A 10-1 start in duals fueled by several standout individual performances suggests St. Charles East’s aspirations for a special season aren’t farfetched.
This weekend, the Saints will do themselves one better by participating in the traditionally daunting Dvorak Tournament at Machesney Park Harlem. It’s an investment for the present and the future.
Typically entrants in Palatine’s Berman tournament – no slouch of an event itself – during this time of year, the Saints are traveling west in part thanks to coach Jason Potter’s connections. A former collegiate teammate who coaches at Harlem helped facilitate communication with Huskies athletic officials. Excitement swirled as soon as East joined the field.
“Every one of your matches, there’s going to be a state series feel to it,” Potter said. “There’s no weight class at that tournament that doesn’t have at least five or six elite kids.”
East returned 10 wrestlers who had at least 10 matches of experience last season. At Dvorak, whose field includes state power Marmion, each Saint is sure to receive several tests.
The Saints will have had eight days off between a dual victory against Metea Valley and Friday’s opening tournament bouts.
“Get rid of all of our bangs and bruises going into this thing and see what we do,” Potter said.
North Stars stay feisty
St. Charles North forfeit five bouts during last week’s dual at Batavia but won four of five contested matches.
You take the good, you take the bad …
“I feel like we’re getting more aggressive and more physical, which is what we’ve been stressing,” North Stars coach Ben Hummel said, “and I feel like we took a step forward as far as being more physical with guys.”
While North again is lacking numbers at the upper weights, the top half of its lineup made the most hay against the Bulldogs.
Conrad Noverini (132 pounds), Steve Collins (132) and Jake Chantos (138) earned three successive wins, with Chantos notching a fall in 3:38.
“It’s starting to get more intense now and practices are getting shorter and harder, so we’re starting to get hard workouts in now,” Chantos said.
Bulldogs welcome wind
Harnessing their wrestling shape after a 6A state championship football run no longer is of much concern for the five Batavia starters who were part of the school’s landmark title team. They have been in the mat room for nearly a month now and have a handful of duals and tournaments under their belts.
Senior 220-pounder Connor McKeehan’s candor, though, can have a long shelf life. Here’s his take on just how conditioning for the two sports differs:
“It’s not comparable to wrestling. No. Nope. Nope. It’s not,” McKeehan said. “Football just doesn’t even come close to comparing. Football’s fun and all, but it’s like wrestling’s a whole new level of conditioning.”
– Kevin Druley, email@example.com
IN THE GROOVE
Austin Choan, Geneva, Jr., 170 pounds
What he did: Went 4-0 over the weekend, notching a victory against Streamwood before helping Geneva to a sweep of the Kaneland quad with three Saturday wins.
Jose Flores, St. Charles East, Jr., 220 pounds
What he did: Flores turned in what coach Jason Potter called the senior’s most dominating performance to date in earning a fall against Metea Valley on Thursday.
WHAT WE LEARNED LAST WEEK
It’s never too late to avoid overtime. After allowing a tying takedown to his Metea Valley opponent with 12 seconds remaining in the third period of a Dec. 19 home dual, St. Charles East junior 152-pounder Keone Derain regrouped to score the winning reversal at the buzzer.
WHAT WE’LL LEARN IN THE WEEK AHEAD
How teams close out the 2013 portion of the schedule. In most cases, big challenges await in the form of competitive tournaments – including St. Charles East and Marmion at the Dvorak at Machesney Park Harlem and Geneva and Kaneland at Palatine’s Berman invitational.
COACH SLY SEZ
There’s often lots of downtime at wrestling tournaments, even when the itinerary doesn’t call for rooting for another teammate between bouts.
That’s liable to change at Dvorak, which many coaches compare to a state tournament prelude that combines top talent from classes 1A, 2A and 3A.
Here’s hoping a handful of Saints and Cadets lock horns during the weekend. Several of them likely will be vying for 3A titles during the real state tournament in February.