By Marty Farmer
Jimmy Liston has a bright future in the Fenwick High School wrestling program.
According to coach Pete Kowalczuk, Liston is one of the team's "four pillars," along with Matt Zuber, Brandon Navarro and David Capron, expected to lead the Friars back to prominence.
Liston, a freshman heavyweight, took another step in his development with a strong showing at the Chicago Catholic League Championships, hosted by St. Rita over the weekend.
Liston won three of four matches to place third in the 285-pound weight class and score 22 of the Friars' 50 points. Advancing via bye in the opening round, Liston (9-3) defeated RJ Schneider from Providence Catholic on a fall at 3:50 in the quarterfinals. St. Laurence's Jerrell Carey pinned him at 3:30 in the semifinals. However, Liston responded well with a pair of pin victories against Willy Lopez from DePaul Prep and another against Schneider.
Brandon Navarro (27-9), another promising freshman for the Friars, earned fifth place at 160 pounds by splitting four matches. He pinned Tom Crane (Brother Rice) at 5:58 before losing two matches. He won his last match by forfeit over Mount Carmel's Owen Jacobson.
"I think both Liston and Navarro wrestled well and are showing a lot of improvement," Kowalczuk said. "Jimmy has shown a lot of heart and is really starting to understand what high school wrestling is all about, which is great to see. Brandon wrestled really tough against the guy from Marmion (Brad Gross) who won the tournament. I know Brandon wasn't satisfied with fifth place, but he has a lot of potential."
At 152, Fenwick sophomore David Capron (17-8) also wrestled well with two wins, both by fall against Ruben Urquiza (DePaul Prep) and Charlie Paxson (Loyola Academy) at 1:51 and 2:41, respectively.
Montini and Mount Carmel tied for the title with 276.5 points apiece, followed by Marmion (270), Providence Catholic (207) and St. Rita (172.5).
Earlier matches in January included a 39-39 win on criteria against DePaul Prep and a 36-21 victory against St. Ignatius. Senior captain Charlie Sullivan produced a timely pin to power the Friars past St. Ignatius.
Fenwick, which last won a regional title in 2005, hosts an IHSA Class 2A regional on Saturday, Feb. 2. Matches start at 9 a.m.
"We'll have a full lineup of wrestlers for the regional, which we didn't have last year," Kowalczuk said. "I think we have a core group of guys who should win the tournament. I believe we have a realistic shot of winning this thing, which would be awesome and a real boost for our program."