Many of the starters from last year are returning to Evanston’s wrestling program this year.

That’s not good enough for head coach Rudy Salinas, who feels that most of those athletes still have a lot to prove on the mat.

“This is definitely a ‘show me’ year for us,” said Salinas, whose squad hosts a quad on Tuesday, Nov. 22, to open the 2022-23 campaign. “We graduated everyone [starters] from 182 pounds on up and so we’ll have brand new guys at those weights. And we don’t have anyone with any [varsity] experience at 106, 113, or 120 either.

“Everyone grew, so we’ve got a logjam now around 126 and 132. We’ve got a lot of people with a lot to prove, across the board. We’ve got a lot to sort out, but as usual, we’ll be a better team in February than we are right now.”

Headliners for the Wildkits as proven grapplers are returning starters Jason McDermott (132), Marco Terrizzi (126) and Charlie Bolich (170). McDermott earned all-conference recognition last winter and was a sectional qualifier, finishing with a 26-14 won-loss record.

Credit: ETHS file photo

Terrizzi captured the regional championship at 126 pounds – a rare accomplishment for an Evanston wrestler as a sophomore – and finished 16-12 after being eliminated at the sectional. Bolich, another junior, will make the jump from 152 pounds to 170 this year after winning 16 of 28 matches last year at the lower weight.

After that? Plenty of question marks.

“Marco is probably the hardest worker we have in the [practice] room,” Salinas noted. “I wasn’t surprised that he won a regional last year and that was a great breakthrough for him. He placed fourth at the Greco-Roman state meet [in the spring] and represented Team Illinois at the nationals.

“He’s improved a lot all around and he’s probably our next hopeful to be on the podium [at the Illinois High School Association state finals]. He’s not just a year older – he’s better than last year.”

Among the other returning veterans, Charlie Carra will be looking for a breakout year at the middle weights (he finished 11-10 last year) and Ladell Allen (182) is a grappler to watch, along with Eren Atac and Manny Holloway.

Another junior who built his resume after the high school season is heavyweight Destiny Ekwebelan. He scored an eighth place finish at the Illinois freshman/sophomore state tournament but focused on football in the summer. “He has shown a lot of promise there, but now he’ll be up against grown men,” Salinas said.

Also challenging for that heavyweight spot will be senior Declan Boutross and junior Chris Cannon, out for the sport for the first time. Freshman Jeremy Marshall could also be in the mix at some point.

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