Another rugged DVC tourney in the books
By Gary Larsen
The danger of individual rankings is that they can get inside a wrestler’s head and wreak havoc on his confidence. So with the postseason now arrived it should serve every wrestler well to listen to this nugget of wisdom from one of Illinois’ top wrestlers.
“It doesn’t matter to me anymore,” Wheaton Warrenville South senior Spartak Chino said. “In the past I’d see a ranked kid or a kid that was good and I’d second-guess myself. But I know I’m a good wrestler and this year I’m not putting anyone above me.
In his senior year, Chino has abandoned any concern over his opponent’s reputation. He’d advise every wrestler heading into a regional this weekend to just shake hands and turn it loose.
“My dad would call them ‘brand names’, and when I’d see a brand name I’d get a little nervous,” Chino said. “But this year I’ve gone up to wrestle those tough kids and it doesn’t matter. Now I just want to win. What do I have to hold back? Junior year and sophomore year downstate I was hesitant to try this or that, and why?
“I’m a good athlete, I work hard all year, so why hold back?”
This year’s DuPage Valley Conference tournament featured wrestlers not holding back from start to finish. Glenbard North won its 13th consecutive DVC title, finishing more than 100 points ahead of second-place Naperville North, with third-place West Aurora finishing right on the Huskies’ heels.
Glenbard North went into the tournament with high expectations and sent 10 wrestlers to the title mat, winning six individual titles in winning its 23rd DVC title in the 36-year history of the tournament.
“We have meetings after practice and before tournaments we talk about what our goals are going into it,” Panthers senior Joe Gosinski said. “We set a goal for how many guys we want to get in the finals and then we try to accomplish that. We set high standards for ourselves.”
In addition to six firsts and four second-place finishes, the Panthers earned a third, two fourths, and a fifth in running away from the field at WW South.
“I think we wrestled pretty well,” Panthers coach Mark Hahn said. “Any time you win a conference title it’s a big deal, and to win it thirteen years in a row is a big deal. Our guys came in and wrestled well today.
“Every match – win, lose, or draw – we battled, and that was the key.”
A pair of fine freshmen squared off for the title in the Panthers’ Jon Marmolejo (35-3) and West Chicago’s Tyler Svestka (29-4), with Svestka getting the first takedown early in the first period.
That takedown lit a fire under Marmolejo, who located his groove and began taking Svestka down with regularity, building a head of steam to the final buzzer of a 17-6 major decision win.
“Usually that’s how my matches get going. It gives me a boost,” Marmolejo said of being taken down early. “It was an eye-opener but that usually gets me going off the bat. Once I started taking my re-shots I started to feel confident and usually pushing the pace does the trick.”
Marmolejo began his journey to the title mat with a tech fall win over Naperville Central’s Ryan Porter (13-16) and then a pin of WW South’s Billy Conner (18-15). Svestka won 11-6 over Wheaton North’s Keagan Calkins (15-16) and then a 7-5 semifinal decision over Naperville North’s Wayne Yuan (35-6).
Yuan pinned Conner for third while Calkins won 18-10 over Porter on the fifth-place mat.
The freshman Marmolejo now feels comfortable in his transition from IKWF state champ to a high school varsity wrestler.
“Since the Dvorak I’ve improved a lot. I’ve picked up the pace, my partners are pushing me, and so are my coaches,” Marmolejo said. “At the beginning of the season I wasn’t focused on transition wrestling. So I picked up my chain wrestling and it’s more of my reaction now.”
Just like teammate Marmolejo, Glenbard North sophomore Johnny Gosinski was taken down early in his title match at 112, by Glenbard East’s Angelo SanJuan.
Did the early takedown get Gosinski’s motor running?
“It did,” Gosinski said. “I’m wrestling pretty good but the one thing I know I have to work on is my defense. I try to feel my guy out a little first but sometimes they’ll surprise me, like on that. He kind of tied up with me, I looked away, and he shot a double on me.”
After getting his escape point, Gosinski sprawled on another shot taken by SanJuan, put a cisco in, and pinned the Rams’ junior at the 55-second mark.
“I wrestled (SanJuan) during the year and only beat him 7-5,” Gosinski said. “It was a close match. He’s strong and extremely quick. I wrestle him in the offseason, too, so I know him.”
Gosinski (37-1) used a pair of pins against Naperville Central’s Mitch Lee (8-16) and Naperville North’s Blake Bougadis (8-23) to reach the title mat, while SanJuan (31-5) won 11-9 over Wheaton North’s Rusian Momedov (4-3) and 13-5 over West Aurora’s Brandon Walz (29-11).
Walz pinned West Chicago’s Jesus Duran (17-11) for third and Bougadis pinned Lee on the fifth-place mat.
Saturday’s DVC title was Gosinski’s second. He won an 11-0 decision at 103 for the title last year against West Chicago’s Robert Svestka.
Glenbard North made it three individual titles in a row when senior Bryan Gonzalez (35-2) won by tech fall at 119, over Wheaton North’s Sean Murray (26-8). It was Gonzalez’s second DVC title; he won the title at 112 last year in a 1-0 decision over West Aurora’s Nicholas Drendel.
Gonzalez went unbeaten in DVC duals this year and opened with a forfeit on Saturday. He pinned West Aurora’s Alberto Tijerina (21-6) to reach the title mat.
Murray won 6-0 over Naperville north’s Juan Ramirez (16-14) and then won 11-3 in his semifinal match against West Chicago’s Robert Svestka(19-10). Svestka won 2-0 for third against Ramirez while Tijerina won by major decision for fifth against Naperville Central’s Steven Splan (22-16).
The third time was the charm for West Aurora senior Nicholas Drendel (32-0), who won his first DVC title on Saturday in dominant fashion.
Drendel was a DVC tournament runner-up in each of the past two seasons. After losing 1-0 to the Panthers’ Gonzalez at 112 at last year’s tournament Drendel went on a tear, winning a regional title, a sectional title, and placing second in Illinois.
Drendel pinned his way to this year’s DVC title and feels good at exactly the right time of year. “I feel like I’m really starting to peak at the end of my season. I feel tough right now. As long as I’m at my best, everything should work out,” Drendel said.
The senior pinned Glenbard East’s Julius Glover (7-9), WW South’s Ramond King (17-16), and then Glenbard North’s Wade Hazard (25-11) on the title mat, and looked strong and sharp all day.
Drendel considered wrestling at 119 this year but “that’s long gone,” he said.
“That was gone at Granite City when I had to make it down to 119. If I could make it I would have done it, but we had other guys that were wrestling tough at 119 so it wouldn’t have helped the team to have me there. So I’m at 125. I feel fine and I don’t feel small. I feel comfortable there.”
Hazard pinned West Chicago’s Bruno Munoz (0-5) and won 4-1 over Naperville Central’s Jon Williamson (26-8) to reach the title mat. Wheaton North’s Elan Ramos (19-14) won a major decision on the third-place mat over Williamson and King pinned Naperville North’s Marvin Lim (12-10) for fifth.
Glenbard North senior Joey Gosinski (35-2) became only the fifth wrestler in the 36-year history of the DVC tournament to win four conference titles, when the returning state champion pinned Naperville North’s Max Obriecht (30-7) on the title mat.
“I realized towards the middle of the season that I could be a four-timer in the conference,” Gosinski said. “And I went after it.”
Former Panthers Joe Gomez and Tony Ramos, and former Naperville North standouts Eric Tannenbaum, and Mike Renella are the other four-time DVC champs.
Gosinski pinned WW South’s Ryan Pierce (3-8) and posted a semifinal tech fall win over Naperville Central’s Kirk Cherep (24-14). Obriecht won 5-0 over West Chicago’s Franky Correa (19-11) and then pinned Glenbard East’s Zach Wehde (9-25) to reach the finals.
“(Obriecht) beat (DG North’s) Jimmy Nehls and (Hinsdale Central’s) Ernest Battaglia, and I know those are two tough kids in the weight class,” Gosinski said. “That was the third time this year I wrestled him. But I just wrestle the same no matter what – take it to the kid, wrestle my style, attack offense, and don’t give him an opportunity to score.”
No returning state champion rests on his laurels and Gosinski has also improved in one major area since winning the title at 125 last year.
“I was never a pinner. I had a cradle my freshman year but I’d always get near-falls with it. This year I’ve been attacking pins. I don’t know what it was but something finally clicked,” Gosinski said.
“Last year I had maybe 10 and this year I have close to 30. My goal this year was to beat (former Panther) Travis Cherry’s pin record of 42 in a season, and I’m close but I’d have to pin out.”
Hahn is grateful to have Gosinski on his team for more than just the wins he has provided in a four-year career. “He’s a great kid,” Hahn said. “He works his tail off and it’s like having another coach in the room. He’s been a great leader this year.”
Correa won 12-8 over Wehde on the fifth-place mat. Cherep bounced back to win a 14-3 major for third over Wheaton North sophomore Zach Ewoldt (5-4). The junior’s lone loss came to Gosinski, and in his other three matches he shook off slow starts and got rolling.
“I got my shots in a lot more today. In my final match I got a few shots in, mostly high-crotches and sweep singles,” Cherep said. “I usually work on top more but I’ve been working on my shots. At the beginning of the year I wasn’t taking many shots at all but now I’m shooting a lot more leg attacks.”
Cherep is also undergoing the natural progression between hesitation and aggression on the mat.
“You have to get past (hesitating). You might think about taking a shot early in a match and when you don’t it’s usually because you didn’t have the confidence to do it. It’s confidence,” Cherep said.
Where confidence is concerned, the switch officially went on for Naperville Central’s Josh Tardy in his senior year.
“My mentality and the way I’m wrestling is completely different now,” Tardy said. “I’m going into matches confident, telling myself I’m going to wrestle, and going out and doing it. I feel great.”
Tardy (29-6) and another rock-solid wrestler in Naperville North senior Frank McKeown (30-7) squared off for the DVC title at 135 pounds, with Tardy winning a 6-5 decision.
“He’s always in good position, he’s tough, and it’s hard to get shots in on him,” Tardy said of McKeown. “He’s one of those kids where you just have to work, and work, and work to get any points against him. I got a throw-by and then a shuck to take him down, and I just feel great right now.
“I just wanted to keep pushing. I lost to him 5-3 the last time we wrestled and he got a takedown at the end of the match to win it. He’s a rival and I lost to him earlier, so to beat him here – there’s no better feeling than that. I’ll bet I wrestle (McKeown) twice more before we even hit state, and it’s going to be a tough road.”
McKeown pinned Glenbard East’s Lucas Cronin (11-18) and won 9-0 over Glenbard North’s Tom Collum (17-16) to reach the title mat, while Tardy won 9-3 over Wheaton North’s Jared Strom (13-18) and 11-3 over West Aurora’s Marcus Serrano (17-4).
“I’ve beaten a lot of good kids, ranked kids, but this one feels the best,” Tardy said. “I made it to the finals my sophomore year and took third last year, so this is my first DVC title.”
Serrano pinned Collum for third and Strom won 6-5 over Cronin to take fifth place.
Glenbard North sophomore Brian Murphy (33-2) became the Panthers’ fifth conference champ of the day and won his first DVC title. Murphy swept the competition during regular-season duals and pinned his way to the title in Saturday’s tournament.
Naperville North’s Alejandro Anda (2-2), Naperville Central’s Kyle Miller (22-14), and West Aurora’s Greg Jacquez (31-4) each fell victim to Murphy on Saturday. Murphy also reached the DVC title mat last year as a freshman at 130 but lost 6-4 in overtime to WW South’s Mark Savenok.
The junior Jacquez reached the title mat thanks to a pin of WW South freshman Camden Johnnic and then a 6-3 decision over Wheaton North’s Zach Striplin (16-7). Striplin won 7-2 for third over Miller, and Anda won 4-2 for fifth over Glenbard East’s Andy Smajic (11-6).
Mario Rodriguez knew what he was in for.
“I knew he was tough,” the Glenbard North sophomore said of WW South senior Mark Savenok. “Last year he wrestled one of our best wrestlers, (Brian) Murphy, and beat him twice.”
Top-seeded Savenok won a DVC title last year, and he and second-seeded Rodriguez squared off in a doozy on this year’s title mat at 145. And with the score tied 4-4 and time running out in the match …
“He took a shot, had the single, and tried to back-trip and scoop it up,” Rodriguez said. “I kept my whizzer and came in with the hook. I heard the ref counting down and I didn’t want to go into overtime, so I thought I’d try the throw and I got it.”
Rodriguez’s 6-4 win gave him his first DVC title and earned Glenbard North its sixth and final individual title of the night.
“He wrestled a great match,” Hahn said. “That’s the match we want to see Mario wrestle because that’s what he’s capable of. He’s very talented and he’s a great wrestler. When he goes in and battles like that he’s going to win a lot of matches.”
Rodriguez (33-8) has been at his best when he simply goes out and wrestles, and ignores the reputation of a wrestler like Savenok (14-2).
“I had to put that out of my mind. I’ve doubted myself before and I’ve lost,” Rodriguez said. My coaches told me to just go out and wrestle, and I put everything I had into it. I blanked everything out and stayed focused on what I had to do.”
After the title match, Savenok – who has battled knee injuries for three seasons – had to be helped off the mat.
Rodriguez also wrestled a barnburner in his semifinal match, winning an 8-6 decision in overtime against Wheaton North’s Don Hane (12-5). Savenok pinned West Chicago’s Jesse Short (12-16) and then won 7-4 in his semifinal against Naperville Central’s John Graeber (22-7).
Hane won 6-5 over Graeber for third, and Naperville North’s Garet Punno (16-20) pinned West Aurora’s David Pequeno (14-15) on the fifth-place mat.
The eventual tournament MVP won this year’s title at 152, as the host Tigers’ Spartak Chino improved to 29-1 thanks to two pins and a tech fall win in winning his second DVC title. Chino won the conference crown last year at 140 pounds.
Chino is a two-time state placewinner, having placed fifth at 140 last year and fifth at 135 two years ago as a sophomore. He played football at 167 pounds for the Tigers in the fall, and while he wrestled much of the season at 160, he believes he’s right where he belongs heading into the state tournament.
“152 is a really good weight for me. I’m not cutting too much and I feel great,” Chino said. “I feel like I’m pretty good-sized at 152.”
“It’s the first year in a while that I’ve felt a real love for wrestling again, and I think it’s due to a lack of weight-cutting. I feel great on my feet. I made it down to 152 the last weekend of December, but I went back up to 160 and lost a match to a tough kid, Malik Taylor (of Brother Rice), in a tie-breaker. But that was a good experience.”
Chino’s tech fall win came on the title mat against West Aurora’s Alex Contini (25-17), set up by pins of Glenbard East’s Kyle Cluskey (7-21) and Naperville North’s Porfirio Gallegas (10-12).
Contini pinned West Chicago’s Ricardo Severiano (6-12) to start his day and then won a 4-3 semifinal decision over Glenbard North’s Brandon Heyduk (13-21). Gallegas won 8-6 for third over Heyduk and Naperville Central’s John Mixen (16-13) took fifth with a major decision win over Wheaton North’s Nick Sutryk (15-17).
WW South junior Steve Franke became the second of the Tigers’ four DVC champions on the day with a 4-0 win over Naperville North’s Steve Gutka (32-3) on the title mat at 160.
Gutka (30-3) pinned Glenbard East’s Matt Chlebek (18-19) and won a 5-0 semifinal decision against Wheaton North’s Sean Cleveland (21-15) to reach the finals. Franke (30-3) posted a tech fall over Naperville Central’s Tom Mitrenga (11-6) before winning a 7-0 semifinal decision against Glenbard North’s Paul Freeman (27-14).
Freeman won a 13-12 decision for third place against Mitrenga, and Cleveland pinned Chlebek on the fifth-place mat.
Franke placed third at 160 at last season’s DVC tournament.
Once WW South junior Evan Welsh got his chance in the Tigers’ lineup, he made it count.
With Spartak Chino wrestling up at 160 for much of the year and Steve Franke wrestling at 171, there was simply nowhere for Welsh to wrestle until both of those Tigers’ teammates dropped down in weight.
Welsh improved to 9-1 on the season and won a DVC title on Saturday, when Naperville North’s Erik Krieger (25-5) was forced to injury default on the title mat at 171 pounds.
Krieger injured a knee and his status was uncertain for the upcoming Glenbard North regional.
Second-seeded Welsh won a major decision against West Chicago’s Dan King (20-15) and then posted an 8-1 semifinal decision over Naperville Central’s Colin Guttosch (15-20). Top-seeded Krieger won 9-3 against Glenbard North’s Dan Fierro (8-15) before winning 8-6 against West Aurora’s Aaron Hett (26-14).
Hett took third by pinning Guttosch and Fierro placed fifth thanks to a 3-2 overtime decision against Wheaton North’s Usman Lutifiyev.
Wheaton North junior Mike Swider continued a fine season by winning his first DVC title and improving his season record to 33-2.
Swider’s lone losses this year have come on a Dvorak title mat to top-ranked 2A Gage Harrah of Crystal Lake Central, and to top-ranked 3A Brad Johnson of Lockport.
“I had some big wins (at the Dvorak) and it was a big turning point for me,” Swider said. “I realized I can do this. Now I’m finishing on my shots, scoring better from my front offense, and just need to work a little bit on my ride. I’m finishing matches a lot better and I’m wrestling with a lot more confidence than last year.”
Top-seeded Swider’s 5-1 decision over Glenbard North’s Dan Eldridge (19-16) gave him his DVC crown. Swider pinned West Chicago’s Erick Severiano (12-17) and Naperville North’s Kijuan Walker (9-9) to reach the finals against Eldridge.
Swider won 2-1 over Eldridge in their regular-season DVC meeting.
“Things went well,” Swider said. “I watched film, I’d wrestled (Eldridge) before so I saw the film and I saw that if I could work my shots I could win it. I knew coming in that it would go all the way to the end and be a dogfight, and maybe even overtime. We’re evenly-matched, so every time we wrestle it’s going to be a dogfight.”
Eldridge won a 3-1 semifinal decision over beat second-seeded Luke Roth (24-7) of Naperville Central in getting to the title mat. Glenbard East’s Roy Williams (12-20) took third with a pin of Roth, and Walker’s 9-5 decision over Severiano earned the freshman a fifth-place finish.
WW South’s fourth individual title came courtesy of top-seeded senior Joe Hall, who improved to 25-1 on the year with his 7-0 title-mat decision over Glenbard North’s second-seeded Zak Durkee (23-8).
Hall won 4-0 over Glenbard East’s Eriberto Carreon (29-9) to start his day and then pinned Naperville North’s Tim Hasse (12-14) in their semifinal match. Durkee majored West Chicago’s Guillermo Galvan (6-11) and then pinned Wheaton North’s Joel Henley (20-13) to get to the title mat.
Carreon pinned West Aurora’s Michael Ortiz (14-11) for third, and Henley pinned Hasse to place fifth.
West Aurora’s second DVC champ on the day was top-seeded heavyweight Austin Beebe (25-6), who won a 6-3 decision over second-seeded Dan Buyle (27-11) for the title.
“I wanted to match my seed and that’s what I did,” Beebe said. “I didn’t even place here last year so it’s a big turnaround. I worked hard in the offseason for this.”
Beebe majored WW South’s Kendric Welch (8-11) before winning a 4-2 semifinal decision against Naperville North’s Colin Goebel (12-6). Buyle got to the finals with pins over Wheaton North’s T.J. Porter (2-8) and West Chicago’s John Carlos (10-15).
Naperville Central’s James Mitchell (25-9) bounced back from an opening 5-3 overtime loss to Carlos with three wins that earned him a third-place finish, capped by a 3-1 win against Welch. Goebel took fifth via 3-1 decision over Carlos.
When it was over, Beebe echoed what wrestlers talked about all day in describing what helped them win DVC titles.
“I have confidence and I never had it last year,” Beebe said. “You just have to know you can do it. I came into the year with (confidence) and now I’m ready for the regional.”