By DAN BERG
CAROL STREAM, IL – When you walk into Glenbard North High School, you are quite impressed with the magnitude of the Panthers rich athletic tradition. In the lobby outside the gym you see many portraits of past GBN athletes that line the walls as far as the eye can see. There are trophy cases filled with hardware testifying to the past accolades amassed by generations of former Panthers. Then as you walk into the gym itself, banners hang from the walls by the scores in a surreal display of athletic prowess. GBN is where 41 years of wrestling lives and breathes.
This is where Panther wrestling head coach and living legend Mark Hahn and his 2015-16 team just accomplished the unthinkable feat of winning their 18th consecutive DVC conference championship.
Think of it this way: out of the current stock of Panther grapplers most were not even born when the streak started. Wow!
Hahn had this to say about the streak, “You kinda get it going. One time back when we won our sixth in a row (2004), we won by only one point (239.5 to 238.5 over West Aurora HS). We were down sixteen going into the finals. There have been some really close ones. The kids love to win this tournament and the kids believe we should win this tournament.” Editor’s note: the last time GBN lost a conference championship was in 1998 to Naperville Central HS by 3.5 points.
Now don’t think for a moment that there were not many other very good teams and very good wrestlers assembled Saturday in Carol Stream, because you would be sadly mistaken. Wheaton North HS, Naperville North HS and Metea Valley HS were right there in the battle for first:
● Glenbard North HS 234.00
● Wheaton North HS 197.50
● Naperville North HS 173.00
● Metea Valley HS 164.00
● Waubonsie Valley HS 140.00
● Neuqua Valley HS 130.50
● Naperville Central HS 127.50
● Wheaton Warrenville South HS 106.00
● Lake Park HS 95.00
The individual champions were drawn from across the entire conference:
● 106 Luke Badger (Jr) Lake Park HS over Anthony Indelli (Fr) Wheaton North HS by 12-5 decision
● 113 Phillip Sims (Fr) Metea Valley HS over Denis Murphy (Fr) Neuqua Valley HS by fall 2:23
● 120 Jake Keating (Jr) Naperville Central HS over Jaime Saurez (So) Wheaton North HS by fall 2:50
● 126 Austin Gomez (Jr) Glenbard North HS over Moe Mitchell (Sr) Neuqua Valley HS by fall 1:43
● 132 Mike Milan (Sr) Glenbard North HS over Aaron Kruk (Sr) Naperville North HS by 3-2 decision
● 138 Joe Czernek (Sr) Glenbard North HS over Jake Toepfer (Sr) Metea Valley HS by 9-7 decision
● 145 Jackson Schoen (Sr) Lake Park HS over Anthony Marre (So) Glenbard North HS by 8-0 major decision
● 152 Marcello Macellaio (Sr) Wheaton Warrenville South HS over Duncan Nelson (Jr) Wheaton North HS by 6-2 decision
● 160 Tom Czernek (Sr) Glenbard North HS over Devin Donovan (Jr) Wheaton North HS by 3-2 decision
● 170 Stevie Schmult (Sr) Naperville North HS over Nick Sondag (Jr) Waubonsie Valley HS by 3-1 decision
● 182 Mason Kroening (Jr) Waubonsie Valley HS over Cam Martin (Jr) Naperville North HS by fall 1:13
● 195 Max Ihry (Sr) Waubonsie Valley HS over Dylan Ervin (Sr) Metea Valley HS by 3-1 decision OT
● 220 David Rojas (Sr) Metea Valley HS over Tom Rizzi (Sr) Naperville North HS by 5-4 decision
● 285 Tyler Caldwell (Sr) Waubonsie Valley HS over Jon Czernek (Sr) Glenbard North HS by 4-2 decision
Head coach Claudio Torres of Metea Valley HS didn’t get his four champions as he had hoped after the first session, “We have four going into the finals who are having a great tournament so far. We could win all four.”
Torres did have two champs in Sims (113) and Rojas (220).
Torres of Metea Valley had this to say about his victory, “It really feels great to see that my hard work is paying off. The great job by Coach Torres and the coaching staff motivates each and every day.”
His teammate, Sims, added this, “It was very exciting to (see) how good I can be and how well I wrestled.” Commenting on Torres’ raspy voice caused by yelling, Sims joked, “It doesn’t matter, we can still hear him.”
The stands were packed and the atmosphere was electric as the matches headed into the second session. Naperville North’s Schmult (170) savored his win in what was his last DVC match of his high school career. He won all three of his matches convincingly.
Schmult had this to say, “Me and my coaches had a plan that we talked about: don’t try to pin guys if you know you can’t. Go for points when you can and don’t do anything stupid. The last time we wrestled (Sondag WVHS) the score was 10-3, so I wrestled a different match this time.”
The precision in which host Glenbard North HS conducted the DVC championships was very special. Kudos to Principal Dr. John Mensik, Assistant Principal of Athletics Matt Bowser and Head Coach Mark Hahn and his staff and all the other Panthers who made the event fun and exciting for everyone.
Waubonsie Valley HS did a good job finishing fifth with 140.00 points and had the champion at 182 in Kroening. The junior executed two pins after a first round win by forfeit. He said this about his thought process, “Going into the day the thing I worked on was my technique. I pinned my way through.” He continued, ”The past couple of years I peaked too early, this year I started a little late. I’m hungrier than ever and in the best shape ever.”
The two DVC wrestling championship MVP’s were Max Ihry (195) from Waubonsie Valley HS and Austin Gomes (126) from Glenbard North HS. A well deserved ‘Shout Out’ to these fine athletes.
Iowa State bound Gomez, a junior, was his usual spectacular self. Winning by fall 0:17, 2:59, and 1:43 respectively, Gomez rolled right through his weight class in grand fashion.
Gomez had this to say, “I just wanted to go for points, that is what my focus is on. When I score points I can beat anybody. And that is what I did today, score points.” Regarding the future road he and his fellow Panthers will travel, Gomez offered this, “Getting downstate is gonna be kind of tough. If we win our regional we head to the sectionals and face Oak Park-River Forest HS (currently ranked #1 in 3A). So we are going to try as hard as we can and get some points and see what happens.”
Coach Hahn was very happy with this, his 18th consecutive DVC championship. Hahn said this, “I thought our kids wrestled the best of the 18 years. This was probably my favorite because even though we won all our duals, we were still kind of an underdog. We had to do this as a team and we had some heroes today, some guys really stepped up. We got some bonus points. Tommy (Czernek), Joey (Czernek) and Nathan (Chalus, finished 4th 220) grinded and pushed through. We had some heroes today.”
I think some of the opposing coaches may beg to differ about Hahn’s point of being an ‘underdog’. See, we are talking about THE Glenbard North HS and THE Gold Dot Nation wrestling teams. But hey, after 18 championships in a row, Hahn has the hardware to back up his words.