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Prep wrestling insider: Youth pacing St. Charles North

Published: Thursday, Jan. 16, 2014 5:30 a.m. CST

(Continued from Page 1)

St. Charles North's schedule shifted from tournament-happy to dual-heavy once the calendar turned to January.

Among other things, the move has reminded North of its low numbers.

"We're just trying to do our best to win as many matches as we can individually, knowing its tough to win any actual dual meets because of the weights we're giving up," coach Ben Hummel said.

If there's a silver lining, it's that North is forfeiting fewer weights than when the season started. Hummel filled 11 of 14 weights in Friday's Upstate Eight Conference crossover at East Aurora, albeit with six freshmen and a pair of first-year wrestlers.

"All that stuff hopefully will pay off down the road when those guys are older," Hummel said. "I also hope that some of these younger guys getting to see some varsity action, it gives them some motivation in the offsesason, something to shoot for after getting that taste of what it's like."

North is staying afloat behind a strong core in the top half of its lineup that includes Kolbe O'Brien (106), Conrad Noverini (126), Steve Collins (132) and Chad Reynolds (152).

O'Brien, a freshman, has credited his developmental days at SCN Youth Wrestling in Campton Hills for preparing him for the varsity pace.

"I think SCN has helped me a long way, along with coach Hummel," O'Brien said. "He's been working us hard. I think I'm in good condition."

Orange they glad

This weekend's Lincoln-Way East Invitational unofficially is operating as the "Illini Cup," as a majority of coaches in the 16-team field competed under longtime former Illinois coach Mark Johnson in college.

St. Charles East coach Jason Potter calls the event "a little reunion" for his fellow former Illini as well as good measuring stick as next month's state series approaches.

"You put that many coaches with that mindset in the same room, it's a competitive event," Potter said.

Either Johnson or former assistant Jim Heffernan – now Illinois' coach – tries to commute from Champaign for the tournament. With Illinois set to host Michigan Saturday night, Johnson would seem the safer bet.

"It's good," Potter said. "We don't alway get to see him, and he's a second father to most of us."

'Busy' Cadets happily play hosts

Typically accustomed to traveling around the Midwest as part of its daunting schedule, Marmion will get to stay put for a stretch of challenging duals this week.

The Cadets are scheduled to host Mount Carmel tonight, Baylor School (Tenn.) on Friday and Westerville North (Ohio) and Montini on Saturday.

"Just a lot of big dual meets and preparing for state series," Cadets senior 126-pounder Johnny Jimenez of St. Charles said. "Really busy."

IN THE GROOVE

Justin Diddell

Kaneland, Sr., 285

What he did: Diddell earned Kaneland's top finish at the Sycamore Invitational this past weekend, placing fifth. He had two falls among his four victories.

Connor McKeehan

Batavia, Sr., 220

What he did: McKeehan earned three falls in as many matches against St. Charles East, Schaumburg and West Aurora at Saturday's home quadrangular.

WHAT WE LEARNED LAST WEEK

There's nothing wrong with being an ungracious host. Geneva finished third at its Newbill Invitational this past weekend, staying in contention behind runner-up Mitch Bradberry (182 pounds) and third-place finishers Austin Chaon (170) and Jake Andersen (220).

WHAT WE'LL LEARN IN THE WEEK AHEAD

Whether St. Charles East earns its second straight Upstate Eight Conference River Division title. The Saints improved to 5-0 in league duals with Saturday's 46-21 victory against host Batavia as part of the Bulldogs' quad, and can complete a perfect run through the River when they visit Elgin tonight.

COACH SLY SAYS

Sly appreciates what our Chronicle Country matmen do season in and season out.

Was interesting to read about the road taken by Anthony Rubino of STC East this week. It definitely sounds like a challenge, but one that can be worth it if you stick close to the diet, workouts and everything else.

Of course, not many have the guts and the discipline to do so.

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