Updated: March 1, 2013 6:37AM
Results from two invitationals this month indicate that 2012 SouthWest Suburban Red champion Stagg has the depth to defend its title.
Stagg was seventh at the Jan. 5 20-team Evanston Invitational that included most of the top programs in Illinois, including defending state champion New Trier.
All three Stagg relays were in the top 10 at the meet, led by its fifth-place 400-yard freestyle relay (3:23.37) of Zack Amendola, Ryan Petersen, Evan Johnson and Harlan Long. Amendola also contributed fourth place in the 100 butterfly and sixth in the 100 backstroke.
Stagg was runner-up at the Jan. 19 Lockport Invitational, won by the host Porters.
Amendola, Petersen, Johnson and Long swam the medley and 400 free relays to second-place finishes. Amendola was second in the butterfly and backstroke.
Stagg, Lincoln-Way North and Andrew are expected to be the top teams at the SouthWest Suburban Red meet Friday and Saturday at North.
Host Sandburg will be out to retain the SouthWest Suburban Blue title at the conference meet Friday and Saturday. It will be the final conference meet for two of the Southland’s top seniors, Sandburg’s Mike O’Malley and Lockport’s Jake Knowles.
Eisenhower heavyweight Dion Wells was a force Saturday, racking up three pins on his way to the tournament title. It’s a strong finish after a tumultuous start for the senior, who wasn’t allowed to compete until mid-December after failing an early season body-fat test.
“I wanted to show my coaches that I didn’t give up on the season,” Wells said. “I’m going to keep working hard.”
It was Wells first conference title after finishing third last season and second the year before. “It’s a great feeling to be ending the year on the right note.”
Tinley Park coach Ryan Dolan said of conference champ Derek Schultz: “He’s so fast for his size. The way he moves his feet and hands, you don’t see that speed from 220-pounders.”
Schultz (34-0) qualified for state last season but competed with a broken hand. He lost to Nazareth’s eventual state champion, Malcom Watson, 3-2 on an ultimate tiebreaker in overtime. Schultz looks poised to make serious noise in Class AA moving forward.
The future looks bright for tournament champion Oak Forest. Coach Shawn Forst sent four sophomores to the finals, and two more to third-place matches.
Shane Matejcak was certainly thrilled about winning the individual state championship Saturday, but it was Lockport’s team championship that the Porters’ senior couldn’t stop talking about.
Lockport’s roster at state consisted of eight seniors, who all contributed in at least one of the 12 games in the state tournament.
What a way to go out.
“We’ve known each other for four years and bowled together and bonded as a team,” Matejcak said. “This was the best way to go out.”
Lincoln-Way West junior Josh Glover, meanwhile got all the motivation he needed for next year, finishing fifth.
“I could have done a little better,” he said. “I’ve got another whole year to get better. My motivation next year is to take it all. I want to get my team down to state with me, too.”
Oak Lawn sophomore Ryan Kirby also appears to have a bright future after finishing 13th and leading the Spartans to a fifth-place showing.
“As young as he is, he’s really excited about continuing to improve in the offseason,” Oak Lawn coach Kevin McKeown said. “He’ll be stepping into the anchor role for us next year. He has big shoes to fill, but I think he can do it.”
Lincoln-Way co-op sophomore Kaila Pohrte won the all-around SouthWest Suburban Conference title Saturday at Homewood-Flossmoor but the team had four other top-10 finishers to help the squad win its fourth straight conference crown.
Senior Sam Duggan, sophomore Shelby Wiktor and freshmen Mallory Winter and Jalyn Hobbs finished fifth through eighth respectively and the team has hopes of advancing to sectionals this year. They are at the Oswego Regional on Saturday.
“I thought it was an outside shot to make sectional at the beginning of the year but now it looks like an easier goal,” Lincoln-Way coach Skip Adamson said. “The girls are close to reaching their potential.”
Adamson isn’t predicting a team appearance in the state finals, though.
“In order to get there we would have to pick up 10 points somewhere,” he said. “I don’t know where they would come from.”
Other top-10 finishers from the area include Homewood-Flossmoor’s Aleigha Williams (second) and Angel Duncan (10th), Sandburg/Stagg’s Anna Girlich (third) and Hannah Mussalem (ninth) and Lockport’s Kacie Kenney (fourth).
On the junior varsity level, Sandburg/Stagg’s Kayla Pryor was the all-around winner with Lincoln-Way’s Danielle Knowlton second and Homewood-Flossmoor’s Brianna Trimuel third.