Posted Online: Jan. 09, 2013, 10:23 pm

Geneseo Invitational 'strength is better than ever'

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By Daniel Makarewicz, danmak@qconline.com

More photos from this shoot
Photo: Paul Colletti
Geneseo's Joey Medina and Alleman's Nicko Ramirez wrestle before Medina pins Ramirez in Geneseo on Wednesday, December 12, 2012.
As is customary this time of year, Geneseo wrestling coach Jon Murray peers through the list of teams competing in the Geneseo Invitational with the amazement at what's listed.

A quick glance at the current lineup offers extra excitement.

"We've done it again," Murray said. "Overall, our strength is better than ever."

The addition of three perennial Iowa contenders and a state-rated Wisconsin program truly make the 20-team meet a must-see event. All the intrigue starts Friday evening and concludes with the finals on Saturday afternoon.

"It could be the deepest (field) as far as talent," Geneseo athletic director and tournament organizer Travis Mackey said. "The fans are going to appreciate it."

Geneseo and Moline are the lone Illinois Quad-Cities participants, but new additions offer the best storyline. Mississippi Athletic Conference members Bettendorf, North Scott and Pleasant Valley join the field this year after United Township left.

Bettendorf, the reigning Iowa Class 3A dual-team and tournament state champion, is rated nationally in the InterMat poll. Both North Scott and Pleasant Valley are among the top 10 teams in The Predicament's Class 3A rankings.Wisconsin newcomers include Franklin and Mineral Point, which is rated fourth in the wiwrestling.com Division 3 poll.

Seven of the 20 teams are state ranked.

"It's stacked," Moline coach Todd Thompson said. "Just loaded."

From an individual standpoint, the depth is there. Fifty-one individuals carry a state ranking into the tournament, including four rated No. 1.

All 14 weight classes have at least one ranked wrestler. Half have four rated individuals or more.

"This is a great gauge for a lot of these guys," Mackey said. "We see them come in and wrestle strong. That sets them up for postseason. They're not intimidated because they're going to see some awfully good wrestling."

No weight features more depth than 132. Bettendorf junior Logan Ryan and Hartland (Wis.) Arrowhead senior Andrew Crone are their respective state's top-ranked individuals. Five of Iowa's top 10 wrestlers are in the field.

Geneseo 170-pound junior Brandon Mizlo is one of four ranked individuals at his weight. Fourth-ranked Moline junior Adarios Jones will attempt to defend his 285-pound title in a bracket that has two other rated wrestlers.

"We are wanting to get our individuals the type of matches they're going to need to get to be ready for the state tournament," Murray said. "That's part of the idea of having such a quality tournament."

The quality extends beyond state lines, providing more opportunities to see some postseason-caliber matches.

"As an overall group," Mackey said, "it might be the strongest group we've put together."

The countdown begins.

"The fans," Murray said, "are going to love it."


Geneseo Invitational

When: Friday-Saturday
Where: Geneseo High School
Finals: 2:30 p.m. Saturday
Teams: Geneseo, Moline, Bettendorf, North Scott, Pleasant Valley, Belvidere, Cedar Rapids Kennedy, Cedar Rapids Prairie, Chatham Glenwood, Chicago Heights Marian, Dixon, Franklin (Wis.), Hartland (Wis.) Arrowhead, Granite City, Mineral Point (Wis.), New Lenox Providence, Normal Community, O'Fallon, Palos Hills Stagg, Waverly-Shell Rock
FYI: Eight of the 20 teams are ranked in their respective states, including Geneseo. ... In the last two years, eight individual champions finished the season with a state title.