L-Way West Repeats as Pontiac Champs
While his team is off to a good start, Lincoln-Way West coach Brian Glynn realizes that his squad still has a ways to go to get to where they want to be.
That said, performances like the one that the Warriors turned in at Saturday's Pontiac Invite figure to be a good way for them to take the necessary steps.
West repeated as champions at the 16-team event, placing 16 of the 18 individuals that it brought to defeat runner-up Mahomet-Seymour by a 239-176 margin.
Although they didn't compete with their usual 171-pounder, the state's fourth-ranked Class 2A team still easily won as 11 individuals made the semifinals.
Winning titles for the Warriors were Mike Schloegel (119), Joe Kennedy (152) and Mike Heitner (285) while Joe Souder (135) and Tim Ryan (160) were second.
Matt Quigley (125), Matt Ruettiger (140) and Matt Carroll (189) placed third while Will Hubbard (145), Colin Mulroe (189) and Jake Keefe (215) took fourth.
West got fifth-place efforts from Matt Ryan (103) and Ken Myers (145) while Kyle Rodriguez (112), Cody Pedigo (130) and Luke Keefe (135) all finished sixth.
"Overall, I was pleased with the performance of our team this weekend," Glynn said. "We are still not where we need to be to beat the best teams yet, though.
"There are still many areas we need to improve on if we want to hang with the top teams in the state. I saw a couple of kids take the next step this weekend."
Schloegel won all three of his matches by fall, including recording a pin in 1:50 over Joliet Central's Drake DeBenedetti in the 119 championship match.
"Mike pinned his way through the tournament and is starting to use some of the technique learned in practice during his matches," Glynn said.
Kennedy improved to 12-0 after defeating Morton's Rick Santillan 14-4 in the 152 finals. The title victory was his third major decision of the competition.
"Joe wrestled great all tournament, as he has all year," Glynn said. "He pushes the pace in every one of his matches and makes it really hard for his opponents to set up their offense."
Heitner pulled out a 2-1 victory over Mt. Zion's Mitch McElroy in the 285 title match. All three of his tournament matches were decided by one or two points.
"Mike wrestled three big tough guys and came up on the winning end every time," Glynn said. "He is a little undersized at heavyweight but makes up for it with his speed and toughness.
"I was really pleased with Mike this weekend and think this was a big confidence booster for him."
Souder dropped a tough match in the 135 finals, falling 3-2 to Civic Memorial's Chris Williams, who is top-ranked in 2A. He advanced with a pin and a decision.
"Joe just got back this weekend and was a little banged up," Glynn said. "He wrestled tough against one of the best kids in the state. He was toe to toe with him the whole match.
"He has run into some of the best competition already in the season and I think it's only going to help him come state time. Joe is improving every week he steps out on the mat."
Six other Warriors saw their title hopes dashed in the semifinals. Those individuals were Quigley, Ruettiger, Hubbard, Carroll, Mulroe and Jake Keefe.
Ruettiger lost to eventual champ Dylan Stout of Pontiac, Hubbard fell to title winner Chepe Mariscal of Morton and Mulroe lost to champ Andrew Elliott of Joliet Catholic Academy.
Quigley and Ruettiger bounced back from semifinal losses to take third place, as did Carroll, who defeated teammate Mulroe in the third place match at 189.
Matt Ryan and Myers both went 3-0 in the wrestlebacks, which included a pair of wins by fall, to capture fifth-place finishes at their weight classes.
The Warriors have a busy week, beginning with a trip to Bradley-Bourbonnais on Thursday and a home meet with second-ranked Montini and Joliet West on Friday.
On Saturday, West hosts the Lincoln-Way quad, where it figures to have some battles on its hands against quickly improving squads from Central, East and North.
"Hopefully this tournament was a good tune-up for this week's grueling schedule," Glynn said. "We have Bradley on Thursday, Montini and JT West on Friday and the Lincoln-Ways on Saturday.
"We are going to need to pick it up a notch if we want to compete with Montini, East, and Central, who all have great teams this year. We need to be ready for battles all weekend long."