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Bensenville, 2/2/13--Fenwick's Chris Hawthorne holds down Fenton's Kaine Stewart in a 220-pound match during Saturday's IHSA class 2A regional at Fenton High School. | Jeff Krage~for Sun-Times Media
This year's Montini wrestling team is aiming to double the record for most state titles ever won in a single season, and the Broncos began that quest with an overwhelming performance at the Fenton Regional.
Montini's wrestlers won 13 of 14 regional titles on Saturday, including 13 in a row. Freshman Jimmy Pawelski, who won a 5-1 decision against Fenton senior Brandon Exconde, began the streak. It ended with junior Edgar Ruano (220 pounds) winning by fall at 3:50 over Westinghouse junior Wanya Gordon.
Montini won the regional title with 307 points, with Fenton (130) coming in a distant second. Both Elmwood Park and Fenwick scored 111 points Saturday to finish in a tie for third. Ridgewood scored 82.50 points to finish fifth in the nine-team regional.
“Our goal was to win all of (the weight classes),” said Ruano, a Romeoville resident. “It was one of the goals. It was a goal since this week. We knew that we had the capability to get as many guys as possible in the finals and we [almost] did.”
The lone Montini wrestler to not make a championship final was senior heavyweight David Sarkan, who hadn't wrestled a varsity match this season entering the postseason. Sarkan lost in the semifinals to Kelvyn Park senior Fernando Escudero – Escudero beat Elmwood Park sophomore Jaime Galo by fall at 1:29 for a regional title – and then lost a 1-0 decision to Westinghouse junior Anthony Peques in the consolation final.
Although Sarkan's state hopes ended in heartbreak, the vast majority of Montini's varsity squad left Bensenville elated.
The following wrestlers won regional titles: Jimmy Pawelski (106), senior Tommy Pawelski (113), sophomore Vince Turk (120), senior Jordan Laster (126), freshman Jose Champagne (132), junior Chris Garcia (138), senior Michael Sepke (145), sophomore Luke Fortuna (152), sophomore Xavier Montalvo (160), junior Michael Maduko (170), senior Jake Turk (182), junior Anthony Ferraro (195) and Ruano (220).
Nine of those 13 regional championships were won either by fall or major decision.
“We're looking to win 10 state titles,” said Tommy Pawelski, a Park Ridge resident who will wrestle at Stanford next year. “We're looking to win as many state titles as we can... We're actually tied for the record of most state titles, with five. And we're trying to double it.”
Fenwick and Elmwood Park both had three wrestlers advance to championship matches. Tigers junior Ben Vazquez lost to Tommy Pawelski by pin at 3:01, and senior Rich Runyon was pinned by Ferraro at 1:25.
Friars senior Tony Triggiano lost by major decision (14-6) to Fortuna, while junior Mike Kozyra pulled out of his championship match at 160 pounds to protect the stitches he recently had to get. The closest match of the championship round was wrestled between Maduko and Fenwick's Dubem Ikedionwu. Maduko beat the senior by 7-6 decision.
Ridgewood junior Sam Karim (145 pounds) and senior Joe Perez (138) both finished second at their respective weight classes.