Wrestling: Strong showing in finals lifts Sandburg past MaristColin Holler, of Sandburg, moves over Brother Rice's Nuntreae Jackson for the 145 weight class match for the Regional Championship at Marist, Saturday, Febuary 4th, 2012 in Chicago, IL. l Gary Middendorf~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: February 5, 2012 12:29AM
With Sandburg and Marist, two of the top wrestling programs in Illinois, and a multitude of tough outs in T.F. South, Brother Rice and Shepard, the Class 3A Marist Regional looked to be a barnburner in the making Saturday.
It didn’t disappoint, as Sandburg edged Marist 258-245.5 for first place.
Sandburg was down by three points entering the finals, but the Eagles turned the tide by beating Marist in five of seven championship matches. They were led by champs Sebastian Pique (120 pounds), John Pellegrino (126), Dan Garcia (132), Chris Pajak (160) and Bill Gore (195).
Garcia secured the Eagles’ lone pin in the finals over Marist’s Ray Hodorowicz with 40 seconds left in the second period.
“To crown eight individual champions in a regional with Marist, along with seven other teams, is obviously a job well done,” Sandburg coach Eric Siebert said. “On any given day, [Marist] could be team state champions. I feel like we’re also in that category.”
Sandburg’s three other champions secured decisions for the win. Mitch Cook (138) beat Blake Tisza of T.F. South 5-1, Collin Holler (145) beat Brother Rice’s Nuntrae Jackson 12-4 and Ricky Roberston (170) took down Dominique Bryant of Thornton 9-1.
Marist claimed the remaining six championships, giving the powerhouses a combined sweep of the titles.
Freshman David Kasper (106) claimed the most exciting title match of the evening, securing a takedown over Thornton freshman Kris Williams in the waning seconds of overtime for a 6-4 win.
Marist’s Mark Duda kept the buzz going with a 6-5 decision over Sandburg’s Jim Panozzo for the 113-pound title.
Peter Andreotti (152), Ethan Benoit (182), Tom Howell (220) and Josh Hickey (285) rounded out the title winners for the Redhawks.
“This type of event is what makes wrestling a great sport,” Marist coach Brendan Heffernan said. “We came up on the short end of the stick, but we’re not looking to avoid tough competition. We wanted to test ourselves.”
Siebert took the high-profile regional as an opportunity to air his thoughts on the playoff system.
“The way our system is in place, I think it’s an injustice to our sport a team like [Marist] doesn’t have the opportunity to wrestle in our dual-team format when our state championship is decided that way.”
T.F. South finished third with 87 points, ahead of Brother Rice, which had 86.5.