Lockport Regional: exciting for spectators, unfair to participants
By Curt Herron
Quick, name a sport where five teams who are ranked among the top 16 in the state would all be placed together in the same regional tournament?
The obvious answer is, of course, there are none since the Illinois High School Association would never put together such an unfair competition.
But if your answer was no, you're not only wrong but also haven't paid much attention since the IHSA has created similar injustices in the past.
That's the unfortunate situation involving Saturday's Class 3A Lockport Regional, which is without doubt the most difficult in the entire state.
Teams in the Joliet area have long been used to seeing their regionals loaded with quality teams while nearby regionals are considerably weaker.
But it's also really tough to stomach when their regional has five ranked teams in it while seven regionals in Class 3A have either one or none.
That's a total of 21 ranked teams combined in the other 15 regionals in the largest class and only three of those have more than two ranked squads.
If things were based solely on geography, then it's hard to imagine how schools located on Chicago's south side would be shipped west of Lockport.
Top-ranked Carl Sandburg, which is unbeaten in dual meets in Illinois and last year's Class 3A runner-up, is the favorite in the 11-team field.
The other four ranked squads in the competition are #11 Lincoln-Way Central, #14 Lincoln-Way East, #15 Lockport and #16 Providence Catholic.
Whichever team wins the regional title will move on to meet the champion of the O'Fallon Regional in a to be determined dual meet sectional.
Of most concern to the majority of competitors is that the top three finishers at each weight class will advance to the Granite City Sectional.
That will be a very challenging task in many of the brackets, including the stretch from 135 to 145, where there are three ranked at each weight.
There's also a real logjam at the first two weight classes with nine 18-match winners at 112 and seven with 18 or more wins entered at 103.
In the pre-tournament seeds (which could change following weigh-ins on Saturday morning), Sandburg had 13 individuals seeded fourth or better.
Next best were the host Porters (8), followed by Lincoln-Way Central (7), Joliet West (6), Lincoln-Way East (6) and Providence Catholic (6).
Lockport led the way with four top seeds while Sandburg had three and Joliet Central, Lincoln-Way Central and Providence had two apiece.
Earning top seeds for the Porters were Jameson Oster (130), Shaun'Qae McMurtry (152), Brad Johnson (189) and Shaquille McMurtry (215).
Sandburg's top seeds were Dan Argueta (140), Brandon Lopez (171) and Chris Lopez (285) while Tyler Price (103) and Tom Gross (160) are top seeds from Lincoln-Way Central.
Providence's top seeds are Eddie Klimara (125) and Edwin Cooper (145) while Travon Zabala (112) and Carlos Garcia (119) are top seeds from Joliet Central.
Lincoln-Way East's Kyle Langenderfer (135) drew the other top seed. Andrew, Crete-Monee, Joliet West, Lincoln-Way North and Romeoville had no top seeds.
In the 135 bracket, third-ranked Langenderfer was seeded ahead of Providence's top-ranked Mike Togher and Sandburg's fourth-ranked Colin Holler.
The ranked individuals at 140 are Argueta, Joliet West's Jim Spangler and Lockport's Chris Tragos. Spangler had been ranked at 135 but bumped up.
At 145, Cooper, Sandburg's Nick Fishback and Lincoln-Way East's Wally Piech are all ranked. The latter was ranked at 140 but also is moving up.
Number-one ranked individuals in the field are Klimara, Togher, Cooper and Johnson while Oster, Fishback and Chris Lopez are all second-ranked.
Klimara has the lone perfect record (31-0) while Oster (11-1), Langenderfer (31-1), Cooper (28-1) and Chris Lopez (37-1) all have one defeat.
There are two ranked individuals at 103 (Price and Sandburg's Jim Pellegrino) and at 125 (Klimara and Lincoln-Way Central's Robbie Mikenis).
That's also the case at 152 (Shaun'Qae McMurtry and Sandburg's Mitch Cook). The other eight weight classes all have one ranked individual.
Thirty-match winners include Jim Pellegrino (103), Zabala (112), Sandburg's John Pellegrino (119), Klimara (125) and Mikenis (125).
Other 30-match winners are Langenderfer (135), Togher (135), Holler (135), Argueta (140), Fishback (145) and Brandon Lopez (171).
The rest of the 30-match winners are Johnson (189), Lincoln-Way East's Joe Allegretti (215) and Nicky Allegretti (285) and Chris Lopez (285).
Piech (145), Gross (160), Sandburg's Kyle Hughes (160) and Andrew's Jake Ferguson (189) and Cory Chojnowski (285) all have either 28 or 29 wins.
Remember, as a result of each teams' disruptions to their practice schedule due to the weather, things could easily look different on Saturday.