Warriors coming off 19-win campaign.

By Mike Miazga

Correspondent

The Willowbrook wrestling team is a mixture this season of individuals with varsity experience and talented newcomers.

The Warriors are coming off a 2016-2017 season where they went 19-11 overall and took 3-3 in West Suburban Conference Gold Division play.

Willowbrook returns the likes of senior 182-pound standout Jack Jessen, who went 50-1 last year and took second in the state in Class 3A.

Also back is junior all-conference performer Richie Scheelk (126), who won 18 matches as a sophomore last year. Sophomore Zach Seymore (120) went 26-7 last year, while sophomore Tom Iozzo (145-152) won 18 contests. Senior Andrew Cuellar (113-120) went 15-3 as a junior, as did senior 195-pounder Tyler Guerrero. Junior Matt Knundtson won 14 matches as a sophomore a year ago.

Key newcomers include the likes of senior Bernabe Vera (113), juniors Franshun Jordan (160) and Saad Omar (138), along with sophomores John Peterson (170), Wyatt Borri (152), Elkin Wells (126-132) and Alex Bernardino (195 pounds), as well as Jonathan Leal-Gerwarth (120-126).

“The team is very young, but talented,” said Willowbrook coach Brandon Murphy. “We will be a tough second-half team. With a lot of new faces in the lineup, there’s going to naturally be an adjustment period for many going up to the varsity.”

Murphy added the mental part of the game will be a key factor this season. “For the team to be successful each wrestler has to embrace their role, stay disciplined and keep developing throughout the season,” he said. “They need to stay positive and know that success doesn’t come overnight or without hard work. I believe they will rise to the occasion and be successful by season’s end.”

Murphy loves the potential his team has. “The team is full of potential,” he said. “I can’t wait to see the progression throughout the season. The younger wrestlers have a perfect example right on their team of what it takes to be a successful wrestler on and off the matt with senior captain Jack Jessen at the helm. He’s going to Northwestern and leads by example on and off the mat. He shows what hard work and a full commitment to your goals can accomplish. Jack was a national champion this past summer and that couldn’t have been achieved without many hours of hard work and discipline.”

On a team full of sophomores that have some varsity experience, Murphy said to keep an eye out in particular for Seymore and Iozzo. “Both had a lot of varsity experience last season and are working on building off strong freshman seasons.”

Murphy said the WSC Gold portion of the schedule will be interesting. “The West Suburban Gold has been very competitive the last bunch of years with many different schools in the hunt for the title,” he said. “I believe this year will be very similar. By the end of the season I expect every team to be close with one another. It’s going to come down to a few key matchups.”

 

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