St. Charles West wrestling coach Craig Martin may have outdone himself this time.
Since taking over the Warrior program in 1995, Martin has prided himself in putting together as tough a field as possible for the St. Charles West Tournament, which runs Friday and Saturday.
“It's by far the toughest tournament we've ever put on; it's going to be a real barn-burner,'' Martin said. “We've gone to 16 teams, and every one of them is pretty solid. We have four or five top-10 teams from Missouri, we have Edwardsville and this year we also have Iowa City West.''
The Trojans, who finished third in the Iowa Class 3A duals last year, will come in with four state-ranked competitors: Chris Walters (No. 2 at 126 pounds), Kegan Wakefield (No. 1 at 138), Mickey Pelfrey (No. 1 at 195) and Colin Foerstner (sixth at 285).
“One of my former assistants, Matt Orton, coached up there, so that's how the Iowa West people found out about us,'' Martin explained. “Their coach, Mark Reiland, contacted me and asked if we had a spot for them. We're thrilled to have them.''
Reiland, in his 13th season at Iowa City West, wrestled for Dan Gable at the University of Iowa, where he was a two-time All-American and captured the NCAA 167-pound championship in 1991.
The 16-field at St. Charles West also features Seckman, which recently captured its third consecutive All-Suburban Tournament title, Gateway Athletic Conference Tournament runner-up Timberland and fellow Missouri powers Hannibal, Waynesville and Jackson. Edwardsville, which boasts one of the area's more solid top-to-bottom lineups, is ranked 11th among Illinois Class 3A programs.
Others in the field are Eureka, Farmington, Francis Howell, Joplin, Ritenour, Rock Bridge, Troy and Vianney.
“It looks like 138 will be a weight class to watch; looks like we could have five or six returning state placers battling it out there,'' Martin said.
The competition at 195 could be similarly intense. In addition to Pelfrey, the expected field includes two-time state medalist and returning Missouri Class 4 champion Matt McClimens of Eureka, 2012 Illinois Class 3A runner-up Blake Blair of Edwardsville and Timberland's Robert Schneider, ranked fourth in Class 4.
Another wrestler to watch is Seckman junior Brock Wingbermuehle. The Class 4 state champ at 120 as a sophomore, he was voted outstanding wrestler after winning his third consecutive championship at the All-Suburban event last weekend. Other returning state medalists from the area expected to compete at St. Charles West are Weston Basler and Luke Weiler of Seckman, 2012 state champion Devan Richter of Timberland, 2012 state champion Jarrett Franklin of Francis Howell, Timberland's Dustin Gray, Troy's Dustin Heisse, Eureka's Luke Gentry and St. Charles West's Casey Bartee.
“We're expecting two days of great wrestling,'' Martin said. “And there should be some outstanding matchups in the finals.''
OTHER WEEKEND TOURNAMENT ACTION
• Summit hosts the 141 Rumble, a 13-team event that also includes defending Class 1 state champion Whitfield as well as SLUH, Washington, Fort Zumwalt East, Hillsboro, Pacific, Hazelwood East, St. Mary's, Ozark, Cape Central, Sikeston and North County.
• Granite City and O'Fallon are headed north for the Geneseo Invitational.
• Area teams set to compete in the 44th annual Quincy Invitational include Althoff, Alton, Belleville East, Cahokia, Collinsville, Jerseyville, Mascoutah, Triad, Roxana and Waterloo.
• Twenty-five teams are set to challenge for the title at the St. Charles Invitational. Joining the host Pirates will be Ladue, Lutheran St. Charles, Maplewood-Richmond Heights, McCluer South-Berkeley, MICDS, Mexico, Priory, Sumner, Warrenton, Windsor, Winfield, Zumwalt North, Zumwalt South, McCluer, Parkway Central, Parkway North, Poplar Bluff, University City, Fox, Hazelwood West, Pattonville, Camdenton, Chaminade and Cordova, Tenn.
• Coming off a runner-up finish to Christian Brothers of Memphis in the Fran Martin Memorial Gateway to the Best dual event last weekend at Missouri Baptist, Belleville West will compete in the 32nd annual Marty Williams Invitational at Mahomet-Seymour.
• The Gateway Duals at Oakville will also include Webster Groves, De Smet, Hazelwood Central, Mehlville, East St. Louis and Borgia.
• Holt, Lafayette, Francis Howell North and Northwest are in the field at the Capitol City Invitational in Jefferson City.
• Herculaneum, Festus and Lutheran South are the local squads in the Owensville Tournament.
• The seven-team field at Riverview Gardens includes Brentwood, Cleveland NJROTC, Lift for Life, John Burroughs, Affton and Normandy.