Time to raise their game
The wrestling postseason officially kicks off the IHSA winter tournament series Saturday, when 48 regional tournaments are held throughout the state. Eighteen area athletes are state ranked by The Illinois Best Weekly. A look at five who could work their way into positions of prominence in 17 days, when 42 athletes are crowned state champs at the Assembly Hall:
A Class 2A state qualifier last year as a 120-pounder at Mount Zion (as well as a 103-pound freshman), the junior enters the postseason on a 35-match winning streak and is top ranked at his weight. His three-year varsity record is 105-10.
The senior is 24-0 and has had one match go the full six minutes. In addition, Mammen’s last 23 opponents have not scored an offensive point (receiving only escapes) against last year’s fifth-place state finisher at the same weight.
The junior has won 35 of 38 matches even though one-third of his competition has come against state-ranked opponents. A year ago at 106 pounds he was two points from earning a state medal, dropping a 1-0 decision.
The senior placed fifth at state a year ago and has beaten all 27 opponents he has faced this season. In the state wrestleback semifinals a year ago he lost 4-1 to Josh Wallick. They could face each other the next three weeks.
Like Mammen, he has run the table as top ranked in his weight since the preseason. No easy route at regionals. He’ll likely meet unbeaten and second-rated Morgan Supergan, from the host Bismarck-Henning team, in the finals.