St. Charles East will travel to the Class 3A Glenbard North Regional on Saturday after posting a 17-1 record in dual meets, winning the Upstate Eight River Division and topping all teams at this year’s UEC tournament.
The Saints also won team tournament titles at Conant and Glenbard West and placed third at Palatine this season.
“I knew we had a lot of potential and a couple key guys that I knew would be very competitive, but I didn’t know a lot about the depth of the team, and it’s been a pleasant surprise,” first-year coach Jason Potter said.
That depth will be key for the Saints on Saturday when they travel to Carol Stream. The Saints will take a trio of UEC champions into Glenbard North in Ryan Rubino (113), Isaiah Vela (132) and Ramon Lopez (152), along with a pair of UEC runners-up in Anthony Rubino (106) and Brad Kearbey (160).
But the Saints have relied on contributions from up and down their lineup.
“Ryan Valesh (126) has had a fantastic year for us and I knew as soon as I got here that Keone Derain (145) was going to do some special stuff this year,” Potter said. “Keegan Furmanski (195) has been deadly from every position on the mat, and in terms of match-to-match consistency, Brad Kearbey has been amazing this year.”
Bartlett, Elgin, South Elgin, Larkin and St. Charles North will join the Saints at Glenbard North, along with West Chicago, Wheaton North and the perennial state power and host Panthers.
Bartlett features returning state champion and UEC champion Sal Annoreno (138), and other UEC champs wrestling at Glenbard North will include Elgin’s Jeff Morrow (106) and Ritchie Santana (195).
UEC runners-up present will include St. Charles North’s Wes Posholk (220), Elgin’s Zach McCullough (113), South Elgin’s Cory Pych (126) and Bartlett’s Brian Boyle (152).
Glenbard North has a long tradition of Final Eight appearances under its belt, and Potter knows that knocking off the Panthers in their home gym will be a tall order.
“It will take a lot to beat them,” Potter said. “Their kids wrestle hard and they have a proven winning system there. It’s quite a challenge for us but we’re excited about it.
“Most people probably assume Glenbard North will win, and they have four horses in their lineup that we don’t have, but we do have 14 guys that will go out there and sacrifice everything they have to give their team a chance.”