Wrestling: Southland contenders lining up for 2014-15 season
By Logan Malloy For Sun-Times Media March 6, 2014 10:06PM
Updated: March 6, 2014 10:06PM
The Southland saw six state champions emerge from the individual tournament — led by three-timers in Mount Carmel’s Bryce Brill and Thornwood’s Kris Williams — and a total of 41 individuals reach the podium. Marist and Oak Forest added to the hardware count by bringing home trophies from team state.
So is it too soon to think about next season?
Not if you’re Oak Forest, which finished third in Class 2A and likely returns nearly its entire roster, led by two-time state champ Danny Swan and a trio of state-placers. Swan said the slew of juniors on the team circled their senior seasons long ago.
“We all came in as freshmen and we mostly had a freshman team at the time,” Swan said. “We were mostly too young to compete.”
The Bengals finished 6-11 that year in coach Shawn Forst’s first season guiding the program. Two years later, the Bengals went 24-2 with primarily that same group.
“We’re all really tough now, and we’re looking for that state championship next year,” Swan said, “especially because Montini is moving up.”
The last part is key.
Since the inception of the three-class system, no team ever has beaten Montini, which just won its seventh straight 2A title. The Broncos, however, are stepping up a class, or rather, being shoved up to 3A by the IHSA Success Advancement Component.
“It’s good for the sport, it’s good for the state to have us in 3A and to give other teams in 2A a competitive chance to win the state title,” Montini senior Edgar Ruano told the Sun-Times.
Marist loses Purdue recruits Peter Andreotti and Mario Leveille, along with seniors Mark Duda and Mike Mullaney, to graduation. Yet the RedHawks shouldn’t miss a beat with third-place medalist Alex Benoit leading another strong group for coach Brendan Heffernan.
Ameen Hamden, Nick Lukanich, Jimmy McAullife and Andy O’Brien form a strong quartet at the lower weights, while David Kasper, Nick Gasbarro and Jakada Hull provide meat in the middle of the lineup.
Sandburg, Lockport and Lincoln-Way Central will keep the SouthWest Suburban Conference among the best for wrestling.
Lockport loses state champ Brian Rossi and stalwarts in Vince Dietz and Dan Radcliffe, but Tyler Johnson will be on a mission to win a state title after losing the 195-pound championship in sudden-death overtime.
Sandburg figures to have Brian Krasowski and Patrick Brucki back in the heart of its lineup. Lincoln-Way Central will make it tough sledding for opponents in the upper weights, with heavyweight medalist Bryan Ditchman, plus Jake Dudek and Sean Kelly.
Like Picabo Street in downhill skiing or Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Cecil Shorts III, the best names tend to stick with us long after the season ends.
Without further ado, here’s the SouthtownStar 2013-14 All-Name Team, featuring the coolest names from seniors around the Southland wrestling scene:
Cosmo Halwix, Argo; Mantas Drukteinis, Stagg; Hunter Pindel, Sandburg; Colton Kielbasa, St. Rita; Keon Mayo, Hillcrest; Tino Abarca, Reavis; Bryce Brill, Mount Carmel; Fidel Toto, Thornridge; Ronan Sullivan, St. Rita; Chitunda Tillman, Morgan Park.