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In the past 20 years only a handful of Evanston wrestlers have captured Illinois High School Association regional tournament championships as sophomores.

Marco Terrizzi added his name to that list Saturday at the Class 3A regional hosted by Glenbrook South.

Terrizzi ruled the 113-pound bracket and six other Wildkit grapplers also advanced to next weekend’s Barrington Sectional tournament. With a lineup that featured only four seniors – all of them qualified for the sectional – Evanston settled for fifth place in the eight-team field with 103 points, behind champion Prospect (212.5), Glenbrook South (159), Loyola Academy (153) and New Trier (128).

The top three finishers in each weight class automatically move on to the sectional round next Friday at Barrington. Joining Terrizzi there will be second-place finishers Jason McDermott (132 pounds), Sam Adeoye (170) and Anthony Joyner (195), along with third-place finishers Darion Coleman (182), Sheldon Kinzer (220) and David Sanchez (285).

Ricardo Salinas, the school record holder for victories, and former state champion Ramin Abraham are among the program’s elite who earned regional titles as sophomores. Whether or not Terrizzi is on track to join them as a state placer some day is still to be determined, but the ETHS 113-pounder added the regional title to his resume by tripping Glenbrook South nemesis Arnold Park, the No. 1 seed, by a 4-3 margin in the championship bout.

Terrizzi had never beaten the Titan grappler in four previous tries and the victory tasted sweet when it finally came, secured by a takedown just 15 seconds into the third period. Terrizzi improved his season record to 12-8 with the big win.

“The coaching staff gets the props, because of them I have really embraced the idea that I can still win even if I’m down with 30 seconds left. I’m a lot more confident now at the end of matches,” said the ETHS sophomore.

“I just had a lot more fight in me this time [against Park] and I really wanted to get after him. I still, obviously, have a lot of work to do with my technique, but now I have a lot more calmness on the mat, a lot more mat awareness. I don’t panic when I get taken down any more, because I know I can still get up and win in the end. My mental state is great right now. All of the things the coaches and my dad have been telling me really hit home today.”

Terrizzi also took down Park, a senior, in the second period after trailing 2-0 over the first half of the bout. On the second takedown, “I don’t really remember what the move was. All I know was we were in a scramble for a long time, and I came out on top,” he said.

Terrizzi’s title came as no surprise to head coach Rudy Salinas.

“Marco is a kid who loves wrestling, has a good wrestling IQ and a good heart. I think the sky’s the limit for him if he believes in himself,” Salinas noted.

“Last year he placed at the frosh-soph state tournament (sixth at 101 pounds) and he went 2-2 at the preseason nationals in Des Moines and got some good experience there [in October].  He’s always had the ability and this was a good tournament for him. He actually certified at 106 pounds, but had a growth spurt over Christmas and embraced the change in weight [to 113]. A lot of his losses were tough losses, too.”

Evanston’s other finalists didn’t fare as well. McDermott ran into a likely state placer at 132 in Prospect’s Will Baysinger, who improved to 41-1 by pinning the Evanston junior in 57 seconds.

At 170, Adeoye fell short in a bid to uphold his No. 1 seed, bowing 8-4 to Glenbrook South’s Ilkin Badalov, and at 195 Joyner took a 4-3 lead into the second period, then suffered a fall to New Trier’s Jack Cummings, the top seed, in 2:50.

The other Wildkit qualifiers showed their resilience by battling back through the consolation bracket. Sanchez recovered from a loss via fall at heavyweight to eliminate Niles North’s Justin Arya (fall in 4:18) and then hung on for a hard-fought 6-4 triumph over New Trier’s Riley Cornieluson to earn the right to advance.

Kinzer kept his season alive with wins in the back draw at 220 over Joey Hebert of Loyola (3-0) and Nate Glazebrook of Glenbrook North (3-2), and Coleman, a junior, outscored No. 2 seed Tyler Jackson of New Trier 10-5 after scrambling past Derrick Fuller-Rivera of Niles North 12-10 in the consolation semis.

“Seven qualifiers for the sectional is nothing to sneeze at,” Salinas added. “It’s especially great for the seniors, and we’ll have everyone else in the lineup back next year.”

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