Thursday, November 14, 2013

Wrestling Ready to Tackle 2013-14 Season

Sophomore Blake Santi is the leader of the Harper team this year and will wrestle at 149 pounds. (Jim Cummins)
PALATINE, Ill. – After weeks of grueling practices on the mats and training in the weight room, the time has finally come for the Harper College wrestling team. The Hawks will begin to display their strength and skill in competition tomorrow as they travel to Dubuque, Iowa for the Loras Open to begin their 2013-14 season.

Coach Dan Loprieno has an outstanding track record in his 15 years as head coach of the Hawks, winning three national championships (2001, 2006, 2010) and finishing runner-up three times. In the 2012-13 season, the Hawks took 10th place at the NJCAA Nationals. Josh Tardy (Naperville, Ill./Naperville Central) captured a national title at 149 pounds while teammate Steven Dewitt (Sterling, Ill./Sterling) finished sixth at 157 pounds.

Tardy and DeWitt have departed, but Loprieno is confident in this year's squad after what he described as a down year in the 2012-13 season.

"We had one of our better recruiting classes in the last few years with several state place winners," Loprieno said. "A lot of what we do in the fall is to just get them ready for the grind of a college wrestling season."

Loprieno explained that the fall helps prepare the younger guys for seven minute matches when they were used to wrestling six minute matches in high school.  He is also confident in his group of sophomores led by Blake Santi (Roselle, Ill./Lake Park)Mike Romanelli (Lake in the Hills, Ill./Crystal Lake South) and David Hughes (Marshalltown, Iowa/Marshalltown).

In the first month of the season, the Hawks also compete at the Dan Gable Open at UW-Oshkosh, Coe College Invite, Parkside Open and Art Kraft Memorial Open. Their home schedule opens on Dec. 19 with a Waubonsee Dual, and the calendar year closes out with the Midland Wrestling Championships at Northwestern University Dec. 29-30.

Following winter break, the Hawks wrestle at the National Duals (Jan. 11-12) and the Al Hanke Invitational (Jan. 18).

Harper then competes in home meets on back-to-back weekends on Jan. 25 and Feb. 1 with the Harper College Wrestling Invitational and Harper Open.

The Hawks wrestle at the Central District Championship at Triton on Feb. 16. NJCAA Nationals run from  Feb. 27-Mar. 1 at North Idaho College.

"With the combination of the great recruiting class and the guys we have coming back, it looks to be like a successful year," Lopreno said. "I expect us to be in the top five or six every year at nationals."

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