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Plainfield Central’s Jordan Ellingwood (left) beat Lockport’s Tyler Johnson in the 182 pound match during the Sectional Duels at Lockport High School February, 21, 2012. | Ray Luna ~ For Sun-Times Media
New chapters are added each year to the Joliet area’s rich wrestling history. In 2012, four state champions — Lockport’s Brad Johnson and Shaun’Qae McMurtry, Minooka’s Jake Residori and Lincoln-Way East’s Kyle Langenderfer — entered the honor rolls.
Langenderfer, a 152-pounder this season, is the area’s lone returning champ. He leads a local group of 13 reigning state-placers into this week’s sectionals.
Joining Langenderfer at the Class 3A Moline Sectional are Lockport’s Brian Rossi (113 pounds), Joliet Central’s Trayvon Zabala (120), Lincoln-Way Central’s Robbie Mikenis (138), Minooka’s Corbett Oughton (152) and Plainfield Central’s Nick Nasenbeny (126) and Jordan Ellingwood (195).
In 2A, Lemont’s Chris Giatras (182) and Morris’ Kenny Baldridge (126) and Nik Countryman (182) return as podium placers. Giatras topped Countryman for fifth at 182 last season, and the duo could clash again at state.
In 1A, Coal City returns two fifth-place finishers in Cody Minnick (106) and Casey Brown (120), while Wilmington’s two-time placer, Andy Rodawold, looks for his first state title.
The top four wrestlers from each sectional’s 14 weight classes advance to the state tournament in Champaign from Feb. 14 through 16.
Class 3A Moline Sectional
Four of the best wrestlers in the state bring unblemished records to the Moline Sectional, and with 12 weight divisions and 89 pounds ranging between them, their styles and strengths couldn’t be more different.
The bigs, represented by Plainfield Central’s Ellingwood (43-0 at 195) and Lincoln-Way East’s Langenderfer (39-0 at 152), have been nothing short of dominant. They punish opponents with bruising physicality, evident from their time on the football field.
Ellingwood is coming off a third-place finish at state last season and is being courted to wrestle at Central Michigan, Northern Iowa and Purdue.
Langenderfer, the champ last year at 138, has committed to Illinois.
“Being a three-sport athlete basically his whole life, people might take for granted how coachable Jordan is,” Kappas said. “I think this year he’s matured physically and mentally, and it’s really shown in his work ethic and preparation.”
At the lighter weights, expect nonstop action from Plainfield South’s Miguel Silva (38-0 at 106) and Joliet Central’s Zabala (41-0 at 120).
Silva pinned his way through the Joliet Central Regional, while Zabala, a third-place finisher in state last season, became the first four-time regional champ in Joliet Central history.
Class 2A Rich East Sectional
Lincoln-Way West trounced the field at the Tinley Park Regional with seven champions and 11 total sectional qualifiers. Those numbers tied a school record West set two years ago. The Warriors will have a chance to send a large portion of its roster to the state tournament, led by consistent 132-pounder Kyle Rodriguez (37-5).
Also advancing from the Tinley Park Regional is Lemont’s 182-pound champ Chris Giatras (37-1), the favorite at Rich East and a front-runner for the Class 2A state title. Giatras was a state-placer in 2012, and will be joined by teammate and returning state qualifier Mike Devitt at 220.
Advancing for Joliet Catholic are Braden Lancaster (145), Frank Bruno (160) and Anthony McInerney (195).
Class 1A Plano Sectional
Wilmington 132-pounder Rodawald (41-2) enters as one of its most decorated wrestlers. A state finalist last season, Rodawald is joined by teammate and fellow regional champ Sean Liaromatis (170 pounds) as favorites in their respective divisions.
Coal City will look to continue its authority over the lower weight classes. Cody Minnick (undefeated at 106), Corey Jurzak (113), Casey Brown (120) and Jake Czaja (145) all enter sectionals as regional title-holders.
Peotone won its own regional by a half-point and qualified 10 for sectionals. Shadriq Jackson (120), Gabe Hartnett (138), Kody Goberville (160) and Tom Ruffino (195) seized regional titles.