Wrestling: Bowen hoping to make an impact for the city

Updated: February 24, 2012 7:51PM



The stakes couldn’t be much higher for Bowen on Saturday morning at the Class 2A team wrestling state quarterfinals in Bloomington.

The Boilermakers, who became the second Public League team to qualify for state since the city schools lost their automatic bid in 2003, will face Antioch. A win will secure the program’s first state trophy and only the second in any sport in school history.

Plus, it would be yet another milestone for city wrestling. “We’re in a position where we can put a state trophy in the trophy case, which is something that hasn’t been done for a while by a Public League school,” said coach Ron Wilson, who restarted Bowen’s program in 2001.

Lane’s fourth-place finish in Class AA in 2000 netted the last hardware for the city, and the Indians almost ended that drought a year ago when they lost to Harlem 34-32 in the Class 3A quarterfinals.

Now Bowen will try to break through. “I know it’s going to be a tough [dual],” Wilson said. “It’ll probably go down to the wire.”

The Boilermakers (14-4) will be led by its three placers at last weekend’s individual state tournament: senior 220-pounder Dequence Goodman (39-2), who was third; senior 113-pounder Ronzel Darling (26-3), who was fifth; and junior 126-pounder Rudy Johnson (34-7), who finished sixth.

Antioch (15-15) didn’t any placers, but Mike Gussarson (39-7, 126) and George Gonzalez (34-6, 145) each made the final eight. Gonzalez beat Bowen’s Ronnie Gibbs 8-2 in the consolation bracket in the teams’ only head-to-head meeting last weekend.

Bowen and Antioch are at least on the other side of the bracket from prohibitive Class 2A favorite Montini (18-0), which is going for its fifth straight title overall and fourth in a row in that class. The Broncos had nine placers last weekend, including 106-pound champ Tommy Pawelski.

The Class 3A bracket, which features four of the past five big-school champs (Montini is the fifth), is much more wide open. Defending Glenbard North (18-4), which lost 25-24 to Sandburg on Jan. 7, could get a rematch with the Eagles (24-2) in the semifinals.

The favorite to come out of the top bracket is Oak Park-River Forest (18-3), whose only in-state loss was to Montini. The Huskies’ leader is two-time state champ Sam Brooks (182), but their X-factor could be 113-pounder Darius Henry. A sectional champ last season, Henry missed much of the season before returning for the team sectional earlier this week.

“It was nice to see him back,” Oak Park coach Mike Powell said. “To be totally frank, Darius’ [situation] has been a downer for this team. [Now] guys were hugging him and he’s feeling like he’s part of the team.”

In Class 1A, Wilmington (30-3) is seeking its fourth title in six seasons.

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