Wrestling invitationals continue in earnest as the new calendar year kicks in – with two big ones in the Tri Cities.
Glenbard East crowned four champions at Geneva's Newbill Invitational last Saturday to ease past Woodstock Marian Central and defend its team championship.
Batavia will take center stage this weekend in welcoming teams from throughout Chicagoland to its 20-team tournament.
“The quality of the field has improved since last year,” Batavia coach Scott Bayer said of the addition of traditional powers Naperville North and Hinsdale Central. “Our goal is to win it. It’s going to be very difficult.”
The Bulldogs are led by state-ranked 138-pounder Mikey Caliendo, brothers Alex and Angel Cruz at 132 and 152 pounds, respectively, as well as Andy Posledni (145), Justin Major (160) and Jacob Randell (182).
Batavia has captured the team title at its own tournament once.
Caliendo seeks to return to the form that reached its apex with a runner-up finish at the prestigious Granite City Invite over winter break.
Batavia dropped a gut-wrenching 34-28 dual match against St. Charles East in its bid to end the Saints’ unbeaten run in the DuKane Conference on Jan. 3.
In a tense encounter with the Saints’ Justin Benjamin, Caliendo had his comeback bid fall short; Benjamin's one-point victory sealed the conference dual match for St. Charles East.
Caliendo was ranked one spot higher than Benjamin in the coaches’ poll at the time of their match.
“[Caliendo] isn’t ranked higher than [Benjamin] in my eyes,” St. Charles East coach Jason Potter said.
“I’m not taking anything away from Benjamin,” Bayer said. “[Caliendo] sometimes struggles to maintain his weight. He wrestled flat against [Benjamin]. We’re looking to work on that.”
Burlington Central is the only other local program in the field at Batavia.
The Rockets feature Old Dominion recruit and defending Class 2A state champion Nick Termini, who has alternated between 145 and 152 pounds this year.
Thomas, Huck lead Vikings
Geneva scored 63 points at the Newbill, celebrating its 40th edition, last weekend to finish in a 13th-place tie with Stillman Valley.
Admittedly in a transition year after not returning a single state or sectional qualifier, Geneva coach Tom Chernich was heartened by the performances of Ian Huck and Hank Smith.
Huck and Smith were the only Geneva athletes to win consolation finals as the former, a 120-pounder, and the 182-pound latter were third in their weight classes.
“I was really happy,” said Smith, in his first year on varsity. “[Chernich] adds a lot of energy that is needed.”
“Today was a nice day to see a lot of old friends from the tournament,” Chernich said.
Chumbley makes national statement
A defending Class 3A state champion bound for Northwestern, St. Charles resident Trevor Chumbley had a holiday season to remember.
The Marmion senior handed Josh Saunders of St. Louis-based Christian Brothers High School his first loss of the season in the 145-pound championship match at Granite City last month.
“It depends what poll you look at,” Chumbley, the Class 3A reigning state champion at 138 pounds said of his 3-1 win over Saunders. “He’s ranked No. 1 in some; top four in others. He’s top five at either [138 and 145 pounds]. He won Ironman [the premier national tournament at 138 pounds]."
But Chumbley, who suffered his only two losses this season at Ironman, emerged victorious with a second-period escape and two-point near-fall in the third.
“I am trying to make my mark as one of the best in the country,” Chumbley said.