Marist takes second at state team wrestling
Marist narrowly missed making it a three-peat for local schools at state team wrestling.
While Sandburg didn’t get a chance to defend its back-to-back state championships Saturday at U.S. Cellular Coliseum in Bloomington, the RedHawks were poised to pick up where the Eagles had left off. After collecting five wins during one six-match sequence, Marist not only fought back from a sizable deficit, but it created something similar for highly touted Oak Park-River Forest.
But the Huskies, who were without two wrestlers because of injuries and had a third dealing with the remnants of illness, climbed out of what eventually became a 15-point hole. Victories in the final two matches sealed the deal for Oak Park, which defeated Marist 31-22 for the team title.
Highlighting the RedHawks’ surge was 106-pound Jimmy McAuliffe, who pinned Jay Renteria. Renteria was runner-up at the previous week’s individual state meet. The Huskies countered, however, with Davonte Mahomes’ verdict over Peter Andreotti at 170.
Andreotti, a 1,000-yard rusher during the football season, had finished third at state at 160 pounds one week earlier.
Other winners for Marist versus Oak Park included Nick Lukanich (113), Mike Mullaney (126), Ameen Hamden (132), Ethan Benoit (182) and Tom Ford (heavyweight). The RedHawks’ team finish was their best at state since 1997, when they also took second.
Marist earned its spot opposite Oak Park on the strength of earlier triumphs over Lincoln-Way Central (32-15) and Marmion Academy (27-25). The latter win was not realized until Mario Leveille scored a 3-2 decision over the Cadets’ Michael Callahan at 138 pounds.
When Stagg captured the Sandburg Sectional on Feb. 22, the Chargers realized one of their preseason goals and immediately focused on the next one: a top-12 finish at last weekend’s state meet in Evanston.
And while Stagg fell short in its quest — it scored 10 points and placed 30th — Chargers coach Jason Carr summed up the state experience, and season as a whole, as a great accomplishment. The benefits, he said, will extend beyond athletes on the current squad and positively affect future members of the program.
“I’m very happy for the kids,” Carr said. “It was a very good experience and the kids loved it. And we’re only losing three seniors from the sectional team and just one from state — three of the four relay members from the 200 and 400 will be back next season.
“I’m excited for the future and possibly [having] even more kids going downstate for next season. This season was definitely one of the best seasons that Stagg has had since I’ve been here.”
Freshman Lucas Smiarowski, juniors Evan Johnson and Zack Amendola, and senior Harlan Long teamed up for an 11th-place finish in the 400-yard freestyle relay in Saturday’s finals and garnered all-state honors in the process. The relay unit actually improved its standing between Friday and Saturday, as it had nosed out Lake Forest by just .34 seconds in the prelims for the 12th and final qualifying spot. On Saturday, the Chargers completed the race in 3:11.25 and were only .02 seconds in arrears of 10th-place Andrew.
“When we qualified for Saturday in the 400, there was a big celebration,” Carr said. “It was nice to advance to Saturday and compete so close to our [District 230] sister school Andrew. And what’s neat is that the guys are close [relationship-wise] with the guys from Andrew.”
Also on Saturday, Amendola took ninth in the 100-butterfly (51.19 seconds) and 12th in the 100-backstroke (52.40) as an individual, while Smiarowski was 12th in the 200-individual medley (1:56.37).
Smiarowski missed advancement to the finals in the 500-free by three spots after placing 15th overall (4:40.12) during Friday’s prelims. He was only .61 seconds behind the last qualifier. Long also had a near-miss in the 100-breaststroke, where he was kept out of the top 12 by .14 seconds after winding up 15th in the prelims with his time of 59.25.
The 200-medley relay quartet — which was also comprised of Smiarowski, Johnson, Amendola and Long — took 16th on Friday in 1:37.09, which was less than a full second away from the cutoff time for qualification. Long (32nd in the 200-free in 1:46.26) and Johnson (34th in the 50-free, 22.25; 35th in the 100-free, 49.23) also swam in individual prelim events.
“We had good swims at state with kids in the top 12, as well as [being] close at 14 and 15,” Carr said. “When the 400-yard freestyle relay team competed on Friday, we weren’t sure if we had finished 12th or 13th. We knew we were right there.
“We achieved the goal of winning sectionals. And while our second goal was a top-12 finish, obviously the most important goal was getting as many of the guys to advance to Saturday.”
Sandburg’s three state qualifiers all finished with respectable times during Friday’s prelims, but were unable to move on to the next day’s finals.
David Apps finished 17th in the 200 IM (1:57.70), while both diver Dean Boures (164.15 points) and Kevin Stratton (53.13 in the 100-backstroke) occupied the No. 24 position in their respective events.