Glenbard West on the rise
By Gary Larsen
The seniors led the way in Glen Ellyn on Saturday.
Host Glenbard West won the team title at this year’s Chris Chappell Invitational, sending nine wrestlers to the title mat and watching three of them – seniors Will Stano, DJ Terdy, and Mike Summerville – climb to the top of the awards stand.
St. Charles East had won the previous four consecutive team titles at Glenbard West’s 8-team tournament.
After a few lean seasons for the Hilltoppers, Saturday’s team title came during a season in which they also placed second at WWSouth’s Ewoldt tournament to start the year. They're also 10-6 in duals, after winning roughly half that total last season
“We’re having a lot more fun than we’ve had the past few years,” Terdy said.
And one of the chief ingredients in this year's turnaround is the most valuable commodity in wrestling.
“There’s a difference between confidence and cockiness, but if you have just a little swagger, it’s good because it means you believe that you can beat anyone if you wrestle at the top of your ability,” Terdy said.
“You have to get some sort of a roll going in order to get the confidence you need,” Hilltoppers coach Nick Posegay said. “Coaches can talk all they want about being tough in the third period, working harder, running faster – but only when they believe it will they start pushing each other, and then it all (builds).
“That’s all we’ve been pushing in the last three or four weeks is toughness in the third period, go out and get the victory and don’t just try to hang on if you’ve got a lead – the stuff you have to do if you want to be champions.”
Summerville stuck all three of his opponents, capped by a pin of Elk Grove’s Greg Johnsen on the title mat at 189 pounds. St. Charles East’s Isiah Vela was named the tournament’s outstanding wrestler but Summerville (20-7) was also dominant on Saturday.
“I voted for Nick for outstanding wrestler,” Posegay said. “He stuck his way through the tournament, he won it last year, and he’s just a quality kid. He’s simpler this year. He sticks to what he knows, he does it well, and it’s paying off for him.”
“I’ve just tried to get better than I was last year,” Summerville said. “I feel a lot stronger and I can go out there with nothing to lose. And I’m not giving up points when they don’t need to be given up.”
Stano improved to 19-8 on the season when he pinned Glenbrook North’s Adam Pines on the title mat at 152. The senior reached the finals with a semifinal pin of Glenbard South’s Fran Fagiano.
“Everyone’s working hard in the room and we’re all having success,” Stano said. “It feels good to finally have it pay off. It’s team chemistry, where you don’t want to give up bonus points and if you’re winning you’re going to work to get bonus points, instead of just a decision.”
For Terdy, a year spent as an underweight 160-pounder has been a year of acclimation to wrestling bigger, stronger opponents. And through a pair of pins and a 7-1 title mat decision over Elk Grove’s Jon Ebert, Terdy showed his coach a little something extra on Saturday.
“He needed to get on a roll and this tournament might be that kick in the pants,” Posegay said of Terdy. “He’s really a 152-pounder but so is (Stano), so DJ took on the challenge of wrestling at 160. In the semi’s he had a couple pretty moves that I hadn’t seen in a while.”
Naturally, no team title is built on the performances of individual title-winners alone and the Hilltoppers’ team-wide contributions carried the day.
Also reaching the title mat and placing second for Glenbard West were CJ Sojka (103), Zak Hassan (125), Jack Carlson (135), Mitch Anderson (171), Sam Hansel (215), and heavyweight Brendan Gilligan.
Sojka (20-6) used a 6-4 decision win in overtime against Glenbard South’s Will Collins to reach the title mat before losing 5-0 to St. Charles East’s Ryan Rubino. Rubino earned a takedown early in the first period and another late in the third with Sojka pressing for a takedown of his own.
“He’s been wrestling well and he got his twentieth win today, so that’s a milestone for his career,” Posegay said. “He’s one of those kids who, if he knows he can beat you he’s going to beat you, and if he figures it out during the match he’s going to beat you. But he’s a sophomore, and he’s learning how to handle a match when someone gets a lead on him.”
Hassan is another Hilltoppers sophomore and the team leader in wins with 23. He lost for only the fourth time all year on Saturday, to OWA-winner Vela on the title mat at 125. Hassan burned a path to the title mat with a tech fall win and then a first-period semifinal pin of Addison Trail’s Alex Saucedo.
Once there, Hassan faced a wrestler in Vela who won a tournament title at 125 at Conant and placed fourth at 119 at Palatine this season. Hassan has an Ewoldt tournament title and a fourth at Hinsdale Central under his belt this year.
The Saints’ freshman was high energy and lighting quick on the trigger throughout a 16-9 decision win over the Hilltoppers’ sophomore.
“Zak got overwhelmed by (Vela’s) offense, and Zak’s usually the guy who dictates the pace on offense,” Posegay said. “But that’s the level he’s got to aspire to. That was Zak’s kind of wrestling but at a higher speed.”
For Carlson, the day ended with the junior fighting tooth-and-nail to turn the Saints’ Peter Bellino on the title mat at 135 pounds. Bellino had a takedown and two back points in the first period and led 5-0 heading into the third.
Bellino started in the down position and Carlson turned him twice for four near-fall points, but couldn’t get another turn in a 5-4 Bellino win.
Carlson posted a pair of majors in reaching the finals and improved to 14-11 by going 2-1 on Saturday. “Sometimes he has trouble getting his motor going in the first period, but once he figures a guy out he goes after him,” Posegay said of Carlson. “And sometimes there’s not enough time.”
At 171, the senior Anderson (16-10) used a pin and then a 10-3 semifinal decision win over Addison Trail’s Nick Musto to reach the title mat, where St. Charles East’s Mike Caddy won a 10-3 decision.
Hansel (14-10) posted two pins to reach the finals at 215 and was trailing 4-3 when Elk Grove’s Dan Egan earned a takedown and a pin against the Hilltoppers’ junior.
Gilligan (19-7) also went 2-1 with two pins on the day. The junior heavyweight took a 3-2 lead on a third-period takedown of Eduardo Marquez of Reavis, but a Marquez reversal with 20 seconds left in the third gave him a 4-3 victory.
The Hilltoppers got a third from Eh Doh Lwei (19-10), a senior who also competes as a gymnast at Glenbard West. Lwei pinned Glenbard South’s Charles Asseimeir midway through their third-place match.
“The magic of Eh Doh,” Posegay joked. “He doesn’t care what your record is, he doesn’t look – he doesn’t have a computer. He just goes out there and he can beat you. He can get beat, too, but you never know with him. He’s a gymnast and he pulls moves that you shouldn’t be able to do.”
Pernevelon Sheppard (112) and Jose Roman (130) finished fourth, Collin Knowlton (140) was sixth, and A.J. Della Polla (145) was seventh for a Hilltoppers team that had four sophomores and two freshmen in their tournament lineup on Saturday.
“(Sheppard) is a kid that came out of IKWF wrestling, where he was a solid wrestler,” Posegay said. “He just doesn’t have the body yet to back up some of the things he likes to do. But he battles every time out.
“We had an illness at 130 so we pulled Jose up from jayvee and put him out there against York. He’s a sophomore and he battled and beat a guy at York and he came out here and did some nice things.”
Knowlton is the third of four Knowlton brothers that have now wrestled for Glenbard West, with a younger brother on the way. “And this one is special because he’s walking in as a freshman and he’s fighting 140-pounders who are usually men,” Posegay said.
“He’s going to be all right. That freshmen group had enough backup at that weight and Collin wanted to challenge for that varsity spot. He knocked everybody off so we said ‘okay, you can do it’.”
With a feeder system at Hadley Junior High School in Glen Ellyn now in its fourth year, Glenbard West’s future on the Illinois high school scene is a bright one.
“Our entire group of freshmen wrestlers are the first group that all went through three years of wrestling at Hadley,” Posegay said. “They had a lot of success before high school, so now we’re starting to get freshmen wrestlers with good experience in the sport.
“We can bring them in with the varsity and they can go with us. It’s a whole different starting point, and one that all the programs in the area are starting at.”