Wrestling: Bartlett’s Sal Annoreno wins state title

Story Image South Elgin's Cody Pych (top) swarms Granite City's Josh Dowdy (below) during the 3A third place match of the IHSA individual state wrestling tournament in Assembly Hall Saturday, Feb. 18, 2012, in Champaign. | Matthew Grotto~Sun-Times Media
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CHAMPAIGN — Bartlett’s Sal Annoreno is the man.

At 132 pounds, no one could stand up to what Annoreno had to offer at the Class 3A state wrestling finals at Assembly Hall on Saturday. The Hawks junior reigned as the first state champion in school history, defeating Downers Grove North’s Cullen Cummings 5-2.

“By not making it here one year ago, it made me push that much harder,” said Annoreno. “If someone had told me that I would win four matches and three by major decision at the state finals, I would have thought they were nuts.”

However, Annoreno has the distinction of becoming the fourth state medalist for Bartlett and the fourth Elgin School District U46 grappler to claim a state title.

“A win is a win, it does not matter that it was not a major decision,” said Bartlett coach Karl Bratland. “He wrestled smart. When he got that first takedown, I was pretty pleased.”

Annoreno got the needed points late in the second period with a takedown. The two points gave him a 4-2 lead. He added an insurance point early in the third period.

Annoreno spent most of the final minute of the first period trying to put Cummings on his back with a single-leg takedown. When that did not work, he switched to the arm. Annoreno scored his first two points within the first 20 seconds of the match, taking down Cummings. Cummings scored a point in the waning seconds of the period.

In the second period, Annoreno continued to work the legs, but Cummings, also a junior, ended up riding Annoreno for most of the period. Since neither athlete could gain an advantage, the official called a stalemate.

“Cullen has a great offense,” said Annoreno, 39-3. “He is so great on bottom and is so tough to get an advantage. When it was 2-2, I was a little nervous. I was happy to be the first one to score and put the pressure on him. I was never comfortable throughout the match. I never expected this tournament to go this well. This is simply a dream. Most unbelievable feeling of my life. I peaked at the right time.”

The 132-pound division is packed for next year. Of the medal winners, only two are seniors.

South Elgin senior Cody Pych secured third place in the Class 3A 170-pound bracket by downing Granite City wrestler Josh Dowdy by pinfall at 2:38.

“He was a tough kid,” said Pych of Dowdy. “I am happy that I placed, but wanted better than third place. He moved so well and basically prevented me from using my moves. It was tough to rebound from that first loss, but I knew my first-round match was a very tough draw.”

At 152 pounds in Class 3A, St. Charles North’s Tim Noverini ended his career as a winner, pinning Marist’s Peter Andreotti at the 3:17 mark to earn fifth place.

“I am a little disappointed,” said Noverini. “It hurts to lose. Peter was tough to hang on to, but I knew when I grabbed his wrist and reversed him, I was going to win. I was not going to lose after that. Wrestling teaches you so much about life. If you can’t rebound after being knocked down, you won’t make it on the mat or in life.”

Huntley’s Josh Symbal placed fifth at 182 pounds in 3A. Symbal defeated Michael Paloian of Loyola Academy by fall at 3:09.

In the Class 2A finals, Omar Awad, the Burlington Central 170-pounder, finished fourth after being defeated 11-0 by Jake Tindle of Triad. Awad defeated Montini’s Connor Winel by pinfall at 1:37 earlier in the day.

At 145 pounds, Johnny Major took sixth for the Rockets. Major was topped 7-6 by Grayslake Central’s Dylan Hay in the fifth-place match.

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