Fenwick head wrestling coach Jerry Ruffino said his squad will be wearing ankle weights throughout the season. “Hopefully, at the end of the year we’ll take those ankle weights off and we’ll be flying.”

Ruffino was using a metaphor to describe his team’s grueling regular season schedule before the Friars go from competing in the Class 3A State Meet to Class 2A.

Ankle weights and all, Fenwick has an experienced squad this season, perfect for a debut in a new class. Matt Garelli (47-1), a state champion at 103 pounds last year, returns to the lineup for his final high school season. The Stanford-bound grappler, who is ranked No. 1 in the state, will begin the season competing in the 120-pound weight division. According to Ruffino, Garelli will likely finish at 113, where returning sophomore Danny Freitag will wrestle the bulk of the regular season.

Others returning for the Friars include Mike Delmonico (106-pound weight division), Tony Aguilar (126), Matt Matigian (132), Mike Kozyra (145), Tony Triggiano (152), Grant Joff (160), Dave Johnsen (138), and Oliver Goldman (182). Anguilar finished second in the Catholic League last season. Kozyra won 32 matches last season and qualified for sectionals, and Joff competed at state last season.

Ruffino said his entire lineup is still a work-in-progress, with several weights to be decided with wrestle-offs. At 195 pounds, Nick Sacramento and Brendan Curtin are in the running to fill the 195-pound weight slot, while senior Dave Johnsen and junior Jake Bond will battle it out at 138.

A three-way battle exists at 132 pounds with Matt Matigian, John Biscegli and Ben Uphues. Matigian and Biscegli are both seniors – Matigian a three-year varsity grappler – while Uphues is a promising freshman.

“I think Uphues is going to give the seniors a run for their money,” said Ruffino.

Nick Sacramento (195), Chris Hawthorne and Nick Lies round out the heavy weights.

Ruffino, who, after 17 years as head coach at Fenwick and 30-plus years coaching in general, is contemplating transferring coaching duties elsewhere by the end of the season, is optimistic this team can better last season’s fourth place finish in the Catholic League.

“We’re going to be great tournament team, but likely only a pretty good dual meet team,” said Ruffino. “But I think we can crack the Top 3 in the league, if not challenge for the top spot or second place.”

The Friars begin the season Nov. 23 at home against Glenbard West (5 p.m.).

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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...