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It’s that time of year when every wrestling team is battling injuries and illness.
For Bartlett, it’s been that time of year all season.
“I don’t think we’ve had the same lineup for any meet or tournament this year,” Hawks coach John O’Brien said. “It’s been interesting. It’s hard to be competitive in duals when you’re forfeiting three weight classes.
“But I can never fault these kids for their attitude and effort. Our guys are working hard, their attitude is great and they’re giving me everything they’ve got.”
O’Brien’s squad placed second in a nine-team field at Downers Grove South recently, getting an individual title from returning Class 3A state champion Sal Annoreno (145). Annoreno is currently ranked No. 1 in Illinois at 138 pounds by Illinois Best Weekly.
“Sal dinged his knee in the second week of practice and missed six matches, but he’s been rock-solid ever since,” O’Brien said.
Bartlett had four wrestlers place second at Downers Grove South in Connor Johnson (113), Anthony Zipparro (120), Brian Boyle (152) and Ben Wiley (195). Ryan Hennessey (138) and Alex Piedra (220) were third and Kenny Malekian (160) finished fourth.
Zipparro lost a 5-4 decision on the title mat to South’s Anthony DiCristofano.
“(Zipparro) was within a few seconds of winning the whole thing,” O’Brien said. “He was down the whole match and came back and nearly pinned the kid in the final and ended up a point short. He’s always dangerous because he can take guys from their feet and put them on their backs and score a lot of points.”
Youth served at Burlington Central
Burlington Central coach Vince Govea may have a young team on his hands, but the Rockets’ underclassmen are seeing what’s possible thanks to one of their own.
Sophomore Craig Kein (170) placed second at a 10-team tournament at Sterling on Dec . 8, and captured an individual title on Dec. 15 at Harvard’s 16-team tournament, improving his season record to 14-3 in the process.
The weight class at 170 is typically loaded with juniors and seniors, but the sophomore Kein has more than held his own.
“Craig has been a great surprise. He’s been wrestling in the middle school program with me and he got a lot of matches in the spring,” Govea said. “He’s doing a phenomenal job and he’s a very strong kid for a sophomore. I expected a lot from him but it was a pleasant surprise so far.
“We’re a young team, only about five seniors in the lineup and one junior, and the rest are freshmen and sophomores this year.”
The Rockets’ Dishan Rambo (160) placed fourth at Sterling and second at Harvard, while Brady Wienrich (138) placed fourth at both tournaments.
“Rambo is our lone returning sectional qualifier and Wienrich is our captain,” Govea said. “He’s a great kid and a great leader. All of our seniors are great leaders and they’re pushing the younger kids.”