Sitting high atop the 125-pound rankings from the very beginning of his fourth and final season of high school wrestling, Stevenson senior Danny Sabatello (HM @ 125) had never even given much thought to who would be the champion of his division when the last spotlight inside Assembly Hall was turned off on the third Saturday of February in Champaign.
It would be him, of course.
It’s not that Sabatello is overconfident, it’s just that he possesses that something extra that all champions have. Combined with terrific talent, desire and work ethic, it’s clear the Purdue-bound two-time state champion was simply the best.
Sabatello defeated Providence star Eddie Klimara (No.5 @ 125) in a rematch of last year’s final at 119 pounds. In that meeting, Sabatello surprised the then-favorite 3-2 to give Stevenson its first-ever state wrestling title and fueled plenty of speculation about what would happen should the two meet once again.
“I always felt I could win a second straight state title, even if it was against Klimara, because if you want to be the best, you’ve got to beat one of the best, and just moments after hearing the final whistle and looking over real quick to see the faces of my coaches, Shane Cook and Josh Hjorth, I immediately thought to myself, ‘I did it for the second time,’ ” said Sabatello, for the first time during the postseason sporting a grin from ear to ear.