Since the end of the wrestling season last year, Charlie Bolich certainly hasn’t missed any meals.

But the Evanston senior is still hungry for success even though he’s facing a new challenge – at a new weight – this year.

ETHS boys wrestling Credit: ETHS file photo

Bolich added 40 pounds of muscle, then cut some weight to land the starting job at 170 pounds in the Wildkit lineup after competing at 152 a year ago.

He decided that bigger is better and turned to a diet of 6,000 calories a day to get where he wanted to be.

So far, so good. Bolich suffered his first defeat of the season Friday night at New Trier, but bounced back with two wins via falls and a forfeit as the Wildkits wiped out Mather (70-6), Phillips (70-0) and Simeon (78-0) at the Elias George Memorial Tournament held at Willie May Fieldhouse Saturday.

Bolich captured the 170-pound title at the Vernon Hills Invitational tourney to start the season and, like most of his teammates, didn’t build up much of a sweat Saturday against three Chicago Public Schools teams. He pinned Arlo Johnston of Mather in 2:36 and only needed 1:08 to rack up another pin against Phillips’ Casey Moore.

So why the crash “diet” that changed him from a middleweight to a light heavyweight? Now in his 14th year in the sport, Bolich decided it was time to move up in class.

He’s still getting used to the idea that now he’s bigger than half the Wildkits in the practice room.

“I’ve been wrestling since I was 4-years-old,” said Bolich, “and since I’m not going to wrestle in college, I just decided I was tired of being small and I ate everything I could get my hands on. I added 40 pounds of muscle, trained my legs and did just a minimal amount of cardio until the season closed in. I just want to have fun my last year.

“I think my quickness on my feet is actually better now and that gives me an advantage. I still feel like a 145-pounder, I don’t really think about how big I am now. The first match or two I was thinking of the other guys [opponents] as being so much bigger, but they’re not. I’m still faster than those guys and I’ve gained a lot of muscle, too.

ETHS Wildkit wrestling Credit: ETHS wrestling

“The biggest adjustment? My matches come up later in the dual meets than they used to, that’s all.”

Evanston head coach Rudy Salinas pointed out that a move up a couple of weight classes certainly isn’t unprecedented. His own son, Ricardo, did that during his record-setting career at ETHS, but usually the change is more gradual.

“There’s still a chance that Charlie might go down to 160 [at the end of the year)],” Salinas said. “There’s an adjustment period when you try to do this because it’s a whole new skill set at a different weight like that. It always comes down to your skill set. You learn that things you took for granted at a middle weight don’t always have the same effect at the upper weights. Your go-to move aren’t go-to moves anymore. I think it’s something Charlie is still figuring out.”

Saturday, Bolich had plenty of company in the winner’s circle in a squad that Salinas hopes to build eventually into a 12-team tournament featuring ETHS and predominantly Chicago high schools. Miles Sims (113 pounds), Tyler Bear (120), Jason McDermott (126 and 132), Marco Terrizzi (132), Declan Glascott (145) and Peter Wade (152) each scored a pair of falls for the Kits.

Glascott scored the most remarkable triumph of the day against Jermaine Irving of Phillips. He trailed 10-0 in the second period when the two grapplers banged heads simultaneously and tumbled dazed to the mat.

Both competitors stayed down for a couple of minutes. When the match resumed, Glascott flipped the Phillips wrestler onto his back for a pin with 56 seconds remaining in the period.

Salinas is trying to create a varsity tournament that will be tied into an age-group invitational the next day. The idea is to help Chicago schools grow the sport like it has during the past five years of his tenure at Evanston, while also honoring the legacy of his Hall of Fame predecessor, Elias George.

“We’ve seen a trend in our program of first-year wrestlers who are sophomores, or juniors or even seniors. We’ve averaged 130 [hopefuls] at our tryouts the past five years and we’ve never had a turnout like that before,” explained Salinas. “So we want to get more kids some more experience in matches and that’s why we want to schedule more matches early. They need to learn from experience.

“It’s also an outreach on our part because of our own origins [Salinas coached at Lane Tech in Chicago before moving to ETHS]. We want to make something available to the city programs who don’t normally get to go to tournaments. Like Coach George, all of my career we’ve tried to help out the Chicago schools. Our goal is a 12-team tournament.” 

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