Wednesday, Oct 22, 2014

Sciacca-Holtfreter Tourney honors past coaches

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Dan Stott, right, wrestles in the second round of the tournament. Stott would go on to win first place in his weight class./Photo courtesy of S&P Photography

44th annual John Sciacca-Richard Holtfreter Wrestling Tournament Crystal Lake South 1st, Harvard 2nd, Pontiac 3rd

Although ice and snow covered much of the roads surrounding Harvard High School Dec. 17 and 18, the Harvard High School gym was warm with anticipation for the 44th annual John Sciacca-Richard Holtfreter Wrestling Tournament.

The Harvard Holiday tournament is revered as one of the best wrestling tournaments in Northern Illinois, and this year was no exception. Harvard, Belvidere, Burlington Central, Antioch, Bremen, Crystal Lake South, Dundee-Crown, Huntley, Naperville North, Fremd, Johnsburg, Plainfield South, Pontiac, Round Lake, Richmond-Burton and Woodstock all arrived with talented squads and expectations of winning.

Although talent was not lacking, with six of last year’s tournament champions returning, the tournament was special this year for another reason, according to Scott Striegel, Harvard District 50 athletic director.

“The tournament is important because it honors two great men and great coaches, two men that were successful at what they did and have made Harvard wrestling the great program that it is today,” said Striegel.

Longtime Harvard High School wrestling coach Richard Holtfreter passed away this last year due to illness. Holtfreter was an assistant coach to John Sciacca for 16 years prior to becoming head coach in 1978. Holtfreter coached the Hornets for nine years, in which he compiled a record of 159-34-2. In 2001, Harvard’s 16-team annual tournament was renamed the John Sciacca-Richard Holtfreter Invitational in honor of the two influential coaches.

This year, the Harvard Hornets had several standout individual performances, finishing in second place with 165 points. Crystal Lake South won the tournament with 171 points.

Harvard Hornets had first-place finishes in the 171-pound bracket by Dan Stott and in the 152-pound bracket by Dillon Cowan. Other top performers included Tommy Larkin, who placed fifth in the 125-pound bracket, and Nathan Cowan, who placed third in the 160-pound bracket.

Head coach Tim Haak was pleased with his team’s performance. “This was a good tournament for us, and our guys showed a lot of heart,” he said.

The Harvard Hornets competed in the Mid-States Wrestling Tournament Tuesday and Wednesday, Dec. 28 and 29, at White Water High School. Harvard ended up taking seventh out of 44 teams.