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Prep wrestling insider: Conference tourneys test endurance

St. Charles East wrestling coach Jason Potter helped guide the Saints to an unbeaten run to the Upstate Eight Conference River Division duals title. The Saints will look to stay hot at this weekend’s UEC tournament at Elgin.
St. Charles East wrestling coach Jason Potter helped guide the Saints to an unbeaten run to the Upstate Eight Conference River Division duals title. The Saints will look to stay hot at this weekend’s UEC tournament at Elgin.

Conference tournaments, like all weekend events before and after, test wrestlers’ endurance.

Appetites simultaneously come under duress as athletes work to keep energized during long lulls between bouts.

Expect to see more healthy foods on the premises than even a decade ago if you’re planning to head to any conference tournaments this weekend.

“There’s more out there as far as nutritional information,” said St. Charles East coach Jason Potter, a former Saints standout. “Even through the [1990s], the diet wasn’t the smartest. We’d pig out in a sense and then try to crash it at the end of the week. But now guys are tighter with the diet – meal replacement shakes, lifting. I think it’s good for the kids. Like every sport, everything keeps getting better and generations go on.”

On dual match days, East junior 160-pounder Ramon Lopez typically dines on an apple and banana for breakfast and a chicken breast for lunch.

If the Saints are competing at home, he’ll venture out for a sandwich at nearby Jersey Mike’s after weigh-ins and drink a Pedialyte or Powerade.

Whatever’s on the menu, the pre-bout routine helps return wrestlers to buoyancy, er, normalcy.

“We make sure we run a lot to get it out,” Lopez said.

Locking horns again

Marmion and Montini have waged memorable duels during a tense Suburban Christian Conference rivalry.

The atmosphere was no different Saturday, as the Broncos edged the Cadets, 36-28, with Marmion forfeiting three weight classes.

Montini grabbed a quick 18-0 advantage, as the dual started with forfeit victories at 220, 285 and 106.

“At that point in time, I didn’t care what the result was,” Cadets coach Ryan Cumbee said. “I wanted to see the way our guys performed and the way they responded.”

Decision victories from AJ Jaffe and Johnny Jimenez and an Anthony Cheloni fall helped Marmion tie the dual at 18. It was tight thereafter, which is nothing new between these programs.

Marmion also defeated Westerville North (Ohio) on Saturday as it closed a 3-1 homestand that also included victories against Mount Carmel and Baylor (Tenn.).

Baylor, a boarding school in Chattanooga, has won seven dual state championships since 2001.

The Cadets are set to travel Saturday to Novi, Mich., for a triangular with Detroit Catholic Central and Cincinnati power Archbishop Moeller in a state series tune-up.

Regionals are scheduled for Feb. 8.

Two brothers, two seasons

Friday’s St. Charles North-Geneva dual was a near-miss on a brotherly civil war.

While North freshman Kolbe O’Brien registered a fall at 106 pounds, his older brother, Thomas, was unable to compete as he misses the season with a knee injury.

A Class 3A state alternate at 132 last season, Thomas O’Brien battled knee troubles in the offseason and was poised to make the next progression after transferring from North in 2012-13.

“He was primed to place in state. He blew out his knee. He tried to come back but blew out his ACL,” Geneva coach Tom Chernich said.

Geneva won the dual, 59-9.


Noah Frazier

Batavia, Jr., 195 pounds

What he did: Frazier delivered host Batavia’s lone individual championship in its tournament Saturday, registering a 10-0 major decision in the title match. The Bulldogs placed seventh out of 18 teams.

Zach Parker

Kaneland, So., 182 pounds

What he did: Won an individual title to help host Kaneland finish as runner-up to Niles North at Saturday’s Margaret Flott Memorial Tournament in Maple Park.


Lots of runners-up can almost make you a champ. Had it not been for a tournament-high seven second-place finishers – that’s half the weight classes – host Kaneland would not have been in the running against winner Niles North at Saturday’s Margaret Flott Memorial Tournament. Kaneland’s haul of runners-up included Dane Goodenough (138 pounds) and Tom Price (170).


How teams fare at conference tournaments.

Athletes from the Upstate Eight (Elgin) and Northern Illinois Big 12 (Sterling) will vie for individual and team honors at their respective conference championships. St. Charles East, which wrapped up its second consecutive unbeaten run through the UEC River dual season, is eager to test itself against Valley Division foes.

In the NI Big 12, Kaneland lost to conference front-runner DeKalb during duals season, but is primed to produce its share of all-conference finishers. Senior 285-pounder Justin Diddell is having an especially solid season thus far.


The slow march to the Grand March is about to begin.

Conference tournaments signify the beginning of the stretch run in wrestling season, telling us that we’re two weekends from regionals, three from sectionals and four from the IHSA state tournament.

There’s plenty of talent in these parts, so Sly’s anticipating a fun journey.

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