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home : sports : sports   May 25, 2016

11/19/2012 10:15:00 AM
2012 Prep Wrestling Preview

Jared Bell
NewsTribune Sports Writer

La Salle-Peru’s Jacob Wever was all alone last February.

The NewsTribune’s 2011-12 Wrestler of the Year was the only grappler who advanced to last year’s IHSA State Meet held at the University of Illinois.

This year, others will look to follow his lead as area wrestlers aim to break through this season and qualify for state, which will be held Feb. 14-16 at Assembly Hall in Champaign.

Below is a team-by-team look at the 2012-13 area wrestling scene.

La Salle-Peru Cavaliers
Head coach: Matt Fletcher
IHSA classification: 2A
Returning News-Tribune All-Area members: Riley Sweetland (106), Jacob Wever (120 in 2012, 103 in 2011)
Season Outlook: The junior Wever returns after he went 36-9 at 120 last season and finished a win shy of a state medal.

This year, the two-time state qualifier will again wrestle at 120 and will look to win his first state hardware.

“Jake put in a lot of time in the offseason,” Fletcher said. “I really think losing the last match right before getting a medal made him mad, so he’s ready and more focused this year.”

Also back is the junior Sweetland, who had a 30-win season a year ago at 106 and finished fourth in a loaded Class 2A La Salle-Peru Regional.

After going 30-11 last year and placing third in the Northern Illinois Big 12 Conference Meet, he’ll again wrestle at 106 this season.

“Looking back, he had a great season last year with 30 wins,” Fletcher said. “I know he didn’t make it out of regionals last year, but he had a pretty tough regional, so hopefully he’ll advance and be a state qualifier, which he is definitely capable of.”

In addition to Wever and Sweetland, the Cavaliers return a wealth of experience as L-P has nine returning letter winners.

Returning starters from last year include 145-pound senior Luke Freschi, 138-pound junior Alec Freschi and 285-pound senior Nolan Keeney.

Also back is 113-pound senior Blake Billig and 113-pound sophomore Max Kurkowski, 160-pound senior Zach Graves, 170/182-pound senior Chris Morehouse, 182-pound senior Stephan Morris, 195-pound senior Ryan Marlett and 220-pound senior Michael Denyes, who’s missed parts of the last two seasons with a shoulder injury.

Rounding out the L-P lineup is Fernando Lucero or Zach Christman at 126, Jake Nolan at 132 and Andres Martinez or Fidel Mora at 152.

“We’ll fill all the weights, but right now we’re kind of banged up,” Fletcher said. “We probably won’t be at full strength until the second half of the season.”

St. Bede
Head coach: Sean Hobson
IHSA classification: 1A
Returning News-Tribune All-Area members: None
Season Outlook: After years as an assistant coach at Princeton and at the Academy, Hobson becomes a first-time head coach as he takes over the Bruins wrestling program.

He inherits three returning starters from last year’s team.

The group is led by 132-pound junior James Peacock, who went 11-6 last winter and was a sectional qualifier last season.

“James has really worked hard all offseason,” Hobson said. “He has been wrestling since the season ended last season.”

Also back is 195-pound senior Brendan Zimmerman, who will return for the Bruins after he went 17-11 last winter at 182.

“Brendan has a great work ethic,” Hobson said. “I look for him to turn the corner because he’s really put in the work.”

Also back is 182-pound senior Chris Kerasotas.

“Chris has worked hard for the past four years, and we have high hopes for him,” Hobson said. “We look for him to turn the corner this year, and I think this will be his breakout season.”

Also competing this year is John Kerasotas at 113, Matt Szczepaniak at 120, Anthony Schneider at 126, Connor MacDavitt at 138, Adam Hunter at 145, Nick Puhr at 152, Ryan Kelsey at 160, Jeff Barnes at 170, Joel Caulfield at 220 and Brandon Edens at 285.

Putnam County-Hall
Head coach: Jerry Kriewald
IHSA classification: 1A
Returning NewsTribune All-Area members: None
Season Outlook: In the fourth year of the Putnam County wrestling program, it added a new this season feel with the start of the coop with Hall.

With the addition of Hall, the program now has 25 kids split almost evenly between the two schools and, starting next season, the program will join the expanded Three Rivers Athletic Conference.

“Some of the Spring Valley kids are stepping up and really improving a lot,” Kriewald said. “It’s fantastic because we actually have depth, and in practice somebody said the other day, ‘Hey, I haven’t wrestled you yet.’ Something like that is really exciting.”

In the first year of the coop, PC/Hall should fill 12 of the 14 weights as the squad lacks 106- and 113-pound wrestlers.

It does, however, return four starters from last year, including 170-pound senior Tyrell Foockle, who earned NT All-Area Honorable Mention last season after going 23-8.

Tyrell’s twin brother Lucas is back at 152 pounds after not wrestling last season, while 145-pound senior Dylan Croissant returns as well as 152-pound senior Jacob Levy.

“You always have the expectations of ‘Do the best you can’ but I would definitely hope for sectional qualification and then see what happens,” Kriewald said of his top grapplers.

Mendota Trojans
Head coach: Dale Meyers
IHSA classification: 1A
Returning NewsTribune All-Area members: Jaron Robinson (103)
Season Outlook: Meyers takes over the MHS program from former coach Jason Artman and is the third Trojan coach in the last three years.

He does, however, inherit talent in Robinson, who is back for his sophomore season.

Last year as a 103-pound freshman, Robinson had a team-best 26-12 record and finished second at the Class 1A Princeton Regional to advance to the sectional, where he went 2-2.

This season, Robinson will bump all the way up to 126, where he will look to break through to the state meet.

“We want to get him to state, and I don’t see any problems getting him to state,” Meyers said. “He’s been working out and lifting and working hard in practice and, from everything I see, he has the talent to go there.”

Beyond Robinson is senior Trevor Todd, who will wrestle at either 220 or 285 pounds.

“I think Trevor Todd definitely has the talent to get to state, too,” Meyers said.

Also competing this season is Toby Reutner at 106, Leo Reyes at 120, T.J. Christman at 138, Mitch Humphries at 145, Jeff Johnson at 152, David Birdsell or Dylan Hirsch at 160 and Jake Spanier and Josh Rodda will wrestle at 170 or 182.
Mendota also has a handful of kids vying for the spot at 132.

“We may not win a lot as a team, but as individuals I see most of our guys being in the 51-percent-or-better win range,” Meyers said.

Ottawa Pirates
Head coach: Peter Marx
IHSA classification: 2A
Returning NewsTribune All-Area wrestlers: Tanner Boaz (119 in 2011), Daniel Close (120), Alex Fuentes (195), Cyrano Rayfield (220)
Season Outlook: The Pirates had a bit of a late start after 10 members of their wrestling team played on the Ottawa football team that advanced to the Class 6A quarterfinals.

One of those wrestlers is Rayfield, a center/defensive end in football who last season in wrestling finished 27-18. The junior placed fifth at sectionals and was a state alternate.

“He really seems focused and wants to qualify for state,” Marx said. “… I think he got a taste of (going to state but not competing) last year, and that was a big motivation for him. Even during football, he was like, ‘Man, I’m ready for wrestling. I’m going to get down there this year’ - and football is his sport.”

Close returns for his sophomore season. After he went 25-17 last year at 120, Close will bump up all the way to 138 pounds this winter.

“He’s gotten taller and lifted pretty hard this summer,” Marx said. “He’s actually got a little muscle and definition now where last year at 120 he was kind of wiry.”

Also back is the 195-pounder Alex Fuentes, a returning all-area grappler who advanced to the Class 2A Sterling Sectional.

Filling the 106 and 113 weight classes are a group of LaQuan Coleman, Justin Ramirez, Joey Morello, Alex Brown, while Maddie Mach will be at 120, Boaz at 126, Devon Jones at 132, two of Michael Ortiz, Austin Oaks and Seth Daugherty at 145 and 152, Kyle Damyen at 160, Paul Turner at 170, Billy Moore at 182 once he’s healthy, and Alex Vara or Nate Roberts at 285.

Marquette Crusaders
Head coach: Fr. Ray Guthrie
IHSA classification: 1A
Returning NewsTribune All-Area members: None
Season Outlook: The Crusaders will continue to build their program this season.
This year Marquette has a total of 13 wrestlers, including nine who return from last winter.

Despite having just 13 kids, the Crusaders should be able to fill 11 of the 14 weight classes as they don’t have kids at 113, 120 and 126.

“A lot of our kids are in the middle and have grown with the weights,” Guthrie said. “At one time, we were all lightweights. Now we are all in the middle.”

The Crusaders are led by junior Austin Gildea, who went 5-11 last year at 220 and will either compete at 220 again or at 285.

New to the team is freshman Jacob Weiss, an IKWF veteran who will compete at 106.

According to the coaching staff, both Gildea and Weiss have a good chance to advance to sectionals and hopefully to state.

Also expected to compete is German exchange student Justin Lindenberg at 132, John Haines at 138, Casey Wheatland at 145, German exchange student Simon Schultz-Flatten at 152, Steve Bielecki or Pat Burash or John MacBean at 160, David Johnson at 170 and John Bloom or Jabril Church at 190, as well as sophomore Ryan Schalk.

“We are definitely looking toward the future,” Guthrie said.

The team will also look to move on after its best wrestler from last season - 145-pounder Nick Harcar - transferred back to his hometown of Streator.

Princeton Tigers
Head coach: Steve Amy
IHSA classification: 1A
Returning NewsTribune All-Area members: None
Season Outlook: The Tigers will look to rebuild this season as Princeton has just one senior and two juniors to pair with eight sophomores and 10 freshmen.

The lone senior is 145-pound returnee Ryan Gann, while 152-pound junior Caleb Dickens and 195-pound junior Dylan Williams also return.

The Tigers did lose seniors Marshall Ary and Seth Sprouse, who is graduating high school midyear.

“The senior class was never too big so losing those two hurt, but we are going to do with what we got,” Amy said.

Despite their youth, the Tigers will be able to fill 11 or 12 of the 14 weights and do return five letter winners.

The group includes Gann and Dickens as well as 120-pound sophomore Tim Hillard, 138-pound sophomore Starr Mecum and 152-pound sophomore Drew Pranka.

Also competing this season is two from a group of Tyler Wood, Derec Roberson, Luke Marselle, Tyler Webster at 106 and possibly 113, Silverio Napules at 132, Starr Mecum at 138, Gann or Denver Wyatt at 145, Skyler Spencer or Matt Schlindwein at 170, Schlindwein or Nathan Brisbin at 182, Dylan Williams at 195 and Kyle Odell, Chaz Williams or Kyle Bowler at 220 and possibly 285.

“We started a club in the spring to do free style wrestling, and a lot of guys spent a lot of time wrestling,” Amy said. “They’ve gotten better, and you can really tell from just watching them in practice.”

Jared Bell can be reached at 220-6938, or at Follow him on Twitter @NT_SportsJared.

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