Athlete of the Week
Hanselmann won the Fox Valley Conference tournament on Saturday at Jacobs at 120 pounds. In the championship match, Hanselmann got an escape at the end of the third period to beat Johnsburg’s Branden Peshek, 1-0. Hanselmann won a decision over McHenry’s Mike Sikula 4-2, in the semifinals. Peshek (28-5) is ranked No. 9 in Class 2A by illinoismatmen.com. Hanselmann (27-6) and Sikula (31-6) are both honorable mentions in Class 3A.
Regionals: The road to state begins on Saturday with regional tournaments, one each in Class 1A and 2A and three in Class 3A.
Harvard will look to win its 26th regional title in 27 years as the perennial host in Class 1A. The Hornets are the 10th ranked team in the state and no other ranked teams will be at their regional. Last season Harvard was challenged by Marian Central but the Hurricanes were bumped to 2A this season.
All local 2A schools will be at the Hampshire Regional. Crystal Lake Central looks to be the favorite heading in with the top 2A finish at the FVC Meet on Saturday.
Tigers coach Justen Lehr said facing familiar talent can be both a positive and negative because the wrestlers know each other so well. He said his team’s performance at conference could have been better but is still cautiously optimistic.
“Had we scored more points (at the FVC Meet), I think I would be more confident,” Lehr said.
Central is the only ranked 2A local team at No. 6.
After winning the FVC Meet title, McHenry, ranked No. 16, will try and add a regional championship but will have to get past Libertyville (No. 9) and Grant (No. 16). Warriors 145-pounder Wade Lardy wants to make his last state run memorable.
“The state series is a whole different post season,” Lardy said. “My senior season, I’m ready to go. There’s nothing that can stop me.”
Cary-Grove, ranked No. 20, will be the only local school at the Lake Zurich Regional, but will face No. 15 Deerfield, Barrington (No. 19) and Lake Zurich (HM). C-G’s Mike Cullen placed fourth at 106 last year at state, but said this year he isn’t an unknown underdog.
“This year I feel a little more pressure,” Cullen said.
Most local 3A schools will be at Huntley where it looks like the team title could be a battle between No. 7 Harlem and No. 8 Hononegah.
After winning at the FVC Meet at 126, Crystal Lake South junior Nick Gil said his confidence is high going into the state series. That confidence is buoyed by the experience he gained last year when he qualified for state for the first time.
“I think it’s going to be a little more comfortable for me,” Gil said. “I feel a little more confident now that I know the atmosphere down there.”
This week’s top meets
Regionals 9 a.m. Saturday
Hampshire: Crystal Lake Central, Johnsburg, Marengo, Marian Central, Richmond-Burton, Woodstock, Woodstock North
Huntley: Crystal Lake South, Dundee-Crown, Jacobs
Grant: McHenry, Prairie Ridge
Lake Zurich: Cary-Grove
The top three individual place winners qualify for sectionals Feb. 8-9. The winning teams move on to dual team sectionals Feb. 19.
– Rob Smith, firstname.lastname@example.org