Wrestlers strengthen technique at state competition

Three NT wrestlers qualified for IHSA finals

Claudia Levens

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New Trier’s Jake Lowel placed fourth at the State IHSA finals, which took place Feb. 16-18 in Champaign IL.

The tournament consisted of a 16-man bracket with only the top wrestlers receiving State Medals.

Only the top three winners at regionals qualify for the sectionals, and the top four at sectionals qualify for state, so even getting to the State tournament required hard work and dedication.

Junior wrestler Jack Tangen said “We’ve been preparing since November which is when school wrestling starts.

“Each year wrestlers participate in many tournaments during the offseason as well, which then leads to the regular season all the way to the tournament.

This year, the team started off focusing on fundamental skills since they lost many experienced seniors.

Varsity Assistant Coach Tade Kemnitz said he was initially concerned whether the team’s conditioning would suffer and whether they would be able to make it through a 6-minute match.

However, “to my surprise,” he said, “Though we were sometimes outmatched in skill or experience, we seldom lost due to fatigue.  Going into next year with the fundamentals in place the focus can be shifted to chain wrestling and having wrestlers confidence in a few different moves from the feet, on top, and from on bottom.”

Kemnitz said that they had their sights set on winning the CSL dual meet title.

After the state series began though, “the focus switched to what individuals needed to do in order to qualify for sectionals and State,” he said.

Senior wrestler Jake Lowell, New Trier’s 4th place finisher in the 195-pound weight class at Sate missed out on competing in the first place tournament by one match,” my goal this year was to come back stronger and make it to state then place,” Lowell said.

For Tangen who competed in the 126-pound weight category and the other state competitor Patrick Ryan in the 138-pound catagory, the first match of the tournament brought losses which knocked them out of the bracket.

Ryan said, “I was hoping to contend for a state title this year but those hopes were derailed after an opening night loss.”

Despite this, Ryan said “as team we had success. Just getting three guys down state was a big accomplishment considering last year we had only one.”

Additionally, both Ryan and Tangen are juniors, so both have good chances of qualifying for the tournament again next year.

The State wrestlers also got to compete in a dome at the State Farm Center in Champaign.

Lowell said he had to adjust to the environment, since the crowds were unlike anything he had experienced before as a competitor.

“I’ve never wrestled in a dome before,” Lowell said. “It was pretty cool. The crowd was pretty loud. Every time someone made a move you could hear the excitement.”

He also got some advice from his coaches to help him adjust to wrestling on Illinois’ biggest high school stage: “They said just go out there like it was the New Trier gym,” Lowell said.

Earlier this year, Lowell missed some meets due to some minor injuries.

According the Varsity Coach Marc Tadelman, this may have actually benefited his record which ended up at 20-6 by the end of the seasons, since he may have been a little fresher when he came back.

Lowell opened the tournament with a 4-2, then won 7-2 in the quarterfinals.

He lost semifinals to a technical fall against Sandburg’s Patrick Brucki who went on to win the State championship, but won his consolation semifinal match 5-2 to reach the third-place bout where he lost to Downers South’s Sergio Villalobos 4-1.

In terms of the competition leading up the the state meet, Kemnitz said “for the most part we wrestle the same schedule from year to year. We wrestled 21 dual meets.  We went 5-0 in conference duals and 6-10 in non-conference duals.”

The team wrestled the returning 3A State Champions Oak Park-River Forest, the returning 3A State Champions Dakota, the number 2 ranked 2A Crystal Lake Central, as well as other powerhouses like Carl Sandburg, Hononegah, Grant, and Wheeling.

“We basically face the same teams every year in conference and at tournaments.”  Lowell said, “but you never know who is going to be at state so we were anticipating anyone and knew we had to wrestle hard.”

Additionally, last weekend Sophomore Tyler Janczak, and Freshman Michael Miralles, Matthew McKenna, and Michael Stringer represented New Trier at the Frosh-Soph State tournament this weekend where Miralles, McKenna were named sectional champions

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