2023 BCR Wrestling Preview Capsules

Princeton's Carlos Benavidez wrestles Dixon's Cade Hey during the 59th Annual Lyle King Princeton Invitational Tournament on Saturday, Jan. 7, 2023 at Princeton High School.


Coach: Steve Amy.

Top returners: Carlos Benavidez, sr., 144; Ace Christiansen, jr., 138; Casey Etheridge, so., 157/165; Kaydin Gibson, (jr., 126; Cade Odell, jr., 285; Augustus Swanson, so., 106.

Top newcomer: Arthur Burden, jr., 190.

Note worthy: The Tigers open the season with high prospects and optimism, ranked 15th in Class 1A with a lineup of five ranked wrestlers by Illinois Mat Men. Swanson (42-10) is ranked No. 2, Odell (30-10) is No. 4, Benavidez (31-14) is No. 9 and Christiansen (38-12) is No. 10 while Etheridge (31-15) has received all-state honorable mention. Swanson and Christiansen are returning state qualifiers. Also returning are seniors Preston Arkels (150/157) and Justin DePauw (150), juniors Mike Kirth (jr., 144) and Ian Morris (215) and sophomores Eli Berlin (190), Mike Kurth (144), Gage Nutter (132), Grayson Rockey (175) and Rhett Pearson (215). The Tigers welcome junior newcomers Burden (190), who won his first match, and Anthony Lewis (144) and freshmen Abe Longeville (144) and Landon Kendall (175). “This should be a very exciting year for us. We return all but two from last year’s lineup that graduated. So we have a lot of talent and experience coming back,” Amy said. “It may take a little while for us to get going as many of these guys are coming off of a great football season. We have five guys currently ranked at their weight classes so we are looking for really big things out of them to lead the team in the right direction. They have been working really hard so far and it has been great.” ... The Tigers opened the season Tuesday with a sweep over host Morris and Reed-Custer.

St. Bede

Coach: Sam Allen

Top returning wrestlers: Garrett Connelly, jr., 175; Jordan Coventry, jr., 144; Evan Englehaupt, sr., 144; Grady Gillan, jr., 190; Jack Maschmann, jr., 165; Logan Pineda, jr., 150; Hunter Savage, sr., 132.

Top newcomers: Casey Shearer, sr., 126; Marco Rizzi, jr., 138; Yigit Arslan, sr., 215; Bella Boggio, sr., 145; Weston Heersink, so., 190.

Worth noting: The Bruins lost a pair of sectional qualifiers in Ryan and Jake Migliorini - Ryan to graduation and Jake to basketball - but return an experienced roster. Connelley was 23-20 and a sectional qualifier last season, while Savage was 21-23 and Pineda was 24-11. “Our team is packed with experienced juniors and seniors,” Allen said. “This will help us a lot in dual team competition. We are missing some weights, so we are also giving up points before the dual even begins. Having experienced juniors and seniors will hopefully help make up for holes in the lineup.” Allen said Connelly, Savage and Pineda are all capable of advancing to state, while Coventry and Englehaupt could be postseason advancers as well. “We are missing a few key weight classes due to injured athletes and athletes choosing not tom come out this season,” Allen said. “So, my goals shifted a little. At this point, we are going to wrestle tough each and every match and focus on individuals developing and enhancing skills as much as possible up to the regional tournament.” ... Boggio is the only female wrestler for St. Bede.

Putnam County-Hall

Coach: Ben Aranda

Top returning wrestlers: Kaleb Gualandi, so., 215; James Irwin, jr., 285; Ben Heerdt, jr., 144; Elijah Leota, jr., 215/285; Carlos Aranda, so., 165; Bailey Herr, jr., 170/190; Annamae Smith, so., 110/113; Ella Irwin, so., 190

Top newcomers: Logan Ziel, fr., 126; Dylan Conklin, fr., 132; Shane Scribner, fr., 138; Ulises Hurtado, so., 150; John Webb, so., 157; Joseph Garcia, so., 165; Alex Tucker, fr., 215

Worth noting: Ben Aranda has a mix of veterans and new faces in the lineup for his first season as the PC-Hall head coach. “The strength of our team is the wrestlers who have been wrestling for a few years,” he said. “They have been a big help getting all the new wrestlers up to speed and getting us points during dual meets.” Ben Aranda said he thinks Carlos Aranda, Heerdt, Tucker, Leota and Irwin are capable of advancing to the sectional. Ben Aranda said he is looking to improve as a coach while helping his wrestlers in his first season. “One goal I have for myself is to become a better coach to better help my athletes,” he said. “I’m only 23 years old and this is only my second year coaching and first as head coach, so I still have so much to learn. My expectation I have for the team is to give 110% effort in the wrestling room. My main goal for this year is for all the new wrestlers to really learn and enjoy the sport.”

Princeton girls

Coach: Steve Amy.

Top returners: Heather Heider, sr.; Izzy Gibson, so.; Josie Leone, sr.

Top newcomers: Kaitlynn Hartmann, jr.; Rylee Backes, fr.; Abby Harris, fr.; Jadeyn Klingenburg, fr.

Note worthy: The Tigresses continue to build their program with three returning girls, who all wrestled well at sectionals last year, and the addition of junior Kaitlynn Hartmann and freshmen Rylee Backes, Abby Harris and Jadeyn Klingenburg. Hartmann’s sister, Shaylnn, and Harris’ brother, Matthew, previously wrestled for PHS. This will be the first year the girls will have their own IHSA regional having wrestled in a girls association postseason before. “We have seven girls currently out so it is a very exciting time for the program,” Amy said.

Putnam County-Hall girls

Coach: Ben Aranda

Top returning wrestlers: Bailey Herr, jr., 170/190; Annamae Smith, so., 110/113; Ella Irwin, so., 190

Worth noting: Herr qualified for the girls state tournament last year after placing third at the sectional. She finished one win shy of a state medal. Aranda said he thinks she can make a return trip to state.