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Old 02-18-2009
Rob Sherrill Rob Sherrill is offline
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 1,259
A look at Class AA through a different lens

We thought this would be a two-team race before the season even began…and with the state tournament looming, there’s little reason to believe anything’s changed.

Officially, there’s no team scoring at the individual state tournament in Champaign. If there were, the inaugural middle-class AA state tournament would be a battle for third place…behind Montini and Crystal Lake Central, the front-runners since Day One.

Lots of folks are posting their individual top fours and top sixes here on the Illinois Matmen forums, and that’s great. I’ve put together a handicap of the race behind the race…the unofficial team scoring race.

So…while you look at the individuals, I’ll look at the team aspect, doing my best Brakemanesque impersonation, with the landscape of the likely top 15 teams described below.

1. Montini: The Broncos got 13 wrestlers to Champaign…all but 135…and, on paper, they have four state champions – Robertson, Gonzalez, Foreside and Goebel. Except for Rasche, the rest of the field is strong enough to deny them any more sure finalists, but Divito, Baer, Willis, Saunders and Ferraro also could get there on a hot weekend. No team has ever advanced more than five wrestlers to the Grand March – Carl Sandburg, in 2007, was the only AA team to do it – so just one additional finalist would tie the record and more than one would give the Broncos the record alone. That would also place their all-time, all-class record of 150.5 points – set in Class A in 2002 and unofficially, of course – in jeopardy.

2. Crystal Lake Central: We thought at the beginning of the season that the Tigers would be a strong second to Montini. So far, so good. The Tigers have met expectations. However, they have two obstacles to overcome. First, for all their quality wins over AAA competition, they dropped six of nine head-to-head meetings in their first encounter with Montini this season, last weekend at the sectional. Second, they’ve never been cast in the favorite’s role on a stage as big as the Assembly Hall. Jauch is the Tigers’ only sure thing, but Kielbasa, Parlberg and Harrah also have a chance to get to the Grand March. That’s probably not enough points, but it is likely a huge confidence booster heading into the dual series.

3. Lemont: They advanced six to the Assembly Hall. None have made past contributions, but this is the new AA. Leibforth might be the best on paper, but he’s trapped in the tougher half of a brutal 135-pound class. That would leave Mason, the Nagel brothers, who have better draws, and Cabral to carry the load. With that many possible scorers, the Injuns have the luxury of not having to depend on one or two big guns to take third place.

4. Mahomet-Seymour: Don’t sleep on the Bulldogs, who never really got their bearings in the state’s biggest class but now are down at the more manageable middle-class AA. Ernst, Brewer and Cleary all have finalist potential and if that happens, they could grab the third-place spot. Especially if Briggs and Ochs also contribute.

5. Civic Memorial: All three Eagles have the capacity to score big points at Champaign. Williams has had success at the Assembly Hall and Wuellner should advance far as well. If both reach the finals and Pearce takes advantage of his draw to contribute, they might grab third place.

6. Geneseo: Sheley appears to be a lock, and Cathcart has had a great sophomore season. Unfortunately for the Maple Leafs, that’s it. Still, the two could exceed 40 points with a good weekend, normally a top-10 performance.

7. Springfield: It’s been a feel-good, breakout season to remember for the Senators. We wish the schedule had been a little more challenging, but that hasn’t slowed them to this point. Spencer and Casper appear ready to blossom and Atwood’s draw gives him the chance to shine, too.

8. Champaign Central: Gilenson has met all expectations this year and has finalist potential. The question is whether anyone else can score. Ellsworth has the best chance. The Maroons took a huge confidence hit at the sectional when highly-ranked Ward couldn’t navigate a deep 160-pound class.

9. Troy Triad: What has become one of the state’s better dual-meet lineups now must switch gears. Ballard seems to have hit his stride since dropping to 140 for good. It’s hard to have to count on Neubauer and McGee for a high finish…but against their schedule, it’s possible.

10. Yorkville: The Foxes enter the first AA state tournament as a wild card. On paper, they’re a contender, but in this field, they’re up against it. Lightfoot and N. Messenger have been in our rankings all season, but they have tough draws at the Assembly Hall, as do all four Yorkville qualifiers. The loss of Bass to a brutal sectional field at 103 didn’t help, either.

Last edited by Rob Sherrill; 02-18-2009 at 07:47 PM.
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