Marian Central impresses at ESCC Mega-Duals

A new favorite has emerged in the league title race after Monday’s results at the East Suburban Catholic Conference Mega-Duals hosted by St. Viator. Class 2A power Marian Central Catholic (25-2-0) cruised past a trio of opponents, including reigning champ Marist, to make its statement of intent to the rest of the conference. The Hurricanes blew past St. Patrick, Notre Dame and the defending champ Redhawks en route to its dazzling finish inside Pat Cahill Gymnasium. “I can honestly say I am not that surprised by the results here today because we’ve all put the extra time in to get to where we’re at right now, so it’s all coming together at the right time of the season for us,” said Marian Central senior Luke Silva (30-1), the No. 2 rated 160-pounder in the state.

The fourth-place medalist from a year ago helped Marian Central defeat Marist 56-15 final to increase its chances of capturing the first conference title in program history, which would ending an eight-year hold on the conference crown by the Redhawks. “MCC has a terrific and complete lineup, which is what all of us hope to have in place next week at our conference tournament, and especially for regionals the following Saturday,” said Carmel Catholic coach Bob Kuykendall, who watched his team beat Nazareth (35-30) and then Joliet Catholic (39-33) to finish the day at 2-1. And the Corsairs accomplished all of this despite missing a few regulars, including one of the best in the state at 138 pounds, Riley Palm (25-0). He’ll be back in the Corsairs lineup in time for the ESCC tourney. We should have nearly everyone back when we host conference on Friday, the 26th,” said Kuykendall. “But let’s face it, we’re gearing up for regionals the week after.”
“Coach tells us everything before regionals is practice, so that’s what our focus is on,” said Carmel junior Tommy Hoy. “But we still want to have a good effort at conference to keep us ready for regionals.” The 152-pounder is a key figure in the middle of the Corsairs’ lineup, along with Anthony Swindell (145) and Palm. The state-qualifying duo of Christian Valadez and Anthony Schaer give Kuykendall plenty of horsepower, too.”John Ivan (220) just returned, and next week hopefully we’ll get Yovaniel Garcia back as well, all in time to get quality matches in at conference and before the start of the state series,” said Kuykendall.

It was an up-and-down day for the host Lions, which went 2-2 overall. They defeated Joliet Catholic 31-30 and a young and improving Nazareth team 33-29 on the strength of Jake Wolf and Elijah Black, who each were perfect in their efforts at home. “With so many young guys in our lineup, there are days when we look very good — and others, not so good,” said St. Viator coach Jason Churak. “We had a little bit of each today, but, again, our big three of Wolf (22-4), Black (4-1) and Ryan McGuire (195, 20-7) all had terrific days in my opinion.” To have Black finally back after missing nearly two full years after suffering injuries in the late stages of the football season now gives the Lions another weapon in its arsenal. From Black’s perspective, the chance to get downstate and medal after just messing out on state as a freshman is a chance he’s trying to take full advantage of. “I was one win away from going downstate my first year, but since then, it’s been football injuries which have held me back,” said Black, who went 25-6 during his rookie season. Black looked in peak form on Monday as he went through his opponents with ease, including his final contest of the day in which he need all of 29 seconds to pin for the win. “We’re taking it easy with (Elijah) right now, but if he’s near 100 percent there’s no reason why he can’t end up on the podium in Champaign next month,” said Churak.

Churak continues to praise the Wolf, a senior, for his leadership in and out of the room, and believes he has an excellent chance to repeat at a conference champ. McGuire, too, Churak says, can grab a top-three conference finish. “One of my goals at the start was to be top three conference, and while it’s a struggle at times going against bigger, stronger and older guys than me at 195, I feel my first year with the varsity has gone pretty well so far,” said McGuire, a sophomore still coming back from the flu.

The best match of the day came during the Marist-Marian Catholic dual as No. 2 Jacob Dado of Marist met No. 6 Reece Heller. Dado, a junior, prevailed 5-2, using a late third-period takedown to ensure victory. Dado, fourth last year at state, opened quickly with a first period take-down, and was able to get in on his opponent with ease. But Heller, who transferred to the far south suburbs from Deerfield along with his older Holden, came back into the match with several quality shots of his own to make it an exciting contest right to the end.