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Joliet Central’s Trayvon Zabala (top) defeated Sandburg’s Jake Vales in the 120 pound championship match at Joliet Central, Saturday January, 19, 2013. | Ray Luna ~ For Sun-Times Media
Both wrestlers already had qualified for Saturday’s Moline Sectional.
But there was a reason other than the obvious for why Joliet Central senior Sharod Wilson badly wanted to win his 182-pound title match against Minooka sophomore Nathan Gunn in last Saturday’s Class 3A Joliet Central Regional.
“Last year I was second in the regional so I had to wrestle a first-round match at sectional,” said Wilson, who beat Gunn 4-2. “I wound up losing in the sectional. By winning the regional, I’ll have a first-round bye. You can just see the difference.”
The top 3A wrestlers in the area, many of whom qualified by finishing in the top three at Joliet Central, others having done likewise in regionals at Lockport and Bolingbrook, will be at Moline along with qualifiers from the Granite City Regional. The top four finishers in each of the 14 weight classes will earn berths at state next weekend.
Wilson is confident he will be among them.
“The best people at the sectional will be the guys from our conference (SouthWest Suburban Blue) and I got first in conference,” he noted.
Minooka, wrestling with a collective heavy heart because of the recent death of Minooka teacher Michael Assaf III, advanced nine wrestlers and won the regional to earn a berth in the dual-team sectional that comes up after the individual state tourney. Indians coach Jeff Charlebois said the decision at 182 was one thing he had hoped would go the other way.
“I really thought Nathan (Gunn) had an opportunity to win it, but Sharod (Wilson) is a stud,” he said.
That’s the good thing about finishing second. Even if you lose a tough match, you may get a shot at revenge the following week.
Wilson enters the sectional with a 36-2 record while Gunn is 20-3.
Wilson’s Joliet Central teammate, junior Trayvon Zabala, is 38-0 and ranked No. 3 in his weight class. The Steelmen’s first four-time regional champ, he finished second in the state as a sophomore and third last year, when feels he might have won it if not for a disqualification in the quarterfinals.
“Now I’m faster on my feet and a little stronger,” he said.
Minooka’s team victory was not unexpected. The Indians, champions of the Suburban Prairie, boast depth led by the Oughton brothers. Carson (32-9), a freshman, was the regional champion at 145 and Corbett (8-2), a senior, won at 152. Minooka’s other champions were senior Mike McNulty (138, 30-13) and junior Eric Velazquez (220, 31-12).
Corbett Oughton returned a couple of weeks ago after missing nearly two months with a dislocated left elbow. Some discoloration remains. But if an opponent attempts to take advantage?
“I can protect myself,” he said. “It’s as close (to 100 percent) as it’s going to be. I was fourth in state last year, and that’s been on my mind all year, the chance to win a state title.”
“I’d like to make it to state as a freshman,” Carson Oughton said. “Having him (Corbett) on the team, there’s a lot of guidance there.
“I didn’t know what to expect as a freshman, but as the year went on and I got more and more wins, I got more comfortable.”
“Carson is doing real well,” Corbett said. “I was a match away from going to state as a freshman. Hopefully he can get there.”
Among others with gaudy records coming out of the Joliet Central Regional are Plainfield South sophomore Miguel Silva (106, 35-0), Providence senior Ronald Triche (113, 33-1) and Joliet West junior Jayvin Bandy (132, 29-5). All three were regional champs, and Silva is ranked No. 2 in the state.
“I missed getting out of the sectional by one place last year, and I’m looking forward to going back,” Silva said. “I’ve made a lot of improvement since last year.”
I recall football games last fall where Wilson disrupted a good opposing offense from his defensive end position, where Gunn demonstrated his explosiveness as a running back and where Oughton intercepted passes in bunches from his position in the secondary. Discussing them reminds us that good football players often are outstanding wrestlers in the mid-to-upper weights.
For example, among our area’s leading candidates for high places at state are Lockport regional champions Jordan Ellingwood (195, 40-0), Kyle Langenderfer (152, 36-0) and Nick Allegretti (285, 34-2). Ellingwood was an excellent senior running back for Plainfield Central, and Langenderfer, a senior linebacker, and Allegretti, the junior center, were major reasons Lincoln-Way East reached the Class 7A championship game last fall. Langenderfer was the 3A state champ at 138 last winter and Ellingwood finished third at 182.
Carrying the football theme a step further, Lincoln-Way Central senior linebacker Matt Schneider (160, 38-6) won a regional title at Lockport and Knights senior defensive lineman Grant Bartell (285, 27-8), also a standout pitcher/first baseman in baseball, dropped his title match to Allegretti 3-1.