State wrestling preview notebook: High praise for training partner
Park Ridge, IL - Saturday, February 9, 2013: Notre Dame's Sean Heneghan reacts to beating Maine South's Thomas Brewster at 152 pounds at the Maine East Sectional. | Steve Johnston~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: March 15, 2013 12:38PM
PARK RIDGE — Notre Dame wrestling coach Augie Genovesi has brought much of his varsity team to watch state the last few years.
However, he’s decided to leave most of his wrestlers home this time in order to focus on training for Tuesday’s Class 3A Logan Park Dual Team Sectional against Glenbard North at 6 p.m.
One non-qualifier who will make the trip is freshman Jake Barzowski (120 pounds), who will go downstate as sophomore Jimmy Gallardo’s training partner. Gallardo, who is 33-4 and finished third at the Class 3A Maine East Sectional in the 113-pound division Saturday, said Barzowski has been instrumental in his success.
“(Barzowski) knows how to keep up the tempo, he goes hard and always pushes me in practice, which is something I need,” said Gallardo, a second-time qualifier.
Gallardo, whom Genovesi calls a future captain and state placer, said his performance at last year’s state meet (he lost in the Class 2A preliminaries at 106 pounds) may have been hampered because his former training partner missed a few of the workouts leading up to the big event.
Like Father, Like Son
Notre Dame senior Sean Heneghan, who finished fourth at 152 Saturday, qualified for state in his final opportunity after near misses as a freshman and sophomore and an injury-hit junior campaign.
Heneghan’s father, Kevin, is a former standout Notre Dame wrestler, and the pair became the second father/son combo to qualify for state under Genovesi, who has been coaching at the school for 35 years. The first father/son qualifiers were the Wallenbergs, Ken and Jim. The latter was a 2011 graduate.
Kevin Heneghan went to state in 1980 and 1981, reaching the quarterfinals as a 138-pounder on his second trip. Watching from the balcony at Saturday’s sectional, he was beaming with pride.
“(Sean) has been working real hard since he’s been a little kid. This was his final shot. His mother (Karen) and I are real proud of him. It’s unbelievable to watch,” Kevin Heneghan said. “It’s going to be great to watch my son (down at state). It’s going to be an awesome experience to see how he does.”
Said Sean Heneghan: “It’s pretty cool that I can say I went downstate like my dad. He’s always giving me advice. He’s been my coach since kindergarten, always telling me what I can do better. He’s been a great help for 14 years.”
Sean Heneghan, who is 31-9, qualified for state with a 5-4 win over Maine South’s Thomas Brewster in the consolation semifinal. Brewster had won the matchup between the two at the previous week’s regional.
Out of nowhere
A year ago, few would have had Notre Dame senior heavyweight Gino Orlandi pegged as a qualifier for the state tournament.
But Orlandi (32-10) will be one of three Dons competing at this weekend’s event, which will be held today through Saturday at Assembly Hall in Champaign.
Orlandi was Notre Dame’s only wrestler to reach the finals at Saturday’s sectional, where he was edged out 2-1 by Leyden’s Javier Rhoades.
“He’s a tremendous overachiever,” Genovesi said of Orlandi. “He was two wins under .500 last year. But he stuck around and did what he was supposed to do in the offseason. He dedicated himself. He’s got a great work ethic and a great sense of humor. He’s a great kid.”
Experience could help
For a third straight year, Maine South senior Terry Calkins qualified for state out of the sectional’s back draw. Calkins (31-4) finished third at 126 pounds on Saturday, and said he expects experience to be a key to his performance this weekend.
“I feel these other kids who are at state for the first time could be scared. It’s scary in Assembly Hall. It’s a big place,” said Calkins, who has lost his only two matches at state. “I’ve been there twice already and know what it feels like. I’ve gotten the butterflies out and I’m ready to go.”
After losing 8-2 in a grueling sectional final to Oak Park-River Forest’s Joe Ariola (undefeated and ranked No. 1), Niles West 182-pounder Vaughn Monreal-Berner promptly went to a corner of the gym and did an extensive workout of pushups and sprints.
Wolves coach Anthony Genovesi said that kind of effort is common for Monreal-Berner, a senior who is 33-7 and heading to state for the first time.
“He’s been our hardest worker over the years,” Genovesi said. “He’s the captain for football and wrestling and has pushed himself to get to where he’s at.”
Monreal-Berner said he may walk on at a Division I wrestling program or join the Marines.
Evanston senior Brandon Vamarasi (220) was forced to prepare for state this week without his usual drill partner, Evanston assistant coach Thomas Ingram.
Three days before the sectional, Vamarasi broke Ingram’s ankle in what the wrestler referred to as a freak accident.
Ingram, a 2005 Evanston grad who has been on the coaching staff for four years, was on crutches as Vamarasi took third at the sectional. But Ingram didn’t have any hard feelings toward Vamarasi.
“We were wrestling live at (practice) and Brandon did exactly what I told him to do when somebody throws a leg in,” he said. “I coached him well and he listened to me well and broke my ankle.”
Vamarasi, who is 35-10 and will compete at state for the first time, said Ingram has pushed him to new heights.
“(Ingram) has helped me out, lifting me all season long,” Vamarasi said. “It’s too bad we can’t wrestle together for (state). But he’ll still be in my ear all the time.”