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Old 02-01-2008
Rob Sherrill Rob Sherrill is offline
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A look at AA through a different lens

A quarter of a century ago, this is the type of column we’d have been writing.

Officially, there’s no team scoring at the individual state tournament in Champaign, and that’s a shame. Last year, on top of what was perhaps the greatest collection of individual talent ever assembled in the Class AA state tournament, the team race – had there been one – would have gone down to the tournament’s final match. Garrett Goebel’s state title win would have lifted Montini past Carl Sandburg, 119.5-116, for the state title, and Glenbard North (113.5) would have been a just-as-close third.

Wouldn’t that have added incredible drama to those outstanding finals?

Lots of folks are posting their individual top fours and top sixes here on the Illinois Matmen forums, and that’s great. I’ve put together a handicap of the race behind the race…the unofficial team scoring race.

I started The Illinois Best Weekly nearly a quarter of a century ago, but official state tournament predictions predate me, going all the way back to the 1970s. I also owe a great deal of my current product to what I’ve learned from the original Ohio high school wrestling guru, Brian Brakeman. He just published his 37th annual Ohio High School Wrestling Forecast this week. You can go to the Baum’s Page Web site (just google that name) to find it. Since Brakeman publishes his report more than a month before the state tournament, things often change in the meantime. And since this blog entry is being posted prior to the regionals, things could change here as well.

So…while you look at the individuals, I’ll look at the team aspect, doing my best Brakemanesque impersonation, with the landscape of the likely top 15 teams described below.

Sometime next week, I’ll publish a similar forecast for Class A…don’t miss it.

1. Montini: If Garrett Goebel becomes the first wrestler in 35 years of Class AA wrestling to pin his way to a state title – and his chances of accomplishing that are likely, at worst, 50-50 – that would give Montini a point-scoring base no other team in Illinois, in either class, could match. Beyond him, there are a wealth of placement possibilities…none, however, with finals tickets punched. The best bets appear to be Rasche and Foreside, but unless the bracketing gods smile on them, both will have virtually upset-proof opposition blocking their paths. Freshmen Baer and Gregerson have quality wins and Brody, Marti, Gonzalez, Stelter (if healthy), Grimes and Grant Goebel, despite giving up nearly 40 pounds at 215, could help out, too, but counting on any of them for more than a low place is a stretch. The Broncos placed an insane 11 out of 14 at the Dvorak – yet their balance was trumped by Iowa City West’s five finalists and four champions. Their fans may be reduced to rooting for Glenbard North’s opponents in the semifinals.

2. Glenbard North: The Panthers have never won a state team title – individual, dual or unofficial. This year, however, the Ramos brothers have state titles written all over them, and if Capezio and Monaco were to get to the Grand March with hot weekends and this had been 25 years ago, the big trophy would be going back to Carol Stream. Beyond them, Gosinski has the best placement potential, with Warczynski, Wahrman and Jones possibly helping out. The real wild card is Chase, who after missing the entire season rehabbing his surgically repaired knee, could be a fifth finalist…if they’re not saving him for the duals.

3. Neuqua Valley: The heart of their lineup is from 112 through 171. Two state titles 11 weight classes apart in two years is virtually unprecedented in America, but Chris Spangler could make it happen. Duffy is another probable finalist and Proctor should place as well. Placing higher than third probably is out of the question, but if Andy Spangler, Stine, Walters and Epp all contribute and one of the top two teams stumbles, well…

4. Providence: It’s easy to see Cooper, Augle, Wojcik, Reynolds and Dave Togher scoring big at Champaign – but only Reynolds has done it before. To challenge Neuqua Valley for a top-three spot and hold off Carl Sandburg for fourth place, Ambrose must find a way to score at a deep 112-pound class and folks like Walsh or Steed also have to contribute.

5. Carl Sandburg: Conrad Polz will make father Mike’s final Grand March memorable and this could finally be Morrison’s time, too. They’ll rack up over 50 points. Finding additional scoring is a challenge, though White, LePretre, Holler and Soliz could win matches in the Dome. Whatever happens, it’s been a great four-year run for one of the state’s signature programs.

6. St. Rita: As always, the state’s mystery team. Will Steve Zimmerman reverse the pattern of his first three seasons and peak at the state tournament, rather than in December? Can Majka ride his steady but unspectacular style to the state finals? How has wrestling at 171 and 189 in January helped Osborn? Will Akui wrestle like a veteran, rather than a freshman? Can footballer Galeher close his wrestling career with a positive experience? Can Cody Zimmerman, Wilson and Nolen score at the state level? The answers to those questions will determine whether Dan Carroll’s final team contends for a top-three spot or struggles to stay in the top 10.

7. Wheaton North: The Falcons are hard to beat from 112 through 140. Fitzenreider and Terrazas are demonstrating that they’re serious about making state title runs. If both make it and Laskero, Denhof and Munro repeat some of their big regular-season wins, a top-five finish is a possibility.

8. Rockton Hononegah: Fenicle, Givens and Dwyer have been the heart of this team for multiple seasons and Waliullah is wrestling his best at the right time of the year. They have multiple recent top 10 finishes and contributions from the likes of Miers, Karner and Hollis could seal another one.

9. Lincoln-Way Central: Three-time state finalist Kratovil is a solid foundation. Farmer was third last year, but will have to wrestle the tournament of his life to match that finish this time. Heimer must respond in his first trip to the Dome and Nelson has scoring potential. After that, it’s up to Ruettiger, McCollum, Damiani and Mahy to give the Knights top-five hopes.

10. Marian Catholic: Riley and Larson have never placed in state, but either could make the finals on a hot weekend, and Marianovich has been on the awards stand in the past. If O’Boyle, the Murphy brothers and Wright prove January wasn’t a fluke, the Spartans could do some damage.

11. Oak Park-River Forest: Coleman & Coleman (sounds like a pharmaceutical company) could combine for 50 points if they’re on…but the operative word is COULD. No other sure points, but the best additional bet could be Brooks, who wrestles the tough guys tough, along with maybe Martin, Weir and Watkins.

12. Chicago Mount Carmel: Futrell might make Goebel the second to pin his way to a title and Barbour also should place. It’ll be tough to find additional points, though. Best bets are David Skrzypiec, Strenk and Ford.

13. Grant: Big scoring at the state level likely will come from just two sources, Izzy Montemayor and Munster. They’ll need contributions from Temple, Becker or DeLuca to move much further up the charts.

14. Fenwick: Now we get to the teams with ifs. This three-man team will finish in the top 10 if the Dardanes brothers and Barnhisel finish where they’re ranked. If not, they won’t.

15. Prospect: One point currently separates the Knights from having two unbeaten wrestlers - Boggess and Zintak, both a match away from placing last year and potential finalists. The possibility of points from Brennan and Rossdeutcher are remote…but stranger things have happened.
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Old 02-01-2008
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bigbird66 bigbird66 is offline
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Mr. Sherrill, I have always respected your work, but hey why no love for the West Aurora Blackhawks? Unlike some of these teams you have up there, they have 2 returning state place winners Zinzer & Gonzales. Mario will rock everybody in Assembly Hall in 2 weeks. Tanner Andrews, Dan Carey, and others, if they get out of the "Slaughter House" called the Naperville North Sectional. Hell put them in the sectional with Rita, and they would have 7 or 8 at state. Don't overlook these guys...Theres some big news coming out west of the fox. Maybe you will see in 2 weeks!
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Old 02-01-2008
Rob Sherrill Rob Sherrill is offline
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Join Date: Dec 2007
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I think Gonzalez is their best scorer. You need multiple high point scorers to get on this list (West Aurora was 14th last year with a fourth and a sixth, so who knows). West Aurora is a bigger duals threat, in my opinion, than they are at the individual state level. They have a very nice lineup that is capable of surprising on any given weekend, but getting a number of guys out does make a difference, as Minooka proved last year. They wouldn't have cracked the top 10 like they did if they hadn't gotten 10 wrestlers through that central sectional.
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Old 02-01-2008
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bigbird66 bigbird66 is offline
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Sounds good to me, hopefully Gonzo & Zinzer up their points from last year, and I htink T. Andrews will score alot for them, The numbers thing is sometimes ridiculous, but no matter how you do it someone will have a problem with it, oh well still beats 3 classes(smiles). Keep up the great work and wave hi to Gonzo in the Grand March!
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