Naperville North senior Brandon Gilligan has been wrestling up a weight all season to help the Huskies in dual meets, and the usual 170-pounder got so good at 182 that he won a DVC title at that weight at this year’s conference meet.
That changes on Saturday, when Gilligan will wrestle at 170 in the Class 3A Waubonsie Valley Regional.
“I’m kind of the small guy out there at 182 and at 170 I’ll be much bigger,” Gilligan said. “I think it will help me finish my shots and lift guys better. I’ve been practicing with our 160-pounder and our 195-pounder this year to get ready for 170.”
The Huskies placed fifth as a team and sent three individuals to the title mat on Sunday at Naperville Central, with Luke Landiak (170) and Chris Zhang (220) placing second. North also won 10 of its final 13 place-matches.
“Of our 14 guys, we only have five that are returning varsity starters, so winning those place-matches was great for those kids,” North coach Tom Champion said.
Top-seeded Gilligan (31-5) used a 4-2 semifinal decision win over Glenbard North’s Geo Esparza to reach the finals against No. 2 Kenny Jones of Lake Park, taking a 7-5 decision to become a DVC champ for the first time.
“The biggest challenge was how much stronger (Jones) was than me. I’m a better technical wrestler so I just had to be careful not to get thrown to my back and not get outmuscled,” Gilligan said.
Landiak cites luck, pluck
Landiak (10-10) began his day with a major decision win over Naperville Central’s Robby Martins and upset second-seeded Dequon Booker of West Aurora in the semifinals to reach the title mat, though Landiak called his pin against Booker “deceiving.”
“(Champion) says you make your own luck but I think there was a little bit of luck there,” Landiak said. “(Booker) beat me on Senior Night and he had a lead on me in this match before he put himself to his back.”
Landiak lost 4-0 to Colton Wegner of Glenbard North on the title mat, but was thrilled with his experience.
“It was awesome coming out here in my first year on the varsity and being in the finals,” Landiak said.
Zhang (29-9) won a 4-3 semifinal decision before wrestling in another close match on the title mat, where he lost in overtime to Wheaton North’s Anthony Yanan.
Around the mat
Seventh-place Naperville Central had a pair of third-place finishers in Derek Wilke (113) and Ben Williamson (138). Wilke (31-8) opened with a technical fall before losing 5-3 in his semifinal match to Glenbard North’s Kirk Johansen.
Wilke posted a tech fall before winning by major decision for third against Glenbard East’s Nick Donovan.
Williamson (25-8) went 3-1, going 1-1 in the championship round before posting a win by fall and then a 7-6 decision over Glenbard North’s Phil Partipilo on the third-place mat.