.

Senior-heavy Kaneland started strong Saturday behind several 3-0 showings, including those from Dan Goress (145 pounds), Stephen Gust (113) and Zach Theis (285).

Batavia feeling prepared
Kaneland-Sycamore isn’t the only November grudge match among Chronicle-area teams.

Batavia is set to host Geneva in an Upstate Eight Conference River Division dual tonight, eight days after St. Charles East thumped St. Charles North, 70-3, in the teams’ traditional opener at Wredling Middle School.

The defending conference champion Bulldogs will rely on a quartet of senior co-captains – Joel Shump (126), Charlie Smorczewski (138), Jon Wagner (160) and Mickey Watson (195) – while spotlighting their collective work ethic to younger athletes.

“Everybody’s who coming out this year is willing to put in the work,” Smorczewski said. “There’s not a lot of screwing around, so we’re getting good preparation.”

Geneva also boasts its share of seniors, namely returning 3A state qualifier Brad Martens (120) and 195-pounder Jake Boser, who fell to Watson, 5-1, in the decisive match of last season’s dual.

“We’ve got a lot of guys back,” seventh-year Vikings coach Tom Chernich said. “I’m hoping if things work out, this can be our best team, and we’ve had some good ones.”

Joel Shump
Batavia, Sr., 126 pounds
What he did: Shump notched three victories in Saturday's Naperville Central Quad to give him exactly 100 for his career. He's the ninth centurion in program history, joining Clint Arlis, Logan Arlis, Jonny Escamilla, Gregg Farnsworth, Chris O'Connell, Danny Watson, Kevin McFarland and Matt Weight.

Marmion's veterans
What they did: Cadets Anthony Bosco (106), Johnny Jimenez (120), George Fisher (132) and Cody Snodgrass (195) – all returning state qualifiers – won individual titles at Saturday's Moore-Prettyman tournament at Barrington. Marmion cruised to the 28-team title by 88.5 points.

Wes Pasholk keeps steadying St. Charles North. Pasholk, a senior 220-pounder, notched North's lone team points in a 70-3 dual loss to St. Charles East last week, continuing a busy athletic slate that includes his role as a two-way lineman for the football team and as rugby standout. "I wouldn't want to wrestle him, I know that," North coach Pete McNamara said.

Which teams can get an early jump on their rivals. Tonight's slate includes Kaneland at Sycamore and Geneva at Batavia, two duals likely to carry a big influence on the races in the Northern Illinois Big 12 East and Upstate Eight River, respectively. It's never to early to jockey for position for a conference title.

There's nothing wrong with an early-season challenge to see where a team stands right out of the chute.

Then again, given the depth of the Upstate Eight River and Northern Illinois Big 12 East, area teams in those leagues don't figure to have much respite on most nights as it is.

Sly's looking forward to seeing the season get going after a recent string of holiday tournaments. Every match adds up on a grappler's resume for February.

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