Team Commitment Award
2018 Team Commitment Award - Bennett Whitney
Junior Bennett Whitney was in his second year as a varsity starter until he injured his shoulder halfway through the year that put him out the rest of the season. He could still be counted on to be at practice everyday doing what he could, placing 2nd in the Student of the Game contest, volunteering to take other guys’ turns to videotape matches, and in general could always be counted to contribute to our team’s efforts when he could.
2017 Team Commitment Award - Jack Damenti
2017 Senior Jack Damenti was the Most Valuable Wrestler this year, a State Qualifier who missed All-State honors by one match. But in addition to his successful wrestling, he was a great teammate, supportive of his teammates. He was picked as our North Suburban Conference Sportsmanship Award winner.
2016 Team Commitment Award - Matt Hay
Senior Matt Hay never competed on the varsity mat, instead being the starting JV 113. But he was a very valuable member of our varsity team in that no one volunteered to videotape more matches. And no one mopped more mats at the start of practices. He saved his teammates a lot of work and was rewarded by them for his efforts to the team.
2015 Team Commitment Award - Joey Gunther
Senior Joey Gunther was the top wrestler on the team, a two-time All-Stater at 160. Nonetheless he was a very approachable wrestler for his teammates, always willing to help them in all phases of the game. He was voted our team’s Conference Sportsmanship Award winner.
2014 Team Commitment Award - Austin Koziol
Senior Austin Koziol was the 182 stater, in his third year of starting varsity. He went 31-9, won the Conference and Regionals, placed 3rd in the Sectionals to qualify for his second State Tournament. He was a very good leader in mat moving. He was a voice of reason for his teammates and was voted our team’s Conference Sportsmanship Award winner.
2013 Team Commitment Award - Joey Nield
Senior Joey Nield was the 182 starter, in his second year of starting varsity. He went 21-13, placed 3rd in the Conference and 2nd in the Regionals to qualify for Sectionals. He was a very positive and encouraging teammate that could always be counted on to go 100% in practice. He was voted our team’s Conference Sportsmanship Award winner.
2012 Team Commitment Award - Mike Coutre
Senior Mike Coutre had been a part time starter as a junior. He opened his senior year as the starter but eventually finished the season on JV as the eventual starter came off an injury. He never lost his devotion to the team, being a great practice wrestler and a very vocal supporter of his teammates during the meets.
2011 Team Commitment Award - Doug Isaacson
Senior Doug Isaacson only had one varsity match. But if he wasn’t being used in the JV lineup, he was always at the varsity meets supporting his teammates and helping out any way he could to help our team’s efforts.
2010 Team Commitment Award - Cody Olsen
Senior Cody Olsen was the varsity 135 pounder all season. He won 12 matches. He made a tremendous cut to get down to 130 for the Conference Tournament and finished 4th. He was voted by his teammates as the “Nicest Guy on the Team” in that he was always easy going and a gentleman in practice and in meets. He was very supportive of his teammates while in uniform and out.
2009 Team Commitment Award - Shane Michelsen
Senior Shane Michelsen won this award for the second straight year. He had his heart set on making 103. But he came up short and had to go 112 where All-Stater Matt Bystol was. Going up to 119 would have meant going against State Qualifier Louis Mazzetta. But with his talent, Shane was too valuable to not be in the lineup. Bystol and Mazzetta went up to 119 and 125 for the duals and Shane took the 112 spot. He went 21-2 on the season including getting a win over the eventual Class A State Champion from Harvard. He got in the Conference lineup and took 2nd earning All-Conference honors. Shane was an All Off-Season Commitment Team “Outstanding Wrestler” for his second year in a row.
2008 Team Commitment Award - Shane Michelsen
Junior Shane Michelsen moved to Libertyville from Antioch near the end of his sophomore year. As soon as he hit the Libertyville H.S. floor, he did everything possible to make himself a better wrestler/athlete. He was our team leader in the weight room and in off-season matches wrestled. He lost the competition for the 103 varsity spot but went up to 119 and won 18 matches including taking 4th at Regionals, 5th at Lake Park. He worked very hard during the season and made great strides despite giving up so much weight in meets.
2007 Team Commitment Award - Justin Martin
Senior Justin Martin was the top wrestler from a small senior class. It was a very young team and needed all the leadership it could get to be respectable. In addition to being the team’s hardest worker, Justin was a very upbeat, positive person that had the respect of everyone on the team. He was willing to do anything asked on him for the team including going up one or even two weights to take on the other team’s top wrestler. This young team was able to put together a 17-5 record and took first place in the Regionals and Justin’s leadership had a lot to do with this young team’s rapid improvement.
2006 Team Commitment Award - Jon Henslee
Senior Jon Henslee had already won the Most Exciting Wrestler award this year. In addition to setting the kind of practice intensity and meet hustle, he was also a very supportive team member. He was a very positive motivater for the younger wrestlers, willing to encourage anyone on the team no matter what the skill level. He was the regular move demonstrator in practices. On a voting ballot, one of his teammates wrote in the explanation section that “Jon was the best teammate I have ever had in any sport I’ve been involved in.”
2005 Team Commitment Award - Jeff Keske
Senior Jeff Keske finished his career as the 4th leading winner in Libertyville Wrestling history. But not only was he a winner on the mat, he was a very supportive teammate who would work with younger wrestlers on their game off and on the mat. On a team with few experienced seniors, Jeff provided important leadership that led our team to our team’s 4th trip to the Dual Team State Tournament.
2004 Team Commitment Award - Rob Batey
Senior Rob Batey came a long way in his wrestling career. He didn’t get many wins in his first two seasons. But he was always a hard worker and a great team man. His junior season he became a JV leader going 13-7. His senior year he was ready for a varsity spot. But we had our toughest wrestlers all around his weight. Making the most of his season, Rob went 22-4 on the JV mat, winning the JV Conference up a weight, and went 2-0 on the varsity mat. All the while, Rob was very helpful for our team in any way he could; hard work in practice, setting up the video camera and videoing the meets, and especially helping out the younger wrestlers with their games, especially underclass wrestlers called up to the varsity lineup at the lighter weights.
2003 Team Commitment Award - Jim Friend
Senior Jim Friend was the team’s “Most Valuable Wrestler” in each of his 4 seasons. But with only 3 seniors on the 2003 team, his leadership was going to be crucial for the team to have any success. He handled this responsibility very well. Obviously he was a hard worker in the practice room which helped the overall atmosphere. He was very helpful in working with younger wrestlers, preparing them for their matches. And he demonstrated a lot of the practice moves, and demonstrated them well. The team finished 15-7 winning the Lake Division and the Regionals while earning the #25 ranking in the final state polls, quite a feat for a team with 3 seniors and many inexperienced juniors and sophomores.
2002 Team Commitment Award - Jeremy Schreiber
Jeremy Schreiber was one of a strong group of seniors that led our team to the best season Libertyville Wrestling has ever had. Although captains aren’t picked on our team (all the seniors are responsible for team leadership), Jeremy seemed to be at the forefront of every leadership opportunity. He was very interested in not only the team’s success, but also the closeness of the team (which in turn aided the team’s success). Despite missing 4 weeks of the season while battling pneumonia, he stayed very involved in the team. And when he got healthy, he picked up his winning ways, finishing 22-6 while winning the Conference and Regional tournaments.
2001 Team Commitment Award - Dave Tajak
Dave Tajak was one of only 4 seniors this season. But the leadership of this team was as strong as it ever was, much of the credit going to Dave. He was the go between between the coaches and wrestlers, in many cases offering good suggestions on ways to improve the team. He was very interested in how the whole lineup would fit in place. He was a 135 pounder but willing to go up to 140 whenever he was needed, which was often in duals. Although he was a State Qualifier, winning the Sectional title was the team’s Top Match of the Year, he had some tough losses along the way. He always took the losses in a very sportsmanlike manner which was a good example for the rest of the team.
2000 Team Commitment Award - Chris Heerdegen
Chris Heerdegen was in his first year as a varsity starter. In fact, it was only his 3rd year of wrestling after coming out for the first time his sophomore year. Despite only a handful of varsity matches from a year ago, he was our leader. Any job that needed to be done was brought to Chris’s attention and it got done. He was very enthusiastic and his enthusiasm rubbed off on his teammates. His willingness to get to work in practice and to take on tough opponents also had an impact on his teammates. Although he was our 189, and always underweight, he was needed up at 215 on several occasions which he willingly did. He finished 24-12 and was a Sectional Qualifier. He had two top matches in the Team Sectionals (the last meet of the season), including a win in the finals over a Conant 3 time State Qualifier which was voted our team’s Top Match of the Year.
1999 Team Commitment Award - Peter Stevens
Peter Stevens had been one of the most dedicated wrestler we have had. But he is also a great guy and team man, interested in his team’s and teammates’ success as he is his own. He was a leader in practice both as an example and as a vocal leader. There was no goofing around for him and his teammates respected that. It was clear early in the season that we had two 171 pounders and no 160 pounder. Although it seemed like it might be too much of a pull, he made 160 and made it anytime we needed him there. It made our team a lot tougher and opened a spot up for his teammate at 171 although it didn’t really benefit Peter since he could beat the guy.
1998 Team Commitment Award - Jimmy Blair
Like the 1997 season, Team Commitment and positive attitudes were plentiful. And the team came a lot farther than anyone could have predicted when the season began (20-3, Conference and Regional Champions). Picking a Team Commitment Award winner was going to be tough. The response to a question from a coach was usually, “what’s best for the team.” The winner, Jimmy Blair, was one of those guys as well. What earned him the award was what he had to do to get into the lineup. Although he was mostly JV the year before, he went 9-4 in Varsity matches when he got the chance. He was battling for the 135 spot but lost the wrestleoffs to Angelo Zografos. He was too good of a wrestler to be out of the lineup and he knew it. We didn’t have a Varsity 130 so the team needed him there. Coming from the mid 140’s, he made 130 every week after the Winter Break. Despite several hours of exercising to make the weight, by meet time, he was tough. He won the Conference Championship and finished 3rd in the Regionals to qualify for Sectionals.
1997 / 1996 Team Commitment Award - Brian Martin
1997 - It is hard to win any of these awards two years in a row. But Brian Martin did. Brian went from a junior willing to fill in anywhere, and give us a great match, to a senior who was the team leader. He had his teammates utmost respect for his hard work, his match competitiveness, and his all around good values. After a 1996 that had some negative attitudes and some team dissension, the 1997 team knew the value of team commitment and sacrifice. The team came a lot farther than anyone could have expected when the season opened up (20-4, Conference and Regional Champions, 2nd in Team Sectionals). Brian’s leadership had a lot to do with that.
1996 - Brian Martin was a junior at 160. Like all the previous winners, he was a great practice wrestler, a good partner, and always hard working. He had the respect of everyone on the team. Although he couldn’t crack the Varsity lineup, he filled in at the Waukegan Tournament and reached the finals in the first varsity competition of his career. He won the JV Conference, but still didn’t get any more varsity action. That is until the Team Sectionals when the starter was out of the lineup due to disciplinary reasons. Brian got the start against Cary-Grove. He defeated his opponent, a Sectional Qualifier which was an important win as we won the meet 27-21.
1995 Team Commitment Award - Tom Cleland
Tom Cleland was a senior and the team leader this year. He was very quiet but had great respect from his teammates. He was real supportive of his teammates, especially the younger wrestlers. His hard work in practice and in meets was a great example for everyone. Although he had a great record, he was upset in the first round of the Sectionals. He got right back to work the next Monday and had our team ready to compete in the Team Sectionals a week later.
1994 Team Commitment Award - Eric Ortlund
Eric Ortlund worked real hard, had a great attitude, and was well liked by his teammates. He tried to break into the lineup and get some chances. But for the most part of the season he was a backup. That never wavered his hard working spirit and his teammates appreciated this.
1993 / 1992 Team Commitment Award - Scooter Hill
1993 - Scooter Hill was the team leader. He was very positive and vocal. He was a hustler in the practice room and in the meets. The climate of the team was strong and Scooter was a big reason for this.
1992 - It wasn’t just the fact that Neil Calanca cut a lot of weight that won him the Team Commitment Award in 1991. It was that he would go any weight where he was needed 130 up to 152. The next year,Scooter Hill was in the same position. We had some real strong wrestlers between 145 and 171. Each wrestler was a senior and were returning starters. Scooter was a junior weighing in the high 150’s. He was a decent wrestler but not good enough to crack this lineup at any of the weights. Against Zion-Benton, our 189 was out of the lineup. In order to fill this position, and give Scooter a chance in the lineup, we sent our 171 up to 189 and put Scooter in at 171 (despite weighing 157). He did it and came up with an early headlock where he pinned the guy. After that meet, he set his sights on making 140 and filling an important position there. He eventually made the weight and spent the rest of the year there making an average team that much tougher. He finished up as a Sectional Qualifier.
1991 Team Commitment Award - Neil Calanca
Neil Calanca would eventually begin the Mental Toughness Award the next season. He could have easily gotten it this year but the Team Commitment Award worked out fine. He opened the season as our 152 pounder and had some success. The next week we got our regular 152 pounder down and Neil (who weighed around 148) battled the 145 pounder for varsity time. The 145 pounder had the edge. But Neil got plenty of time as spots opened up at 140 and even 135 throughout the season. Neil would always get down there and do a good job. By the Conference Tournament though, our 130 pounder had gotten down to 125 and would stay there the rest of the season. We didn’t have a 130 pounder. The Conference Tournament figured to be a shootout with Antioch and we didn’t want to go in less than at full strength. Without a spot, Neil said he would make it. It didn’t seem possible but we didn’t have anyone else. And there was no JV Conference back then for Neil to compete in so we let him try. He made it though you can imagine the amount of exercising he had to do to make it. He was unseeded but gave the #3 seed a close match in the first round. That guy from Fenton won an overtime match in the semifinals that gave Neil a wrestleback chance. He made the most of it defeating Niles North and Zion-Benton opponents to finish 3rd. He went back up to 140 for the Team Sectionals and did well there.
1990 Team Commitment Award - Brett Sprtel
Brett Sprtel didn’t have a starting position. But he went whereever and whenever he was needed. He was a great practice partner who was well liked by his teammates. He would up getting plenty of varsity chances, many of them at very short notice.
1989 Team Commitment Award - Al DeReu
Al DeReu was a very interested wrestler but not the most talented in a very talented class. He put in 3 seasons of Freestyle and Greco-Roman and had developed some real nice technique. And he was always a great practice partner, a hard worker with a great attitude. When he got a chance on Varsity, at 145 or 152, he did well having a record several matches above .500. But we had a State ranked wrestler at 145, an eventual State Qualifier at 152, and a 4th place Sectional wrestler at 160 so Al didn’t get a starting position. He stayed ready though and did get some chances. He seemed to always come through no matter which weight he went at. The 145 pounder was having some injury and weight problems near the end of the season. 145 was quite a cut for Al. But he would always get within a couple of pounds of weight, even during the Conference and Regionals in the event the 145 wouldn’t be able to go. He got a chance in the Team Regionals and he pinned his Mundelein opponent who had qualified for Sectionals the previous Saturday.
1988 Team Commitment Award - Mike Geib
As often as not, the Team Commitment award went to the guy that pulls the most weight to fill out our lineup. That was the case in 1988. Mike Geib’s best weight was 119. But we had another returning wrestler there and no one for 112. Mike went 119 for most of the duals, actually anytime he could. But when we needed him down to 112, he made it after a big struggle while finishing 2nd in the Conference and Regionals.
1987 Team Commitment Award - Scott Kalous
Scott Kalous was an above average talent. But his reason for being on the wrestling team had a lot more to do with staying in shape and being a part of the team. He didn’t have any real individual goals. Still, he was having a decent season at 138, his senior season. At 126 and 132 were two juniors that did have some big goals for wrestling. They spent a lot of time in Freestyle and Greco-Roman while Scott didn’t do anything outside the season except lift weights. As the regular dual meet season wound down, the 126 pounder missed weight and was not going to have enough weigh ins to wrestle at 126. Our rule was once you decided the weight you were going in the post-season, that didn’t change. So the 126 pounder was out of the lineup. Seeing how a totally committed wrestler was getting bumped out of the lineup just before the Conference, Scott decided to give up his spot at 138 since he felt the guy deserved it more than him. He didn’t use that as an excuse to give up on the season. He kept being a great practice partner. He was on the 21 man team for the Team Sectionals. Our first opponent was Dundee-Crown who had a decent 155 pounder. We sent our State Qualifier (Brian Paramski) up to 155 and he beat his guy. Scott got in at 145 and pinned his opponent as well. That gave us the push to narrowly defeat Dundee-Crown and move into the Team Sectionals finals.