IHSA Class 3A Dual Team State Preview
By CURT HERRON
A year ago, Carl Sandburg rallied to claim a 30-24 victory over Oak Park and River Forest in the Class 3A dual team state finals in Bloomington.
The two squads have battled for the top honors in 3A this season with the Huskies claiming the edge after edging the Eagles 27-24 in Orland Park on Jan. 12.
While a championship won't be determined when the two meet again on Saturday at 9 a.m. at U.S. Cellular Coliseum, the victor is the favorite to win it all.
The winner of that dual faces either Glenbard North or Harlem in the semifinals, which are set for 2:00 p.m. The championship at scheduled for 6:00 p.m.
On the other side of the bracket, Marmion Academy takes on Minooka in one 11:00 a.m. quarterfinal while Grant meets Lincoln-Way Central in the other.
OPRF placed five individuals in Champaign, led by 182 champion Joe Ariola (46-0) and 132 runnerup Larry Early (46-1).
Taking third were Isaiah White (46-3) at 126 and Davonte Mahomes (45-1) at 160 while placing fifth was Kamal Bey (29-6) at 152.
This is the Huskies' fourth state appearance in the last five years. They captured the state championship in 2009 in addition to last year's runnerup showing.
Coach Mike Powell's team has posted a 31-1 mark this season with its lone loss coming to St. Michael-Albertville, Minnesota at The Clash in late December.
"First, it's an honor to compete in the duals," Powell said. "And it's an honor to compete against a class program in Sandburg. The Polz and Siebert crew have been idols of mine for years.
"Our team is young and full of ability and promise. We can be the best team in the state on Saturday, but we will need to be firing on all cylinders. Sandburg is a very good, senior-laden squad. We look forward to the challenge."
Sandburg had a great individual state showing, receiving titles from C.J. Brucki (42-6) at 160, Colin Holler (49-0) at 170 and Ricky Robertson (49-0) at 195.
Sebastian Pique (16-3) settled for second at 120, John Pellegrino (37-6) finished third at 138 and Jim Pellegrino (41-14) placed fourth at 113.
This is the fourth straight state trip for the Eagles, who were second in 2010 and third in 2011. Sandburg also won titles from 2005-20007 under Mike Polz.
Coach Eric Siebert's squad has gone 25-4 this season, with its other three defeats all coming on the second day of The Clash.
Glenbard North earned its 14th state appearance for coach Mark Hahn. It has placed 10 times, including last year's third-place finish.
The Panthers, who won the 2011 title and are making their sixth straight state trip, have gone 16-6 in dual meet competition this season.
Leading the way for Glenbard North is 126 champion Jered Cortez (49-0) and 152 runnerup Brian Murphy (37-2).
Placing fifth for the Panthers were Jon Marmolejo (47-5) at 120 and Johnny Gosinski (39-8) at 132. Patrick Augustyn (41-7) had 40-plus wins at 106.
Cal Ferry's Harlem squad is making its third straight state appearance. The Huskies claimed a fourth-place finish in 2011.
The Huskies have gone 19-3 in dual meets. Harlem is led by 126 runnerup Jordan Northrup (44-2) and Sage Hecox (27-5), who was fourth at 195.
Other 40-match winners for Harlem are Zac Denny (40-10) at 113 and Sean Jones (41-10) at 170.
On the other side of the bracket, the favorite is Marmion, which has posted a 24-2 record under first-year coach Ryan Cumbee.
The Cadets, who have competed in Class 2A the past few years, will be making their second state appearance. The other trip came in 2010.
Marmion is led by a pair of state champions, Johnny Jimenez (53-2) at 120 and George Fisher (52-4) at 132.
Other placewinners for the Cadets were Anthony Bosco (41-11), who was fourth at 106, and Alex Fritz (40-19), who took sixth at 285.
Also winning 40 or more matches for the Cadets were Jake Field (46-10) at 126 and Cody Snodgrass (46-12) at 195.
"Our squad is looking forward to and preparing for our quarterfinal dual against Minooka," Cumbee said. "I am very impressed with our team and their enthusiasm to not only compete, but to win a state title.
"Our schedule has provided us the needed confidence and experience to succeed on Saturday and I have no doubt that if we wrestle like we are capable of, we will return with much success."
Minooka will face Marmion in the quarterfinals. The Indians have a 14-7 record under first-year coach Jeff Charlebois, a former assistant under Bernie Ruettiger.
This is the eighth state appearance in 10 year for Minooka, which won the title in 2010 and took second in both 2009 and 2011.
The Indians are led by brothers Corbett Oughton (13-5), who was fourth at 152, and Carson Oughton (40-11), who took sixth at 145.
"As far as what making the Elite 8 means to this team, it's a result of being persistent and dedicated to progress throughout the season," Charlebois said. "At the end of December our team was struggling with many different issues. From then until now, we have grown immensely.
"We have a very tough test for us with Marmion Academy in the quarterfinals, and there may not be anyone outside of our program that gives us a chance. To them I say thank you. Dismiss us, overlook us, and count us out. We will show up to compete for a trophy whether people believe in us or not."
Grant will be making its fifth state appearance in the last 10 years under coach Ryan Geist, but its first since 2009. The Bulldogs were third in 2006.
This year's squad has posted a 25-1 mark with the lone defeat coming to Barrington, who it beat 28-25 on Tuesday to secure the trip to state.
The Bulldogs had a pair of medal winners, but only Nick Koch (39-14), who was sixth at 106, is on the dual team state roster.
Another squad that advanced with a 28-25 sectional win is Grant's opponent, Lincoln-Way Central, which defeated Edwardsville.
Coach Jason DePolo's Knights have gone 19-2 this season. This is his first state team and the school's second. Central placed third in 2008.
The Knights only had one placewinner in Champaign, Bryce Gorman (38-6), who took fourth place at 170.
Forty-match winners for Central are Robbie Mikenis (42-7) at 138, Tyler Schneider (44-9) at 152 and Matt Schneider (42-9) at 160.
"Regardless of the draws or who gets taken out at what times of the postseason, it is a huge goal to get to the final eight," DePolo said. "Sometimes luck has a big role in this series just like the draws in the individual state series.
"With all of the really good teams that have came through Lincoln-Way Central this has only happened one other time. Our kids are excited since this does not happen often.This is a fun time of year with great wrestling all over the place.
"Grant is a great solid team with nothing that I can see as far as holes. They are coached well and wrestle well in all different positions, so they will be tough to break. It will come down to the wire just like it did with Edwardsville."