The Althoff Crusaders and Cahokia Comanches are among the best wrestling teams in the state, according to the wrestling publication, Illinois Best Weekly.
Althoff, which has advanced to the Class 1A dual team sectional the past two years, currently is ranked second in the Class 1A poll. Cahokia, which placed fourth in the Class 2A state finals a year ago, enters the season ranked third in the Illinois2A poll.
The Crusaders return a trio of state champions, led by two-time winner Chase Bittle, who was 47-1 in winning the title at 126 pounds.
Brothers and University of Illinois recruits Danny Braunagel, who was 48-0 and won the 152-pound title and Zac Braunagel, who was 47-1 and the state champion at 170 pounds, also return for the Crusaders.
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So does two-time state tournament medal winner Max Kristoff and Anthony Federico, who qualified for the state finals as a freshman last season. Coach Josh Harper also returns six other starters from his team of a year ago.
Cahokia coach Tom Reed returns seven starters from his team of a year ago. That group is led by senior Martell Boone, who was 41-5 and was a state place winner at 145 pounds.
Other 2017 state tournament qualifiers returning for the Comanches are Rodney Evans who was 37-10 at 132 pounds, Rozell Baker (27-6 at 160 pounds) and Lamonte Barnes who was 12-6 in the 113 pound weight class.
Defending Class 1A Dual Team state champion Lena-Winslow/Stockton is ranked first. Two-time defending state champion Washington is ranked first in Class 2A while Crystal Lake Central is ranked second.