Sandburg Handles Stagg, Gears Up for Wrestling History in Minnesota
The Eagles defeated Stagg handily on Friday and are now focusing on what lies ahead at The Clash, a dual tournament considered by some as the all-time best in high school wrestling history.
There was plenty of talk about The Clash on Friday afternoon, but it certainly wasn't concerning the late, great Joe Strummer and it also wasn't about the neighboring rivalry between the wrestling programs at Sandburg and Stagg.
Ranked the top Class 3A wrestling team in the state by Illinois Matmen, Sandburg had no problem disposing of the host Chargers, winning 58-12, and then turning their attention to Rochester, Minn., where they'll head for The Clash National High School Wrestling Duals on Dec. 30-31.
The Eagles, who won The Clash in 2004 and 2005, and won IHSA state titles in 2005, 2006 and 2007, will be among the other top teams in the country.
"We're obviously looking forward to The Clash," Sandburg coach Eric Siebert said. "They're advertising this as not only the best tournament in the country, but as the best tournament in the history of high school wrestling. And when you consider that nine of the top 15 teams in the country are there, you can make an argument because it's never happened before."
Sandburg (11-0) won 11 of its 14 matches against Stagg, including three which came via forfeit.
"It was a decent meet today," Siebert said. "They've obviously got (Kevin) Moylan and have some decent guys up top. I felt they were competitive."
But far from what awaits in Minnesota at the end of 2011.
The Eagles will open against Atwater Cosmos-Grove City (ACGC). A victory would likely match them against Christiansburg (Va.), a program that's a 10-time defending state champion and coached by former All-American Daryl Weber.
"They finished seventh at the Walsh Ironman and Montini was 15th just to give you some perspective," Siebert said. "We have (Christiansburg) in the semis just to get to the No. 1 team in the country there."
Regardless of how Sandburg fares, it'll be a wonderful opportunity. The Eagles took fourth last winter and hope to use the experience as a key learning tool toward a state title run.
"It's great to go up there and not only does our team get to compete against the best teams, but our individuals get to compete against some of the best individuals," Siebert said. "It's a special tournament and we go there to embrace the opportunity."
Sandburg's Collin Holler beat Stagg's Ahman Abour, 8-0, at 152 pounds on Friday, and now has his full attention on The Clash.
"We look forward to The Clash every year because it's our biggest tournament as a team," he said. "We get to go against the best teams in the nation. We've been working hard for it for many weeks and it'll be a great experience to see where we stand and hopefully we can do very well again."
In the dual win against Stagg, Sebastian Pique (120), Jake Stefan (126), John Pellegrino (132), Dan Garcia (138), Holler, C.J. Brucki (160), Chris Pajak (170) and Bill Gore (195) all wrestled to victories, while Chris Conrad (106), Jim Panozzo (113) and Ricky Robertson (182) didn't break a sweat, winning via forfeit.
Stagg's Kevin Moylan won be technical fall over Mitch Cook at 145 pounds for one of the Chargers three victories. Mantis Drukeinis defeated Jerry Blake 11-2 at 220 pounds and Nick Gonzalez recorded a 4-2 decision over Nate Sonneveld at heavyweight for the Chargers.
"We're young and immature with wrestling," Stagg coach Brian Jackson said. "But they're developing every day so I'm excited about these kids."