Check out the numbers. Marist and Lockport paced the Southland with four sectional champs apiece. The RedHawks also led the pack alongside Oak Forest with nine qualifiers each. In all, 95 wrestlers from the area qualified for state, with 38 of those returning for at least their second trip. Another number to watch is 177. If Dakota’s Josh Alber (132 pounds) reaches that career-win mark, he’ll become the first four-time undefeated state champion in Illinois history. He’s 173-0 entering the tournament.
Does he have kryptonite? Marist’s Nick Lukanich has now handed two returning state champs — Oak Forest’s Danny Swan and Brother Rice’s Rudy Yates — their only loss of the season. Lukanich, a 113-pound junior, topped Swan in December and recently gave Yates the first loss of his career en route to beating St. Rita’s Jake Silzer for the Hinsdale Central Sectional title. Lukanich is 28-7 in one of the state’s toughest divisions.
Southland wrestlers are garnering recognition. Lockport’s Tyler Johnson, an imposing 195-pounder, recently earned an invitation to the 2014 FILA Cadet Pan American Games in Recife, Brazil, on April 29. Johnson is 48-0 and the top-seed in Class 3A. Meanwhile, St. Laurence’s Johnny Gahagan said North Carolina State has amped up its recruiting and looks like the current frontrunner to land his services. Gahagan is 37-0 and seeded first at 138 in 2A.