Winter Sports Preview: Grapplers count on experienced core
by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—Last year brought a handful of success for Kaneland High School wrestling.
In 2012-13, the Knights are looking for more good fortune than they are able to carry.
KHS improved its dual meet mark from the previous year to finish 11-12, and was fortunate to have a sizable postseason presence.
Three of those people return as seniors, including the sixth-best 106-pounder in the state, Stephen Gust, plus Dan Goress (138 pounds) and Esai Ponce (126).
Out of last year’s State qualifiers, Ben Kovalick is gone to graduation, but the returning personnel also includes wrestlers like senior Regional champ Zach Theis, as well as fellow Sectional qualifiers Connor Williams and Sonny Horn.
“Absolutely, these seniors are going to lead the way for us,” KHS coach Monty Jahns said. “We are going to need points anywhere we can, with us giving up some weights in dual meets. The senior guys take over the room.”
Not only do the senior guys provide talent and leadership, but the wrestlers also have an extra added bonus.
“We were able to get the football players in a little earlier than in the past two years. They are busting their butts right now,” Jahns said.
Additional members of the Knights crew who look to duplicate more positive success to build on include Dane Goodenough and Luke Kreiter.
With the third-place finish in the Northern Illinois Big XII tournament plus additional success as the postseason wore on, Jahns trusts the returning Knights to use those experiences for motivation.
“It makes a big difference to go toward a goal like that, and you include that going into this year and try to be as solid as you can,” Jahns said.
Kaneland will aim for another top-three finish, but has to battle other capable schools.
“Yorkville is pretty dominant even though they lost some seniors. Sycamore is always solid, but they lost a couple people, and you can’t count out DeKalb. This year, we need to get as many wins as we can in the upper and lower weights to make up for a couple forfeits, but the kids are doing what we ask them to do,” Jahns said.
Saturday, Nov. 24, brings the first test with a home quad meet against Burlington Central, Freeport and Wheaton-Warrenville South. The first NIB12 tussle is on Thursday, Nov. 29, at Sycamore.