The Fenwick wrestling program is family-oriented, literally. Head coach Jerry Ruffino and his assistant coaches, sons Chris and Pat, are already again hard at work prepping the Friars for a favorable season.

“Everyone on my coaching staff is either family or someone I coached before,” said Ruffino, “so, we’re all on the same page on what we want this program to accomplish year-after-year.”

Ruffino added that he’s particularly energized about his team this season. “We’ve had some ups and downs over the years, but this year I really feel good about this team. This group of guys really want to learn and get better.”

Ruffino’s main returner this season is 2010’s Class 3A State qualifier Matt Garelli, who won two national titles during the offseason, including USA Freestyle. Garelli, who was one match away from placing at state last season when he injured his knee, will begin at 112 pounds this season, but Ruffino said he’s likely to go back to 103 at some point.

Other returners include sectional qualifier Tony Aguilar (125-pound weight class) and two-year varsity wrestlers Carlos Pike (145), Graham Joss (152), Jason Dalessandro (215) and Steve Sreniawski (285).

Ruffino also expects to get help from newcomers Jake Bond (130), Tony Triggino (160), Oliver Goldman (171), Danny Freitag, as well as Phil Pastor (119), Matt Matigan (140) and Dan McAndrews (185), a sophomore with some varsity experience.

For the last few years, the Friars have finished fourth in the always competitive Catholic League. Ruffino believes there’s a chance at a Top 3 finish with this group.

“There’s a real spark in these guys, a real drive to do well. I think if we find the right fit for everyone we can do pretty well in the league.

“There’s going to be a little moving around early in the year, so the regional lineup may look different,” added Ruffino, who has been head wrestling coach at Fenwick since 1995. “But it’s a good strong group and I’m certainly looking forward to the next couple of months.”

The Friars travel to the Hinsdale South Tournament this Saturday (9 a.m.).

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Brad Spencer

Brad Spencer has been covering sports in and around Oak Park for more than a decade, which means the young athletes he once covered in high school are now out of college and at home living with their parents...