FEATURE PHOTO: GARY LARSEN / ILLINOIS MATMEN
By MIKE CLARK
Patrick Brucki had more on his to-do list Saturday than winning.
The Sandburg senior also wanted to get inside his opponents’ minds at the Class 3A Downers Grove North Sectional.
Dominant wins in the semifinal and championship matches likely got the job done. Brucki, ranked No. 1 in 3A by Illinois Matmen, beat fifth-ranked Mason Kroening of Waubonsie Valley 17-5 in the semis before scoring a 20-5 technical fall over second-ranked Sergio Villalobos of Downers Grove South in the title match.
“I’ve had experience losing in the sectionals before and then coming back and rebounding at state,” said Brucki, who wants to rewrite that script this year. “I think it’s important to get a mental edge early.
“It’s going to be better for me next week (at state). Those guys are going to be a little more timid and they’re going to know what I’m about.”
Brucki (40-1) didn’t concern himself with strategy in the final.
“I wasn’t going to game-plan against a kid like that,” he said. “I didn’t want to get too much in my head, just wanted to wrestle. Just wanted to do what I trained for, what my coaches trained me for.”
Brucki wasn’t the only one making an emphatic statement.
St. Rita senior Austin O’Connor (42-0), who opens his quest for a fourth state title Thursday in Champaign, pinned his way through the sectional. O’Connor had a 3:14 fall against Matt Ortiz of Montini in the semis and pinned Brad Gross of Marmion at 1:41 for the title.
“Sectional is a great look for state,” said O’Connor, a North Carolina recruit. “I had the No. 3 kid in the state, Matt Ortiz; Brad Gross is the No. 4 kid in the state. And Ameen Hamdan (of Hinsdale Central), who didn’t even make it out … who could have placed at state (was in the bracket). It just shows how hard our sectional is.”
Four other wrestlers also won titles to remain unbeaten: Stagg’s Domenic Zaccone (38-0) at 113, Lyons’ Johnny Mologousis (42-0) at 170, Willowbrook’s Jack Jessen (47-0) at 182 and Marist’s Diata Drayton (40-0) at 220.
“I started off strong, getting my takedowns and stuff,” Zaccone said. “But then … during these matches I get lost in my head and I don’t know what it is, but I kind of start coasting. … There’s a lot to improve based on today.”
Drayton also sees ways to get better.
“I’ve got to get to my shots quicker and faster, and work on taking them down even when I’m tired,” he said.
Montini had a meet-best four champs: Dylan Ragusin (40-3) at 106, Real Woods (32-2) at 126, Fidel Mayora (40-3) at 132 and Will Lewan (36-2) at 145.
Also winning titles were Andrew’s Robbie Precin (38-1) at 120, Mount Carmel’s Kendall Coleman (37-6) at 138, Marmion’s Nate Jimenez (36-6) at 160 and Hinsdale Central’s Niko Ivanisevic (36-2) at 285.
Marmion and Mount Carmel both had eight state qualifiers, one more than Montini.