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Bartlett's Sal Annoreno (top) wins his 138-pound championship match against Wheaton North's Sean Murray during the Class 3A Glenbard North Regional on Saturday. | Michael R. Schmidt ~ For Sun-Times Media
The approach Bartlett defending state champion Sal Annoreno is taking toward the Class 3A Maine East Sectional is one any wrestler who advanced out of last week’s regionals would be wise to remember.
A heavy favorite to make it to state at 138, Annoreno isn’t about to take anything for granted.
“I go out with a level head and know that anything can happen at this time of the year,” Annoreno said.
Whether favorites or big underdogs, area wrestlers know they can either deliver the big upset and advance to Champaign, or see their hopes dashed in a few seconds.
Wrestlers in area sectionals need to get into the top four at sectionals to advance to Assembly Hall for state. Annoreno heads up the area contingent looking to make state, but it’s not a group loaded with top seeds.
“It’s just another step toward the state meet and it gets tougher every week,” Annoreno said. “You’ve just got to be mentally prepared and ready to go.”
Annoreno, at 27-1, has lost only to Montini’s Chris Garcia (4-2 decision) and he won’t see Garcia again unless he’s watching the Class 2A state meet as a spectator. Annoreno goes into Friday’s meet as the top seed at 138. The meet brings together top three finishers from Glenbard North, Schaumburg, Evanston and York. Wrestling will take place Friday night and Saturday morning with wrestleback finals slated for 3 p.m. and finals at approximately 4:45 p.m.
Annoreno is joined by teammates Bryan Boyle (26-10 at 152) and Alex Piedra (19-13, 220). In all, 13 School District U-46 wrestlers advanced to the Maine East Sectional, and if experience does count for anything then South Elgin’s 126-pounder Cory Pych (28-6) has to rate among the challengers for a state berth.
He is the only U-46 returning state qualifier and happened to find himself in a stacked weight class at Glenbard North when he finished third. He’ll again have to contend with Glenbard North’s Jered Cortez (41-0) and West Chicago’s Tyler Svestka (31-6), as well as Oak Park-River Forest’s Isaiah White (40-1) and Maine South’s Terry Calkins (27-3).
He’ll be joined at sectional by 285-pound regional runner-up Nick Kowalski (14-4) and surprising 160-pounder William Aleman (10-8).
Elgin’s Jeff Morrow (106, 27-3), Zach McCullough (113), and Richard Santana (195, 28-3) are the kind of wrestlers top seeds don’t want to face at sectionals.
Although all come in seeded below the four regional champs, Morrow has a better record than anyone in his weight class (.900) and McCullough and Santana better than all but one wrestler in their division.
“From here on out you’ve got to earn it,” Elgin coach Tom Stewart said. “Nobody is giving anything away at this point.
“We’re hopeful we can qualify somebody (for state). I would like to think out of four, maybe two, if not three.”
The fourth Elgin qualifier is Tyler VonEssen (120, 18-13).
The other District 46 qualifiers are Streamwood’s Alex Curtis (126, 27-8) and Larkin’s Duke Bogicevic (132, 26-11) and Alex Duran (145, 22-16).
St. Charles East takes the most area wrestlers to the meet with nine, including regional champs Cam Carlson (170, 29-8) and Keone Derain (145, 28-6), but Isaiah Vela (32-3, 120) rates a strong shot after losing a 4-3 title match to Glenbard North’s Johnny Gosinski last week.
The Saints had only two regional champs.
“The goal is to get yourself downstate and wrestle well,” Saints coach Jason Potter said. “Win or lose in that last (regional) match — it’s always nice to win and get yourself that easier route — but the bottom line is it’s the goal of every one of those kids that’s advanced to get downstate.”
Also among the field is St. Charles North regional champ Wes Posholk, a top seed (27-4) at 220, who rates a good shot at advancing in what doesn’t appear to be a strong weight class.
Jacobs’ Austin Ryan (32-2) is among the top seeds at 106 and rates the best shot of advancing from three area schools that endured heartbreak in regionals. Huntley (5), Dundee-Crown (4), and Jacobs (2) combined for 11 losses in the third-place elimination matches at regionals.
Jacobs’ Cody Ferencz (120, 26-10), Huntley’s Nick Meyer (106, 28-14), Ricky Vigil (29-13, 120) and Brandon Mabry (190, 32-5), and the Chargers’ Ray Griggel (220, 12-4) are the other area qualifiers.
Wrestling Friday begins at 5 p.m. and resumes Saturday at 9 a.m. Finals are slated for 3 p.m. Saturday.