Lincoln-Way Central walks away with medal
By Logan Malloy For Sun-Times Media February 24, 2013 9:48AM
Updated: March 25, 2013 7:07AM
BLOOMINGTON — Its season might have ended with consecutive defeats, but there was no regret from Lincoln-Way Central after concluding a special season.
“I’m so proud of our team and everything we’ve gone through,” senior heavyweight Grant Bartell said. “As a team, we really bonded. Everyone’s friends and it’s just been so fun doing this.”
Bartell helped guide Central to a fourth-place finish in the Dual Team State Tournament on Saturday. It was the second-best finish in school history, with only the 2008 third-place team faring better.
Central fell Saturday to Glenbard North 34-27 in a roller-coaster Class 3A third-place match at U.S. Cellular Coliseum.
“This means more to me than anything I could have done at individual state,” said Bartell, who notched a pin in his final match. “And I think I speak for everyone on that. It means a lot.”
Central seniors Robbie Mikenis and Brandon Ditchman concurred.
“Honestly, this is more fun than placing at individual state last year because everyone gets to enjoy this and experience this,” Mikenis said. “It was awesome to see kids develop and grow.”
Central advanced from the quarterfinals after ripping Grant 31-24. The scoreboard read 28-6 after eight consecutive Central victories before Central forfeited the final bouts with its semifinal berth already in the bag.
Winners during the eight-match victory stretch included juniors Dominic Botta (3-0 on the day) and Bryce Gorman (3-0) and seniors Mikenis (3-0), Tyler Schneider (3-0), Matt Schneider (2-1) and Ditchman (3-0).
In the semifinals, the Knights ran into a loaded Marmion squad led by state champions Johnny Jimenez and George Fisher. Marmion won 33-16.
“I came a match away from placing individually, so it feels good to get some sort of medal here and not walk away empty-handed,” Ditchman said. “We have quite a few guys coming back, so hopefully this motivates them. It did for me. I always looked at the 2008 team and said we could beat them. We have two coaches on that team, so we go around the lineup saying this guy would beat him, that guy would beat him.”
State qualifier Ryan Gromnicki was the lone Central senior to end his career with a defeat, but he’s revered in the eyes of teammates for competing despite being injured.
“A guy like Gromnicki who’s injured, he had the option to stay home and rest that injury,” Mikenis said. “(Instead) he came out here and wrestled one more time his senior year.
“We all wrestled tough and it’s great to end like this.”