Byline: Kevin Schmit
Caught between a rock and a hard place, Montini leans heavily toward the rock.
As in rock solid.
If folks aren't going to like you anyway, then you might as well be the best.
"For some reason, when you're good in wrestling people tend to hate you," said Montini coach Mike Bukovsky. "You can not like me or Montini, but don't discredit these kids.
"All I want is for them to get the credit they're due. Even if you believe we're doing something illegal, those kids still had to win those state titles."
The Broncos are once again big-time favorites to win the Class A dual team state wrestling title Saturday in Moline.
But that may be the only way Montini is viewed as favorites. As a private-school power in a small-town field, there is no love for the Broncos.
In dual team wrestling, depth is everything. Assembling a 14-man lineup is one thing, but doing so with top talent is a Herculean task.
Like with football, private schools have long been seen by many as institutions with an inherent recruiting advantage.
While two-way players in football can help off-set depth, there's no such thing in wrestling - just 14 slots for 14 different grapplers.
As Montini's wrestling program began to thrive under Bukovsky, the success attracted better wrestlers to the school.
Opponents argue the private school advantage of recruiting has allowed Montini to dominate the Class A field.
And because Montini is the lone dominant Class A private school power, the Broncos take the brunt of the abuse.
On Saturday, they're competing for a second straight state title and their third in four years. But what are the Broncos supposed to do?
During the regular season, they face a premier schedule while competing at the prestigious Dvorak tournament and against Class AA powers Providence, St. Rita and Marist.
When the Broncos wrestle Class A competition, they're seen as bullies. When they finish fifth at Dvorak, they're seen as overrated by Class AA critics.
"I feel we're in no-man's land," Bukovsky said.
The private school-public school debate has existed for decades. …