Wrestling: Sandburg has depth to defend state title
By Logan Malloy For Sun-Times Media November 26, 2012 7:42PM
Sandburg wrestlers practice Wednesday, November 14, 2012. | Brett Roseman~Sun-Times Media
TOP SOUTHLAND TEAMS
Sandburg: The Eagles return 11 of 14 starters from the 2011-12 dual team state tournament champs.
Marist: Six state medalists — David Kasper, Mark Duda, Peter Andreotti, Alex Benoit, Josh Pruitt and Josh Hickey — return for coach Brendan Heffernan. The RedHawks narrowly lost to Sandburg in last year’s regionals.
Lemont: The Indians advanced 10 to the individual state tournament last season. State medalist Chis Giatras leads the returnees.
Lincoln-Way Central: Last season, the Knights finished second in the 16-team SouthWest Suburban Tournament, the 27-team Berman Classic and the Andrew Regional.
Lockport: Eight of 14 starters return, led by state medalists Brian Rossi and Austin Strzelczyk.
(Returning state finalists,
in alphabetical order)
Bryce Brill, Jr., Mount Carmel: Class AA state champion as a freshman, the Marmion transfer finished second at 145 pounds in Class 3A to Stagg graduate Kevin Moylan (now at Princeton).
Mark Duda, Jr., Marist: A regional, sectional and East Suburban Catholic champion, Duda earned his second state medal with a runner-up finish at 113 pounds.
Kyle Langenderfer, Sr., Lincoln-Way East: State champion at 138 pounds, the Illinois recruit will look for his second title and fourth state medal at 145.
Nkosi Moody, Sr., Rich Central: Ranked the top senior in the nation at 106 pounds by Wrestling USA Magazine, Moody finished second in that weight in Class AA as a junior.
Sebastian Pique, Sr., Sandburg: State champion at 112 pounds two seasons ago, Pique won regional, sectional and SouthWest Suburban tournaments before finishing second in the state title match at 120.
Ricky Robertson, Sr., Sandburg: A Wisconsin recruit, Robertson lost his only match of the season in the 170-pound state title match. The senior will look for gold at 182.
Kris Williams, Soph., Thornton: The lightning quick Williams was the state 106-pound champ as a freshman. He rebounded from a regional loss to Marist standout David Kasper and finished with a 20-2 record.
Updated: December 28, 2012 6:16AM
It’s hard to imagine Sandburg could be any better than it was last season.
Then again, it’s hard to imagine a wrestling team could be more loaded than are the reigning Class 3A champ Eagles heading into the 2012-13 season.
“We have 11 of 14 starters returning,” fifth-year coach Eric Siebert said. “That means we have a pretty good nucleus to make another run at (a state title). That’s our goal. It’s unquestioned.”
Of the 11 returnees, seven notched regional titles and four earned state medals.
“We’re confident,” Siebert said. “We have some very talented star power, and I feel like we’re balanced and deep at the same time.”
The standouts include seniors Ricky Robertson, Sebastian Pique, Colin Holler and Mitch Cook. Robertson and Pique finished as state runners-up, Holler was third and Cook took fourth at the 2012 individual state meet.
Robertson, a Wisconsin recruit, went 43-0 at 170 pounds before dropping a decision in the state finals. He’s considered one of the top seniors in the country and is looking forward to proving that Dec. 28 at The Clash in Minnesota, a dual-team tournament featuring the nation’s elite programs.
“I want to come back and redeem myself for the state finals and get a state championship,” said Robertson, who will make the move to 182 pounds. “There’s nobody in the state that I don’t think I should be able to beat. There’s nobody in the country, really, that I think I can’t beat.”
The Eagles are a poised bunch, and why shouldn’t they be?
“Most definitely this is the best team I’ve ever been on,” said Holler, a three-time state medalist and a South Dakota State recruit.
Holler will move up three weight classes to compete at 170 this season. In his new division, he hopes to push the pace, avoid “slow-down matches” and win his first individual state title.
“There’s only one thing that’s going to make Colin happy,” Siebert said. “Being four-time All-State, as great as that is, it’s not going to cut it for him. There’s only one thing that he’s lacking, and that’s what he’s thinking about.”
Pique, in contrast, has been to the top of the mountain. A state champion as a sophomore at Hinsdale South, Pique lost in the finals at 120 after transferring to Sandburg before his junior season.
“Second place isn’t bad,” Pique said, “but you don’t realize how great (winning) is until you take second. I’m trying to work harder than anyone else — I always do. I should come out on top this time.”
Pique added a few pounds over the offseason and will stay in the 120-pound class. He wrestled a few pounds light last season so he could slide down a weight class if dual match-ups called for it, and looks forward to the advantage the additional strength might add.
Cook, like Pique, is waiting to make a college decision until after the season. He’s hoping to “make a name for himself” going out as a senior.
Actually, “expecting” might be more accurate than “hoping.”
“The energy in here is positive every day,” Cook said. “Everyone is really fired up. Good things happen when you stay positive, and bad things usually happen when you’re negative.”