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Oswego's Nick Schultz puts Oswego East's Justin Garza in a near fall position in their 126-pound match Thursday at Oswego. Mary Beth Nolan~For Sun-Times Media

The flu bug has hit the Midwest hard this winter, leaving many Illinois wrestling teams battling absences due to illness. 

Oswego East coach Mike Jezorio only brought nine wrestlers to Saturday’s 15-team tournament at Geneva. Among the missing was Zach Prinz (170), who placed second at Lake Park’s 16-team tournament on Dec. 15.

“Zach is 21-1 at 170 and when he’s out of the lineup it’s not just team points but he’s also a leader for us,” Jezorio said. “But overall we wrestled well and the things we’re working on we’ve gotten better at. Like a lot of teams, now we need to shake this flu bug that’s going around.”

Andrew Chastain (22-4 at 152) finished third at Geneva and also took third at Lake Park. Chastain lost in overtime in his semifinal match against eventual champion Sean Lynch of Lake Zurich, then pinned Yaghoub Yaghoub of Mather for third.

“Andrew wrestled a good day,” Jezorio said. “He just made one little mistake (vs. Lynch) and it cost him, but overall he wrestled well. His other matches were all pins so nothing to complain about there.”

The Wolves also got a fourth from Steve McMahon (285), a sixth from Mason Miller (138), a seventh from Jason Fountain (120) and an eighth from Mike Fountain (132).

“I knew coming into the year that we’d be semi-young and inexperienced. We start a few guys in their first years of varsity experience,” Jezorio said. “But they started coming together just before break and now we’ve shifted our focus to regionals and sectionals.”

Young Blackhawks making strides

Like Jezorio, West Aurora coach Mike DiNovo has a team learning the ins and outs of varsity wrestling.

“We’re a young team that’s going through some growing pains,” DiNovo said. “They’re wrestling and practicing hard but have a lot of technical experience still to develop. Of course, more mat time will help that.”

One of the Blackhawks’ young wrestlers has shined this season. Freshman Johnathan Doyle won an individual title at 113 pounds at a tournament in Antioch, placed second at Hinsdale Central, and finished fourth at Granite City on Dec. 29.

Sophomore Tim Young (170) placed third at Hinsdale Central and sixth at Granite City, while senior Trevon Williams (182) was fifth at Central and sixth at Granite City over holiday break.

“And Julian Lopez has wrestled well for us at 195 and 220 pounds,” DiNovo said. “He was a tournament champion at Antioch (on Nov. 24).”

Another pair of freshmen in Sam Deisher (285) and Alex Gonzalez (126) are acclimating to varsity wrestling, while sophomore Carlos Jacquez and junior Brandon Farias are a pair of solid wrestlers that have been absent from the Blackhawks’ lineup recently but hope to return soon.

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