Nazareth’s DeSimone wraps up 4-year career at state meet
Melrose Park, 12/08/12--Nazareth's Dan DeSimone, 220, wrestles DeLaSalle's Joe Schudt. Walther Lutheran High School hosted the 15th Warren G. Hoger Wrestling Invitational on Saturday. | Jon Langham~for Sun-Times Media
Thursday-Saturday Wrestling: at Class 2A state tournament at the U of I Assembly Hall in Champaign, 4:30 p.m.
Wrestling: at Class 2A state tournament at the U of I Assembly Hall in Champaign, 4:30 p.m.
Saturday Boys basketball: at Fenwick, 7 p.m.
Boys basketball: at Fenwick, 7 p.m.
Updated: March 15, 2013 12:12PM
Nazareth wrestler Dan DeSimone suffered an injury at the worst possible time last year, just before the start of the postseason.
DeSimone, who lives in Rosemont, was sidelined with a high ankle sprain and watched his replacement, Aeneas White, advance to state in the 195-pound weight class.
“At sectionals he wrestled very well,” said DeSimone, who is wrestling at 220 this year. “I think I would have made it down, too, but for him to wrestle that way, it’s pretty cool. It was hard to not be able to practice and compete. Basically I just thought that since I was a junior I still had another year.”
That year is here and DeSimone wasn’t going to let his final opportunity slip away. Competing at the Class 2A Rich East Sectional last weekend, DeSimone lost his first match but rallied to win three straight to earn a spot in the state meet starting Thursday at University of Illinois Assembly Hall in Champaign.
DeSimone, a standout on the Roadrunners football team, is thrilled to be heading to state, but he’s even more excited he’s going to make the trip with White (182) and Pat Vitek (195), who also are his teammates in the fall.
“Me, Aeneas and Pat all had a talk at the beginning of the year,” DeSimone said. “We were all set on going downstate together and we accomplished that. I just think it’s a great opportunity for the Nazareth wrestling program since three of us are going down. Hopefully there will be a lot more state qualifiers next year.”
DeSimone, who finished fourth at sectionals and is 24-8, was no lock to make it through, but head coach Dennis Laughlin had a good feeling watching him progress this season.
“When he won the Wheaton Warrenville South Invite over Christmas, he beat a couple of 3A guys and won a couple tight matches and I’d say that’s the day he started to believe in himself,” Laughlin said. “Danny only weighs 200 pounds and he’s wrestling at 220. He gives up a lot of size but he wins his matches with toughness and heart. He’s a brawler.”
Vitek and DeSimone are the only two wrestlers with the program since its inception in 2009. DeSimone tends to be more reserved but he leads by example and Laughlin is glad to have him.
“He’s the toughest kid in the school,” he said. “He’s quiet most of the time but he wrestles his heart out.”
DeSimone will open the state meet against East Peoria’s Lucas Joseph, the No. 1-ranked 2A wrestler at 220 by Illinois Matmen.
“I’m sure he’s looking at the bracket and already counting me out,” DeSimone said. “He may come in a little cocky and I’ll try and take advantage of that and get an upset. I’ll do my best and see what happens.”
When wrestling season finishes DeSimone will turn his attention back to football. He plans to play at the college level and is still weighing his options.