Central athletes facing first opponents

Boys, girls grapplers have had first matches while swimmers, divers start season Friday


Last updated 11/29/2023 at 5:47pm | View PDF

Jim Slonoff

Last week marked the first competitions for the Hinsdale Central boys and girls wrestling programs, and the boys swim and dive team will have its first meet on Friday. A handful of Red Devil swimmers hope to achieve Olympic qualifying times in the early weeks of the season. (file photos)

The Hinsdale Central boys swimming and diving team starts its season as the defending state champions and National Champions, according to Swim Cloud's ranking. The team hopes for a repeat at state.

The boys wrestling program, which lost a number of athletes to graduation in May, is looking to gain experience and fill some holes in the lineup.

The girls wrestling team is expected to improve as it transitions from the sport's inaugural season to a more typical competitive schedule.

This is the second in a three-part series of winter sports previews. Boys and girls bowling and hockey were featured in the Nov. 23 issue, and boys and girls basketball and girls gymnastics will be highlighted next week.

Boys swimming and diving

First meet: Dec. 1 tri-meet @ St. Charles East

Last year: 1st at state, named National Champions by Swim Cloud

Head coach: Bob Barber

Seasons as head coach: 10th as head coach, 25 years coaching

No. varsity team members: 22

Strengths: Through a lot of hard work in the off-season, our guys continue to improve, making our team deeper and extremely talented.

Challenges: It's always a challenge to hold your place from the previous year when you've finished on top. I think internally our challenges will be finding the right spots to utilize all of these kids, and another challenge will be finding the right motivation. Most seasons, it's "Can we get to the top three?" "Can we trophy?" This season we would like to repeat and we would like to find a way to improve on last year's season, even with graduation (lost five swimmers and divers who competed at state).

Who to watch: You've got returning state champions Jeffrey Hou, Josh Bey, Brody Marcet. They're always fun to watch, and some of them are trying to hit some Olympic qualifying times in the next month, so it's a lot of fun to be part of that and have a role. We've got a lot of guys last year that broke all kinds of school, pool records that want a chance in the spotlight. There might be too many (to name). These are good problems, I guess. In diving, Zach Brown is a returning state qualifier. We have six divers this season, but we're not sure who our second diver will be.

Outlook: We're trying to have another undefeated dual meet season. Provided our athletes are in town, we'd like to go undefeated in invitationals. Last year we were one short of a perfect meet in sectionals, so we dream about trying to pull that off. That puts a lot of pressure on a few kids. We still believe we have a chance to repeat at the state level.

Furthermore: If you find time to come watch us, we're a very special team. We'd love to have the fans in the stands. It's going to be a very special year.

Boys wrestling

First meet: Nov. 21 vs. Naperville North

Last year: won conference, two placed at state

Head coach: Jason Hayes

Seasons as head coach: 15

No. team members: 70 at all levels

Strengths: Our stronger guys are very strong. Our top guys have some experience.

Challenges: We graduated a lot of seniors last year. We have some newcomers, some sophomores in the lineup. It's a tough battle for the dual meets. Dual meets we're going to struggle a little this year. We've got some holes in the lineup, so we're going to take some lumps there. The challenge is keeping kids wrestling all four years. Its an extremely hard sport. It's very demanding. There's a lot more choices for kids to pick from.

Who to watch: Marko Ivanisevic is the returning fifth-place IHSA winner. He's got a lot of experience, a lot of off-season stuff. Zach Kruse wrestled a good tournament at Barrington. He has high goals this year. Barsum Rabanasa, he took 10th place at Barrington. He's only been wrestling for three years.

Outlook: We're hoping to get a few guys down to state - one, maybe two or three would be great. We've got our work cut out for us. We've got to keep grinding, stay focused. We'll have a lot of dual meets where we're outmatched, but hopefully we'll make progress for the tournaments at the end of the year.

Furthermore: We won conference last year for the first time in school history. We've had some pretty good teams over the years. We're always close but never did it.

Girls wrestling

First match: Nov. 21 @ Naperville North (4-0)

Last year: won about half the matches in an abbreviated schedule

Head coach: Pat Kohl

Seasons as head coach: second

No. team members: 11

Strengths: Last year, they were all first-year wrestlers. There were eight of them last year. They were real strong and aggressive. They competed well. This year, their technique is starting to get a little bit better. We had one match last week against Naperville North. We pinned all four of the girls. So far they are looking good. (This week) will be kind of a test. We go to Yorkville. That's a pretty big wrestling high school.

Challenges: We had a couple of injuries so far, and that's my biggest concern, keeping them healthy. It's changed dramatically since last year, considering we now have a girls schedule. There are a couple of tournaments. There are some quads.

Who to watch: There's Tiyanna Hart at 135. She wrestled last year, and in the sectional meet, she won five matches and placed in the top six out of 29 girls. She's looking good. She's probably, as of right now, the best wrestler.

Also Naomi Schaller. She's currently at 155 and she's a sophomore and she's also been very competitive. She's done a lot of off-season wrestling. There's about six of them right now that are looking pretty good as far as being more competitive than last year.

Outlook: I really don't know what to expect. The sport is so new. Last year we competed well. It's hard to say. Everybody seems like they will most likely be stepping up and the sport will be a little more polished. Everyone seems like they're progressing. We're definitely much better than we were last year.

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Pamela Lannom is editor of The Hinsdalean


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