Marian Central’s Kaden Randazzo wasn't an individual state qualifier last year as a freshman. So when the Hurricanes went to dual team state for the first time in program history, it provided Randazzo a chance to wrestle on the big stage.
Looking back, Randazzo’s performance at the 2018 state quarterfinals left him frustrated.
“My first experience, I did bad,” Randazzo said. “I got scared.”
Randazzo lost by technical fall, 17-1, to Washington’s Blaize Punke, and the Hurricanes lost their quarterfinal, 42-25, to eventual Class 2A champion Washington. In all fairness to Randazzo, Punke was a senior who earned a third-place medal a week earlier at individual state.
Flash forward a year: Marian is heading back to dual team state, this time hoping to stick around beyond the quarterfinals. Randazzo, now a sophomore and an individual state qualifier, is eager to rectify his past misstep.
“Now I feel a lot better, I’m more experienced and I have confidence,” Randazzo said. “I went in there not having confidence. Now my confidence is at an all-time high.”
So is the Hurricanes' confidence.
Marian (23-0) will face Chatham Glenwood at 9 a.m. Saturday at Grossinger Motors Arena in Bloomington. The winner advances to the 2 p.m. semifinals and is guaranteed to bring home a trophy. The championship and third-place matches are at 6 p.m.
A year ago, after the loss to Washington, Marian coach David Silva wasn’t shy about his goals for the Hurricanes program.
“We’re going to win this thing,” Silva said. “I have no doubt. And if we don’t think that way, then something’s wrong. That’s my goal and people probably think it’s crazy.”
The Hurricanes come in ranked No. 2 in Class 2A, behind three-time defending champion Washington. The draws were picked at random, and Marian and Washington wound up on opposite sides of the bracket. The Panthers, who had seven state qualifiers and five wrestlers in title matches last weekend, remain the favorite.
Chatham Glenwood had three state qualifiers, including two medalists: Mitch Hutmacher (second at 195) and Conner Miller (third at 220). The Titans are also making their second straight dual team state appearance after losing a quarterfinal last year.
“The goal now is to get on that podium,” Silva said. “One win gets us on the podium and each additional win gets us higher on that podium. That’s what we’ve been working for all year long.”
Marian had eight state qualifiers last week and four medalists. Dylan Connell (160) won a state title, Josh Glover (106) was a runner-up, Daniel Valeria (132) finished fourth and Elon Rodriguez (113) took fifth.
The big question for Marian is whether Valeria will wrestle. The junior suffered an elbow injury in the third-place match in Champaign and took an injury forfeit. He did not wrestle against Antioch and Silva said it’s “hard to say” if Valeria will wrestle Saturday.
"He’s one of the guys that will grind us out a hard match," Randazzo said. "We’re just hoping he can be back, if not, we can still grind it out.”