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Druley: Batavia wrestling’s Wagner regroups for strong senior season

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Batavia wrestler Jon Wagner learned he had competed with a tonsil infection for an undetermined stretch shortly after his season ended last winter.

A weeklong hospitalization followed Wagner’s exit from regionals, but only his body rested. Wagner spent considerable time thinking about how he would regroup for his senior season.

So far, so good.

Wagner enters this weekend’s Class 3A Naperville Central Regional with a 31-5 record at 160 pounds, a far cry from last season’s 22-16 mark at 170. He’s wrestling comfortably, yet still with an edge, which long has been beneficial in his sport.

“It’s been a good year,” Wagner said. “I’m a captain trying to lead this team, trying to get the best out of all these kids.”

While he is unranked on Illinoismatmen.com’s 3A individual poll at 160, Wagner doesn’t get preoccupied with such things. The website remains an authority in wrestling, but currently lists some opposition Wagner has defeated among its honorable mentions.

Alex Anaya (Downers Grove South) and Alex Kunkel (Geneva) are among the other regional hopefuls at 160. Wagner topped Kunkel, 5-3, in overtime in the semifinals of the recent Upstate Eight Conference tournament en route to an individual title.

“I really just came out and had a fire to go out and win it. Being a conference champ is an important thing. It’s the last big test we have before regionals,” Wagner said. “I just said to myself, ‘Let’s go out, win it. Let’s just go in and go into regionals firing on all cylinders.’ ”

Wagner credited a busy offseason training regimen and the added intensity of coach Scott Bayer’s practices for his success so far.

After wrestling up a weight class last season, Wagner is back where he wants to be in the Bulldogs’ lineup.

Now, he’s eager to reach his next destination.

“I’m looking forward to the chance to get downstate,” Wagner said. “Prove to the whole state what I can do.”

BC’s Morrow commits to Wisconsin softball: Burlington Central sophomore Angie Morrow recently committed to play softball at Wisconsin, following through on an impulse she felt during her first visit to Madison, Wis., for a camp before high school.

Yes, the right-handed pitcher was thinking that far ahead.

“Surprisingly, I was,” said Morrow, a resident of rural St. Charles. “When I got there, I got the feel that this is where I want to be. I loved it right away when we walked onto that field.”

An instant connection with Badgers coach Yvette Healy – wife of former St. Francis boys basketball coach Shawn Healy – added to Morrow’s comfort level. She liked Healy’s ingenuity after she came from a smaller program (Loyola) and could place herself in red even before she’d sported Central’s royal blue.

Part of the Wasco Diamonds during club season, Morrow went 15-4 with a 1.62 ERA during her debut for Central last spring, striking out 114 and walking 16 in 134 innings.

Morrow said Badgers coaches were especially impressed with her commitment to conditioning and strength training through The Speed School in St. Charles.

She began working out there in the fall in a move that apparently accelerated Wisconsin’s interest.

“That helped the coaches know that I was going to work hard because I had never done something like The Speed School before,” Morrow said. “I never really lifted weights that hard or done anything like that before.”

Morrow specializes in softball year-round, and has kept a routine between Diamonds practices, individual pitching lessons and sessions in her basement, where there’s a full batting cage. Morrow, who can play first base and outfield when she doesn’t pitch, batted .390 in 82 at-bats in 2012.

Knowing she “definitely will have room to grow” both her velocity and repertoire over her next three high school seasons, Morrow remains confident with her control.

“When you hit your spots as a pitcher, it helps because you know what hitters can and cannot hit,” Morrow said.

You also have a pulse on where you might land yourself. Morrow felt an instant inkling when she arrived at Wisconsin.

Snow-hitter: Cougars fans attending tonight’s Meet the Cubs hot stove event at Fifth Third Bank Ballpark immediately will see a snow-covered field as they gaze out from the stadium’s super suite.

If you don’t have tickets or simply enjoy such views, Illinois blogger Craig Wieczorkiewicz and his website, www.mwltraveler.com, can feed your fix.

Wieczorkiewicz, who is writing a book about his travels to all 16 Midwest League parks, recently posted snowy provided photos from stadiums at Beloit, Cedar Rapids, Quad Cities and Wisconsin on the heels of the recent storm.

Beats having to get around in this weather, right?

• Kevin Druley is a sports writer for the Kane County Chronicle. He can be reached at 630-845-5347 or kdruley@shawmedia.com.

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