Montini Catholic repeats at Neuqua Valley Scuffle

By Chris Walker for the IWCOA

It was 38 years ago this month that the Bears released The Super Bowl Shuffle. On Saturday, Montini Catholic won the 2nd Annual Neuqua Valley Scuffle.

Montini wasn’t there to start no trouble, The Broncos showed up to win the Neuqua Valley Scuffle

The Broncos had four champions, five others who placed second and another who took third during Saturday’s tournament in Naperville.

“It’s a nice win for our kids,” said Montini coach Mike Bukovsky, a 2023 National Wrestling Hall of Fame – Illinois Chapter Inductee. “They did a nice job. We’re still a little football hungover and trying to get through some sickness and stuff. We had two starters out today, but everybody does now so it’s not like we’re different from anybody else. We’re doing all right. It was a good day for us.”

The Broncos, who scored 227.5 points, were in a two-team battle for the title with Warren Township, who scored 201 points. 

“We get a few of these tournaments a year and it’s nice to take advantage,” Bukovsky said. “We wanted to try to come in and win this tournament. It was one of our goals in the offseason and obviously we have post season goals and things attached to that. We have had a couple duals in getting warmed up, but today was a nice test with some really quality teams – some 3A teams. I’m happy with the way we responded overall.”

Scary from the standpoint of potential opponents, the Broncos are young with 11 of their 14 starters coming back next year, but they aren’t looking beyond this season. They have no reason to not focus on the now.

“We’re very young,” Bukovsky said. “We only have three seniors. It’s been a nice group. They’re very close knit.”

Joshua Vazquez (126), Kam Luif (132), Jeremy Huf (138) and Alex Marre (175) were the four Broncos who took home framed brackets documenting their respective championships.

Well, they named Kam Luif Most Outstanding
Pin, pin, pin, he kept advancing
As a freshman he took sixth in state last year
Now he’s older, stronger and without fear

“Kam is very humble,” Bukovsky said. “He’s a great kid who works year-round. He placed as a freshman so it’s nice to see him get a nice award. He’s kind of an unsung guy, but one of the backbones, one of our leaders. He does the right thing all the time and has done a great job so far.”

Luif wasn’t too surprised to be named Most Outstanding Wrestler at this year’s Scuffle after he pinned all three of his opponents.

“Coming in here and training I know it’s always a possibility,” he said. “I know my coaches put me in a great spot to win these awards and stuff like that.”

It’s so far, so good for the Broncos.

“Our team this year is way more disciplined,” Luif said. “We’re all getting into the room and working hard everyday. We’re all family, too. We all bond and I think that’s what makes us a great team. And Coach (Bukovsky) is back, which is really big. He’s on top of everything. He keeps everything organized and makes everything run much better.”

He’s Jeremy Huf and he’s tougher than most
Better watch out, or you’ll be toast
He’s only been a Bronco for a little while
But he’s fittin’ in nicely and winnin’ in style

Huf transferred from Prospect and has found a new home.

“I’ve definitely gotten used to the atmosphere and this is definitely where I want to be,” he said. “I think it’s awesome trying to carry on the legacy of Montini. I think for sure that this year people are definitely going to see some unexpected things from Montini. We’re going to get in the room and push each other. We want better for each other.”

While a bit banged up, Huf didn’t let his injuries deter his drive for success.

“He’s been great and he’s battling some injury situations,” Bukovsky said. “He fought through that today and did a great job. Up and down the lineup we’ve had so many good performances. I think some of our gas tanks aren’t where they need to be right now, especially with some of the football guys, but we’ll get there.”

Allen Woo (106), Michael Malizzio (113), Isaac Mayora (120), Santino Tenuta (157) and Mick Ranquist (285) weren’t crowned champions for the Broncos but fought hard all the way into their title bouts. AJ Tack (165) took third, Jaxon Lane (190) placed fifth and Lewis Wais-Montoya (150) finished sixth.

Oak Park and River Forest (151) placed third, Loyola Academy (141) was fourth and Elk Grove (117) was fifth to round out the top five team finishers. Bolingbrook (94.5) followed in sixth place, while Neuqua Valley (91.5), Bartlett (66), Reavis (50) and Taft (49) were also in the 10-team field.

“It’s nice to see kids back in action and see some good solid wrestling,” Neuqua Valley coach Aaron Huber said. “There are some really good schools here and competition was great. Nice to see our kids competing at that level, getting everything out of every match that we went through, and seeing some good stuff from some other kids, regardless of schools.”

The whole idea behind the creation of the Scuffle was to bring a variety of good teams together for aggressive wrestling.

“There are some tough teams here and some teams that are fairly solid that have some good standout kids that can compete,” Huber said. “It gives everybody an opportunity to compete so that’s nice for every program regardless of where your kids are. So you’re finding good competition at every level for your athletes.”

Warren also had four champions, Caleb Noble (106), Jonathon Marquez (113), Aaron Stewart (157) and Royce Lopez (165) while Loyola had three title winners, Gavin Pardilla (120), Quinn Herbert (190) and Kai Calcutt (215). 

The other title winners were Bolingbrook’s Aaron Camacho (144), OPRF’s David Ogunsanya (150) and Elk Grove’s Mikey Milovich (285).

The host Wildcats didn’t have any champions, taking seventh place with Jay Chidley (144) and Magomed Nurudinov (190) finishing as runner ups.

“It is early and we’re trying to find all the positives that are going to get us to the point of where we want to be in February,” Huber said. “That’s the ultimate goal for us – improving after every single match, finding our weak spots to improve upon in practice and finding those highlights where we can come back and use that to refocus and making sure we’re in the right spot and right path for the end of the season.”

Here’s a rundown of the Neuqua Valley Scuffle champions and their weight classes:

106 – Caleb Noble, Warren

The 106-pound title bout saw the No. 4-ranked wrestlers in 3A and 2A meet, with Warren freshman Caleb Noble taking care of Montini’s Allen Woo, who is also a freshman.

“It went well,” Noble said. “Since I’m very young in this, I have so much to learn during these four years (in high school). One thing I took out of this was you’re not going to get all the calls so I just have to adapt to the calls of the refs.”

Noble pinned Loyola Academy’s Quentin Williams in 1:15 prior to his 18-6 major decision over Woo.

“I think our team is pretty good,” Noble said. “We’ve definitely got some tough wrestlers. Aaron Stewart is really good and should’ve won state last year. Jonathon (Marquez) is my practice partner and is very tough and Royce Lopez is tough, too.”

OPRF’s MJ Rundell won by fall for third against Loyola’s Quentin Williams.

113 – Jonathon Marquez, Warren

Ranked No. 6 in Class 3A, Warren’s Jonathon Marquez displayed the skills he used to advance to state at 106 last year, while earning a championship at 113 with a hard-fought 7-2 win over Montini’s Michael Malizzio.

After receiving a bye in the quarterfinals, Marquez needed just 1:26 to take down Taft’s Angel Rivera to earn a berth in the finals.

Bolingbrook’s Isaac Harris won a 12-4 decision over OPRF’s Gabriel Rojas for third and Neuqua Valley’s Brady Podracky won 4-1 over Taft’s Angel Rivera on the fifth-place mat.

120 – Gavin Pardilla, Loyola

Loyola’s Gavin Pardilla, who qualified for state as a freshman last season, scored a 12-0 major decision victory against Montini’s Isaac Mayora in the 120 finals. 

Pardilla earned an 18-2 win by technical fall over Warren’s Evan Glowinski in his previous bout.

Warren’s Evan Glowinski placed third by fall over Bolingbrook’s Jared Craig and OPRF’s Ruben Acevedo placed fifth by fall against Neuqua Valley’s Eesh Bandla.

126 – Joshua Vazquez, Montini

In one of the more exciting title battles of the tournament, Montini’s Joshua Vazquez prevailed against Elk Grove’s Grant Madl 5-3 in sudden victory in the 126 finals. 

Vazquez, a junior, is the top-ranked wrestler at 120 pounds in 2A while Madl, a senior, is No. 8 at 126 pounds in 3A. Vazquez opened with a bye before winning by fall over Bartlett’s Cameron Engels in 47 seconds.

OPRF’s Zev Koransky won a 9-2 decision for third over Bartlett’s Cameron Engels and Taft’s Miguel Guevara won by fall for fifth against Neuqua Valley’s Colin Folley.

132 – Kam Luif, Montini

Kam Luif became the second straight Montini wrestler to be named Most Outstanding at the Scuffle, following in the footsteps of David Mayora, who won it last year.

He pinned Warren’s Michael Schillen in 3:06 and Reavis’ Vladamir Vasquez in 3:10 in the semifinals and then expedited the process in the 132 championship bout, attacking Elk Grove’s Nicasio Acino and recording a fall in 52 seconds.

“I got to my attack with a high-c right away,” Luif said. “I then had the leg up in the air and saw his head and kind of went for it and just stuck him.”

It was the first time Luif had been acquainted with Acino.

“I had never wrestled him,” Luif said. “I like wrestling someone I haven’t wrestled before because it puts me in a better position to go back in the room and see what I could’ve done better, especially if he did something I’d never seen before and I can go into the room and work that position.”

Reavis’ Vladamir Vasquez won by fall for third against Loyola’s Danny Malan and Bartlett’s Joseph Caputo won a 10-6 decision for fifth against Warren’s Michael Schillen.

138 – Jeremy Huf, Montini

It was the first tournament for Jeremy Huf in the Montini singlet. 

Huf needed just 40 seconds to defeat Elk Grove’s Matt Korwel by fall in the semifinals before battling from start to finish to survive OPRF’s Joseph Knackstedt in the 138 finals with a 2-1 decision.

“It was pretty good, but like always I’ve got stuff to work on,” Huf said. “I’m just excited and ready to wrestle. It was my first tournament with Montini so I’m very excited for this season. This was a good tournament. I’m excited to get back in the room and continue to work. I think we’re going to pull off some upsets and it’s going to be a good year.”

OPRF’s Aiden John Noyes won by fall for third place against Reavis’ Zach Koschnitzki, and Warren’s Kyle Miron took fifth by fall against Elk Grove’s Matt Korwel.

144 – Aaron Camacho, Bolingbrook

Sparring with Montini alum Dylan Burnoski during practice has boosted Aaron Camacho’s confidence this season. 

After pinning Bartlett’s Nick Barton and Taft’s Jierich Uy, the Bolingbrook sophomore won by technical fall 21-5 over Neuqua Valley’s Jay Chidley to take home the 144 title.

“My confidence has gone higher since my new practice partner, and (Burnoski) has helped me a lot,” Camacho said. “I feel like the work I’ve done with him has helped my confidence. I also have a room partner (Tommy McDermott) who’s heavier than me and pushes me, which gives me more confidence in my matches.”

Chidley, who was donning a Montreal Expos cap when he wasn’t wrestling, took an aggressive approach.

“I love baseball and I wish I was good at it, but I’m good at wrestling so I’ve got that,” he joked. “I love baseball and have the hat because I like the Expos specifically.”

He certainly liked his tournament up until falling short against Camacho.

“I came into today with the mindset that I wanted to try new things that would get me a win,” he said. “I’ve been told for years to take shots and be aggressive, which is what I did in the matches today. It was a fun tournament. The more confident I get in my shots, the more successful I’m going to be. I’m pretty confident the success I had today will continue forward in the season as long as I keep working at it.”

OPRF’s Ryan Wozniak won a 9-7 decision over Warren’s Simon Castillo to place third and Bartlett’s Nick Barton won by fall for fifth against Taft’s Jierich Uy.

150 – David Ogunsanya, OPRF

Since he won by medical forfeit in the semifinals, OPRF sophomore David Ogunsanya only had to wrestle in the 150 championship bout, picking up point after point in a 21-6 win by technical fall over Warren’s Nico Hermsen.

Bolingbrook’s Marcus Poe took third place after winning a 9-8 decision over Neuqua Valley’s Nick Pape and Bartlett’s Ezekiel Carillo won by medical forfeit for fifth against Montini’s Lewis Wais-Montoya.

157 – Aaron Stewart, Warren

Currently ranked No. 2 in 3A and coming off a 43-2 season and third place finish in the state, Warren’s Aaron Stewart has high expectations again this season. 

After taking care of Neuqua Valley’s Andrew Dalson in 0:37, he won by a 24-9 technical fall against Montini’s Santino Tenuta to take the top spot on the award stand at 157 in this year’s Scuffle.

Loyola’s Sam Thompson won by injury default on the third-place mat against Elk Grove’s Anthony Macina and OPRF’s Isaac Davies won a 14-1 major decision for fifth against Neuqua Valley’s Andrew Dalson.

165 – Royce Lopez, Warren

A state qualifier at 160 last season, Warren’s Royce Lopez found himself in a peculiar situation late in the first period of his 165 championship match against Bolingbrook’s Tommy McDermott.

“At the end of the first period I got into a funky situation but got two back points so it was 4-1 at the end of the first period,” Lopez said. “He was a tough kid, pretty long. My game plan was mostly outside singles.”

Warren took McDermott down a couple more times, picking up points enroute to a 17-5 major decision.

“I’m into pushing the pace of the match, that’s how I wrestle,” Lopez said. “I’m trying to score as many points as I can to get that match over with.”

Getting back on the mat after facing Libertyville on Friday was key.

“Practice is hard; we have a lot of tough wrestlers in our room,” Lopez said. “We train as hard as we can seven days out of the week most of the time. (On Friday) we went against Libertyville and it could’ve done better, but you just have to build off of that. It’s early in the season so I think we’re going to be a very good team.”

Lopez was particularly impressed with the team’s effort in the Scuffle.

“I saw a lot of heart today compared to yesterday where we had some hiccups in our matches,” he said. “Today we showed a lot of heart. Even when we lost, guys fought hard.”

Montini’s AJ Tack took third place with an 8-6 decision against Neuqua Valley’s Maddox Menendez and OPRF’s Hugh Vanek placed fifth via fall against Reavis’ Robert Soto.

175 – Alex Marre, Montini

Fresh off an All-State football season where he helped lead Montini into the Class 3A semifinals, senior Alex Marre defeated Loyola’s Sebastian Gal by fall in 0:34 in the semifinals before scoring a 14-6 major decision over Elk Grove’s Benny Schlosser in the 175 title bout.

Taft’s Steven Tantchev won a sudden victory 3-1 decision on the third-place mat against Neuqua Valley’s Deividas Lewitan and Loyola’s Sebastian Gal won a 16-3 major decision for fifth against Bolingbrook’s Geno Vargas.

190 – Quinn Herbert, Loyola

Just a week ago, Loyola’s Quinn Herbert was helping the Ramblers take care of Lincoln-Way East for their second consecutive Class 8A football title over the Griffins. As a Chicago Catholic League All-Conference selection, Herbert played a huge part on the football field and has wasted no time in transitioning back into wrestling. 

Herbert had a pair of pins in capturing one of the four individual titles procured by the Ramblers, winning by fall over Neuqua Valley’s Magomed Nurudinov in the 190 title match.

Bartlett’s Ryan Gura placed third with a 12-7 decision against Warren’s Donald Powyer and Montini’s Jaxon Lane won by fall for fifth against OPRF’s Ben Martin.

215 – Kai Calcutt, Loyola

Coming off a 40-9 season as a freshman, Loyola’s Kai Calcutt narrowly lost a state title one season ago, falling 3-2 by ultimate tiebreaker in the Class 3A 220 final to Yorkville’s Ben Alvarez.

His dominance was evident whenever he stepped on the mat in Naperville, winning by fall over OPRF’s Eric Harris in his semifinals match before earning the 215 title by fall in 1:09 over Warren senior Anthony Soto.

OPRF’s Eric Harris won by fall for third against Warren’s Caleb Van Leer and Elk Grove’s Dylan Berkowitz took fifth with a fall against Taft’s Christopher Osta.

285 – Mikey Milovich, Elk Grove

Surviving a 2-1 bout against Loyola’s Joey Herbert in the semis, Elk Grove’s Mikey Milovich carried the momentum of the victory into his 285 title match, where he pinned Montini’s Mick Ranquist in 3:28.

Loyola’s Joey Herbert won by fall for third against Bolingbrook’s Isaac Amoh and Warren’s Jason Bolender won by fall for fifth against Reavis’ Jacob Ramirez.

2023 Neuqua Valley Scuffle championship match results

106 – Caleb Noble (Warren) MD 18-6 Allen Woo (Montini)
113 – Jonathon Marquez (Warren) D 7-2 Michael Malizzio (Montini)
120 – Gavin Pardilla (Loyola) MD 12-0 Isaac Mayora (Montini)
126 – Joshua Vazquez (Montini) SV-1 5-3 Grant Madl (Elk Grove)
132 – Kam Luif (Montini) F 0:52 Nicasio Acino (Elk Grove)
138 – Jeremy Huf (Montini) D 2-1 Joseph Knackstedt (OPRF)
144 – Aaron Camacho (Bolingbrook) TF 21-5 Jay Chidley (Neuqua Valley)
150 – David Ogunsanya (OPRF) TF 21-6 Nico Hermsen (Warren)
157 – Aaron Stewart (Warren) TF 24-9 Santino Tenuta (Montini)
165 – Royce Lopez (Warren) MD 17-5 Tommy McDermott (Bolingbrook)
175 – Alex Marre (Montini) MD 14-6 Benny Schlosser (Elk Grove)
190 – Quinn Herbert (Loyola) F 0:00 Magomed Nurudinov (Neuqua Valley)
215: Kai Calcutt (Loyola) F 1:09 Anthony Soto (Warren)
285: Mikey Milovich (Elk Grove) F 3:28 Mick Ranquist (Montini)

Final team scores – Montini (227.5); Warren (201); OPRF (151); Loyola (141); Elk Grove (117); Bolingbrook (94.5); Neuqua Valley (91.5); Bartlett (66); Reavis (50); Taft (49).

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