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Wrestling: Sandburg back on winning track

Carl Sandburg's Matt Frostman (Top) beMaine West's Brian Cutro 7-2 for championship 220 pounds during Saturday's 29th Annual Wheeling Memorial

Carl Sandburg's Matt Frostman (Top) beat Maine West's Brian Cutro, 7-2, for the championship at 220 pounds during Saturday's 29th Annual Wheeling Memorial Wrestling Invitational. | Brian O'Mahoney/For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: January 16, 2014 7:08AM

A lot has changed for Sandburg’s wrestling team, but there still are a few constants.

The two-time defending Class 3A champs graduated a senior class for the ages, one that combined for more than 350 victories last season and featured four wrestlers who won state titles during their careers.

On Thursday, the Eagles lost 30-21 to Lincoln-Way Central, their first defeat in the SouthWest Suburban Conference since 2009. Senior 285-pounder Nate Sonneveld, one of three returning senior starters, has left the team.

But Sandburg was back on top Saturday, winning the Wheeling Invitational again, 222-143 over the host Wildcats. The Eagles’ nine finalists included seven champs, led by Outstanding Wrestler and four-time Wheeling winner John Pellegrino.

Pellegrino (11-0), who is ranked No. 2 in 3A at 145 pounds by, beat Grayslake Central’s Jonathan Makey (19-2, fifth in 2A at 138) 12-2 in the 152 final. But what he does in meets may not be as important as his contributions in the practice room.

“He’s really giving good leadership that Collin Holler had and Ricky Robertson,” said sophomore 126-pounder Christian Robertson (9-1), referring to two of the Eagles’ departed state champs.

“It’s different,” Pellegrino said of the younger roster. “(But) we work just as hard every single day. I’m on our kids every single day to push them.

“We’re improving. We’re going to be a tough team at the end of the year.”

Coach Eric Siebert is equally upbeat about his team’s potential.

“I do expect us to be a different team come the middle of the year and I expect us to be an even (more) different team at the end of the year,” Siebert said. “As long as we’re continuing to trend in that direction, I think we’ll be happy.”

Sandburg’s other champs besides Pellegrino and Robertson were sophomore Louie Hayes (11-0, 106), juniors Tom Slattery (10-2, 160) and Matt Frostman (9-1, 220) and seniors Hunter Pindel (11-0, 182) and Mat Drozd (7-1, 195).

The only other team with multiple champs was fifth-place St. Laurence, which had firsts from Bill Touhy (8-0, 113), 2A No. 5 Johnny Gahagan (9-0, 138) and Frank Tomaskovic (7-1, 285).

Gahagan, who has won every match by pin or technical fall this season, still sees room for improvement.

“Couple mistakes — I’ve got to get less sloppy,” he said. “Other than that, I was pretty content with my performance today,” he said.

Other ranked winners were Lake Zurich 145-pounder Brandon Arteaga (7-3, 11th in 3A) and Stevenson 170-pounder Tyler Harrington (12-3, 12th in 3A). Also staying unbeaten was Maine West’s Adeel Afsar (19-0) at 132.

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