By Marty Farmer
Fenwick wrestlers Mike Kozyra and Chris Hawthorne each earned second place at the Chicago Catholic League tournament over the weekend. Kozyra advanced to the 170-pound title bout before losing to champion Bishop McNamara's Kyle Betourne 11-2. Seeded third, Hawthorne advanced to the 220-pound final but lost 8-1 to Mount Carmel's Aaron Davis. The Friars finished 9th in the team standings with 42 points, while host Mount Carmel won the title with 258 points.
"We usually place in the Top 5," Fenwick coach Chris Ruffino said, "but we'll move on and get ready for regionals."
Fenwick begins its postseason on Saturday, Feb.8 at the Elmwood Park Regional. Kozyra, currently ranked No. 2 at 170 pounds in Class 2A by Illinoismatmen.com and finished fourth in the state last year, leads the Friars into a fairly stacked regional including Class 2A defending state champion Montini, Fenton, Ridgewood and St. Patrick. Kozyra, from Elmwood Park, also won titles at the Conant and Hinsdale South Invites this season and appears primed for a deep run in the playoffs.
"The goal for Mike is to win a state title," Ruffino said. "He's looking forward to wrestling at the University of Illinois next season, but his focus for now is on pursuing a state championship at 170."
Competing in the rugged Catholic League provides perfect preparation for the regional and hopefully well beyond. Ruffino believes the Friars potentially could advance six to eight wrestlers out of the Elmwood Park Regional.
"Because the Chicago Catholic League is such a high level of wrestling, it's very tough but also good for us," Ruffino said earlier this season. "If we perform well in those matches, we know we can anywhere in the state and perform well."
Senior captain and all-Chicago Catholic League performer Emerson Harris (145), Hawthorne (220), Nick Sacramento (195), Kevin Marzo (182), Jim Wise (160), Ben Uphues (152) and Al Aguilar are other key wrestlers for Fenwick.