Scouting wrestling, Northwest


Coach: Jason Churak (3rd year)

Last year: 17-13-0 (2-2-0)

Graduation losses: Joe McIntyre (182, two-time sectional qualifier, 25w, wrestling at Northern Iowa), Shaun Falbo (220, two-time sectional qualifier, 12w, playing baseball at St. Thomas, Minn.), Matt Cook (132, 11w).

Top returnees: Seniors James Valentino (285, two-time state qualifier, two-time regional champ, 22w), Mike Dzeidzic (160, 22w), Joe DeBartolo (138, 26w), Jack Augustyn (132); juniors Jake Wolf (170); sophomore Elijah Black (160, sectional qualifier, 25w).

New faces in the room: Juniors Jason Churak (145), Drake Imhoff (138).

Outlook: The Lions have worked themselves back to being relevant in the ESCC and respected by the usual powers, Marist and Notre Dame. “Experience is finally on our side with a returning lineup that should be able to compete with just about anyone, with the most complete team the program has had since I took over things over,” says coach Jason Churak, who believes a 20-win season is quite possible after he and his staff fill in a couple of holes in the lineup. James Valentino is a force for the Lions — a two-time state qualifier on a mission to make his third visit to Champaign a charm. The veteran heavyweight recently committed to Brown University of the Ivy League, and along with Elijah Black, who burst on the scene last season, the Lions appear ready to take on a rugged schedule.