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Old 02-18-2009
Rob Sherrill Rob Sherrill is offline
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Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 1,259
A look at Class A through a different lens

For most of you, Christmas Day comes on Dec. 25. My Christmas Day is Sectional Saturday. That’s when I discover how many of the wrestlers I’ve been charting, tracking and ranking over the course of the entire season actually get to the Big Dance…the individual state tournament at the Assembly Hall in Champaign.

Just to recap, last year, Wilmington used a strong final session to overcome Vandalia, 96-83, for the individual state team title, with Macomb edging Coal City and Stillman Valley, 69-63-61.5, for third place.

So let’s look at this year’s Class A state preview.

1. Wilmington: A third straight dual title isn’t yet a sure thing for the Wildcats, but they got a lot of confidence from their Assembly Hall performance last year. Van Duyne and Murphy should repeat as state champions and Heino, Evans and Bailey could join them in the Grand March. Opponents don’t relish the thought of wrestling Jones, Cartwright or Olson, either. Wilmington actually trailed Vandalia by two points heading into the place matches last year, but quickly pulled past them to win going away. If history repeats itself, they’ll make themselves the team to beat again.

2. Harvard: Back in the safety of Class A, the Hornets are back in their element…and they have their best opportunity in years to shine at the Assembly Hall. They don’t have the raw power Wilmington boasts, but all six qualifiers have major scoring potential. Figure Figueroa for a trip back to the finals and Lovell, Cowan (despite a killer draw) and Pribble are all capable…with a few upsets. Add in Stott’s draw and Flores’ experience and this is a team with the depth to at least take the runner-up spot, if not challenge for No. 1.

3. Murphysboro: Any team that goes into the state tournament with three undefeated wrestlers – quite an achievement against their schedule – has a shot. Miller, Tyrone and Baker aren’t sure bets for titles, but all three should be in the Grand March. That leaves Rodriguez and Aldroubi, who, given their draws, are in position to score at least some. Maybe nobody will match Wilmington’s projected eight scorers…but five would make things interesting.

4. Bishop McNamara: Mark Young down for the 145-pound title and Zinanni for a potential trip to the finals – but that’s no sure thing at 215. High has big-match experience, too. Three scorers probably mean a top-five finish, at least.

5. Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley/Fisher: We think at least four, and probably all five, of the Falcons’ state qualifiers will place. The question: how high? None has a ticket to the finals assured. Kirby, Birt and Unzicker are the best bets, but all three would need an upset to get to the Grand March. Still, even if none do, placement by Merritt and Flynn might be enough for a top-three finish.

6. LeRoy: Give the Panthers a huge amount of credit for great back-to-back seasons…along with another group of killer lower and middle weights. Sure scorers in Bulington and Wilfley, both likely finalists. If Meyers, Matlock and Monical can contribute, then this team, too, is top three material. And given their draws, the opportunity is there.

7. Petersburg Porta: Always a team with wonderful balance with individuals who seem to come up just short at the state level. Devine broke through that glass ceiling last year and should repeat. Durrett, Standley, Hild, Langloss and Talla have been regular-season leaders for years. If they can take the next step, this is a top-three team.

8. Canton: This is uncharted territory for the Little Giants. Always the small fish in the big pond, their role is reversed this year. Wonderful balance with all five qualifiers capable of scoring. For that to happen, Woodkirk and Chapai must justify their season-long rankings, Wiedeman and Mitchell must take advantage of their draws and Franzoni must overcome a loaded weight. Losing potential scorer Johnson at the sectional didn’t help their cause.

9. Stillman Valley: The Cardinals took a shocking hit when state placewinner Brewington didn’t emerge from the sectional. That leaves Harrison to try yet again to unseat Fish at 119. Patterson and Glaudel could also score, but Shearer must overcome being buried in one of the state’s worst draws at 103. If he does, a top-five finish is a possibility.

10. Macomb: No Myers? No Kline? No problem. The Bombers just reloaded and reached the top 10 at season’s end. Miller is a likely finalist at 125 and Elliot and Kugler have been productive in the past. Unfortunately, a tough sectional weeded out any other potential scoring.

11. Byron: This is strictly a two-man team, but Fish is a solid title favorite and Smith also should contribute. Not enough for the top five, but a solid top 10.

12. Manteno: With his conference victory over Van Duyne, Santoro proved he can’t be overlooked. Anderson looked strong the second half of the season and Franc is a freshman to watch in the future, if not this year. This is probably the high-water mark for this team, but given their second half, anything’s possible.

(tie) Sterling Newman: Not the sure points we’ve come to expect from past Newman teams, but Hubbard is another freshman on the rise and Gilbert is a possible scorer. Canales doesn’t have many big wins this year, but with his draw anything can happen.

Last edited by Rob Sherrill; 02-18-2009 at 09:23 PM.
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