CRYSTAL LAKE – Crystal Lake South and Marian Central are on different wrestling paths – the Gators are fine-tuning, and the young Hurricanes are still a year or two away.
Those paths were evident at their nonconference dual Wednesday as South defeated Marian, 71-3.
The Gators have a blend of some of the top wrestlers in the state along with a group that is gaining experience. Casey Callahan at 113 pounds, Nick Gil (126/132), Eric Barone (132/138) and Nick Peters (145) are all ranked in the top ten in their weight class by illinoismatmen.com. Gil is ranked the highest at No. 3.
Gil has not lost this year and credits his good start for the work he put in during the offseason. Gil was one of five Gators who received forfeits against Marian.
He also saw some big tournament action, placing seventh at the Fargo National Championships in North Dakota in the summer. Those experiences have given him a mental edge.
“I feel a little more confident on the mat,” Gil said. “I’m not as nervous for state.”
Gil said he has not had many tough matches this season but that will likely change as the Gators will wrestle at the Al Dvorak Invitational at Harlem, Dec. 22-23. Dvorak is widely known as the toughest in-season tournament in the state.
“I’m looking forward to Dvorak,” Gil said. “That will be a good challenge for me.”
Challenge may be an understatement, as Glenbard North’s Jered Cortez and Harlem’s Jordan Northrup, the two wrestlers ranked above Gil, are also scheduled to be at Dvorak.
Peters won a major decision over Charlie Forman, 11-2, at 145. Peters had an 8-2 lead after two periods and got a near fall in the third to earn the major decision points. He held Forman to a first period reversal.
Like Gil, Peters said he is confident this year because of his off-season preparation, something he hopes will bring him success late in the season.
“I’m really confident, because I put in the work,” Peters said. “I’m looking to go far in the state series.”
Also for the Gators, Garrett Dziedzic at 106, Joey Fetherling (113), Neal Crawford (126), Barone (138) and Mike Golden (152) all had pins.
Of the nine wrestlers that went against Crystal Lake South, four were freshman and three were sophomores. That youth shows potential but makes for some lopsided matches.
“It’s hard to get mad at them,” Marian coach Buck Riedinger said. “They are going out and trying their hardest. Next year I think we’re going to be okay.”
Thomas Welch, one of those freshman, got the only win for the Hurricanes, with a, 8-6, decision against Hunter Stroh at 170.
Riedinger said he named talented sophomore Nick Remke as a captain along with seniors Charlie Forman and Matt Carlson. Their leadership is evident and has provided a positive team environment, he said.
“These guys are just feeding off the captains,” Riedinger said. “It’s probably the easiest team I’ve ever coached.”