Five to try for third titles: 24 state champs return

By Rob Sherrill

Three months of preliminaries are over. The weekend every Illinois high school wrestling fan has been looking forward to has arrived.

Starting Thursday at noon, you’ll be watching the individual state championships inside wrestling’s most tradition-filled arena, the State Farm Center in Champaign.

There are 24 returning state champions, the same as last year – six in Class 3A, nine in Class 2A and nine in Class 1A – 20 of whom won last year. No possible four-time champions this year, but three juniors could accomplish the feat in 2021: D.J. Hamiti (152) of Joliet Catholic Academy and Dylan Connell (170) of Marian Central Catholic in 2A and Brandon Hoselton (195) of Prairie Central in 1A. Four will try to repeat in different classifications. Joel Mylin, Cameron Johnson and Noah Villarreal of Aurora Christian, who combined for five 1A titles, will be up in 2A, and Daniel Jezik of Coal City, a 2A champion last season, will be down in 1A.

Another record is being set this season. Six weight classes contain two returning state champions. Four match defending champions. The 113-pound class in 2A contains juniors Christian Olsen of Crystal Lake South, trying for his second straight title at the weight, and Chad Bellis of Bloomington, up a weight from 106 last year. Three 1A weight classes also match defending champions. At 132, senior Gabe Spencer of Heyworth, who won at 120 last year, faces junior Ethen Doty of West Carroll, up from 126. The 170-pound class features juniors Andrew Wenzel of Dakota, back at the weight for the second year in a row, and Logan Deacetis of Prairie Central, up a weight class from 160. And Hoselton will be trying to make the 195-pound class his for the third straight year against Jezik, up a weight from 182.

Two other showdowns between returning champions would take place in semifinal matches. In 3A at 126, defending champion Dylan Ragusin of Montini could meet 2018 champion Jacob Rundell of Oak Park-River Forest for the third time this season. And the 120-pound class in 1A contains the last two 113-pound champions, Levi Neuleib (2019) of Heyworth and Paul Keane (2018) of Peotone. 

Montini is looking to crown an individual champion for the 21st consecutive year. The Broncos, who became the first team ever to advance a full lineup – 14 wrestlers – to the State Farm Center, have some solid opportunities to extend the streak, but none are a slam dunk. Chicago Mount Carmel, Coal City and Lemont were the other schools to advance double-digit qualifiers, with the Caravan qualifying 12 individuals in 3A, Coal City 11 in 1A and Lemont 10 in 2A.

Eighteen 3A schools advanced four or more individuals to the State Farm Center. Edwardsville, Glenbard North and Oak Park-River Forest each qualified seven to Champaign, and Barrington, Carl Sandburg, DeKalb, Huntley and Marist qualified six each.

Twenty 2A schools qualified four or more. Close behind Lemont were Antioch and Washington, with nine each. Joliet Catholic Academy, Marian Central Catholic, Oak Forest and TF North each qualified seven, with Aurora Christian and Deerfield each advancing six.

Nineteen 1A schools qualified four or more. Tolono Unity advanced nine to the State Farm Center, Lena-Winslow/Stockton eight, Auburn and Vandalia seven each and IC Catholic and Reed-Custer six each.

Over 90 percent of this weekend’s state qualifiers were part of the IWCOA individual rankings at the close of the regionals.

We’re doing something a little different this year. We’re combining this preview with our state tournament predictions in the same package. So you’ll get a little analysis with your predictions this year. Enjoy!

CLASS 3A  

106: 1) Charlie Farmer, Moline (Jr,41-1); 2) Sammie Hayes, Carl Sandburg (So,38-1); 3) Will Baysingar, Prospect (Fr,43-0); 4) Ben Aranda, DeKalb (Jr,32-6); 5) Joe Fernau, Montini (So,30-9); 6) Caelan Riley, Libertyville (So,39-5)…in great spots: Cody Tavoso, Hinsdale Central (Fr,41-5); Jameson Garcia, Marmion Academy (Fr,31-13)

Outlook: Since Baysingar beat Farmer, 2-1 in the finals of the Prospect Tournament in December, they’ve made this weight class a two-man race. In the first of multiple bracketing mishaps perpetrated by IHSA seeding, they’ll meet in the semifinals. Expect the rematch to be another classic. Hayes has lost only to Iowan Ryder Block at The Clash. First-round mayhem: Fernau vs. Tavoso. Both could place.

113: 1) Diego Sotelo, Marmion Academy (Jr,39-3); 2) Sergio Lemley, Chicago Mount Carmel (Fr,31-3); 3) Kaleb Thompson, Lockport (Sr,20-1); 4) Jacob Macatangay, Plainfield North (So,44-4); 5) Nick Gonzalez, Montini (Jr,33-12); 6) Julian Valtierrez, Chicago Taft (Sr,50-2)…in great spots: Noah Tapia, Moline (Fr,38-6); Joe McDermott, Bolingbrook (So,35-10)

Outlook: Sotelo has made huge strides not only in Illinois, but nationally, since winning his first title at 106 last year. So has Lemley, who has now split with Sotelo this year after his 4-3 Hinsdale Central sectional final win. First-round mayhem: Tapia vs. Lorenzo Frezza, Stevenson. Two freshmen who can bring it.

120: 1) Colton Drousias, Chicago Mount Carmel (Sr,28-4); 2) Josh Koderhandt, Belleville West (Jr,39-0); 3) Nain Vazquez, Montini (Jr,33-11); 4) Vincent Robinson, Marian Catholic (Fr,24-3); 5) Tyler Driessens, Naperville Central (Sr,40-2); 6) Luis Bazan, Bolingbrook (Fr,38-8)…in great spots: Ronan Schuelke, Glenbard North (Sr,28-8); Cole Rhemrev, Stevenson (So,36-5)

Outlook: This would be a rematch of the 113-pound final a year ago, which Drousias won 8-4. Robinson, who lost only 5-2 to Iowa ace Drake Ayala in early December, gets his chance against Drousias in the quarterfinals. First-round mayhem: Michael Miralles, New Trier vs. Joey Roti, Andrew. They’re part of one of the most competitive quarter brackets in the entire classification. Any of the four could advance to the semifinals.

126: 1) Jacob Rundell, Oak Park-River Forest (Sr,38-1); 2) Mike Kaminski, Lockport (Sr,41-4); 3) Dylan Ragusin, Montini (Sr,37-3); 4) Sam Spencer, Huntley (Sr,34-3); 5) Nick Minnito, Plainfield Central (Sr,37-4); 6) Charlie Fifield, Fremd (So,39-3)…in great spots: Tuvshin Zuunbayan, Elk Grove (Jr,27-4); Aidan Waszak, Wheaton-Warrenville South (Jr,33-8)

Outlook: Whose idea was this bracketing? I didn’t see the first match between Rundell and Ragusin, a 4-3 Ragusin win in California, but I did see the second, where Rundell prevailed in all three positions in a 6-4 overtime win. The rubber match should be spectacular. After yielding to state champion Matt Ramos last year, it’s been Kaminski’s turn as a senior. First-round mayhem: Minnito vs. Fifield. They’re the next in line after the top four.

132:  1) Nico Bolivar, Oak Park-River Forest (Sr,31-6); 2) Noah Mis, Chicago Mount Carmel (Jr,31-4); 3) Jack Milos, Prospect (Jr,43-0); 4) Ethan Stiles, Montini (Fr,22-10); 5) Kole Brower, Moline (So,38-4); 6) Alex Villar, Plainfield East (Sr,27-3)…in great spots: Cameron Domke, Warren (Sr,37-4); Keegan Roberson, Lockport (So,32-8)

Outlook: One thing working for Bolivar: he could be relatively rested, with Mis, Milos, Stiles, Villar and Roberson all opposite him in the bottom half of the bracket. The match between Stiles and Villar is half of a first-match mayhem twin bill. The other: Domke vs. John McDermott, Bolingbrook, in the top bracket – two seniors who have been around the block.

138: 1) Joel Vandervere, Warren (Jr,29-1); 2) Jake Harrier, Jacobs (Sr,39-2); 3) Javen Estrada, Lincoln-Way West (Jr,39-2); 4) Jacob Tinajero, Marmion Academy (Sr,34-5); 5) Fabian Lopez, DeKalb (Sr,15-2); 6) Jeremy Jakowitsch, Huntley (Jr,39-7)…in great spots: Jared Gumila, Plainfield North (So,45-12); Ryan Haynes, Pekin (Sr,37-6)

Outlook: The one wrestler who gave Vandervere fits this year, two-time state placewinner Danny Pucino of Libertyville, was knocked out of the sectional by injury. Those two, along with Harrier, made the Barrington sectional where the action was at this weight class. First-round mayhem: Haynes vs. Lopez. Lopez is a former state champion, but Pekin was no joke this year.

145: 1) Fidel Mayora, Montini (Sr,38-5); 2) Mike Caliendo, Batavia (Jr,37-1); 3) Connor Gaynor, Chicago Mount Carmel (Jr,25-5); 4) Joshua Ogunsanya, Oak Park-River Forest (Sr,38-4); 5) Kevin Countryman, Providence (Sr,37-9); 6) Anthony Bitner, Oak Lawn (Sr,36-6)…in great spots: Adam Thebeau, Belleville East (Jr,41-3); Cameron Hargrove, Bolingbrook (Sr,41-6) 

Outlook: Is it Mayora’s turn this year? He, Gaynor and Ogunsanya have distinguished themselves repeatedly against national competition. Caliendo hasn’t – but he did give Missouri standout Josh Saunders all he wanted in a 3-2 loss in the Granite City final over the holidays. First-round mayhem: Mayora vs. Countryman. They haven’t met this year, which gives the match added spice.

152: 1) E’lan Heard, Libertyville (Sr,26-1); 2) Joe Chapman, Oak Park-River Forest (Sr,34-6); 3) Joe Roberts, Montini (Sr,35-5); 4) James Pierandozzi, Plainfield South (Sr,29-3); 5) Damien Lopez, DeKalb (So,32-5); 6) Brody Hallin, McHenry (So,39-5)…in great spots: Michael Kelly, Chicago Mount Carmel (So,25-7); Jake Matthews, Addison Trail (Jr,26-6)

Outlook: Only a loss to Hamiti in the Barrington Tournament final, which seems an eternity ago, stands between Heard, a two-time Ohio Division I placewinner, and an unbeaten season. Chapman was impressive against strong national competition in the Beat the Streets competition. First-round mayhem: Lopez vs. Hallin. Both have been top-six all season. They could meet twice.

160: 1) Luke Odom, Edwardsville (Sr,46-1); 2) Bradley Gillum, DeKalb (So,37-5); 3) Brayden Thompson, Montini (Fr,32-10); 4) Kai Conway, Barrington (Sr,42-3); 5) Robert Major, Downers Grove South (Jr,42-2); 6) Jeremy Pullen, Joliet West (Sr,39-4);…in great spots: Payton Geigner, Lincoln-Way West (Sr,38-6); JayCee Gonzalez, East Aurora (Sr,32-1)

Outlook: Up three weight classes from last year, Odom has dominated, and unlike his junior season, he’s healthy at the right time. His only loss came to potential four-time Wisconsin champion Keegan O’Toole in the Cheesehead final. Behind him, the rest line up in any number of ways. First-round mayhem: Thompson vs. Major. Two guys who have been top four virtually all season meeting right out of the gate. Gotta love it.

170: 1) David Ferrante, Huntley (Sr,42-2); 2) Luke Rasmussen, Barrington (Sr,41-0); 3) Antonio Torres, Waubonsie Valley (So,33-3); 4) Cooper Wettig, Montini (So,29-11); 5) Ricardo Salinas, Evanston (Jr,46-3); 6) Carter Maggio, St. Charles East (Sr,37-8)…in great spots: Ron Kruse, Hinsdale Central (Sr,35-5); Cole Pradel, Oswego (Jr,35-6)

Outlook: Sometimes, they can’t get it right in the sectional, either. Ferrante and Rasmussen, the leaders of this two-horse race, met in the semifinals at Barrington, with Rasmussen winning 4-3. Fortunately, that won’t happen this week. First-round mayhem: Maggio vs. Salinas. We’ll see whether Salinas can parlay his trip to the sectional final into further advancement.

182: 1) Trevor Swier, Montini (Sr,26-6); 2) Jack Hartman, Barrington (Jr,37-5); 3) DeAnthony Parker, Moline (Jr,40-5); 4) Alonzo Smiley, Glenbard North (Sr,40-4); 5) Jayden Perez, Joliet Central (Sr,39-4); 6) Joey Mrazek, Lake Zurich (Sr,39-5)…in great spots: Thomas Culp, Quincy (Jr,39-5); Jared Dowell, Pekin (Sr,37-4)

Outlook: Swier may actually be Montini’s best bet to extend their title streak. Lost in all this is the 13-year state title streak currently owned by Glenbard North. Smiley is one of the Panthers’ top candidates to extend that string to 14. First-round mayhem: Hartman vs. Dowell. Did we mention Pekin was no joke this year?

195: 1) Nick Stemmet, Yorkville (Sr,42-0); 2) Dzhabrail Khurshidov, West Aurora (Jr,35-3); 3) Daemyen Middlebrooks, Oak Park-River Forest (Sr,36-3); 4) Andrew Blackburn-Forst, Lockport (So,40-8); 5) Elijah Brockie, Willowbrook (Jr,38-8); 6) Isiah Pettigrew, Fremd (Sr,34-2)…in great spots: Clay Cichowski, Maine South (Jr,30-8); Ghee Rachal, Marist (So,40-5)

Outlook: It definitely feels like Stemmet’s turn this year – IF he can get past Middlebrooks in what should be an incredible quarterfinal. Middlebrooks was impressive in January, beating state champions from California, Colorado and Oklahoma in the Doc Buchanan and at Beat the Streets. First-round mayhem: Brockie vs. Drew Bielawski, Downers Grove North. Two juniors from the West Suburban Conference – one from the Gold, one from the Silver.

220: 1) Gio Jackson, Buffalo Grove (Sr,37-1); 2) Evan Roper, Barrington (Jr,39-5); 3) Ryan Golnick, Jacobs (Jr,37-4); 4) Kevin Zimmer, Carl Sandburg (So,42-3); 5) Ben Stemmet, Yorkville (Sr,39-6); 6) Drew Gutnkecht, Minooka (Sr,34-5)…in great spots: Josh LaBarbera, Montini (Sr,34-8); Michael Roath, South Elgin (Jr,26-4)

Outlook: Once again, the Barrington sectional rules, with Golnick, Jackson and Roper the key players. Their dominance has overshadowed the senior season of returning state placewinner Stemmet – so far. Golnick, who held the No. 1 spot admirably until losing 9-6 to Roper in the Barrington semifinals, could see him again in a totally different kind of semifinal Friday night. First-round mayhem: Golnick vs. Angelo Eklou, Naperville Central. Golnick’s first test will be a tough one.

285: 1) Mike Bosco, Carl Sandburg (Sr,40-0); 2) Lloyd Reynolds, Edwardsville (Sr,46-2); 3) Ryan Boersma, Providence (So,41-3); 4) Dustin Olmstead, Belleville West (Jr,40-5); 5) Josh Matthiasen, York (Sr,23-2); 6) Zach Barlev, Plainfield East (Jr,21-4)…in great spots: Paulie Robertson, Glenbard North (So,36-7); Austin Korba, Hersey (Sr,35-4)

Outlook: The most intriguing class in 3A. How stacked was the Quincy sectional? Heading into the regional, it contained eight of the top 10 big men in the state, including the two ranked 1-2 all season, Boersma and Reynolds. Boersma made a nice recovery after losing in the overtime tie-breaker to Kyle Hughes of Alton in the first round at Quincy, but that raises the question: would you rather run the Quincy gauntlet? Or go with another wrestler who hasn’t wrestled as many tough opponents, but rarely had a close match until the last two rounds at Hinsdale Central? See what I mean? First-round mayhem: Olmstead vs. Korba. Both could place.

CLASS 2A

106: 1) Kannon Webster, Washington (Fr,42-0); 2) Carson Nishida, Bloomington (So,42-5); 3) Kai Neumark, Deerfield (So,39-2); 4) Gylon Sims, Joliet Catholic Academy (Fr,38-6); 5) Brady Foster, Mattoon (So,31-2); 6) Caleb Nobiling, Antioch (Fr,38-4)…in great spots: Noah Dial, Aurora Christian (Fr,25-12); Tyler Calam, Freeport (So,30-5)

Outlook: In a classification filled with runaway favorites, Webster is as close to a lock as it gets. In the other bracket, Nishida, Sims and Neumark will make advancement tough. First-round mayhem: Foster vs. Amador Castro, Crystal Lake South. Both made strong moves up the rankings chart in January.

113: 1) Chad Bellis, Bloomington (Jr,48-3); 2) Christian Olsen, Crystal Lake South (Jr,27-3); 3) Chris Moore, Aurora Christian (Fr,39-8); 4) Markel Baker, Freeport (So,30-2); 5) Caden Muselman, Oak Forest (Fr,38-3); 6) Cory Hoyle, Morton (So,37-6)…in great spots: Sean Conway, St. Patrick (So,31-6); Shay Korhorn, Joliet Catholic Academy (So,37-10)

Outlook: Should they reach the final, it will be the first meeting between the two defending champions.  They’ve had to be great in this deep weight class that contains five returning state placewinners – four of which made the field. First-round mayhem: Conway vs. Anthony Montez, Geneseo. It was a tough choice. Olsen also faces a tough first-round battle against Korhorn.

120: 1) Nasir Bailey, TF North (Fr,37-2); 2) Abraham Hinrichsen, Washington (Jr,34-8); 3) Anthony Schickel, Oak Forest (Sr,30-4); 4) Joel Mylin, Aurora Christian (Jr,40-6); 5) Elon Rodriguez, Marian Central Catholic (Jr,39-2); 6) Carter Hall, Champaign Central (So,32-1)…in great spots: Alex Barbarise, Antioch (Sr,40-2); Melvin Rogers, East St. Louis Senior (Jr,39-6)

Outlook: A fifth-place finish in the Walsh Ironman vaulted Bailey onto the state and national stage – a freshman at the top of a loaded weight class that includes six returning state placewinners. He’d meet state champion Mylin in the semifinals. First-round mayhem: Hinrichsen vs. Schickel. Two-time state placewinners. Both previous entries in the Grand March. Right off the bat!

126: 1) Joey Cape, Washington (Jr,14-2); 2) Drew Nash, Lemont (Sr,14-0); 3) Garrett Chrisman, Chatham Glenwood (Jr,34-4); 4) Gaige Owens, Marion (Sr,45-4); 5) Scott Burke, Marian Central Catholic (Jr,35-7); 6) Jake Jozwiak, Grayslake North (Sr,29-6)…in great spots: Trey Pearcy, Charleston (Sr,38-4); Luke Menzies, Antioch (Sr,32-8)

Outlook: Between injuries and get-down dates, two of the most talented wrestlers at this weight, one a returning state champion, have fewer wins between them than 12 of the other 14 qualifiers. First-round mayhem: Menzies vs.Ayden Sines, LaSalle-Peru; Jozwiak vs. Luke Henkhaus, Geneseo. Right next to each other in the bottom half of the bracket. Take your pick. 

132: 1) Brody Norman, Washington (Sr,35-2); 2) Cameron Johnson, Aurora Christian (Sr,37-2); 3) Daniel Valeria, Marian Central Catholic (Sr,41-0); 4) Luke Fleming, Ottawa (Sr,34-2); 5) Caleb Tyus, Civic Memorial (Jr,39-0); 6) Danny McPherson, Antioch (Sr,34-6)…in great spots: Mike Archer, St. Laurence (Sr,22-9); Victor Guzman, Rock Island (Sr,29-7)

Outlook: Seven of the eight wrestlers listed here have combined for 13 state medals. In their first meeting in the Rochelle sectional final, Norman earned a leg up with a 6-1 victory over the two-time 1A state champion, who was also enjoying an outstanding season; it was his first loss to an Illinois opponent this year. First-round mayhem: Valeria vs. Guzman. Every match at this weight is worth a look, though.

138: 1) Noah Villarreal, Aurora Christian (Sr,37-4); 2) Zeke Hulet, Washington (Sr,34-10); 3) Ryan Gardner, Bloomington (Sr,49-5); 4) Elijah Reyes, Antioch (Sr,27-4); 5) Bryce Shelton, Marian Central Catholic (Jr,38-2); 6) Jack Finnegan, Joliet Catholic Academy (Jr,35-13)…in great spots: Caine Tyus, Civic Memorial (Jr,38-3); Kylan Montgomery, Mascoutah (Jr,39-5)

Outlook: Once again, the Rochelle sectional final could be the state final. How many weight classes does it seem as though everybody is state placewinner material? This is another one. First-round mayhem: Reyes vs. Tyus. Both placed last year, and probably will again this year.

145: 1) Kyle Schickel, Lemont (Sr,35-3); 2) Sincere Bailey, TF North (Jr,33-6); 3) Peyton Timmons, Crystal Lake South (Sr,34-4); 4) Vincent Swindell, Carmel (Sr,28-12); 5) Sean Crump, Niles Notre Dame (Sr,30-6); 6) Cole Watkins, Washington (Sr,36-10)…in great spots: Ashton Kellett, LaSalle-Peru (Sr,31-4); Austin O’Donoghue, Lincoln (Sr,43-5)

Outlook: After Schickel beat Bailey in their first three meetings, Bailey broke through to win the Hinsdale South sectional final, 9-6. Schickel is likely to walk in his fourth Grand March. Twenty pairs of brothers have won state titles in the same season, but Bailey, with two state medals of his own, could be part of the first trio of brothers to win titles in the same year (Nasir, 120; Bilal, 160). First-round mayhem: Crump vs. Kellett. Enjoy.

152: 1) D.J. Hamiti, Joliet Catholic Academy (Jr,41-0); 2) Grant LaDuke, Lemont (Sr,35-1); 3) Garrett Bakarich, Troy Triad (Sr,39-1); 4) Rocco Palumbo, Richards (Sr,25-5); 5) Aron Taylor, Carbondale (Sr,38-3); 6) Shane Moran, Crystal Lake South (So,24-3)…in great spots: Dathan Wickson, Rockford Boylan (Jr,20-4); Chase Overton, Mascoutah (Jr,34-9)

Outlook: Back to the land of the locks. Hamiti had a technical fall, a pin and a major decision in the Rochelle sectional. Getting the easier half of the bracket helped, too. First-round mayhem: LaDuke vs. Overton. The fact this match is from the loaded bottom half isn’t a surprise.

160: 1) Bilal Bailey, TF North (Sr,37-2); 2) Zeke Waltz, Jerseyville Jersey (Sr,40-0); 3) Caden Ernd, Crystal Lake Central (Jr,35-4); 4) Terrence Snapp, Joliet Catholic Academy (Jr,35-11); 5) Kyle Zator, Lemont (Sr,36-6); 6) Matt Zuber, Fenwick (Sr,17-5)…in great spots: Brad Peters, Cary-Grove (Sr,30-10); Brandon Lloyd, Waterloo (So,39-11)

Outlook: He’s small for 160, but in Illinois, it hasn’t mattered – Bailey had two sub-minute pins and a major decision in the Hinsdale South sectional. First-round mayhem: Zator vs. Jacob Sollberger, Washington. The winner gets the weight’s only unbeaten, Waltz.

170: 1) Dylan Connell, Marian Central Catholic (Jr,40-0); 2) Joey Jens, Grayslake Central (Jr,37-6); 3) Luke Daly, Carbondale (Jr,40-2); 4) Caleb Grau, Mascoutah (Sr,38-4); 5) Kurtis Smith, Lakes (Sr,38-8); 6) Zak Kozumplik, Sycamore (Sr,40-5)…in great spots: Alex Tagler, Lemont (So,15-0); Keondre Jackson, Freeport (Sr,22-3)

Outlook: The most captivating match of the regular season saw Connell, trailing 3-2 at the time, trip 3A champion Ferrante to his back for a pin in January. Smith didn’t go away quietly in the Deerfield sectional semifinals, losing 9-6. The quarterfinals at this weight class will be something else. First-round mayhem: Kozumplik vs. Rodrick Love, Springfield Lanphier. Love nearly placed at 195 last year. Connell faces the winner.

182: 1) Adrien Cramer, Grayslake Central (Jr,35-1); 2) Niko Lopez, Marian Central Catholic (Jr,36-4); 3) Arnold Edwards, Cahokia (Sr,40-3); 4) Basilio Betancourt, Bremen (Jr,33-4); 5) Ben Harvey, Rochelle (Jr,39-4); 6) Matthew Chavers, Freeport (Sr,32-3)…in great spots: Raymond Arebalo, Crete-Monee (Jr,30-0); River Flute, Marion (Sr,44-4)

Outlook: How much do we like Cramer? We had him in this spot entering last year’s state tournament, too. He didn’t miss by much, finishing third. Cramer is in the bottom half of the bracket. His opponent’s road to the Grand March will be much tougher, with Edwards, Betancourt, Lopez, Arebalo, and most of the rest of the top 10 on that side. First-round mayhem: Chavers vs. Flute. Two veterans from opposite ends of the state who can score.

195: 1) Cody Goodman, Deerfield (Sr,50-1); 2) Robby Bates, Morris (Sr,34-1); 3) Mitch Hutmacher, Chatham Glenwood (Sr,35-1); 4) Kyle Koelblinger, Prairie Ridge (Sr,29-4); 5) Niall Schoenfelder, Antioch (Sr,39-3); 6) Jordan Sommers, Waterloo (So,28-4)…in great spots: Jack Weltha, Bloomington (So,45-8); Julian Ryerson, Crystal Lake Central (Jr,28-17)

Outlook: After placing third in 3A last season, Goodman has been dominant this year, both at 195 and at 220 against both 2A and 3A competition, with his only loss coming to Gothard, ranked No. 1 at the next weight class up. In another bit of head-scratching bracketing, his quarterfinal match against Hutmacher might be the final. Still, the semifinals here will be interesting. First-round mayhem: Bates vs. David Polaski, Mascoutah. Just a hunch.

220: 1) Apollo Gothard, Lemont (Jr,41-0); 2) Conner Miller, Chatham Glenwood (Jr,38-0); 3) Josh Crandall, Prairie Ridge (Sr,21-2); 4) Jason Farnham, Sterling (So,28-4); 5) Joe Swanson, Cary-Grove (Jr,30-11); 6) Jon Brown, Bloomington (Sr,27-3)…in great spots: Brock Neill, LaSalle-Peru (Jr,32-7); Daniel Renshaw, Mahomet-Seymour (Jr,35-12)

Outlook: No 195-pound disease here. The two unbeatens are set up for a Grand March showdown, which is fortunate, because 220 has been a two-horse race since the start. The other spots could be filled by the four wrestlers we named…or by four others. We’ll see. First-round mayhem: Neill vs. Renshaw. They met in the Mahomet-Seymour Tournament, with Renshaw winning, 5-2. Could both place? Maybe.

285: 1) Julian Ramirez, Oak Forest (Sr,39-1); 2) Payton Piraino, LaSalle-Peru (Sr,34-3); 3) Seth Buchanan, Mahomet-Seymour (Sr,38-5); 4) Caleb Collins, East Peoria (Sr,32-5); 5) Sean Burns, St. Laurence (Sr,26-5); 6) Skyler Hufeld, Normal Community West (Sr,32-8)…in great spots: Dylan Cooper, Washington (Sr,31-15); Mohamad Jarad, Lemont (Jr,39-8)

Outlook: If you thought the heavyweight class at Quincy was stacked, consider this: the Rock Island regional contained six top 10 heavyweights. Yes, six. Yes, a regional. So which road do you favor? The relatively peaceful road taken by Ramirez, the former 195-pounder, at the top? Or the gauntlet Piraino has faced all season and into the post-season? Only Piraino and Batteast, who missed much of the season due to injury, remain from that stacked northern Illinois group. First-round mayhem: Collins vs. Hufeld. They haven’t met despite being just 40 miles apart.

CLASS 1A

106: 1) Saul Trejo. IC Catholic (Fr,24-3); 2) Reef Pacot, Fithian Oakwood (Fr,40-4); 3) Jarek Wehrle, Vandalia (Jr,43-1); 4) Matthew Minick, Belleville Althoff (Sr,32-5); 5) Payton Murphy, Deer Creek-Mackinaw (Fr,43-2); 6) Collin Altensey, Port Byron Riverdale (Fr,41-2)…in great spots: Garrett Luke, Lena-Winslow/Stockton (Fr,40-5); Alex Armira, Chicago Hope Academy (Jr,40-4)

Outlook: Get ready to read the following a lot in stacked 1A: virtually everybody at this weight class has placewinner potential. The final six could be the above…or they could be six not named at all. Trejo made his name in December at Plano and at the Dvorak. The rest made theirs largely at Abe’s Rumble. Both work for me. First-round mayhem: just about all of them, but Armira vs. Minick matches two experienced veterans.

113: 1) Maddux Blakely, Dakota (So,38-5); 2) Gage Reed, Fithian Oakwood (Jr,39-3); 3) Tavius Hosley, Tolono Unity (So,28-2); 4) Paul Ishikawa, Illini Bluffs (Fr,38-3); 5) Michael DiBenedetto, IC Catholic (Fr,23-6); 6) Brock Smith, Port Byron Riverdale (Fr,37-5)…in great spots: Cade Keepes, Mount Carmel (Sr,35-6); Broctyn King, Mercer County (Jr,38-10)

Outlook: Another wide-open weight class with plenty of Grand March possibilities. Ishikawa, Smith and Dillon Raab of Lena-Winslow/Stockton made big January moves up the charts…and the fact they’re not higher shows how deep this weight class is. First-round mayhem: Raab vs. Hosley. They’re part of a loaded quarter bracket that includes Ishikawa and Ryan Tribble of Reed-Custer.

120: 1) Cameron Clark, Illini Bluffs (So,38-0); 2) Paul Keane, Peotone (Sr,41-1); 3) Levi Neuleib, Heyworth (Sr,27-2); 4) Phoenix Blakely, Dakota (Fr,33-7); 5) Shawn Minick, Belleville Althoff (So,29-5); 6) Dresden Grimm, Auburn (Fr,38-6)…in great spots: Blain Christie, Bishop McNamara (Jr,38-8); Ethan Matlock, LeRoy/Tri-Valley (Jr,35-6)

Outlook: You already know about the semifinal in the bottom bracket – former champions Neuleib and Keane. That’s the real story on paper. But after losing to him in all four meetings last season, including a pin in the state final, Clark finally recorded his first victory over Neuleib, 3-2 in the Olympia sectional final. Will the final join 3A as a rematch of last year’s 113-pound final? First-round mayhem: Tossup between Grimm vs. Bobby Mann, Reed-Custer, and Neuleib vs. Jase Grunder, Erie/Prophetstown. Two freshmen battling two seniors in the same quarter bracket. The winners face each other, and so do the losers.

126: 1) Tristan Daugherty, Peoria Notre Dame (Sr,44-0); 2) Nik Jimenez, Harvard (So,44-0); 3) Caleb Magruder, Bishop McNamara (Sr,40-6); 4) Cale Horsch, Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley/Fisher (Jr,36-4); 5) Colton Linke, Morrison (Jr,42-3); 6) Ben Gavel, Tolono Unity (Jr,45-3)…in great spots: Carlos Sanchez, Winnebago (Sr,21-4); Coby Windle, Ridgeview (Jr,44-3) 

Outlook: One of the rare 1A classes with a clear favorite. After three straight third-place finishes in 2A, Daugherty is the man this year in 1A, with Jimenez the heir apparent. Jimenez must navigate a tough lower half. First-round mayhem: Gavel vs. Windle. Gavel can score points in bunches, and Windle also made our “great spots” list last year.

132: 1) Ethen Doty, West Carroll (Jr,37-2); 2) Gabe Spencer, Heyworth (Sr,35-1); 3) Will Carlile, Litchfield (Jr,37-0); 4) Billy Tay, Colfax Ridgeview (Jr,44-5); 5) Dayton Hall, Mount Carmel (Jr,40-2); 6) Marey Roby, Lena-Winslow/Stockton (So,40-7)…in great spots: Billy Taylor, Rock Island Alleman (Jr,41-10); Grant Peterson, Peoria Notre Dame (Sr,43-1)

Outlook: Defending state champions who have battled through injuries find themselves in the first of the three potential such final matchups. Is Doty, who had to default his second match in the Clinton, IA Tournament while wrestling Drew Kested of Sterling, 100 percent? Probably not. Is he a gamer? Most definitely. First-round mayhem: Roby vs. Austin McConaha, Monticello. The winner is likely headed to the semifinals against Spencer.

138: 1) Dallas Krueger, Rockridge (Sr,43-0); 2) Adam Meenen, Rock Falls (Sr,42-6); 3) Connor Huston, Coal City (Jr,31-6); 4) Dylan Grigsby, Canton (Sr,37-3); 5) Rayce Zike, Toledo Cumberland (Jr,37-3); 6) Adell Gamboa, Reed-Custer (Jr,39-4)…in great spots: Tanner Finin, Tremont (Sr,39-4); Winston McPeek, Lena-Winslow/Stockton (Sr,41-6)

Outlook: Krueger grabbed the reins at this weight class with his technical fall over Meenen in the Princeton Tournament final, and has shown no signs of letting go. He’s added two more wins over Meenen since, including an 11-5 decision in the sectional final at Oregon. Though it’s all about the top two, there are far more placewinner possibilities here than there are places. First-round mayhem: Huston vs. McPeek. Huston is back in the classification in which he placed in 2018.

145: 1) Nolan Throne, Rockridge (Sr,46-0); 2) Anthony Federico, Belleville Althoff (Sr,34-2); 3) Alex Carrillo, Nazareth Academy (Sr,32-4); 4) Daniel Gutierrez, Dwight (Sr,45-5); 5) Allen Catour, Orion (So,29-4); 6) Caleb Nix, Auburn (Sr,40-5)…in great spots: Jeff Hermann, Robinson (Sr,37-5); Simon Rillie, Lena-Winslow/Stockton (Jr,42-7)

Outlook: Though Throne has been dominant this season, Federico has done his part to make this a two-man race. He’s lost only to a pair of opponents who made the 3A predictions: Adam Thebeau of Belleville East and Cameron Hargrove of Bolingbrook. The rest of the weight class has been characterized both by potential and by inconsistency. First-round mayhem: Catour vs. Jack Narine, Wilmington. With two state medals, Narine has a history of coming up big at the State Farm Center.

152: 1) Kyle Tunink, Sterling Newman (Sr,41-1); 2) Jack Patting, Rock Island Alleman (Jr,42-3); 3) Jason Hermann, Lena-Winslow/Stockton (Jr,40-7); 4) Oliver Willis, Chicago Hope Academy (Sr,42-2); 5) J.D. Sexton, St. Thomas More (Sr,41-4); 6) Lukas Eagle, Mount Zion (Sr,37-1)…in great spots: Curtis Green, Westmont (Sr,37-3); Michael Carpenter, Toledo Cumberland (Sr,40-5) 

Outlook: As was the case at 138, the Oregon sectional provided the backdrop for a two-man race. Tunink has won all three meetings against Patting this season, including 5-0 in the final last weekend. The depth of this weight class shows in the plethora of great first-round matchups. First-round mayhem: Carpenter vs. Willis. Two two-time state placewinners right off the bat.

160: 1) Bryce Faworski, Winnebago (Sr,35-1); 2) Aidan Nardin, Dakota (Jr,35-6); 3) Ty Baxter, LeRoy/Tri-Valley (Jr,39-1); 4) Pate Eastin, Tolono Unity (Jr,44-6); 5) Makail Stanley, Argenta-Oreana (Sr,39-2); 6) David Papach, Coal City (Sr,28-5)…in great spots: Charlie Patterson, Auburn (Sr,40-6); Marcus McKenna, Polo (Sr,36-6)

Outlook: Like the three weight classes before it, the Oregon sectional produces much of the story line. Unlike those three weight classes, there is no clear favorite, and won’t be even as they march around the State Farm Center late Saturday afternoon. Faworski shut out Nardin, 6-0 in the sectional final. Though Stanley didn’t win the Vandalia sectional, the wrestler who held the No. 1 spot most of the season remains a viable title contender – IF he can survive a quarterfinal against Faworski. First-round mayhem: Baxter vs. McKenna. The winner stays alive on the same side as Faworski and Stanley.

170: 1) Andrew Wenzel, Dakota (Jr,36-2); 2) Logan Deacetis, Prairie Central (Jr,53-0); 3) Nate Critchfield, Mount Carmel (Jr,43-0); 4) Case Harmston, Lena-Winslow/Stockton (Jr,41-7); 5) Connor Eaton, West Frankfort (Sr,40-6); 6) Trystan Altensey, Port Byron Riverdale (Sr,42-4)…in great spots: Connor Eastin, Tolono Unity (Sr,39-12); Grant SantAmour, LeRoy/Tri-Valley (Jr,38-5)

Outlook: To repeat, Wenzel likely will have to beat the weight’s two unbeatens, Critchfield in the semifinals and Deacetis in the final. Deacetis enters the state tournament with a 104-match winning streak over two seasons, a streak exceeded only by his teammate, Brandon Hoselton. First-round mayhem: Critchfield vs. Harmston. The wrestler with the better record is the one looking for his first state medal.

182: 1) Joey Braunagel, Belleville Althoff (Jr,33-4); 2) Justin Peake, Johnsburg (Sr,23-2); 3) Micah Downs, Tolono Unity (Sr,33-4); 4) Mason Clem, Sacred Heart-Griffin (Jr,40-3); 5) Dalton Wood, Richmond-Burton (Sr,29-4); 6) Abel Colunga, Hoopeston Area (So,41-7)…in great spots: Evan Riggle, Dakota (Sr,31-6); Robert Gurley, Nazareth Academy (Sr,32-2)

Outlook: Braunagel survived the state’s toughest sectional at this weight class, Vandalia. Should we favor the wrestler who ran the gauntlet? Why not? He pinned Downs in the quarterfinals last weekend, and the two are headed for a semifinal rematch at the State Farm Center. The fact that the wrestlers ranked 1-2 both lost in the regional finals shows how wide open this weight class is. First-round mayhem: Downs vs. Gurley. No easy marks for the 2019 state champion in this tournament.

195: 1) Brandon Hoselton, Prairie Central (Jr,53-0); 2) Daniel Jezik, Coal City (Sr,46-1); 3) Cade Scott, Tolono Unity (Sr,45-3); 4) Gavin Mouser, Vandalia (Jr,44-2); 5) Sebastian Quintana, Dixon (Sr,32-0); 6) Kody Marschner, Reed-Custer (Fr,34-8)…in great spots: Caden Flanders, Petersburg Porta (Sr,36-5); Nathan Rosas, Harvard (So,37-7)

Outlook: Hoselton owns the state’s longest active winning streak – 111 straight entering this weekend – but that streak was threatened twice this season. The first came in a 3-2 tie-breaker win over Jezik before the holidays. The second came against Caves, ranked No. 1 at 220, at Abe’s Rumble, when a celebration penalty in the closing seconds tied the match at 3-3, Hoselton then winning in overtime. Jezik has dominated the rest of his competition. First-round mayhem: Marschner vs. Rosas. The rest of the world learns about two young guns.

220: 1) Bryan Caves, Port Byron Riverdale (Jr,44-1); 2) Josh Woodrey, Prairie Central (Jr,51-1); 3) Peyton Lind, Byron (Sr,39-2); 4) Joel Baer, Eureka (Sr,22-2); 5) Adam Maxwell, Warrensburg-Latham  (Sr,41-2); 6) Gage Leake, Coal City (Sr,34-2)…in great spots: Dalton Crouse, Knoxville (Sr,26-8); Jadon Mims, IC Catholic (So,37-12)

Outlook: Caves needed overtime to beat Lind in the Oregon sectional final, but he has dominated the rest of his competition. Woodrey’s only loss came in overtime to Zach Barlev of Plainfield East, whom you’ll find in the 3A predictions. Not every weight class is well spaced, and we’ve pointed out the ones that aren’t, but this one is. First-round mayhem: Maxwell vs. Crouse. A second pin over state placewinner Broc Shymansky of Farmington in the Olympia sectional got Crouse to Champaign.

285: 1) Hayden Copass, Westville (Jr,22-0); 2) Tyler Elsbury, Byron (Sr,42-1); 3) Anthony Enlow, Vandalia (Sr,21-0); 4) Gabe Craig, Benton (Jr,47-1); 5) Logan Wilson, Tolono Unity (Sr,27-2); 6) Mike Walker, Lisle (Jr,33-0)…in great spots: Ethan Faulk, El Paso-Gridley (Sr,38-5); Skyler Sutton, Olney Richland County (Sr,32-8)

Outlook: We have to point it out, as we said we’d do at the previous weight class. The match of the weight takes place in the semifinals, between Copass and Enlow, who played football for the Vandals at 340 pounds before finally getting down in January. However, that does provide some opportunity for a stacked upper bracket that includes Elsbury, Craig, Faulk, Wilson and Walker. First-round mayhem: Faulk vs. Wilson, two central Illinois veterans who haven’t yet met.

…GOOD LUCK!

Rob Sherrill is the author of Tales From the Mat: Illinois High School Wrestling at 75. He is the administrator of the iwcoa.net state individual and team rankings. He has covered wrestling in Illinois for 40 years for a variety of publications, including the Chicago Sun-Times, and has published The Illinois Best Weekly for 36 seasons. Also a high school wrestling analyst at the national level, Sherrill is the National High School Editor for WIN magazine. His newest publication, Beyond Tales From the Mat, can be ordered at www.centermatpress.com.