Scouting the 2021-22 wrestling season in the Northwest suburbs
Mid Suburban East
Buffalo GroveCoach: Joe Puzzo (1st year)
Last Year: 4-9-0.
Top Returnees: Senior Cristian Sanchez; juniors Vladislov Federchenko, David Rodriguez.
New Faces to Watch: Sophomore JJ Garay; freshmen Chris Chi.
Outlook: Former assistant Joe Puzzo takes over and will count on a trio of returning starters to lead the way in what he hopes will be a very successful campaign. “Our expectations will be to be good people, be better than we were yesterday, and to contend in our division, and at the MSL championships,” says Puzzo, whose club will host two major tournaments this season, beginning with the long-running Rex Lewis, and later the MSL Tournament.
Elk GroveCoach: Dan Vargas (8th year).
Last Year: 4-10-0.
Top Returnees: Seniors Danny Gaskill (138), Brady Tosterud (220); sophomores Grant Madl (113), Logan Tosterud (152).
New Faces to Watch: Junior Ramiro Valdiva (285); freshmen Nicasio Acino (106), Dylan Berkowitz (195).
Outlook: In his eighth season as Grens head coach, Vargas will build his club around a talented core ready to fuel a run at a .500 record or better. “With minimal holes in our lineup, we will be more competitive within the MSL than we’ve been in some time,” says Vargas, whose mix of youth, with IWCOA state medal winner Grant Madl, and veterans Danny Gaskill and Brady Tolerud will lead the way.
HerseyCoach: Joe Rupslauk (5th year)
Top Returnees: Seniors Matt Iliynkh (145), Manny Mejia (220), Billy Spassov; junior James Shaffer.
New Faces to watch: Freshmen Danny Lehman, Max Mukhamedaliyev.
Outlook: Head coach Joe Rupslauk has upped the ante for his men this winter with a new, and improved tournament schedule which includes high profile stops at the Dvorak, and the 19th annual ‘Clash’ held in Rochester, Minn., just after the new year. “Our nonconference schedule is second to nobody. The guys need to learn to fight and compete with the best, but if we want to improve, it all starts by battling hard in the room,” says Rupslauk, whose club appears to be solid up and down its lineup, and now will have the chance to prove it.
ProspectCoach: Tom Whalen (12th year)
Last Year: 8-6-0.
Top Returnees: Seniors Nick Grassano (160/170), Jacob Grzesiak (195/220), Bryan Magadan (138-152), Tom Miller (120-132), Sam Mitchell (285); juniors Will Baysinger (120-132), Nate Lopez (170/182), Joel Muehlenbeck (106-120), Kenichi Nguyen (120-132), Damien Puma (138-152), Miko Salata (195/220), Lennon Steinkuehler (132-145).
New Faces to Watch: Sophomores Mike Matuszak (170/182), Connor Munn (152/160).
Outlook: When several of Tom Whalen’s men return from the Knights’ football postseason run, the MSL East champions will have the depth to compete for the top prize in the league and more. “We have 15 playing football, so they’ll need time to catch up with a group that have been training with intensity, making the competition in our room at a high level each and every day,” says Whalen, who claimed his 200th career victory last year. IWCOA state champion Will Baysingar is poised to win another title, with returning state qualifiers, Damien Puma, and Joel Muehlenbeck ready to lend a hand as the Knights look to navigate through a difficult nonconference schedule.
Rolling MeadowsCoach: John Basler (6th year).
Last Year: 4-10-0.
Top Returnees: Senior Dominic Andrejek (160); junior Javier Hurtado (138); sophomore Ben Escalante (126).
New Faces to Watch: Junior Alan Velasquez (120); sophomore Amar Malik (182).
Outlook: John Basler returns to take charge once again after a year away from a Mustangs program that lost just one starter (Sam Dombos) yet will have some trouble filling out its lineup at the onset. “As a team, we’ll most likely give up 3-4 weight classes each night, making it tough to compete in (conference) but we have some very tough young men who I feel will have the chance to qualify to state,” says Basler.
WheelingCoach: Charlie Curran (5th year).
Last Year: 3-11-0.
Top Returnees: Senior Jatuthep Rattanahattakul; junior Erik Giron; sophomores Tony Pacheo, Patrick Tinsley.
New Faces to Watch: Freshmen Max Katz, Avian Roman
Outlook: Charlie Curran, and his staff will work hard to ensure the fitness of his men will help ready his Wildcats for the season ahead, one in which the former Hersey and Elmhurst College star hopes will provide the foundation to bigger and better things in the near future. “Our goal is to get ourselves 10 sectional qualifiers, and two of those heading downstate through individual growth and improvement each day,” says Curran.
BarringtonCoach: Dave Udchik (8th year).
Last Year: 21-6-0.
Top Returnees: Seniors Brian Beers (126), Charlie Jones (126), Phillip Chapa (138); junior Jon Fier (160).
New Faces to Watch: Seniors Zach Meyer (195), Luke Rosenzweig (195/220); sophomores Brady Wright (113), Neel Talpallikar (106).
Outlook: The Broncos lost plenty from last season’s club, but Dave Udchik sees the prodigious work rate, and continued commitment to excellence as a reason to be excited as the 2021-22 campaign draws closer. “We have the largest group of seniors ever with 19 on the roster with 12-14 that will realistically challenge for a spot on the team,” says Udchik. “We graduated a ton of talent, but this senior class is gritty, hardworking and all about ‘team first’ in and out of our room.”
ConantCoach: Andrew Guilde (1st year)
Last Year: 16-4-0 (MSL champions, 3rd, Dual-Team State).
Top Returnees: Senior Henry Chang (195), CJ Gilbert (152/160); juniors Sammy Santangelo (113/120), Ethan Stiles (145/152).
New Faces to Watch: Seniors Mason Bertoli (132/138), Cody Sebo (170).
Outlook: Undefeated and returning IWCOA state champion Ethan Stiles headlines a solid group coming back for Andrew Guilde, who takes over for longtime coach Chad Hay, who in his final season led the Cougars to the MSL title and third place at the 3A dual-team state tournament. “We return one state champion, three state qualifiers and 10 starters from a year ago, so our expectations are to repeat as conference champs and qualify for dual-team state,” says Guilde.
FremdCoach: Jeff Keske (4th year).
Last Year: 8-9-0.
Top Returnees: Seniors Charlie Fifield (145), Wiley Jessup (113); juniors Casey Bending (220), Jake Crandall (126), Maddox Khalimsky (132),
New Faces to Watch: Sophomore AJ Del Mar (182); freshman Evan Gosz (113).
Outlook: Several of Jeff Keske’s men appear ready to compete for trophies this season following impressive seasons a year ago. Maddox Khalimsky, and Wiley Jessup are returning IWCOA state medal winners, junior Jake Crandall was an IWCOA Frosh-Soph state champion, Casey Bending earned Frosh-Soph all-state honors. “With a few spots uncertain in our lineup, we may be a better tournament team than dual team this year, but our goal still is to be a top 20 team in the state,” says Keske, who also has one of the best in the business in Charlie Fifield (145), who was out last year (ACL) after his dazzling 40-win, state qualifying two years ago.
Hoffman EstatesCoach: Leonel Clark (2nd year).
Last Year: 8-7-0.
Top Returnees: Senior Israel Vargas; junior Julian Bonilla
New Faces to Watch: Junior Jalen Curtis
Outlook: Hawks head coach Leonel Clark will lean on his two best men, IWCOA Frosh-Soph sixth-place medalist Julian Bonilla and Israel Vargas, himself an IWCOA sectional qualifier here at the start of his second year after taking over for Tony Ganas. “We have great leadership in Julian and Israel, who continue to push the rest of the team in our room, and with all of the guys still unhappy on how the season ended last year, I believe they’ll use that as the motivation to work hard, and get better.” says Clark.
PalatineCoach: Javier Rivera (2nd year)
Last Year: 8-7-0.
Top Returnees: Seniors Leo Franco (285), Jasmine Hernandez (145), Sam John (195), Joey Spizzirri (145).
Outlook: Javier Rivera, the classy Pirates longtime assistant will build his roster around a solid core of returning wrestlers, who will give his starting lineup its strength from the middle on up beginning with Joey Spizzirri at 145, and ending up top with big men, Sam John, and Leo Franco. “We’ll look to continue growing after our 8-7-0 record in the summer and to develop and fill our lineup and roster with a big group of freshmen,” says Rivera, who boasts an IWCOA Girls State Champion (Jasmine Hernandez) in his program.
SchaumburgCoach: Mike Levanti (11th year).
Last Year: 8-11-0.
Top Returnees: Seniors Joey Phelps 113), Oliver Suder (145); junior Caden Kirchner (126).
New Faces to Watch: Juniors Jacob Acevedo (170), Logan Meyer (160); freshmen Callen Kirchner (120), Brady Phelps (106).
Outlook: The push for the upper half of the league does not seem unrealistic for the Saxons, who appear to have quality thanks in part to a trio of high profile wrestlers on Mike Levanti’s roster. “The brother combinations of Brady and Joey Phelps, as well as Caden and Callen Kirchner will be the backbone of our squad this season, but I am also excited about the middle of our lineup with Oliver Suder, Logan Meyer, and Jacob Acevedo,” says Levanti. Caden Kirchner was a sixth-place state medal winner and Joey Phelps a state qualifier, while his younger brother Brady was an under-16 national runner up in Greco-Roman competition.
Maine SouthCoach: Kevin Hansen (9th year)
Last Year: 10-5-0.
Top Returnees: Seniors Nico Chisari (170), Cole Cichowski (182), Tim Whitelaw (126); junior Nate Beltran (138).
New Faces to Watch: Senior Issa Salameh (195); freshman Luke Morrison (120).
Outlook: The Hawks said goodbye to a trio of state qualifiers — Noah Beltran, Aidan Hansen, and Clay Cichowski — but young talent Teddy Flores, an IWCOA state qualifier, along with veterans Nate Beltran, Nico Chisari, and Cole Cichowski should give coach Kevin Hansen reason for hope this winter. “We’ll look to win our fourth 3A regional title, and make a run at the top spot in the CSL South as well,” says Hansen.
Maine WestCoach: Chris Brassell (7th year)
Last Year: 2-7-0.
Top Returnees: Seniors Claudio Castellanos (138), Wesley Fleming (182), Gabe Marquez (195), Dilan Ramirez-Zavala (160).
Outlook: The Warriors have the chance to be one of the more improved teams in the CSL North as this new season goes deeper. “We’re looking to have a safe and healthy 2021-22 season, and have things return to a more normal regular season, and tournament schedule, with the hope of improvement with each week,” said Chris Brassell, who will count heavily on three-year veterans Claudio Castellanos, and Wesley Fleming.
St. ViatorCoach: Jason Churak (10th year).
Last Year: 6-10-0.
Top Returnees: Seniors Austin Kanyuh (138), John Whelan (145)
New Faces to Watch: Sophomore Aidan Colgan (113); freshmen Allistar Kanyuh (152), Nikita Yakubyak (160).
Outlook: The Lions, along with the rest of the East Suburban Catholic, will be looking up to 2A state power Joilet Catholic Academy, which lost nationally ranked, and three-time state champion DJ Hamiti to Wisconsin but still returns a pair of state champions and six other state qualifiers to its lineup. “Just about everyone on JCA is someone to watch but for us, we’ll build slowly, but find success later when our younger guys continue to improve and gain confidence along the way,” says Churak, whose record stands at 125-48.
Leyden and Maine East did not provide information for this preview