DeKALB – Dundee-Crown sophomore Christian Brunner said he couldn’t wrestle in last year’s regional final because he couldn’t make weight healthily, evidence of a massive growth spurt that has taken him from the 132-pound weight class to 182 this season.
In reality, his coach said, Brunner didn’t want to take a spot from one of his older teammates as he moved up a weight class.
“That’s the kind of kid he is, he’s a team kid,” coach Bob Skillman said. “I think he would’ve been a sectional qualifier last year.”
At Saturday’s Class 3A DeKalb Regional, Brunner wrestled, and he dominated. About 5 inches taller and 50 pounds heavier than he was most of last season, Brunner won by fall, technical fall and by a 5-0 decision in three matches to win the championship at 182 pounds.
Even after breaking his leg in the offseason and moving up six weight classes, Brunner had no doubt he had this type of potential.
“I thought I could be a state qualifier, place in state hopefully,” Brunner said. “I’m planning on being in the finals in sectionals, hopefully winning it.”
Brunner and fellow champion Jeremy Marshall, who won at 285 pounds, led D-C to a third-place finish, ahead of fourth-place Huntley and sixth-place Jacobs. Six Chargers finished in the top three to qualify for the Feb. 15 Barrington Sectional, including second-place finishers Armando Gutierrez, Tim Schanmier and Jarrod Raap and third-place finisher Christian Johnson.
“The kids wrestled well – they wrestled right up to their seeds,” Skillman said. “We’re hoping to get a couple of guys down [to state]. We have six guys going, and if we can get three down, that would be awesome.”
Huntley also qualified six wrestlers, including 126-pound champion Ricky Vigil and 138-pound champion Brandon Meyer. Second-place finishers Josh Stenger and Nick Meyer advanced at 106 and 113 pounds, along with Matt Kitsis and Mike Walker, who finished third at 145 and 195 pounds.
Vigil will have a second chance to succeed in sectionals after being forced to leave early with a concussion during his first match last year.
“I’m pretty motivated after last year,” Vigil said. “I worked harder this year. I knew what I had to do. Last year, I didn’t come in with the right mentality. This year, I got the No. 1 seed and I knew I could take the bracket.”
Jacobs will send four wrestlers to the Barrington Sectional – 120-pounder Cody Ferencz and 220-pounder Mark Mamola, who finished second, along with 126-pounder Chris Danka and 132-pounder Jacob Sabella.
“We kind of had a rough start in the beginning and a couple of guys wrestled back very nice,” Jacobs coach Gary Conrad said. “In the finals we didn’t get what we wanted, but that’s the kind of competition we’re going to have to see in sectionals, so we’re going to have to be ready.”