Mt. Carmel wins Regional, advances 14 to sectional, St. Rita sends 12
By Andre’ Morgan
Written off for dead just a short month ago on the illinoismatmen.com message boards, Mt. Carmel took another step towards resurrecting their 2011 season. The host Caravan followed up their Chicago Catholic League title two weeks ago with a IHSA Regional title by edging rival St. Rita 239 to 230.50. Argo finished a distant third with 125.50 points.
Entering the season ranked in the top ten in the state and ranked 30th by one national publication, the month of December was not friendly to the Caravan. National tournament losses, injuries, personal situations and academic issues wrecked the Mt. Carmel line up. The transfer of a former starter to rival St. Rita prior to the season did not help matters.
The message board faithful called for the Caravan to be removed from the rankings as the losses to non-ranked teams and dismal results at national tournaments piled up. A devastating 43 to 20 loss in mid season to St. Rita saw the Caravan fall from sixth to 20th in the rankings.
However, Head Coach Jason Erwinski noted how his team has stayed the course and is now ready to reap the benefits of not giving up on their season. Just before the conference championship the Caravan, starters returned to the line up and served notice that they were ready to wrestle.
January started with winning their 14th Catholic League crown. A loss the next week following the Catholic League championships to Providence Catholic did not detour the Caravan. The focus shifted to winning the regional and qualifying as many wrestlers as possible for the IHSA State Championship.
“It seems like the guys in our lineup, top to bottom are starting to peak at the right time,” said Erwinski. “It is always nice when you can beat St. Rita. It is good to qualify for sectional and have a chance to compete for both a team and individual state title.”
Mt. Carmel qualified all 14 of their wrestlers, St. Rita 12, Argo and Gage Park 3, Simeon, Vocational and Hubbard one each.
The upset of the regional was at 215 pounds where Mt. Carmel’s two time Chicago Catholic League champion, David Denne fell 8 to 2 to Simeon senior David Whitaker.
“The whole action in this match was in the last 30 seconds,” observed Erwinski. “The Simeon 215 pounder, Whitaker was the one man that scared me. I think a lot of people forgot about him but he was a state qualifier in the past at 160 pounds.”
With the scored tied at 1 to 1 with :30 left, Whitaker was pressing the action and Denne went for an ill advised throw resulting in a five point near fall for Whitaker, moving the score to 6 to 1, Simeon. As time wound down Denne got an escape but Whitaker finished with a takedown to close out the regional title and Denne, 8 to 2.
“Denne hurt his ankle versus Providence and he just did not get a lot of practice time this week,” said Erwinski. “He spent a lot of time rehabbing just to be able to wrestle in the regional. He will be ready at the sectionals.”
Mt. Carmel crowned six champions at 112, 125, 130, 140, 145 and 152 pounds. St. Rita also had six champions, placing 103, 119, 135, 160, 171 and 189 on the top of the podium. Each team had 4 runner ups but if there was any edge it was the fact that Mt. Carmel won the head to head battle in title matches 4 to 3. Mt. Carmel also won the all important third place battle with 4 winners to St. Rita’s 2 victories. Neither school lost a third place match.
St. Rita’s Jonathan Gahagan won the 103-pound title without having Mt. Carmel’s Jack Diana to wrestle in the finals. A small weight class bracket with only four wrestlers, one did not make weight and Diana advanced to the semis without having to wrestle. Top seeded, Gahagan awaited Diana in the finals but Diana, injured in practice, forfeited his matches and assured himself a place in the sectional.
“To be honest I am happy,” stated Erwinski. “Diana was injured in practice but he deserves to wrestle in the sectionals. It was just an injury that when it happened so close to the regional we needed time to heal beyond the regional.”
St. Rita’s returning All American and state champion, Jahwon Akui began his quest for a second state title at 171 pounds with a fall at 1:45 over Argo senior Jacek Weslowski.
Both Mt. Carmel and St. Rita and had runs of three champs in a row when the strengths of their lineups responded in championship form.
Mt. Carmel began their run when second ranked Tyler Argue edged and avenged his Catholic League loss to former teammate Tim Corse, 3 to 2.
“We made some adjustments based on what we saw on the film from Catholic League,” said Erwinski. “Tyler followed the game plan.”
Kevin Skryzpiec at 145 pounds turned in his best performance of the year with a 14 to 6 victory win over Argo’s Tom Kowal. “I tell you what, up and down the line up those Argo kids competed hard and they were all ready to wrestle,” said Erwinski.
Sophomore Ricky Robertson advanced to the state tournament a decisive 6 to 0 win over St. Rita’s Mike Murphy at 152 pounds.
St. Rita’s Jack Sears (160) recent return to the line up following a long injury that kept him out since mid December was completed with a quick :45 fall of Argo’s Chris Murphy. Sears found a fan in Mt. Carmel coach Erwinski. ”It is good to see Sears back out there wrestling for St. Rita, he is a good wrestler.”
Akui's win at 171 pounds was followed by Mustang sophomore, Ben Treloff’s 5 to 4 decision over Mt. Carmel.
The Chicago Public League also got their second champion at heavyweight when Gage Park’s Chris Ballard’s fall over Argo’s Kyle Fredette at 1:09.
Six Public League wrestlers advanced to the sectionals. “I thought the Chicago Public League coaches did a phenomenal job considering what they had to deal with the snow storm,” observed Erwinski. “CPS officials did not do these guys any justice. Their buildings were closed, so kids could not check their weight or workout. Then there were no buses and the coaches can’t drive them,. And if the coaches could drive, could they even get to their wrestlers. But today the CPS wrestlers were all ready to wrestle.”
Mt. Carmel also crowned Chris Hernandez (112), Mike Mizaur (125) and Brendan Tyler-Hall (130) while St. Rita’s Mike O’Connor (119) and Kyle McGovern (135) also found the top step of the podium.
Last edited by MR TWISTER; 02-06-2011 at 10:33 PM.