While Niles West, St. Charles East and Waubonsie Valley just planned to compete in a Saturday afternoon wrestling dual meet, for Notre Dame, the team was there to reach a milestone.
With a win over the host Waubonsie Valley, Dons’ coach Auggie Genovesi won his 500th match of his 38-year career. He is only the ninth coach in Illinois history to reach that record.
“I have been lucky,” Genovesi said. “I have had a lot of good coaches and a lot of good kids and an administration that backs us. I have been really fortunate. These kids keep us young.”
“It is an amazing accomplishment,” said senior Jake Barzowski. “He loves the sport. I don’t know anyone who loves the sport more except the rest of our staff. I am really happy for him, it’s great.”
Genovesi said there is one main reason he has remained in the game this long.
“This is still fun,” Genovesi said. “My coaches all either wrestled for me, grew up with me or went to school with me. We have great kids. Yeah, we yell and scream at them a bit, but I tell them to worry when I stop. But they get it and the yelling and screaming isn’t necessary with most of them.
“We have 80 kids in the program, but we work at it. We go to grade school tournaments and you get to know the kids in the neighborhood and we have our own club. It is all about family.”
Some of those kids that are making this season a success are
“The Barzowski brothers, Jake and Josh, Andy Poniatowski, Matt Bernal, Tommy Simon and Tommy Reneir have been doing well,” Genovesi said. “We don’t tell one guy he is the superstar, it is all about team. We have a bunch of good kids and they are smart kids. When a parent is making an investment of $10,000 a year for their kids’ education, we have smart kids and they have some skin in the game.”
Not only is the team talented, they work hard.
“Our JV team had two tournaments over the holidays, our freshmen had two tournaments, so these guys only had off on Christmas,” Genovesi said. “After next week, we will slow down and give them two days off.”
There are still goals for the Dons to work toward this season.
“We can still win conference and can still win regional and after that, it’s the luck of the draw,” Genovesi said.
Jake Barzowski is one of the wrestlers looking for a strong showing in the state series.
“I have been enjoying the season so far,” he said. “Last year I was hurt and didn’t really have a junior year. We started a little slow as a team, but we have been getting better. Our coaches said this could be a turning point for us and I think it has. Everyone is starting to wrestle really well and that helps.
“This is all practice for the last three weeks of the year.”