Bulldogs brace for Saints
St. Charles East and Batavia understand the magnitude of tonight’s dual at East. Even before the season started, both sides pegged it as the likely deciding factor in the Upstate Eight Conference River Division race.
The Saints (3-0 UEC River) and Bulldogs (2-0) also share another trait: navigating early-season injuries and scrambles to make weight.
“Every school is going to be dealing with that right now,” East coach Jason Potter said. “The grind of the season’s kicking in and the guys are keeping up with their studies. We just need to make sure we’re really able to get after it, get geared up and ready to go, while at the same time keeping everyone healthy.”
Although East sparingly has fielded a consistent lineup during its 10-1 overall start in duals, the team largely has looked the same in the lower weights, where it has struck for most of its points. Brothers Anthony Rubino (106) and Ryan Rubino (113) kick things off, while Isaiah Vela is a force at either 132 or 138.
Batavia’s Joel Shump has shined at 126, and figures to face the Saints’ Austin Hrubec, who has made strides in recent weeks.
A senior, Shump (14-0) captured the 126-pound title at the Glenbrook South tournament over the weekend. Classmates and fellow captains Charlie Smorczewski (138) and Jon Wagner (160) were second in the team’s final tune-up before the East match.
“St. Charles East is the team to beat. They’ve had some significant accomplishments in terms of tournament wins,” Bulldogs coach Scott Bayer said. “I definitely see ourselves as the underdogs. I’m hoping we can go out and be close or maybe catch them in a couple matches and follow up off the good outing [Dec. 13 against St. Charles North] after a competitive weekend tournament, too.”
Cadets have happy mix
Marmion rebounded from a choppy dual loss to Suburban Christian Conference rival Montini by sweeping a stout field Saturday during a home quadrangular.
The Cadets handled Plainfield Central (47-9), Luxemberg (Wis.) Casco (39-16) and Marist (29-4) – a fellow ranked team in the InterMat Wrestling Fab 50 national poll – to improve to 7-1 in duals.
Eight freshmen started for the Cadets. Among them AJ Jaffe (113), Riley DeMoss (152) and Lucas Warren (220) are all highly touted in the most recent IllinoisMatmen.com Class 3A rankings. Of the veteran contributors, several hail from St. Charles, including junior Johnny Jimenez (120) and George Fisher (132), who boast three state championships between them.
Marmion coach Ryan Cumbee economized this week’s practices as athletes prepared for final exams. The Cadets are set to compete at the Dvorak Tournament at Machesney Park Harlem this weekend, and will get another shot at Montini, a team they finished ahead of at a national tournament in Ohio earlier this month.
“Get quick, hard practices in. Study hard for finals and then hopefully go to the Dvorak and compete very hard, as well,” Cumbee said.
– Kevin Druley,
IN THE GROOVE
Burlington Central, So., 170 poundsWhat he did: Fresh off a runner-up finish at the Sterling's Carson DeJarnatt Invitational, Kein broke through for the 170-pound title Saturday at the Harvard Sciacca-Holtfreter Tournament.
Batavia, Sr., 126 poundsWhat he did: Shump improved to 14-0 with three victories at the Glenbrook South Tournament. He advanced to the 126-pound championship match with a pair of falls before winning the title with a major decision.
WHAT WE LEARNED LAST WEEK There's no such thing as senioritis at Kaneland. Seniors Stephen Gust (113), Esai Ponce (132) and Dan Goress (145) all kept their strong starts alive Saturday, winning three matches as the team went 2-1 in a home quad.
"The seniors are continuing to improve upon their skills and work ethic in the room and they're leading the team right now," Knights coach Monty Jahns said. "It's obvious by the points they're scoring in the meets."
WHAT WE'LL LEARN IN THE WEEK AHEAD Which team takes control of the Upstate Eight Conference River Division race. Defending conference champion Batavia is set to visit St. Charles East tonight in a meeting of front-runners. Neither team has a league loss, although the Saints have wrestled one more conference dual at this point. Batavia won last season's meeting – also in St. Charles – by criteria.
COACH SLY SAYS "Beat Montini" always appears on Marmion's team goal sheet each season. Even as the Cadets have struggled against their rivals in recent seasons, the objective sticks around.
While Montini struck for a dual victory earlier this month, Marmion has finished above the Broncos in tournament competition, and will have another opportunity to do the same this weekend.
The Cadets are running out of chances. Because they climbed to Class 3A and Montini remained in 2A, they will not be able to tangle in the individual or dual state tournament.