In 2019-20 the Riverside-Brookfield High School wrestling team won their regional to qualify for the IHSA Class 2A team dual tournament and head coach Nick Curby hopes the Bulldogs are ready in 2021 to pick up exactly where they left off.
The first week was a bit of a rough ride, with the Bulldogs going 2-4 in six matches, earning victories against St. Laurence and Niles West but falling to Providence, Plainfield North, Plainfield East and Vernon Hills.
“The hope this year is to be able to have the seniors end their wrestling career on a good experience,” Curby said. “For the rest of the team, we hope that many underclassmen can get match experience to help set the program up for future success. The theme for the season will be growth of each wrestler and the program for future years.”
The Bulldogs return seven wrestlers from the team that competed in the dual meet state tournament, including both wrestlers who qualified for the state meet as individuals, senior Quintin Godlewski and junior Mateo Costello.
Also returning from the 2020 state dual meet team are Matt Patino, Brock Hoyd, Ethan Ranft, Daeshawn Jackson and Isaiah Noe. Senior Jovani Nava, along with juniors Liam Cote and Mike Racanelli and sophomores Quintavius Murrell and Bill Martin are new additions to varsity this season.
“All of these wrestlers are young and hungry to build their varsity wrestling experience and prepare for upcoming years,” Curby said.
The season will look quite different this year with no state tournament or large invitationals. Meets are limited to duals and triangulars.
“I am confident that this team will improve throughout the season, they are bonding as a team and want everyone to do well,” he said. “They push each other in practice and hope to put the program in a position to continue building on the success that we had as a program in 2020.”
Roadrunners look ahead to June restart
The Nazareth Academy wrestling team may have had to wait nearly six months to begin its season, but coach Denis Laughlin is simply happy to have his athletes back on the mats.
“But it’s better than no season at all,” said Laughlin, reflecting the open-minded attitude all coaches and student-athletes have had to have in this unique and challenging time.
The Roadrunners return three quality wrestlers from its 2019-20 season in Javaughn Jossell at 113 pounds, Zach Milos at 138 pounds and Joe Urso at 220 pounds.
Nazareth participates in the East Suburban Catholic Conference, which Laughlin considers one of the premier wrestling conferences in the state. He sees Joliet Catholic, Marian Central and Marist as the teams to beat.
The goal for the Roadrunners this season is simple: gradually improving with each practice. And Laughlin, in his 10th year as head coach, feels his team has had the right attitude and approach given the circumstances.
“The one thing wrestlers can do is adapt to adversity,” he said. “The boys have done a nice job of [doing] this. I think we learned not to take anything for granted.”
While most schools have already had matches, Nazareth won’t face any competition until June 3, when the Roadrunners visit Fenwick for a triangular meet against the Friars and Fenton.