Wrestling: All-Area wrestling lineup stocked with state qualifiers
By Logan Malloy For Sun-Times Media March 1, 2013 11:40PM
Rudy Yates, of Brother Rice
Updated: April 4, 2013 6:26AM
This is one assignment you wouldn’t want to wrestle with:
Pick a team — one performer at each weight represented in IHSA competition — of Southland high school wrestlers.
That’s a list 14 athletes long — which isn’t so bad until one considers the area had 42 wrestlers in the state team quarterfinals and 40 finish sixth place or better in the individual state meet.
But we had to make weight. So we made a few tough choices and put together the SouthtownStar 2012-13 All-Area Wrestling Team.
Rudy Yates, Fr., Brother Rice: One of five undefeated state champs on our list, grappling with Yates was like trying to swim in quicksand. The freshman suffocated opponents and seemed light years ahead of the Class 3A competition. Yates (42-0) edges 2A champ Danny Swan, of Oak Forest, and Rich Central state finalist Nkosi Moody.
Kris Williams, So., Thornton: Oozing athleticism, Williams captured his second state title in Class 3A. Williams (20-1) missed the first half of the season because of an ankle injury but still managed to top the area’s finest division. Other 3A placers include Marist state finalist Mark Duda, Lockport’s Brian Rossi (third), Sandburg’s Jim Pellegrino (fourth) and Providence’s Ronald Triche (fifth).
Sebastian Pique, Sr., Sandburg: Regarded as the hardest worker on the state’s best team, Pique battled back from a harrowing dislocated elbow to finish second in Class 3A. Pique (17-3) wasn’t given any breaks in the state tournament and had to knock out two former state finalists to reach his third consecutive championship match.
Dan Radcliffe, Jr., Lockport: A linchpin for one of the area’s top teams, Radcliffe qualified for state, winning regional and Lake Park titles along the way. Porters coach Josh Oster said Radcliffe (36-11) always has wrestling on the mind and “has a great mental approach to matches.”
Kyle Rodriguez, Jr., Lincoln-Way West: Rodriguez was the meat and potatoes of West’s quarterfinal run to the Class 2A Dual Team State Tournament. Rodriguez (43-8) finished fourth in Class 2A and notched regional, sectional and the SouthWest Suburban crowns. He edges Marist’s Mario Leveille for the honors.
John Pellegrino, Jr., Sandburg: Eagles coach Eric Siebert said, “what separates Pellegrino from your average guy is his unwillingness to lose.” That resolve was evident in the state tournament, in which Pellegrino (40-6) finished third in Class 3A. The junior edges Lincoln-Way Central’s Robbie Mikenis and Marist’s Matt Sears for the honors.
Bryce Brill, Jr., Mount Carmel: Brill, a Northwestern recruit, had a tooth knocked out in practice just days before the loaded Shepard Sectional. No matter. He won with three pins. Brill (49-0) then captured his second state crown with Class 3A’s most dominant title run. Caravan coach John Kading called Brill a “ferocious competitor.” He’s considered among the best juniors in the country.
Kyle Langenderfer, Sr., Lincoln-Way East: Not sure about wrestling? Watch a Kyle Langenderfer match and get back to us. The Illinois recruit clobbered opponents in action-packed bouts all season. His state finals victory — the second title of his career — over fellow four-time All-Stater Brian Murphy was perhaps the most exciting match in the entire state tournament. Langenderfer (43-0) tops the East record book in career wins (165), takedowns (455) and falls (82).
C.J. Brucki, Sr., Sandburg: Battling Brucki was like trying to wrestle a fire hose going full blast. He’s relentless, and that motor drove him to the Class 3A state title. Brucki (43-7) had never wrestled before his freshman year, didn’t crack the varsity lineup until his junior season and credited the Sandburg coaching staff for his development.
Colin Holler, Sr., Sandburg: Holler concluded his illustrious prep career as the undefeated Class 3A state champ. The South Dakota State recruit will go down as one of the best wrestlers in Sandburg history after helping the Eagles to back-to-back state titles. “He’s a freak athlete. Four-time All-State, 52-0 and unquestionably the best guy in Illinois,” Siebert said.
Donnie Bell, Sr., Homewood-Flossmoor: Bell became the first H-F wrestler to reach the state finals since 1989. Vikings coach Brett Geijer credited Bell’s endurance and mental toughness for his success. Bell (33-7) tops a loaded field featuring Lemont’s Chris Giatras, third in 2A, and tough wrestlers from Lincoln-Way Central (Brendan Ditchman), Sandburg (Chris Pajak) and T.F. South (Joe Young).
Ricky Robertson, Sr., Sandburg: Robertson, a Wisconsin recruit, was the “Jaws” of Illinois wrestling. Roberston devoured opponents en route to a 51-0 record and Class 3A state title. It probably would have taken an oxygen tank and rifle to beat him. “He’s extremely confident and extremely comfortable with what he does,” Siebert said. “And his best days are in front of him.”
Tom Howell, Sr., Marist: A clutch performer for one of the area’s top teams, Howell finished his career as the Class 3A state champion. “He went from being a pudgy, roly-poly freshman to a powerful, muscle-bound senior as a result of his hard work and dedication,” Marist coach Brendan Heffernan said. Howell (38-5) beats out Mount Carmel’s David Denne and Tinley Park’s Derek Schultz.
Nick Allegretti, Jr., Lincoln-Way East: Exceptionally agile for his size, Allegretti (36-4) was a state qualifier and won Stagg, SouthWest Suburban and regional titles. “He’s a very smart athlete. He’s coachable and eager to win,” Griffins coach Tyrone Byrd said, who also noted Allegretti takes predominantly advanced courses in the classroom.