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Wrestling: Marist, Mount Carmel unable to topple Montini

(From left) Marist's David Kasper Mount Carmel's Jake Tucker grapple with one another during their 120 pound match Saturday December

(From left) Marist's David Kasper and Mount Carmel's Jake Tucker grapple with one another during their 120 pound match on Saturday, December 1, 2012, at the Mount Carmel Quadrangular. | Chandler West~For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: January 3, 2013 6:28AM



Success tends to follow the Montini wrestling team and sometimes controversy tags along for the ride.

So it was on Saturday, when the five-time defending state champs came to Mount Carmel and knocked off three elite teams, winning 49-18 over the host Caravan, 38-24 over Harlem and 31-27 over Marist.

Montini forfeited three of the final four bouts against Harlem and had a default and two forfeits in the upper weights against Marist, which didn’t please RedHawks coach Brendan Heffernan.

“Coach (Mark) Gervais was my coach and I was an assistant under him for three years,” Heffernan said. “One thing he explained to me all the time (was) you bring extras because you don’t want to be forfeiting matches.

“Those kids on that team work just as hard as the kids I coach. I don’t want to do them the disservice of letting them train all week and then not wrestle them in a match. That’s disrespectful to them and disrespectful to the sport of wrestling.”

Montini coach Israel Martinez had a different view.

“Marist was crying at the end because they wanted individual matches,” he said. “We’re a team and this is a team atmosphere at Montini. We’re brothers and we’re a family and it’s about protecting our family.

“Our football guys were here if we needed them. We didn’t need them, so we didn’t wrestle them.”

The “football guys” are Michael Maduko, ranked second in Class 2A at 170 pounds by Illinois Best Weekly; Anthony Ferraro, No. 2 at 195; and Edgar Ruano, No. 2 at 220. Maduko sat out all three matches Saturday with an injury, while Ferraro and Ruano — each wrestling up a weight at 220 and 285, respectively — won decisions in the Mount Carmel match, which started at 220. They did not compete against Harlem or Marist. Also missing the meet was Michael Sepke, No. 1 in 2A at 132.

That left more of the heavy lifting to Montini’s lighter weights and they came through. Freshman James Pawelski was 2-1 at 106, his older brother Tommy (ranked No. 1 in 2A) was 3-0 at 113 and Jordan Laster (No. 2 in 2A) went 3-0 at 120.

“We knew we were going to forfeit a bunch of weights so we knew we had to come together as a team, get the bonus points and go from there,” Tommy Pawelski said.

Also going 3-0 for Montini were Chris Garcia (No. 1 in 2A at 138), Jose Champagne (132), Xavier Montalvo (No. 2 in 2A at 152, though he wrestled at 160) and Jake Turk (No. 2 in 2A at 182; two wins at 195, one at 182).

Marist went 15-0 from 170 up in the three duals, with Alex Benoit (No. 4 in 3A at 170), Ethan Benoit (No. 6 at 182), Josh Pruitt (No. 3 at 195) and Josh Hickey (No. 3 at 285; wrestled at 220) all going 3-0. Sophomore Jakada Hull was 3-0 at 152.

Still, in Heffernan’s opinion, there’s room for improvement.

“We left a lot of bonus points on the board today and that’s going to kill us late in the year,” he said.

Like Montini, Marist wasn’t at full strength, missing a pair of state-ranked wrestlers in Mark Duda (120) and Peter Andreotti (160). Mount Carmel was in the same boat, missing state-ranked David Denne (220) among others.

“We’re about five guys away from our best lineup,” Caravan coach John Kading said. “We’re going to continue to get better.”



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