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Tigers, Bruins set sites on regional postseason

Posted Wednesday, February 03, 2010 by Steve Amy

Tigers, Bruins set sites on regional postseason

The Princeton Tigers reached one goal by finishing atop the NCIC Lincoln schools in Saturday’s NCIC King of the Hill wrestling tournament. Now they are setting their sights on the postseason.

The Princeton grapplers will head to the Sterling Newman Regional looking to take the next step down the state tournament trail to sectional. The Newman Sectional is considered one of the toughest in the state.

The St. Bede Bruins will put their postseason hopes on the line at the Eureka Regional.

At Sterling: PHS qualified seven sectional qualifiers from last year’s squad that placed third in the Princeton Regional in Steve Amy’s first year as head coach. Four of them return, including:

• Junior Reiter Bird, who placed second in the NCIC finals, seeks his third straight sectional advancement. He won regional at 125 a year ago, stepping up to 130 where he stands 26-12. Amy said the move to 130 “has opened things up” for Bird, who thought he was losing too much strength making the cut to 125.

• Another returning regional champion for the Tigers is sophomore Earl Towne, who claimed the 135-pound regional title as a freshman last year. Towne currently boasts a record of 23-15 wrestling at 145. He is nursing a sore hip that took him out of the finals round in the NCIC, but Amy said he “is a tough kid and will do what it takes to wrestle.”

• Returning regional runner-up at 160 pounds, Dylan Olson, who holds a 23-9 record, the best on the team, also moved up in weight this season and is currently competing at 171. Amy said Olson has the athletic ability to make it all the way to state. “If he uses that technique we work on every day, he’ll be fine,” Amy said.

• Cody Cumpton, who placed third at last year’s regional at 130, will look to improve on his place competing at 135 in his junior campaign. Currently 22-15 this season, Cumpton “has a great chance to make it to sectional,” Amy said.

Other best bets for first-time sectional qualifiers include junior Eric Bickett (119, 18-15), sophomore Reese Bird at 103 (20-15), senior Ted Bartoli at 152 (21-18), and junior Colton Pate (13-11), who made his way into the Tiger lineup at 160 midway through the season.

“Right now we’re wrestling with the best lineup we can put out there,” said Amy. “We’ve got a good group of underclassmen that are really wrestling hard, sophomores and juniors, and the two seniors (Zack Clark and Bartoli) are leaders in the room; they’re making the team better. We’re getting better and better each day.

“We’re looking forward to (regionals). We go to the toughest regional in the state, but if we wrestle to our potential, we’ve got a shot.”

At Eureka: After competing out of the Princeton Regional a year ago, St. Bede has been sent south. They will run into competition including the likes of Chillicothe IVC, El Paso-Gridley, Midland, Putnam County, Peoria Manual, Peoria Heights and the host Hornets.

St. Bede senior Dan Rucinski (160) is one of just six St. Bede wrestlers to qualify for sectionals in the school’s four-year history. He’s taking aim on becoming the first to make it three times.

The Bruins' captain is receiving honorable mention in the Illinois Mat Men rankings. He made quick work in his latest match, a fall in 26 seconds over Eureka Friday.

Steve Puhr (145) was a double winner against Eureka and Putnam County along with Dave Young (135) and Tim Steinz (145).

Also in the Bruins' lineup are Joe Mauck (119), John Pustjovsky (125), Nick Puhr (130), Mike Venegas (140), Jake Franklin (171) and J.P. Tiger (189).

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