Lincoln-Way West and Bowen make history
By CURT HERRON
Lincoln-Way West was one of the best teams in Class 2A in both 2010-11 and and 2011-12 but had little at the end to show for its success.
That's because the Warriors had the misfortune of meeting Montini in back-to-back dual team sectional meets which concluded their season.
Although West was clearly capable of winning a state trophy, they were shut out from even getting there in a series clearly in need of repair.
This year coach Brian Glynn's squad got a little relief, avoiding the Broncos by one round, which gave them a very good chance to finally qualify.
On Tuesday at the Bremen Sectional in Midlothian, number-three West made the most of its chance by beating the host 49-12 in one of the dual meets.
Meanwhile, some history was also being made on the other mat when Bowen defeated Riverside-Brookfield 44-24 to earn its second straight state trip.
That's significant because Ron Wilson's Boilermakers became the first Public League team to reach consecutive state finals under the current format.
Prior to 2003, the Public League had automatic qualifier, and Lane Tech was usually it, advancing from 1988-1993 and then again from 1996-2002.
Lane became the first CPS team to reach the state finals out a regional, doing so in 2011 in Class 3A, and Bowen has now pulled off that feat twice.
Both Bremen and R-B were also trying to make history by qualifying for the dual team state finals for the first times in their programs' history.
In fact, other than in football, the Braves had only advanced one other boys in any sport to the quarterfinals and the Bulldogs had qualified none.
But the Warriors and Boilermakers were determined to make sure that history would be on their side on this night and both established control early.
West (19-3) faces Montini in Saturday's quarterfinals at U.S. Cellular Coliseum in Bloomington. Bowen (15-5) again meets Antioch in the first round.
The Warriors already had made plenty of history the past two weeks after qualifying 10 individuals to Champaign and then earning five medals there.
Joe Souder placed in 2010 and that had been the New Lenox school's lone medal winner before the list of All-Staters grew significantly on Saturday.
Kyle Rodriguez (132) placed fourth, Kyle Ruettiger (113), Josh Ruettiger (152) and Javier Montalvo (182) were fifth and Noah Keefe (120) took sixth.
With Central qualifying in 3A, Lincoln-Way will have two schools at state. Glynn's assistant Mark Ruettiger led the Knights to third place in 2008.
"Since West opened, I've challenged the kids to be the first ones to make it to team state," Glynn said. "I know how important it was to me winning four state titles as a team while at Providence. That to me was more exciting than any individual accomplishments I had.
"We had to take this step before we could win there, just like you do individually. I know that we're not going to be knocking on Montini's door in the next couple of years but we've got to slowly start building it so that one day we can.
"A couple of years ago we had nine or 10 seniors on the team and the next year we were just as good. That credits my assistant coaches and the youth programs that we have in the area. We've got a great coaching staff and we wrestle in a good area for a good school."
Bremen got a 1-0 win from T.J. Walton over Brennan Mulroe in the opener before West responded with a pin from Larry Cozzo (106) to go up for good.
Following a forfeit win from Kyle Ruettiger (113), Keefe (120) added another pin and Matt Ryan (126) pulled out a 6-5 victory over Mike Guerrero.
"It definitely feels good to make it down to state again," Keefe said. "This tops off a good year for us so you can't ask for much more than that. Montini is a good program so running into them in the postseason happens."
Rodriguez (132) recorded a fall, Gabe Montalvo (138) picked up a forfeit win and Mitch Kirkland got a pin to give the Warriors a 39-3 advantage.
After Josh Ruettiger (152) contributed another decision, the Braves finally ended the run when Bernard Noble (160) beat Cody Pedigo 3-1 in overtime.
"We've had good teams the last couple of year so it's a great feeling to finally go to state as a team," Josh Ruettiger said. "It's a great way to cap off my senior year by placing downstate and then making it down as a team."
Jake Bohne (170) followed with a decision for West and Javier Montalvo (182) added a major decision to account for the visitor's final victories.
The Braves picked up wins in the last two matches as Valter Gonzalez (195) captured a decision and Tony Gallegos (220) won 3-1 over Nick Trollian.
"We really wanted to make to state this year," Kyle Ruettiger said. "We've beaten a lot of good teams and have put together a solid team this year. We had a lot of qualifiers and placers and now to make it as a team is great."
Wilson, who shared the 2012 IWCOA Class 2A coach of the year with Glynn, knows about tough sectional matchups after falling to Lemont in 2010 and 2011.
But the Boilermakers not only broke through a year ago, they gave Antioch a run for its money before falling 37-33 in the quarterfinals in Bloomington.
On Saturday, Bowen hopes to avenge that loss to the Sequoits. If they can, they'll join Lane's 1993 and 2000 squads as the only CPS teams to win a trophy.
"Last year we didn't win the City championship but this year we did and that was a big win," said Wilson, who notes that his school has one-sixth the students that Lane does. "We're not as talented as we were a year ago but the kids are definitely stepping up to the plate.
"We've been working real hard. I start the majority of my kids off when they're in grammar school. And any kid who I see who is progressing I send them to the Harvey Twisters. And I give praise to the Twisters because my kids have really come a long way with them."
The Bulldogs got a pin from Louis Grigoletti in the opener at 285 but the Boilermakers won eight straight matches to turn that 6-0 deficit into a 38-6 lead.
Jajuan Ross (106) won by forfeit, Cory Wilson (120) won a major decision, Montate Thomas (126) recorded a fall and Rudy Johnson (126) added a forfeit win.
"I'm just glad that our team gets a chance to try to make history again," said Johnson, who was third at 126 at individual state. "What I like about this team is that we have a good work ethic."
Then Kendall Gibbs (132) added a major decision, Von Hill (138) won a decision, Raheem Woods (145) got a pin and Bobby O'Banner (152) recorded a decision.
R-B took four of the last five matches as Dan Russell (160) and Zach Greenwell (220) won decisions to go with two forfeits while Otis Griffin (182) got a fall for Bowen.
"This is pretty exciting," said O'Banner, who took sixth at 152. "It's due to our hard work and dedication in the wrestling room. We look at each other as a family and I'm proud of our success."
Congratulations to both Bowen and Lincoln Way West. Two great programs have finally broken through and will make impacts down in Bloomington this weekend. Good luck to both teams!