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Class 1A Individual State Finals roundup
By Curt Herron
CHAMPAIGN – Four champions who repeated, including one who won his fourth-straight title, five individuals who were second last year but took first place on Saturday, a champion from two years ago winning a title again, three other seniors closing out the careers with dramatic title wins and a freshman breaking through to capture a championship.
Those were some of the major stories that played out during the IHSA Class 1A Individual State Finals at State Farm Center in Champaign and as one might expect, there was plenty of drama as half of the title matches were decided by four points or less.
When the final match was completed at 170, Dakota had the most champions with three while the other 11 title winners were all from different schools.
Dakota senior Phoenix Blakely (42-1) won his third IHSA title and fourth overall after taking first at 132. Junior Noah Wenzel (42-3) won his second-straight title with a first at 220 and sophomore TJ Silva (38-2) bounced from taking second a year ago to claim first at 126.
“It was a great finals and all of the kids wrestled well all tournament, so we were really pleased with that,” Dakota coach Matt Jacobs said. “Going 3-0 in the finals was great. They started with the upperweights, so Noah was first and he had a really tough opponent. He wrestled a really smart match, that was methodical and he was always in control and didn’t get out of position.
“And then TJ was our second champion at 126 and he did a really nice job. I think he was a little tentative at first, maybe some nerves from getting second last year. But then in the third period, when he hit his big throw, he came alive there and he took care of business.
“We consider Phoenix to be a four-time state champion because of the IWCOA state championship his sophomore year. He’s one of the legends now for Dakota, our third four-time state champion. We’re going to miss Phoenix and he’s meant a lot for us the last four years. He’s really a legend for us and the kids are going to look up to his name for years and years.”
Others repeating as champions were Carlyle sophomore Tyson Waughtel (50-1) at 113 and Auburn junior Joey Ruzic (51-2) at 120 while Illini Bluffs senior Paul Ishikawa (51-0) at 145 is a state champion for the second time in three years.
The other 2022 second-place finishers who won state titles were IC Catholic Prep senior Isaiah Gonzalez (17-1) at 285, Unity senior Nick Nosler (52-2) at 195, Lena-Winslow/Stockton senior Griffin Luke (51-1) at 182 and Benton junior Mason Tieffel (52-2) at 138
Individuals who had medalled before at state but won their first championships were Canton senior Joseph Norton (51-1) at 170 and Peotone senior Marco Spinazzola (40-3) at 152. First-time medalists who were also champions were El Paso-Gridley senior Dax Gentes (52-1) at 160 and Riverdale freshman Dean Wainwright (49-1) at 106.
Champions from 2022 who finished in second place were Yorkville Christian senior Jackson Gillen (42-7) at 170 and Riverdale senior Collin Altensey (53-2) at 160. A title winner from last year who took third place was Lena-Winslow/Stockton senior Garrett Luke (53-3) at 152. And a champion from last season who finished fifth was Riverdale senior Brock Smith (53-3) at 138.
Claiming runner-up finishes for the second-straight year were Illini Bluffs junior Hunter Robbins (34-2) at 106, Richmond-Burton sophomore Emmett Nelson (46-3) at 126 and Nazareth Academy sophomore Gabriel Kaminski (30-1) at 220.
Other second-place finishers were Farmington junior Keygan Jennings (35-2) at 113, Yorkville Christian junior Ty Edwards (45-7) at 120, Marian Central Catholic sophomore Vance Williams (41-8) at 132, Newman Central Catholic junior Carter Rude (46-6) at 138, Oakwood/Salt Fork senior Reef Pacot (47-3) at 145, Bishop McNamara senior Luke Christie (35-5) at 152, PORTA senior Bryar Lane (51-4) at 182, High School of Saint Thomas More junior Brody Cuppernell (42-6) at 195 and Auburn senior Cole Edie (47-3) at 285.
IC Catholic Prep senior Saul Trejo, a 2020 and 2021 champion, placed third at 120. Also taking third place were Anna-Jonesboro sophomore Drew Sadler (51-3) at 106, Lutheran School Association Decatur freshman Clinton VerHeecke (48-2) at 113, Rockridge sophomore Jude Finch (44-5) at 126, St. Joseph-Ogden sophomore Holden Brazelton (49-3) at 132, Auburn senior Dresden Grimm (39-3) at 138 and Princeton senior Augie Christiansen (50-6) at 145.
Others who finished in third place were Yorkville Christian senior Tyler Martinez (45-6) at 160, Fulton senior Zane Pannell (52-2) at 170, Byron junior Kyle Jones (42-9) at 182, Coal City senior Joey Breneman (43-6) at 195, Reed-Custer senior Kody Marschner (40-3) at 220 and Cahokia sophomore Jason Dowell (42-10) at 285.
Here’s a breakdown of the 2023 IHSA Class 1A champions and their weight classes:
182 – Griffin Luke, Lena-Winslow/Stockton
The disappointment of coming up a bit short a year ago in the 170 title match when he was pinned in 6:47 by Jackson Gillen provided great motivation this season for Griffin Luke.
The Lena-Winslow/Stockton senior improved to 51-1 on the season after prevailing 4-3 over PORTA’s Bryar Lane in a clash of the top-two individuals in the 182 championship match. The match was tight throughout and Luke used a late takedown to get the lead for good and then held off Lane’s reversal attempt in the late stages. Top-ranked Luke also took fourth in the IWCOA finals in 2021. Luke won his other three matches by fall, pinning Red Bud junior Ty Carter (34-11) in 2:40 in his opener, winning by fall in 0:35 over IC Catholic Prep’s Foley Calcagno in the quarterfinals and had a pin in 3:38 over Byron’s Kyle Jones in the semifinals.
His brother Garrett, champion at 145 last year, lost in the semifinals at 152 and placed third. The 182 state champion and his PantherHawks teammates got to take part in the the Dual Team Finals for the first time in their careers and the team went 2-1 to claim third place. Griffin Luke added four more wins during the final week to finish with a 55-1 record and Lena-Winslow/Stockton won its fourth state trophy and finished with a 34-6 record.
“It feels great and to finally come out here and do it feels amazing,” Luke said. “I knew that I had to get it done and I wasn’t going to be satisfied if I didn’t. It’s great to have great partners and to have a great twin brother to help push me to become the person that I can possibly be.”
Lane (51-4), who won five tournament titles and had hoped to become the fourth individual from his school to be a state champion, fell just a bit short of achieving that goal one year after missing out on his junior season due to having heart surgery. The PORTA senior, who took sixth at the IWCOA finals in 2021 and will be continuing his education and wrestling career at Kentucky Wesleyan College in Owensboro, Kentucky, gave Luke all that he could handle in the finals and led 3-2 in the final period before Luke got a late takedown and prevented Lane from reversing him as time wound down. After opening with a fall in 4:34 over Northridge Prep junior Steven Kopecky (26-7) in his opener, Lane won a 12-5 decision over Stillman Valley’s Andrew Forcier and then captured a 10-6 victory over Coal City’s Braiden Young in the semifinals.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better match, it was very close and very action-packed,” Lane said. “Obviously, great job to Luke, he deserves it, he’s worked hard, I can tell. I’m proud of him and everyone who’s on the podium. I came into that match thinking that I was going to win, but also just thinking to let’s just go and have fun. I’m blessed to be here right now, so just go out there and wrestle and have fun, and that’s what I did.
“It was so close, but it’s just another thing to keep pushing for and it makes me want to work even harder. Now I have to go win the national championship at the college level. No matter what happens, always be ready to come back and fight. Every time you get knocked down, it’s not how you got knocked down, it’s about how you got up. That’s what makes you a champion. If you get up and work harder after you’ve been knocked down, people are going to see that.”
Jones (42-9), a junior who was an honorable mention selection in the rankings, claimed third place with a fall in 3:08 over Young. Jones, making his first tournament appearance, opened with a 3-0 decision over Westville senior Craig Johnson and then won a 7-3 decision over Unity sophomore Hunter Eastin (48-7) to reach the semifinals, where he got pinned by Luke. Jones, who also plays football and baseball, then edged Forcier 4-3 to advance to the third-place mat.
“I took fourth at sectional and didn’t wrestle very well and wrestled timid,” Jones said. “I really felt a lot of nerves and pressure at regionals and sectionals, but I really didn’t feel any pressure and had no nerves coming into this. Now I just want to keep the momentum up.”
Young (41-3), a senior, who was ranked seventh, was one of four placewinners for Coal City. He won a 5-4 decision in his opener over Tremont senior TJ Conner (42-10) and then by fall in 4:24 over Yorkville Christian senior Christian Durbin (29-16) in the quarterfinals before falling to Lane in the semifinals. Young won an 8-3 decision over Calcagno to reach the third-place match. Young and his teammates on the top-ranked Coalers won their program’s first state title over Yorkville Christian with the senior going 3-1 with a loss to Luke to finish with a 43-4 record.
Forcier (42-9), a senior who was ranked tenth, took fifth place with a 6-4 win by tiebreaker over Calcagno (15-6), a freshman who was ranked sixth. Both lost in the quarterfinals and then won two in the wrestlebacks with Forcer beating El Paso-Gridley senior Cody Langland (41-9) to assure him of a medal and Calcagno beating Eastin to guarantee him a medal in his first year.
195 – Nick Nosler, Unity
There were several individuals who were seeking state titles after falling just short of that accomplishment a year ago and Nick Nosler was one of those. Thanks to three falls and a major decision, he achieved his goal to become a state champion on the final weekend of his high school career and also ended a long title drought for his program in the process.
Nosler (52-2), a senior at Unity who was top-ranked, captured an 11-3 major decision over The High School of Saint Thomas More’s Brody Cuppernell, who was ranked fifth, in the 195 title match, the last of several recent postseason meetings between the pair that were all easily won by Noser. After opening with a fall in 0:24 over Clifton Central junior Joseph Maxwell, he followed with a pin in 1:17 over Taylorville senior William Blue (41-9) in the quarterfinals and won by fall in 4:17 over Coal City’s Joey Breneman, who was ranked sixth, in the semifinals.
A year ago, Nosler lost 8-6 by sudden victory in the finals at 195 to Dakota’s Noah Wenzel, who won the championship at 220 on Saturday. He was one of three Unity athletes who lost in state title matches last season. Nosler, who won all six of his tournaments and was unbeaten against Illinois competitors, is just the fifth individual champion for Unity, and the first one since 1991. And as Joey Wright reported in The News-Gazette, Nosler is also accomplished at crochet and has a business, Nick’s Knitting Service, where he makes hats, among other things.
“(Coach Logan) Patton said that you don’t feel it until tomorrow,” Nosler said. “I had to act like I was there before and just wrestle like it was any other match I was wrestling. It kind of just feels great, last year’s loss, this year’s, it was all just coming together before I go off to college and wrestle there. It’s pretty great, I’m happy for Patton because he helped me all through these four years. I didn’t make it out of regionals my first year and now becoming the state \champ just feels great.”
Cuppernell (42-6), a junior, earned his first medal in his second state trip after opening with a fall in 1:07 over Wilmington senior Hunter Hayes, then won by injury default in the quarterfinals over Sacred Heart-Griffin senior Cory West, (35-3) who was ranked third, and won a 13-6 decision in the semifinals over Seneca’s Chris Peura, who was ranked seventh. He becomes his program’s highest placewinner and just the third individual from his school to win a medal.
“It was a good year, I had a lot of wins,” Cuppernell said. “We’re all tough, but there’s only five of us. I think we need more people next year and hopefully have a full team.”
Breneman (43-6), a senior who was sixth-ranked and making his first appearance at state, used a fall and then a 9-6 decision over Marengo senior Eddie Solis (39-11), who was ranked ninth, to reach the semifinals, where he fell to Nosler. After capturing a 7-5 decision over Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley/Fisher junior Aiden Sancken, who was ranked eighth, Breneman recorded a fall in 5:26 over Macomb’s Max Ryner to finish third. Breneman’s third-place finish was the highest of all of the Coalers’ four medalists. The next week, he helped Coal City win the dual team title.
“Not in a million years,” Breneman said of his anticipation of a third-place finish at state. “It was awesome. I roll with those guys every day, so when you come down here, it’s just like practice. We’re excited for next week.”
Ryner (52-5), a senior who was ranked fourth and claimed fourth place, was a three-time qualifier who won his first medal. After getting pinned by Peura in his opener, Ryner won his next four matches, getting a pin, beating Blue 7-3, winning by fall in 5:24 over Solis and avenging his defeat to Peura with a 9-3 decision before falling against Breneman for third.
Sancken (35-6), a junior who is a first-time medalist, took fifth with an 8-6 decision over Peura (46-10), a junior who also won a medal for the first time. After losing his opener to Breneman, Sancken won three-straight matches in the wrestlebacks to reach the fifth-place match. Falling one win shy of medals were Genoa-Kingston senior Julian Torres (31-15) and Solis.
220 – Noah Wenzel, Dakota
Repeating as a state champion proved to be a lot easier said than done as two of the six who were in that position settled for second place and two others, with Noah Wenzel being the first, saw their quest for a second title remain in doubt throughout their entire match.
Dakota junior Wenzel (42-3), who took first at 195 a year ago, finally pulled ahead with a 2-1 lead in the third period over Nazareth Academy sophomore Gabriel Kaminski (30-1), who was top-ranked, and held on to win a 2-1 decision. Wenzel not only handed his opponent his first defeat of the season, but he also prevented him from taking first place after losing a one-point decision in the finals a year ago at the same weight. Wenzel, who was ranked third, advanced to the title match with a 3-2 semifinals decision over Reed-Custer’s Kody Marschner, who was ranked second. After opening with an 11-2 major decision over Eureka senior Landon Wierenga (35-13), Wenzel recorded a fall in 3:55 over East Alton-Wood River sophomore Drake Champlin (46-8), who was ranked eighth, in the quarterfinals.
Wenzel was the first of three champions for Dakota, with TJ Silva (126) and Phoenix Blakely (132) winning consecutive titles. Wenzel also placed fourth in the IWCOA as a freshman so all three of the Indians title winners have won medals in each season that they have competed and Wenzel joins Blakely and eight others from the program who have won two or more state titles.
“I really wanted to get the pace set in the first 30 seconds to a minute with a takedown, but sadly that’s not how it went down,” Wenzel said. “A win is a win, though, and that’s all that matters. I’ve got to fix myself on all fronts and all positions, that’s really what I have to thrive for next year. One thing that really took me off guard today was I saw J.J. Wolfe, someone that I came down to watch and support when I was a kid. And now he’s down here watching and supporting me.”
Kaminski, who won five tournament titles this season and suffered his first loss in 31 matches, also lost a one-point decision in the 220 title match a year ago to IC Catholic Prep’s Jadon Mims. Kaminski earned his spot in the finals with a fall in 3:26 over LeRoy/Tri-Valley’s Jacob Bischoff, who was ranked ninth, after opening with a fall in 2:40 over Johnston City junior Jude Beers (30-9) and then winning a 7-2 decision in the quarterfinals over Macomb’s Ethan Ladd, who was ranked seventh. After finishing second twice to begin his career, the sophomore is his program’s first two-time medalist. Kaminski also was a top performer for the Roadrunners’ Class 5A state championship football team and is also a highly-regarded recruit as a defensive end.
Marschner (40-3), a senior who was a four-time state qualifier, fell a bit short of a title at 220 for the third time, placing second at the IWCOA in 2021 and third both last year and this season. After opening with a win by fall in 3:15 over Robinson senior Craig Markello (26-6), he won a 5-1 decision over Beardstown’s Owen O’Hara, who was ranked fourth. Following his narrow semifinals loss to Wenzel, Marschner beat Ladd by technical fall before pulling out another close decision over O’Hara by a 3-2 margin. Marschner is one of only five Comets who have won two or more medals at state.
“Deep down, I wanted the bracket,” Marschner said. “I worked all summer for it and I came up short. I’m proud of him (Gunnar Berg), nobody thought that he would be here. Trent Lyons is our technician coach and he’s done really good and is a heck of a coach.”
O’Hara (39-3), a senior who qualified for the IWCOA in 2021 and the IHSA in 2020, won his first medal by finishing in fourth place. After opening up with a fall, O’Hara got dispatched into the consolation bracket by Marschner but went on to win three-straight matches, clinching a medal with a 10-2 major decision over Champlin and then advancing to the third-place match following a 5-1 decision over Bischoff. O’Hara is just the fifth state medal winner for the Tigers.
Ladd (50-8), a senior who was a three-time state qualifier, bounced back from a quarterfinals loss to Kaminski to win three consolation matches, winning 3-0 over Markello to assure himself of a medal and claiming fifth with a 4-3 decision over Bischoff (42-11), a junior who also won his first medal. Bischoff used two falls to reach the semifinals, with one in the quarterfinals in 4:55 over Roxana junior James Herring (36-7), who was ranked sixth, before losing to Kaminski.
285 – Isaiah Gonzalez, IC Catholic Prep
Isaiah Gonzalez wanted to be a state champion even more after losing in the 285 title match to Charles Jagusah a year ago and that desire only grew after he and his teammates were members of a football team that won the IHSA Class 3A championship for the Elmhurst school.
Even though IC Catholic Prep’s top-ranked Gonzalez (17-1) only got to compete in 18 matches in his senior season due in part to his team’s football success, that was ample time to prepare him for a title run in which he recorded three falls and won a close decision to win the 285 title. The third time was the charm for Gonzalez, who also took second in 2021 at the IWCOA finals, as he got a fall in 4:38 over Auburn’s Cole Edie, who was ranked second, in the 285 title match.
The four-time qualifier opened with a pin in 3:45 over Lena-Winslow/Stockton senior Henry Engel (44-9), who was ranked fifth, followed that with a fall in 1:30 over Fairfield’s Payton Allen in the quarterfinals and then won a 2-0 decision over Cahokia’s Jason Dowell in the semifinals to reach his third-straight state finals. He joins classmate Saul Trejo along with last year’s title winners Nick Renteria, Michael Calcagno and Jadon Mims as well the school’s first title winner, Joey Bianchini, as Knights who won state titles. Gonzalez added two more wins to his total, getting wins in ICCP’s sectional win over St. Laurence to advance to the dual team state, and in their quarterfinals dual meet in Bloomington, where they fell 39-31 to Oakwood/Salt Fork.
“This year my main driving factor was losing twice in the finals,” Gonzalez said. “During the COVID year, at the IWCOA state championships, I lost in the finals and last year I lost in the finals. So I had a lot of motivation from my teammates and from my coaches, basically saying that I had to get over that hump. You cannot make it to the finals two years in a row and lose two years in a row. I was a captain of the (football) team. I wouldn’t necessarily say that it slowed me down, it just felt it was like a little bit of a slower start.”
Edie (47-3), a senior who joined two-time champion Joey Ruzic (120) as a finalist and also classmate Dresden Grimm (138), who took third place, as medal winners for the Trojans, which equaled their record from 2020 when they had three all-staters. Edie’s third state trip featured three falls leading up to the championship match. He got a pin in 2:53 over Knoxville senior William Stowe (40-9) in his opener, followed with one in 0:55 over Plano senior Alex Diaz (39-8), who was ranked eighth, and then pinned Reed-Custer’s Gunnar Berg, who was ranked third, in 0:44, to join Ruzic as one of the program’s three state finalists. Edie claimed two more wins as his team won 48-32 over Cahokia in the Vandalia Sectional to qualify for state for the third time and then they fell to eventual runner-up Yorkville Christian 49-27 in the IHSA quarterfinals.
“He’s a helluva wrestler, through and through,” Edie said. “I wanted to wrestle him from the start of the season because I knew he was good. Seeing him in the rankings above me, I was like ‘I want to beat him and I want to wrestle him. So getting out here and getting a chance to wrestle him was awesome. I got beat, but you’ve got to face the best to become the best. So it’s going to help me in the postseason when I’m going up against someone that’s just as good as him. It’s really exciting to know that my season is not over here. I teared up a little bit in the tunnel, but it was like, ‘hey, I’ve still got a week left.If we get to Bloomington, I’ll have fun with my team and we’ll get to see the girls at team state. Our program is amazing from the coaching staff up.”
Dowell (42-10), one of two sophomores who qualified at the weight, took third place with a fall in 1:52 over Berg. After winning his opener over Peoria Notre Dame junior Mike McLaughlin (30-18) with a fall in 0:47, he won a 5-3 decision over St. Francis’ Jaylen Torres (21-3), who was ranked third, before getting edged by Gonzalez in the semifinals. Dowell, who just started wrestling last year and also plays football and baseball, recorded a pin in 1:30 over Cumberland’s Noah Carl to reach the third-place match as one of his program’s two medalists.
“I owe it to my teammates and my coaches for always being there and always pushing me,” Dowell said. “When I’m down, they pick me up and every time, he’s (coach Emanuel Brooks), right there. He’s an amazing man.”
Berg (41-7), a senior, captured his first state medal by taking fourth place. He advanced to the semifinals against Edie after recording a fall in 3:47 over Dixon senior Sean DeVries (35-10) and over Carl in 4:10 and later pinned Allen in 1:01 in the wrestlebacks.
Allen (51-3), a senior who earned his first medal, took fifth place with a fall in 2:41 over Carl, to become just the fourth medalist for Fairfield and its first since 2002. He won three matches in the consolation bracket, 4-2 in sudden victory over Coal City senior Michael Gonzalez (28-9) and denying freshman Torres of a medal with an 11-5 decision. Carl (25-9), also a senior who fell one win shy of winning a medal a year ago, beat Diaz 5-3 in sudden victory to secure his first medal and thus became the seventh Pirate to earn all-state honors.
106 – Dean Wainwright, Riverdale
With Riverdale having four individuals who were ranked fifth or higher, it was a good bet that one of those could end on the top of the awards stand at the IHSA State Finals, especially with senior defending champions Brock Smith and Collin Altensey top-ranked at their weights with 2022 placewinner senior Alex Watson fourth- and freshman Dean Wainwright fifth-ranked.
While the third state medals for Altensey and Smith and the second one for Watson were not what the trio was looking for as they completed their individual careers for the Rams, it was Wainwright who claimed top honors as he completed his debut season unbeaten against competitors from Illinois and wrapped up a 49-1 campaign by winning the championship at 106 with a fall in 3:40 over Illini Bluffs’ Hunter Robbins, who was ranked second. It was the first time that a freshman won a title for Riverdale. In the semifinals, Wainwright captured an 8-4 decision over Anna-Jonesboro’s Drew Sadler, who took third place at 106 a year ago and was top-ranked. Prior to that, he won a 4-1 decision in the quarterfinals over LeRoy/Tri-Valley’s Brady Mouser (44-5), who was ranked sixth, and he opened the competition with a fall in 3:15 over Auburn freshman Drayven Hamm (36-18).
Wainwright, who also won five tournament titles, also was a state champion last season, taking first at 95 in Class A in the IESA Finals. His lone defeat was in the semifinals of the Geneseo Invitational where he lost 5-2 to Cedar Rapids Prairie’s Dylan Munson, a placewinner in Class 3A in the Iowa state tournament, who won the 106 title there while Wainwright placed third. The freshman got a final win in his team’s 42-28 loss to Yorkville Christian in the Oregon Sectional.
“Yes, it’s super exciting,” Wainwright said. “It was pretty nervous at first, but I got used to it.. We have good teammates in the room and they all help everyone else out. He (Coach Myron Keppy) is a pretty legendary coach at Riverdale and he’s been doing it for a long time.”
Robbins (34-2), a junior who also placed second at 106 last season, had also only been beaten once before the title match, and that was by Polo/Milledgeville/Forreston/Eastland’s seventh-ranked Josiah Perez in the 113 title match at the Erie/Prophetstown Tournament. After opening with a fall in 1:07 over Nazareth Academy freshman Charlie Dvorak, he pinned freshman Perez (34-6) in 4:39 in the quarterfinals before earning his spot on the title mat with a 1-0 decision over Yorkville Christian’s Aiden Larsen, who was ranked third.
“He’s a good wrestler,” Robbins said. “I wish that I could have had a better match. Now it’s just about trying to get prepared for next year. I’m glad to see it because a lot of them are from around my area. So it’s good to see so many Central Illinois kids here. Our lower weights are tough and that does help because we have a good room. I like the fact that it’s not a very big school so I know everybody and everybody knows me.”
Sadler (51-3), a sophomore, took third place after capturing a 6-2 decision over Peoria Notre Dame’s Ian Akers. Before falling to Wainwright in the semifinals, Sadler won a 6-0 decision over Princeton freshman Augustus Swanson (43-10), who was ranked eighth, and then won a 5-3 decision over Akers in the quarterfinals. He reached the third-place mat with a win by technical fall in 4:16 over Canton’s Maddux Steele.
“It was a heartbreaker, but I still have two more years to come back here,” Sadler said. “To get better than third is what my dreams are and I hope that I accomplish them. I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for my coach and my family supporting me.”
Akers (43-6), a sophomore who was ranked fourth, won three matches in the consolation bracket after falling to Sadler in the quarterfinals. In the wrestlebacks, he got a fall in 3:08 over Litchfield freshman Vinny Moore (40-8) and then edged Mouser 4-3 to assure himself of a medal and advanced to the third-place mat after winning by injury default in 4:18 over Larsen.
Steele (43-10), a freshman, also won three times in the consolation bracket, following a win by technical fall with a 4-1 decision over Perez before falling to Sadler and then taking fifth place by medical forfeit over sophomore Larsen (18-11), who placed fifth at 106 a year ago to help his team win the state title. Larsen added two more wins to his total as the Mustangs advanced to their second-straight appearance in the 1A title match, where they fell 32-31 to Coal City.
113 – Tyson Waughtel, Carlyle
After becoming his school’s first state champion a year ago, Tyson Waughtel looked to build upon that accomplishment while also equalling the school’s previous total number for state medals won in Champaign, which was two, and those were claimed in 2019 and 2013.
Using two wins by technical fall and two decisions to win the 106 title last season to cap a 52-0 campaign, the Carlyle sophomore, who was top-ranked, opened with three wins by technical fall and looked like he might add another in the 113 finals before capturing a 12-1 major decision over Farmington’s Keygan Jennings, who was ranked third, to conclude a 50-1 season.
Waughtel, who also won championships at seven tournaments this season, also beat Lutheran School Association Decatur freshman Clinton VerHeecke, who was ranked second, in 3:21 in the semifinals, Warrensburg-Latham sophomore Logan Roberts in 4:30 in the quarterfinals and Harlan’s Kingston Sawyers in 2:33 in his opener as his opponents only combined to score only three points against him in the tournament and just one point in each of his last three matches.
“It’s the offseason that gets me better,” Waughtel said. “Last year I only tech’d two of my guys and this year I tech’d three of them. I was the number-one seed, so I had huge confidence and also was a returning state champ. The only setback that I really had was my one loss to a 126-pounder, (Shelbyville’s) Calvin Miller and he’s a great opponent. Sometimes when you lose, you learn. I was our first-ever champ and now I guess I’m one-upping myself each year. Two-time, hopefully next year, three-time, and the year after that, four-time.”
Jennings (35-2), who placed sixth at 113 a year ago, now has won one more medal than the program had claimed prior to the last two years, which was one. He also took fifth place at 106 in 2021 at the IWCOA finals. Jennings, whose only other loss came against the 120 champion, Auburn’s Joey Ruzic, won by fall in 2:18 in the semifinals over Marian Central Catholic’s Andrew Alvarado, who was tenth-ranked, recorded a fall in 3:35 in the quarterfinals over Litchfield senior Alex Powell, who was fifth-ranked, and opened with an 8-0 major decision over Riverdale junior Tharren Jacobs (39-11).
“He’s a stud,” Jennings said. “I’ve just got a few more things to work on and I made a couple of mistakes. It was super cool (the Grand March) given the atmosphere and there were tons of people here who were coming to watch you, your family and your friends. It’s huge for our school (placing twice). It helps, too, having all of these kids who are in our local area who are working together. We all used to go to the same club and it turns out that we’re all about the same level, so we get together and train and push each other to get better and better.”
VerHeecke (48-2), a freshman whose only other loss came against Jennings in the Clinton Sectional finals, took third place by capturing a 7-4 decision over Coal City’s Brody Widlowski, his second win of the tournament over the Coalers’ eighth-ranked freshman. Competing for a first-year program that was coached by Zach Whitsel, both he and his brother, freshman Garrett, who finished sixth at 120, reached the awards stand. Clinton VerHeecke pinned Dixon junior Ayden Rowley in 2:45 in his opener and won a 10-3 decision over Widlowski in the quarterfinals. He assured his spot on the third-place mat with a fall in 2:43 over Powell.
“It’s been a lot of fun and I have a lot of support from my coach and my family,” VerHeecke said. “My family has been there pushing me to take all of the opportunities that I’ve been given. The coaches took us from not having anything, not even having wrestling mats to being here on the big stage, so they really stepped up and are really leaders.”
Widlowski (39-3), whose only other loss came against Lena-Winslow/Stockton’s Arrison Bauer at ABE’s Rumble, was one of four medalists for coach Mark Masters’ Coalers. He opened with a 6-2 decision over Murphysboro sophomore Kaiden Richards (41-14) before being sent to the consolation bracket by VerHeecke. Following a 3-2 win over LeRoy/Tri-Valley sophomore Kobe Brent (39-12), who was ranked sixth, Widlowski pinned Wilmington junior Landon Dooley (39-11), who was ranked ninth, in 0:38 and won 6-3 over Alvarado to meet VerHeecke for third. He won all three of his matches last week, with his last victory being a fall in 1:36 over Yorkville Christian’s Eli Foster that secured his team’s first-ever state championship in a 32-31 win.
Alvarado (21-10), a sophomore, won a 3-1 decision over Powell to claim fifth place. Alvarado, who was one of four medalists for co-coaches Jordan Blanton and Ryan Prater’s Hurricanes, beat Brent 12-1 in his opener and Oakwood/Salt Fork freshman Tyler Huchel (36-11) 10-7 in the quarterfinals before falling to Jennings. Powell (44-8), a four-time state qualifier who placed sixth a year ago, became the fifth individual from Litchfield to win two or more state medals.
120 – Joey Ruzic, Auburn
Joey Ruzic realized that his quest for a second state championship might be a little more challenging than when he claimed top honors a year ago at 113 with three major decisions followed by an 8-2 decision over Emmett Nelson in the title match.
And that’s just how things played out for the Auburn junior, who was involved in close decisions in his final two matches in his pursuit of the 120 title. But Ruzic, who was top-ranked at his weight, was up to the challenge, winning 6-3 over IC Catholic Prep senior Saul Trejo, who was ranked third, in the semifinals and then 4-3 on a tiebreaker over Yorkville Christian junior Ty Edwards, who was second-ranked, in the title match. Ruzic (51-2) opened with a fall in 3:36 over Rickover Naval Academy senior Nathaniel Sales and then captured a 14-5 major decision over Rock Falls senior Aaron Meenen (39-9), who was ranked sixth, in the quarterfinals.
It was a big day for Auburn, which also got a second-place finish from Cole Edie at 285 and a third-place effort from Dresden Grimm at 138, equalling the best-previous medals count for coach Matt Grimm’s program, which was in 2020. The program had three individuals who’ve previously placed in the top three, with two of those coming last year when Ruzic went 26-0 to take first at 113 and Grimm finished third at 132. Ruzic, who also claimed a third-place finish at 106 in 2021 in the IWCOA finals, won seven tournaments this season. He added two more wins to his total, winning in his team’s Vandalia Sectional win over Cahokia and then again in their 49-27 loss in the quarterfinals in the Dual Team Finals to eventual runner-up Yorkville Christian.
“I knew this year coming into my weight bracket that it was going to be a little tougher than last year,” Ruzic said. “I knew that I was going to have some good matches so I made sure that I was prepared. It’s real exciting (Auburn with three in the top three). I give him (Cole Edie) an ear when I see him slacking. We were looking to go to state and possibly place. It feels amazing.”
Edwards (45-7), a junior who took second in the IWCOA finals at 106 in 2021, beat Harrisburg’s eighth-ranked Tony Keene with a fall in 2:47 to earn his spot on the title mat. He recorded a fall in 2:58 over Coal City freshman Aidan Kenney (30-16) in the quarterfinals and opened with an 8-1 decision over Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley/Fisher junior Shawn Schlickman (30-12). Edwards added four more wins to his total last week after getting a win in his team’s 42-28 victory in the over Riverdale in the Oregon Sectional and then three more at the state finals, where the defending champion Mustangs were edged by Coal City 32-31 in the championship dual meet.
“I definitely could have done better in that match, but in the end, it is what it is and I just have to come back stronger next year,” Edwards said. “In my mind, I was like, this is another match and I had to wrestle it my way. Our team is going at it, so I’m happy about that and I’m also happy that I’ll get to have that match again soon at team state.”
Trejo (12-3), a senior who won a state title at 106 in 2020 and took first place at 113 in 2021 in the IWCOA finals, wasn’t able to compete a year ago due to an injury that he suffered just before the 2021-22 season kicked off. He opened with a pair of wins by technical fall, winning in 2:25 over Shelbyville freshman Boodee Fathauer in his opener and in 5:02 over Lutheran School Association Decatur freshman Garrett VerHeecke (43-7) in the quarterfinals. Trejo captured a 10-6 decision over Tremont senior Payton Murphy, who was fourth-ranked, to reach the third-place match, where he got another win by technical fall, this one in 4:12 over Keene.
“Last year I had a torn meniscus two weeks into the season, so I couldn’t come back and was out for the rest of the year,” Trejo said. “It was a bummer because it was a big season for me. My wrestling partner, Nick Renteria took my place at 120 and he won state there. We had three good people in our bracket and I think the thing is that it was just mat experience time because I had less than 10 matches before the state series started.”
Keene (45-4), a junior who won five titles this season and took fourth place at 113 a year ago and was making his third state appearance, opened with an 8-2 decision over Dwight sophomore Dylan Crouch (33-10) and then claimed an 8-6 win by sudden victory in the quarterfinals over Murphy. After getting pinned by Edwards, Keene won a 13-4 major decision over VerHeecke to advance to the third-place match against Trejo. With two state medals, Keene now has one more than the program had when he began competing for the Bulldogs.
Murphy (40-4), a senior and three-time qualifier, won his first medal and took fifth with an 8-1 victory over VerHeecke (43-7), whose brother Clinton took third at 113 to make history for the first-year program. Canton senior John Davis (40-6) and Meenen fell one win shy of medals.
126 – TJ Silva, Dakota
After losing to Brock Smith 2-1 on a tiebreaker a year ago in the 132 championship match, TJ Silva has been focused on not falling short again when he made his second state finals appearance on Saturday in the 126 title match at the State Farm Center in Champaign.
Dakota sophomore Silva (38-2), who was top-ranked at his weight, pulled away in the third period from Richmond-Burton sophomore Emmett Nelson, who was second-ranked and also a state runner-up at 113 a year ago, and captured a 6-1 decision to make him one of the three champions for coach Matt Jacobs’ Indians, along with four-time title winner Phoenix Blakely, who followed with first place at 132, and two-time champion, Noah Wenzel, who took top honors at 220 earlier in the finals. Silva advanced to the championship match at 126 with an 8-2 decision over Newman Central Catholic junior Brady Grennan, who was sixth-ranked, after recording a fall in 2:37 in the quarterfinals over Farmington freshman Bradlee Ellis (41-11). In his opening match, Silva won by fall in 1:36 over Anna-Jonesboro junior Daniel Dover (42-10).
Silva, who won four tournament titles and also took second place at the Dvorak to St. Charles East junior Ben Davino, who won the Class 3A title at 126 and his other loss came against Washington sophomore Peyton Cox (44-3), who claimed second place at 132 in Class 2A.
“It feels awesome,” Silva said. “I knew before the match that it was going to be a tough one. So I just had to keep putting pressure on him and just keep wrestling my style, and I did and I got a good outcome and just dominated the match.
“(The three titles) It’s definitely a good feeling because we have one of the toughest sectionals, hands down, in my opinion. We just know how to just grind it out and come up on top. Noah’s win was the spark. And it was just good to keep the momentum going. And Phoenix is one of the best partners that could have ever asked for. He just pushed me in the room all of the time. He’s awesome. Now I just have to keep the momentum going and try to get three titles, that’s what I’m looking forward to.”
Nelson (46-3), who had won five tournament titles, suffered his second defeat one week earlier when he lost 11-5 to Silva in the Oregon Sectional semifinals, where he took third place. His other loss was in the finals at Palatine to York senior Sean Berger (39-4), who took fourth place in 3A at 132. After opening with a 7-2 decision over Oakwood/Salt Fork sophomore Pedro Rangel, Nelson prevailed in sudden victory in the next two rounds, winning 14-9 over Canton senior Trevor Hedges, who was ranked seventh, in the quarterfinals and then 3-1 over Rockridge sophomore Jude Finch, who was fifth-ranked, in the semifinals. He became just the sixth individual from his program to advance to the title match at consecutive state finals.
“It’s crazy since I was right there,” Nelson said. “I wrestled him last week so I kind of had a game plan going. And that sectional was just loaded, it was brutal.”
Finch (44-5) earned his first medal, which was for third place, after beating Hedges by a 6-5 score. Finch prevailed 9-7 in an overtime tiebreaker in his opener against Shelbyville senior Calvin Miller, who was ranked ninth, and then beat IC Catholic Prep junior Omar Samayoa (12-2), who was ranked tenth, in the quarterfinals before being edged by Nelson. He defeated Miller again, this time by a 7-3 score, before capturing a one-point win over Hedges for third place.
“I feel like I could have done better in the semis and won it in overtime but it was a matter of one takdown to win a match or lose a match,” Finch said. “I was in on a lot of shots, I just could never finish and I have to work on that. I have two more years to get to the top of the podium. My brother Reese, a senior, was a great partner and he helped me out a lot and taught me a lot about the sport. He’s a little bigger than me, so he could push me.”
Hedges (48-4), who took fourth at the IWCOA finals in 2021, joined champion Joseph Norton (170) and fifth-place Maddux Steele (106) as medalists for the Little Giants, who tied a school mark set in 2009 for most state placers with three. Hedges beat Coal City freshman Brock Smith (35-16) 10-0 in his opener before losing by sudden victory to Nelson in the quarterfinals. He won by technical fall and then a 12-0 major decision over Roxana freshman Brandon Green, Jr. before pinning Grennan in 1:15. Despite battling throughout a third-place match that featured numerous delays for his injuries, he only lost by a 6-5 score to Jude Finch. Hedges got a victory in the El Paso-Gridley Sectional 57-24 win over Kewanee and claimed his 50th win in his team’s 42-23 loss to Lena-Winslow/Stockton in their initial appearance in the IHSA Dual Team Finals.
Grennan (13-5), a junior who took third at 120 last season and third at 113 in the IWCOA finals in 2021, claimed fifth place with a 3-1 decision over Miller (46-7), a senior who fell one win shy of placing last year, bounced back from his opening loss to Jude Finch to win three-straight matches in the consolation bracket, including a 2-0 tiebreaker over Tremont sophomore Bowden Delaney (42-6), to become his program’s first medal winner since 2016. Roxana freshman Green, Jr. (35-5) and Oakwood/Salt Fork sophomore Rangel (32-9) both lost in consolation round three to fall one win shy of a state medal.
132 – Phoenix Blakely, Dakota
While Phoenix Blakely wasn’t acknowledged as being a four-time state champion, the three-time IHSA title winner and 2021 IWCOA champion considers himself to be in the same class as his uncle, Josh Alber, and also Seth Milks, who both won four titles at Dakota. Blakely, who took first place at 126 last year and won titles at 120 in both 2021 and 2020, took top honors at 132 when he captured an 11-4 decision over Marian Central Catholic sophomore Vance Williams.
Although the IHSA held state finals in some sports in 2020-21, it did not have a state finals for wrestling, so the Illinois Wrestling Coaches and Officials Association hosted its own competition which has been accepted by many in the sport as having been a legitimate state championship.
Blakely, top-ranked at 132, finished with a 42-1 record with his lone loss coming against Rich Township’s Nasir Bailey (43-1), the Class 3A champion at 138 who also won a third IHSA title to go with one from Texas in 2021, in the Dvorak finals. Blakely also won five tournament titles.
After opening with a fall in 3:09 over Oakwood/Salt Fork sophomore Carter Chambliss, Blakely captured a victory by technical fall in 4:00 over Coal City senior Jake Piatak in the quarterfinals and followed that with another win by technical fall in 4:27 over Vandalia’s Dillon Hinton, who was ranked fifth, in the semifinals. That set up the championship match with Williams, who was ranked third. The victory was the third in three title matches for the Indians, who had earlier received first-place finishes from Noah Wenzel at 220 and from TJ Silva at 126.
“This is my biggest accomplishment,” Blakely said. “It’s been my main goal since I was a little kid, so this is huge. It’s something that’s tough to do, it’s not easy. Dakota is the greatest 1A program that there ever was. I don’t know yet (about the future), it’s whatever comes my way. It was a perfect career for me. It would have been a little better if I didn’t lose as much, but I’ll settle for it.”
Williams (41-8), a sophomore who placed fourth last year at 132, was one of four medalists for the program that’s co-coached by Ryan Prater and Jordan Blanton and he is just the eighth Hurricane who has competed in a state championship match. The pair also met a week ago in the title match at the Oregon Sectional, where Blakely was a winner by technical fall. Williams got to the title mat following a 7-0 decision in the semifinals over St. Joseph-Ogden sophomore Holden Brazelton, who was ranked seventh. After recording a fall in 1:12 in his opener over Murphysboro sophomore Bryce Edwards (43-11), he won 12-6 in the quarterfinals over Clinton sophomore Cayden Poole, who was ranked eighth.
“I didn’t know what it was going to be like,” Williams said of the Grand March. “They hadn’t done anything like that in IKWF, it was awesome. It’s super fun learning from them (Blanton and Prater), especially with what they’ve learned and what they know works, it’s really paying off. Our team really seemed to flourish and blend together, especially with the help of them. Having them really bond with us and really show us how it all works.”
Brazelton (49-3), who finished sixth last season at 120, captured third place with an 8-3 decision over Polo/Milledgeville/Forreston/Eastland senior Wyatt Doty, who was ranked second. With the two medals in his first two seasons, Brazelton already is just the fifth Spartan to be All-State two or more times and none had gotten two medals in their first two seasons. After claiming a 15-1 major decision in his opener over Reed-Custer junior Sam Begler, Brazelton edged Doty 4-3 in the quarterfinals and then fell to Williams. Brazelton won a 6-2 decision over Piatak to advance to the third-place match.
“It was a tough match,” Brazelton said of Doty. “He’s a tough kid and he’s really strong. I just came out sharp in this match since I had to get the job done. I feel like I wrestled great and I wrestled smart. Last year as a freshman, I was just happy to be here and I got into a position where I could place. I came back this year with higher expectations and I wanted to do better as a sophomore, and that’s what I did.”
Doty (44-6), who was making his third-straight state appearance and placed third at 126 last season, recorded a fall in 0:42 in his opener over Roxana freshman Logan Riggs (32-15) before getting bumped into the consolation bracket by Brazelton. In the wrestlebacks, he got a pin in 4:32 over Tremont junior Mason Mark (44-8), who was ranked sixth, and then won by fall in 1:06 over Poole before capturing a 9-2 decision over Hinton. He’s just the fourth Marco to be a two-time All-Starter and the athlete from Eastland is the first to pull off that feat since 2006.
Hinton (46-7), a freshman, was one of three medal winners for coach Jason Clay’s Vandals. He took fifth place with a 10-2 major decision over Piatak. Hinton captured an 11-6 decision over Harvard senior Marques Merida (39-9) in his opener and then won 8-2 over Illini Bluffs junior Ian O’Connor (45-9), who was ranked ninth, in the quarterfinals. Piatak (9-4), who suffered a dislocated elbow in the first week of the season, defeated Mark 6-0 in his first match and then won twice in the wrestlebacks, pinning Edwards in 1:22 to assure himself of a medal, becoming one of the four all-staters for coach Mark Masters’ Coalers, who went on to capture their first state championship one week later at the IHSA Dual Team Finals in Bloomington.
138 – Mason Tieffel, Benton
A year ago, Mason Tieffel didn’t feel like he performed very well in the 126 title match, where he lost by technical fall to Phoenix Blakely. Motivated by that performance, on Saturday, the Benton junior capped a 52-2 season by winning the championship at 138 with a 6-2 decision over Newman Central Catholic junior Carter Rude.
Tieffel joins one of his coaches, Zach Wilson, as the Rangers’ second IHSA champion, with Wilson’s title win coming at a similar weight class, 140, in 2008. Benton also recognizes Gabe Craig as a state champion since he claimed first place in 2021 at 285 in the IWCOA finals. Also in the IWCOA finals, Tieffel claimed third place at 120 as a freshman in a weight class that was won by Phoenix Blakely. He joins Peyton Smith and Wilson as the school’s only two-time IHSA placewinners and he is now their initial two-time finalist. His lone losses came against Auburn senior Dresden Grimm, who took third place, in the Carterville Sectional semifinals, and to Mascoutah senior Santino Robinson, who capped a 41-0 season with the Class 2A 132 title.
It was the second time in two years that Tieffel, who was ranked second, and Rude, who was fourth-ranked, met at state, with Tieffel claiming a 5-3 decision over Rude in the quarterfinals in 2022. He earned his spot in Saturday’s finals for another marchup with Rude with a fall in 2:29 over Vandalia senior Owen Miller. The quarterfinals once again proved to be a very critical win for Tieffel as he won 9-7 in sudden victory over Riverdale senior Brock Smith, who was top-ranked and last year’s champion at 132. He kicked off his third state appearance with a 9-1 major decision over IC Catholic Prep junior Bryson Spaulding (11-6).
“That loss last year really motivated me in every practice this year,” Tieffel said. “Coming that close and losing, it’s really tough. One of our coaches, Zach Wilson, also won a title. Being the champ is what I’ve wanted since I was at the beginning of middle school. I’ve wanted it for such a long time and I’ve been close multiple times and I’ve finally been able to do it. People don’t really know wrestling from the south very much, but I’m still going to come in and wrestle as hard as I can.”
Rude (46-6), a junior, also recalls the 2021 IWCOA finals well since that’s where his brother Will captured the title at 138 while he also qualified. Carter Rude took sixth last season at 126. He earned his spot in the championship match with a 10-2 major decision over Grimm, who was third-ranked, after beating Coal City junior Brant Widlowski (22-3), who was ranked seventh, by a 5-0 decision in the quarterfinals and he opened his tournament with a fall in 5:53 over Unity sophomore Kaden Inman (37-16), who was ranked tenth.
“It was fun and I’m proud of how far I came, but I’m not satisfied,” Rude said. “As siblings, we always had that competition and wanted to go against each other. I always wanted to be better than him and he wanted to be better than me.”
Grimm (39-3), a four-time qualifier who was third last year at 132 and took sixth in the IWCOA finals, finished in third place again. Before falling to Rude in the semifinals, he had only lost close matches to Smith and Tieffel. In the wrestlebacks, he won 6-2 over Smith and then recorded a fall in 4:24 over Miller. He opened his tournament with a fall over DePaul College Prep’s Alex Johnson and won a 6-0 decision in the quarterfinals over Dakota junior Jason Bowers, who was ranked fifth. He joined state champion Joey Ruzic (120) and runner-up Cole Edie (285) as medalists for Auburn, who advanced to the dual team finals for the third time after beating Cahokia 48-32 in the Vandalia Sectional. The Trojans lost 49-27 to eventual runner-up Yorkville Christian in the quarterfinals and Grimm claimed wins in his team’s final duals.
“It would have been nice if we had three guys (in the finals), but you kind of have to wrestle with the hand that you’re dealt,” Grimm said. “I came back and got third, but that’s not what I wanted. I was crushed last night and with my dad just talking. Looking back on this in a couple of years, I can at least be happy that I got third and not sixth.”
Miller (43-11), who took fourth place, won a 5-3 decision over Reed-Custer sophomore Jeremy Eggleston (38-11) in his opener and then prevailed 3-1 by sudden victory over Illini Bluffs sophomore Jackson Carroll (47-8), who was ranked ninth, in the quarterfinals.
Smith (53-3) took fifth place with a a 7-2 decision over Bowers, equalling his finish in 2020 at 113, to close his career as one of the six individuals from Riverdale who won three state medals, joining senior teammate Collin Altensey, another returning state champion, who placed second at 160. His lone loss before the weekend came against Rich Township’s Nasir Bailey, the Class 3A champion at 138, in the finals at Geneseo. Bowers (37-13) was one of four medal winners for Dakota with Noah Wenzel, TJ Silva and Phoenix Blakely winning state titles.
145 – Paul Ishikawa, Illini Bluffs
After winning an IWCOA title at 126 in 20221 and then being disappointed with a fourth-place finish at 138 a year ago, Paul Ishikawa has been focused all season to get back to top of the awards stand, this time at 145 pounds at the IHSA State Finals, and he got the job done.
The Illini Bluffs senior who was a four-time qualifier and top ranked at his weight, capped a perfect 51-0 season by beating Oakwood/Salt Fork senior Reef Pacot, who was ranked second, in the 145 title match by a 3-1 score in sudden victory after getting a takedown with 22 seconds remaining. Ishikawa, who won eight tournament titles this season, advanced to the finals with a 4-2 decision over Herrin’s Blue Bishop, who was ranked eighth, in the semifinals.
Ishikawa opened with a win by technical fall in 4:47 over Nazareth Academy junior Andrew Fowler and then recorded a fall in 3:16 in the quarterfinals over Murphysboro junior Liam Fox (41-13). He was one of two finalists and medalists for his program, with Hunter Robbins taking second at 106 while Jackson Carroll fell one win shy of getting a medal at 138. Ishikawa and Robbins become the fourth and fifth individuals to be two-time IHSA medalists for their school.
“The state tournament is an upset tournament and I wasn’t trying to get upset, so I wrestled my butt off,” Ishikawa said. “51-0. The State Farm Center goes crazy and it’s amazing. Reef is a great kid and I hope that one day he gets to win a state title. We’re both seniors and hopefully we’ll be national champs some day. I’ll say this, they didn’t want to put on a show, you had to wrestle where you wanted to wrestle and most kids wanted to wrestle somewhere. The IWCOA was a tough tournament, it was a state tournament.”
Pacot (47-3) placed at a state finals for the fourth-straight year with this being his highest finish. He was fifth at 132 a year ago and sixth at 106 in 2020 while taking fourth at 120 in the IWCOA finals in 2021, to become the first individual in his program to win three IHSA medals. Two of his defeats came against Ishikawa. He earned his spot on the title mat with a 6-2 semifinals win over Stillman Valley’s Aiden Livingston, who was ranked ninth. After opening with a 10-4 decision over Princeton’s Augie Christiansen, who was ranked third, in his opener, he won by technical fall in 5:38 in the quarterfinals over Peotone junior Ian Kreske (37-18). In the next week, Pacot closed his career competing in the Dual Team Finals, as his program qualified for the first time with a 46-31 win over Anna-Jonesboro in the sectional. A 39-31 win over IC Catholic Prep assured the Comets of a trophy and they took fourth place after falling to Yorkville Christian and Lena-Winslow/Stockton as Pacot added four wins to reach 51 for the season.
“I came out with second, my best place yet, but I was a little short and what can you do about it? You’ve just got to keep moving on,” Pacot said. “We’ve wrestled against each other and we’ve wrestled on state teams against each other. But he has got such a weird style that I have to wrestle against and it’s only him. You just have to go out and wrestle your match, that’s all that you can do. Our program has grown a lot and hopefully we can go to team state.”
Christiansen (50-6), a senior who not only finally qualified for state but also placed, took third with an 8-4 decision over Bishop in his final match, his fourth-straight win in the consolation bracket after losing his opener to Pacot. He got a fall in 1:09 over Coal City senior Mataeo Blessing (43-5), who was ranked fourth, before pinning Livingston in 2:36. Bishop (47-4), a junior who took sixth last year at 132, won 6-5 by ultimate tiebreaker in the quarterfinals over Blessing. He also won 5-3 over Yorkville Christian senior Drew Torza (38-18) to reach the third-place mat. Bishop is the fourth individual from Herrin to win two or more state medals.
” You have to go one match at a time, especially here, where you have multiple days that you have to worry about,” Christiansen said. “You just have to keep going and have no quit. I didn’t make it out of regionals last year”
Livingston (31-8), a senior, claimed fifth place with a fall in 5:22 over Torza. In his third state trip, Livingston got his first medal after winning a 3-0 decision over Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley/Fisher junior Carson Maxey (36-7) to reach the semifinals. Torza, who placed fourth at the IWCOA in 2021, won two decisions in the wrestlebacks to capture his initial IHSA medal. Richmond-Burton junior Brody Rudkin (39-10) and Blessing both fell one win shy of getting medals.
152 – Marco Spinazzola, Peotone
As the 152 pound title match concluded, Marco Spinazzola stood around for a few seconds wondering whether or not he was a state champion. After some consultations with the officials and timers, it was finally determined that he should be the one that was getting his hand raised following another exciting match with a frequent opponent from his area, Luke Christie.
Spinazzola (40-3), a senior at Peotone who was ranked fifth, and Christie (35-5), a senior at Bishop McNamara, who was ranked fourth, went all the way to the ultimate tiebreaker before Spinazzola was awarded a last-second escape to claim a 2-1 victory. The Blue Devils’ four-time qualifier placed sixth at 138 last year for his first medal. He joins Joey Izzi and Paul Keene as Peotone champions and became the sixth individual from the school to win two or more medals.
Spinazzola had another dramatic match in the semifinals, winning 2-1 by sudden victory over Lena-Winslow/Stockton senior Garrett Luke, who was ranked second and was last year’s champion at 145 and a winner of three other state medals. In the quarterfinals, Spinazzola won a 6-3 decision over Erie/Prophetstown senior Jase Grunder, who was top-ranked. In his opening match, he won by technical fall in 4:45 over Roxana junior Braden Johnson.
“I’d never really been that deep into a match before, so I didn’t know what happened,” Spinazzola said. “I looked over at my coach and he started celebrating and I’m like, ‘does this mean I won?’ I said wait a minute, don’t start cheering yet, we don’t know for sure. Honestly, overtime is one thing, but that was deep into the match that I didn’t know where I was. He was 100 percent the best opponent that I’ve ever had in my entire life. We’d been wrestling almost consecutively every other weekend. He’s been the guy who’s given me the most run for my money. At sectional, he beat me 13-6 and the week before I beat him 3-2 and the first time we wrestled he beat me 11-3. He deserves everything that he’s gotten. He’s one of the nicest guys that I’ve ever talked to.”
Christie (35-5), who placed fourth last season at 152 and also a four-time qualifier, hoped to be a champion like his brother Blain, who won the IWCOA title in 2021. The finalists split their four matches with Christie winning the first matchup and the sectional with Spinazzola prevailing in the regional and state finals. Christie reached the finals with a 5-3 decision over Marian Central Catholic’s Ethan Struck, who was ranked sixth. After winning by technical fall in 5:44 over Westville’s Houston Bryant in his opener, Christie won a 15-4 major decision over Stillman Valley’s Jack Seacrist, who was ranked third.
“I never want to lose, obviously, and especially to a guy that’s local,” Christie said. “I want to be the best in my area and the best in my state, right? So it sucks, but at the same time, props to him. I would say that people in the crowd thought it was intense because it was state finals. But there were a lot of things going through my head. I’ve been wrestling since I was six years old and have been in overtime a million times. No excuses, he beat me. You never want to lose on a controversial call but I should have held on a second longer, I should have scored earlier in the match, there were a lot of things that I should have done.”
Luke (53-3) bounced back from his tough semifinals loss to Spinazzola to place third with a 7-3 decision over Struck. Luke, a returning state champion, took second in the IWCOA finals and also was third as a freshman. He followed a win by technical fall with a 16-2 major decision over IC Catholic Prep’s Joseph Gliatta before getting edged by Spinazzola. But he closed strong with a 5-2 decision over Seacrist to reach the third-place mat. Only one other athlete from his program, Rahveon Valentine, from 2015-18, has won four medals in state competition. Luke went 3-0 in his final week and helped his program to claim their fourth trophy after they beat Marian Central to qualify for the dual team finals and they won 42-23 over Canton, lost 46-14 to eventual champion Coal City and beat Oakwood/Salt Fork 46-23 to claim third place.
“Last year I was a state champ and had a tough semifinal match,” Luke said. “Coming back and losing in the semis was obviously tough, but I wrestled back and took third. I’ve been really fortunate. My freshman year, I didn’t expect much and came out with third place and that kind of opened my eyes to a brand new horizon. And obviously, the last three years I’ve been pushing it, and it’s paid off.”
Struck (37-15), a senior who last qualified in his freshman year, used two decisions to reach the semifinals, winning 9-2 over Macomb senior Carter Hoge (45-9) and 5-0 over Oakwood/Salt Fork junior Bryson Capansky (41-10) in the quarterfinals before being edged by Christie. He won 2-1 by ultimate tiebreaker over Grunder to reach the third place mat.
Grunder (50-6), a senior who placed fourth at 145 last year and was making his third state trip, overcame his quarterfinals loss to the eventual champion by winning two close matches in the wrestlebacks, winning 2-1 over Coal City sophomore Landin Benson (23-7) in a tiebreaker and then winning 3-1 over Gliatta to assure that he would get another medal. Only six other athletes from Erie or Prophetstown have won two or more state medals. Seacrist (36-7), a senior who took second place at 152 a year ago, bounced back from his quarterfinals loss to Christie by recording falls in the consolation bracket over Unity sophomore Ryan Rink (37-18) and Johnson to assure himself of a second medal. Gliatta and Johnson both fell one win shy of getting to the awards stand.
160 – Dax Gentes, El Paso-Gridley
While Dax Gentes wasn’t one of the favorites to capture top honors at 160, that didn’t discourage him from putting together an impressive tournament run where he beat three-straight opponents that were ranked ahead of him in his quest to be a state champion.
The El Paso-Gridley senior improved to 52-1 on the season after defeating a returning state champion, Riverdale senior Collin Altensey, who also was top-ranked, with an 11-3 decision in the 160 championship match. Gentes, who was ranked fifth and won his first state medal, jumped out to an early 5-0 lead over the 2022 champion at 152 and 2020 state placewinner, Altensey, who was unable to recover from the early deficit as he suffered his second defeat,
Gentes, who won eight tournament titles this season, earned his spot in the finals with a 7-4 decision over Marian Central Catholic’s Max Astacio, who was ranked third, and he also claimed a 6-3 win in the quarterfinals over Vandalia’s Eric McKinney, who was ranked fourth, avenging his only defeat of the season. He opened the competition with a fall in 1:15 over St. Laurence senior Henry Coughlin. As a result, Gentes, who fell one win shy of winning a medal last season and was making his third state appearance, becomes one of six athletes from El Paso or El Paso-Gridley to win an IHSA title. He got a forfeit win in his final match at his school when his team faced LeRoy/Tri-Valley in the sectional.
“I knew that he was the defending state champ and obviously people expected me to be the underdog coming into this match, but I knew that we both deserved to be here and I had a tough ride to the finals,” Gentes said. “I knew that I was going to have to push the pace and give it my all for six minutes hard to win.
“I figured I might try a flip or something scrambly and he ended up on his back and I knew from having been in that position, so I was just comfortable there, stay in bounds, keep him on his back and hold him there. Getting that point lead was a huge advantage for me and I knew at that point I had just had to keep dominating and scoring more points.
“This has been awesome. I was telling everyone, all of my family and friends that no matter what, I was just going to have fun. This is a tough sport and people get beat up all day and you see people ending their seasons. But at the end of the day, you just have to have fun and live with it. I love the sport and obviously I hate losing, but win or lose, I was going to have fun. I’d love to continue my athletics career in wrestling in college.”
Altensey (53-2), who along with classmate Brock Smith, were hoping to join two others from Riverdale who won two or more titles, but instead, the program got a title from a freshman Dean Wainwright, who took top honors at 106. Altensey, who also placed fifth in 2020 and won five titles this season, got wins by technical fall in his first three matches, needing 3:40 to beat Lawrenceville senior Brian Seed (43-9), going 3:11 to win over Hoopeston Area sophomore Angel Zamora (41-12) and then needing 1:58 to defeat Shelbyville’s Will Fox (35-9). He picked up one final win on Tuesday when his team met eventual runner-up Yorkville Christian in the Oregon Sectional.
Yorkville Christian senior Tyler Martinez (45-6), who was ranked second, took third place for the third-straight year after bouncing back from a first-round loss to McKinney with five-straight wins in the wrestlebacks. He assured himself of another medal with a 5-1 decision over Carlinville senior Jake Schwartz (42-6), who was ranked seventh, and claimed a 3-1 victory over Astacio to again face McKinney, and he avenged his earlier defeat with a 3-1 win by sudden victory.
“This was my third year doing this and I had a tough loss on the front side of the bracket,” Martinez said. “But I think I’m like 15-0 on the backside of the bracket. We’re looking to repeat down in Bloomington as a team and bring home another state championship for the school. I might not win one by myself, but as a team, I know that we have more than enough.”
McKinney (50-5), a senior who was making his third state appearance and won his first medal, bounced back from his quarterfinals loss to Gentes with decisions over Coal City senior Jack Poyner (36-14), who was ranked tenth, Manteno junior Carter Watkins (32-8), who was ranked ninth, and Fox, who was ranked sixth, to reach the third-place mat.
Astacio (42-10), a junior who earned his first state medal, took fifth place with a fall in 4:44 over Fox (35-9), a senior who also was a first-time all-stater. Astacio used a fall and a 7-1 decision over Watkins to reach the semifinals, where he lost a close match to Gentes. Fox won 5-4 in sudden victory over Lena-Winslow/Stocton junior Jared Dvorak (45-9) and was an 8-4 winner over Deer Creek-Mackinaw senior Gage Sweckard (41-13) before falling to Altensey. Schwartz and Watkins both fell one shy of receiving a medal.
170 – Joseph Norton, Canton
After finishing in third place a year ago at 170 and also placing third at the IWCOA finals, Joseph Norton was determined that he was going to be a state champion in his final season, but there was just one problem, a returning state champion stood in his way.
Undeterred, the Canton senior capped a 51-1 individual season by capturing a 10-6 decision over Yorkville Christian senior Jackson Gillen in the 170 title match to become his program’s third state champion. Gillen, who was top-ranked, won the 170 title a year ago, but second-ranked Norton got off to an early lead in the finals and went on to claim his fifth tournament title. After opening with a fall in 2:26 over Northridge Prep senior Michael Kopecky (24-6), he won a 9-2 decision over Riverdale’s Alex Watson, who was ranked fourth, and then he captured a 12-2 major decision over Cahokia’s Nick Deloach, Jr., who was ranked ninth, to advance to the title mat.
Additional good news for Norton was that his special season was not over yet. On Tuesday, the Little Giants defeated Kewanee 57-24 to advance to the IHSA Dual Team finals in Bloomington. Norton, who added two more victories in the dual meets, has been a leader for coach Zach Crawford’s program and helping his program to their first dual team finals is a fitting ending to his career. Canton fell to Lena-Winslow/Stockton 42-23 on Friday, capping a special season when they won their first regional since 2009 and third ever, had three sectional champions and a record six state qualifiers and had three placewinners and nearly a fourth.
“Last year I was in the three spot because of a loss in that match and this year I came out on top,” Norton said. “I wrestled like I wanted to win, and that’s what I did. (The Grand March) It was so exciting and when I was out there, I felt like my legs were all jelly. I was ready for that match and it just showed out on the mat. We had a great team with great teammates, it was a whole family. As of right now, I don’t know if I’ll keep wrestling, but whatever happens happens.”
Gillen (42-7), who was vying for his fifth tournament title of the season, reached the finals with a fall in 3:20 over Unity’s Kyle Root, who was sixth-ranked. He opened with a pin in 1:15 over
Murphysboro senior Dayton Hoffman (37-3), who was ranked eighth, and then won 12-4 over Coal City senior Derek Carlson, who was fifth-ranked, in the quarterfinals. He suffered his first loss to an Illinois competitor in the Oregon Sectional semifinals to Fulton’s Zane Pannell and then couldn’t compete in the third-place match there. But Gillen continued his season as his team looked to repeat as state champions. He added four more wins to his total as the Mustangs beat Riverdale 42-28 in the Oregon Sectional, Auburn 49-27 in the quarterfinals and Oakwood/Salt Fork 47-24 in the semifinals before falling 32-31 to Coal City in the state championship dual meet.
Panell (52-2), a senior who was ranked third, improved on last year’s fifth-place finish at 170 by taking third place with a fall in 3:46 over Root. Pannell, who won seven tournaments this season, opened with a fall in 2:30 over Robinson senior Jared Hermann (40-6) but then lost an 8-4 decision to Root in the quarterfinals. He bounced back with four-straight wins in the consolation bracket, capped by a 7-3 decision over Carlson and a fall in 5:39 over Deloach Jr. before avenging his earlier loss to Root. While Pannell fell short of winning a title like his brother Eli did in 2019, he joins him and three others as Steamers who won two or more state medals.
“Wrestling the same guys again makes me feel better because I have another shot at winning,” Pannell said. “I would have rather got first like my brother (Eli), who got first in his senior year. My goal was to always beat him.”
In his third state appearance, Root (48-8), a senior, was able to get a medal, which was for fourth place. After opening with a fall in 2:37 over Seneca senior Colin Wright (41-14), Root won 8-4 over Pannell before getting pinned by Gillen in the semifinals.Then he beat Watson with a 7-2 decision to reach the third-place mat.
Deloach Jr. (42-10), who’s a senior, earned his first medal and took fifth place with a 4-3 decision over Watson (50-8), a senior who took fifth at 160 a year ago and was one of Riverdale’s four medalists. Falling one win shy of state medals were Reed-Custer junior Rex Pfeifer (45-7) and Coal City senior Derek Carlson (36-8).
A little old, a little new highlighted Class 3A dual team field
By Mike Garofola
This year’s Class 3A field of the IHSA Dual Team State Tournament in Bloomington featured several schools that had been away from the competition for some time, as well as a couple that were making their state debuts.
One team that had one of the longest droughts of any of the eight in the Class 3A finals was St. Charles East, which had made two prior appearances, placing third in 1997 under IWCOA Hall of Fame coach Mick Ruettiger, who was on hand this weekend, and then falling in the quarterfinals in its last visit in 2001, when Steve Smerz was the head coach.
Not only did the Fighting Saints’ 22-year absence from the state finals come to an end this year, the program advanced to the championship for the first time and defeated Marmion Academy 28-24 on Saturday at Grossinger Motors Arena to capture their first state title in the sport.
Coach Jason Potter’s Saints (22-1), who only lost one dual meet all season to eventual Class 2A runner-up Joliet Catholic Academy, edged defending champion Mount Carmel 32-30 in the quarterfinals before beating Yorkville 44-25 in the semifinals to earn their spot against Marmion.
Coach Anthony Cirrincione’s Cadets (18-2) also suffered a loss to JCA. Marmion had last been in the state finals in 2019, when they capped a run of seven-straight state appearances from 2013-2019 under coaches Ryan Cumbee, Donald Reynolds and Nathan Fitzenreider, that featured two second- and two third-place finishes.
Marmion, which beat Hersey 36-31 in the quarterfinals, advanced to the championship match for just the third time following a 36-30 semifinals victory over Lockport, who took third place. This equalled Marmion’s best previous finishes, second in 2013 under Cumbee and second in 2016 under Reynolds.
In the title meet, the Saints got wins from Ben Davino (126), Tyler Guerra (138), Jayden Colon (145), Lane Robinson (170), Brody Murray (182), Dom Munaretto (106) and AJ Marino (120) while the Cadets countered with victories from Jameson Garcia (132), Tegan Chumbley (152), Collin Carrigan (160), Jack Lesher (195), Teddy Perry (220), Sean Scheck (285) and Nicholas Garcia (113).
St. Charles East had a fall from Davino, a forfeit win by Munaretto and major decisions from Colon and Marino to go with three decisions while Marmion had a win by technical fall from Perry and a major decision from Lesher along with five decisions.
Lockport beat Yorkville 45-16 to claim third place. The Porters (19-9) are coached by Jameson Oster while the Foxes (18-7) are coached by Jake Oster. It’s the first time in the history of the dual team tournament that teams coached by brothers met on the final weekend. In 1989 in AA, Bill Cartwright’s Proviso East team took fourth while Jim Cartwright’s Conant squad lost in the quarterfinals to eventual champion Providence Catholic but the brothers’ squads did not meet.
A year ago, the Porters were coached by Josh Oster, the oldest brother of the three, and they beat Yorkville 39-24 in the St. Laurence Sectional to advance to Bloomington, where they took third place. That was the first time that programs led by two brothers squared off to see whose team would reach the quarterfinals.
This was the eight state appearance for and the fifth trophy won by Lockport, which took first place in 2017, third place in 2016, 2022 and 2023 and fourth place in 2015, with the previous qualifying teams and trophy winners all coached by Josh Oster.
Yorkville was making its sixth state appearance and its first trip since 2012 in the dual team tournament, and it has placed all six times that it qualified, taking first place in 1993 and 1994 in Class A and third place in 1995 in Class A under Bob Long and second place in 2A in 2009 under Shane Darnell and in second place in 2A in 2012 under Joe Fornell. The Foxes also won a state title in 1976, took second place in 1974, 1977 and 1978 and claimed third place in 1979 when the individual tournament was scored.
In the third-place meet, the Porters got wins from Logan Kaminski (138), Chris Miller (152), Durango Valles (160), Logan Swaw (170), Aidan Nolting (182), Payton Roberson (195), Wojciech Chrobak (285), Dominic Vukobratovich (106), Isaac Zimmerman (113) and Liam Zimmerman (120) with the Zimmermans and Roberson getting pins and Miller, Valles, Nolting and Chrobak winning major decisions. The Foxes’ winners were Dominic Recchia (126), Jack Ferguson (132), Ryder Janeczko (145) and Ben Alvarez (220), with Alvarez getting a fall and Janeczko a major decision.
In one semifinals, Marmion trailed Lockport 12-3 through four matches after the Porters got wins from Anthony Sutton (120), Liam Zimmerman (126) and Kaminski (138) while Jameson Garcia (132) won for the Cadets. But Marmion won six of the final 10 matches to reach the title dual. Winning those latter matches were Santino Scolaro (145), Carrigan (160), Lesher (182), Perry (220), Scheck (285) and Nicholas Garcia (106) while Valles (152), Swaw (170), Nolting (195) and Vukobratovich (113) won for Lockport.
In the other semifinals, St. Charles East won six of the first seven matches to take a 32-3 lead and went on to claim a 44-25 victory over Yorkville. Getting wins for the Saints were Logan Tatar (120), Davino (126), Guerra (138), Colon (145), Gavin Connolly (145), Anthony Gutierrez (160), Murray (182), Brandon Swartz (195) and Munaretto (106). The Foxes got wins from Recchia (126), Luke Zook (170), Alvarez (220), Logan Fenoglio (285) and Liam Fenoglio (113).
Two teams made their tournament debuts, York (24-10) and Warren (15-5). Coach Nick Metcalf’s York Dukes fell 43-25 to Yorkville in the quarterfinals while coach Brad Janecek’s Warren Blue Devils lost 46-18 to Lockport in that same round.
York received wins from Jake Kubycheck (113), Zach Parisi (120), Sean Berger (132), Evan Grazzini (182) and Dominic Begora (285) in its loss to Yorkville. Meanwhile, Warren got victories from Carlos Ordonez (113), Aaron Stewart (152), Justice Humphries (170) and Anthony Soto (220) in its loss to Lockport.
Defending state champion Mount Carmel (10-4) made its 14th state finals appearance but was unable to capture a trophy for only the fifth time after allowing falls in its last two matches to see a 30-20 lead over St. Charles East turn into a 32-30 defeat. This was the third team that coach Alex Tsirtsis has taken the Caravan to state with last year’s squad winning the title and the 2020 team taking second place.
Winning matches for the Caravan against St. Charles East were Lukas Tsirtsis (113), Seth Mendoza (120), Jairo Acuna (132), Sergio Lemley (138), Edmund Enright (152), Colin Kelly (170), Rylan Breen (182) and William Jacobson (220). Mount Carmel won eight matches but was outscored 14-6 in bonus points by the eventual state champion.
Hersey (12-5) came up a bit short against Marmion in its third state appearance and first since 1997. Getting wins for the Huskies were Anthony Orozco (120), Max Mukhamedaliyev (132), Fortis Variano (170), Anthony Cambia (195), Oleg Simakov (285) and Dan Lehman (106).
Coach Joe Rupslauk led Hersey to the dual team state finals for the first time since 1997 and this was the program’s third state appearance.
From the moment that Hersey opened its doors, wrestling became a force in the area and around the state. Under head coach Tom Porter, the Huskies lifted the IHSA championship trophy in 1971, and 1972, while celebrating state titles from Jim Battaglia, plus a pair from Brad Smith, with Tad DeLuca, Kevin Pancrate and Pat Teefey all collecting state medals as well.
After that, the program would go through a long dry spell, with Rick Mann leading his 1993 and 1997 clubs to dual team state, only to be eliminated with first-round defeats.
So you can imagine how ecstatic Rupslauks’ sixth-ranked men were when they went by league rival Prospect, 34-21 last Tuesday before a big crowd in the intimate setting of Marlowe Middle School in nearby Lake in the Hills at the Huntley Dual Team Sectional.
“This win tonight is a product of a group of young men, and their families, who have made the commitment to each other, our coaching staff, and the Hersey wrestling program, and right now, I cannot tell you how proud I am of all these guys,” said Rupslauk, before his club climbed to the top of the bleachers for a photo op from a thrilled group of fans, families and peers.
“Tonight was a culmination of so many of us putting the extra work in all throughout the offseason at camps, training, and out-of-town tournaments, it’s a great way for the seniors to go out and for the guys coming back, just a great experience, and accomplishment,” said senior Aaron Hernandez, a two-time state qualifier, who helped his club easily win the Dundee-Crown Regional to advance into this sectional.
Hernandez opened this contest with a 6-5 decision over four-time state qualifier Damien Puma to start what would be an early intense, tight dual between two longtime MSL East rivals that had the No. 7 Knights (20-8-0) chasing a one-point lead by the Knights after Ben Erhabor came back to beat Conor Mitchell, 9-8.
“(This) is just an amazing feeling right now,” said the four-year veteran Erhabor, who will attend the University of Michigan in the fall, and will enter the Nursing Program there. “We all believe in ourselves, and each other, and the support we’ve received from the coaching staff, school, and parents has made our room feel like a real family so I am not surprised by our success at all.”
“Ben is quite a young man,” Rupslauk said. “He’s the consummate leader (he) stayed back with coach (Jim) Wormsley to run training sessions for us, instead of coming to the state tournament, and made sure that everyone was mentally, and physically ready for Prospect tonight.”
The Huskies would go in search of increasing their lead and after the state qualifying trio of Oleg Simakov (285, 41-10), Danny Lehman (106, 37-11) and Abdullokh Khakimov (113, 36-14) recorded a pin, technical fall and major decision, the MSL champs were suddenly leading 24-8.
“Those four-straight wins were big for us, but when Max (Mukhamedaliyev, 126, 38-17) and James Shaffer (132, 29-19) gave us two big wins after (Joel) Muehlenbeck’s at 120 kind of slowed us down a bit,” said Rupslauk.
Muehlenbeck (34-13) earned his first state medal of his career, along with Jaxon Penovich (45-7) who capped a marvelous rookie season with a fifth-place medal at 195.
With the score standing at 31-11 in favor of the Huskies, impossible for the Knights to overcome, Rupslauk decided not to forfeit his last three matches in order to give Prospect star Will Baysingar (51-1) one last high school match.
“(That) was a real classy move on behalf of Joe, and his staff to allow the last three weight divisions to wrestle, especially (Will) who in most cases would have had to take a forfeit with the match way out of hand,” said Prospect head coach, Dan Keller, whose club crushed the field at the Fremd Regional to advance to this dual team sectional.
“Will has had an unbelievable career, he’s been the face of Prospect wrestling, and will leave here as the leader in wins, pins, takedowns, and just about every other statistic, while being a tremendous leader, and role model for others to follow.
“It would have been tough to be unable to wrestle one last time in high school, so I really appreciate what Rupslauk, and his team did in order to go out there tonight,” said Baysingar, who after his pin midway through the second period, went through the entire line of Huskies along the edge to accept their best wishes, before receiving a big bear hug from Keller on the Knights’ side.
“I don’t leave with any regrets,” said Baysingar, who will wrestle at Illinois next fall. “I won four state medals, one state title, and was state runner-up these past two years, but it’s been a great experience while here with a great bunch of teammates along the way, and coaching staff, and I believe I’ve been able to give back so much to our program, and hopefully helped lead the way for the next group coming through.”
On the other side of this cozy gym, a young, and ever-improving No. 14 Warren (15-4-0) got off to a flying start and never looked back as it overwhelmed Belvidere co-op, 60-16, to earn a berth in the 3A dual team state quarterfinals for the first time in program history.
The Blue Devils took inspiration from a thrilling 2-1 overtime victory by its rookie sensation Royce Lopez over three-time state qualifier, and recent state medalist Antonio Alvarado (52-3), who finished third in Champaign at 145, but bumped to 160 on this night where he faced Lopez (38-12) who was one win away from grabbing a state medal last weekend.
“It was the perfect way for us to get going tonight,” said Warren coach Brad Janecek, whose club has just two seniors on its roster, and five freshmen and sophomores, all of whom would be key figures in the Blue Devils capturing the Lake County Invite, then the Grant Regional to win a berth in this dual team sectional.
“Our program was really awful the last couple of years, but with the influx of two great freshmen like (Royce) and Aaron Stewart, plus a coaching staff that trains us so differently, and in so many ways, things turned around really quick for us,” Blue Devils senior Evan Onstad saif.
Onstad (31-7), a state qualifier at 138, was one of eight who recorded a pin on this night, the first coming from Demetrius Lin at 182, followed by a lightning-quick pin from Jeremija Hixson (34-11) at 195.
“This team has really turned around to become a very good wrestling program, it’s exciting to come into the room, and see all of the talent we have – I am really glad I’ll be back next season,” said Hixson, a three-year veteran who also is a defensive end and fullback on the football team.
Colin Young (46-7), one of three from Belvidere co-op who advanced to state, gave his club a brief lead after his pin at 1:59 followed the Lopez victory.
The 6-3 advantage would be short-lived when Lin, Hixson, Caleb VanLeer (forfeit), Anthony Soto (26-9) and Jonathan Marquez (28-6) at 106 went on a 30-0 scoring spree before 106-pound state runner-up, Brayden Teunissen (41-2) stopped the bleeding with his major decision victory at 113.
“(That) was a very good team from Warren we faced,” said Belvidere co-op head coach, Danny Martinez, who had just three seniors in a lineup that won its second straight NIC-10 conference title, and first regional crown since 2004.
“Despite this loss, we have brighter days ahead of us because we’re so young, and we have so many terrific guys coming back including Brayden and Colin, of course, and a bunch of guys who have really come around this season.”
“Nobody likes to have their season end the way it did tonight, but we had a really good year (and) to get to this dual team sectional says a lot about this team, and the way we’ve come together to get this far,” began Alvarado, a three-time state qualifier, who was fifth last season.
“I hope to wrestle next fall, Illinois is my first choice, but right now I am still sorting things out as far as where I’ll go to college,” continued Alvarado, who won six majors this season, including Barrington’s Moore-Prettyman, Sycamore, conference, regionals and sectionals.
Belvidere sophomore Dominick Girardin won his 30th match of the year with a pin at 145, before Aaron Stewart (44-2) continued his extraordinary rookie season when he ended this near-perfect night for the Blue Devils by taking a forfeit at 152.
“We told the guys after we won the Lake County Invite that we still had some unfinished business to take care of, and that was winning a regional championship, then qualifying for dual-team state, and the guys have been working hard everyday in the room to accomplish what we set out to do,” said Janecek..
“There are a lot of reasons for us going to state, the dedication to work to be better from the guys has been important, and their willingness to soak up whatever they can from a first-class group of assistants might be the main reason for our success.”
Class 3A State Champions roundup
by Mike Garofola
The 84th running of the boys’ 3A individual wrestling tournament had a little bit of everything throughout three days in Champaign to keep a raucous crowd alive and engaged.
This wrestling marathon produced triumphs, upsets, breakthroughs, overtime thrillers, and enough storylines to fill a 100-page publication.
The northern half of the state would dominate the final session with 14 individual champions, with St. Charles East taking home a trio of big brackets, and Mt. Carmel with two.
The two state powers, who will meet in a dual-team state quarterfinal Friday in Bloomington, combined for 15 overall medals, with Jason Potters’ club leading the way with 9 medals across the weight divisions.
East Suburban Catholic Conference champ Marist and Marmion Academy were next up with four medals each.
So to better commemorate the events of three days of competition, here’s a much closer look at each division’s champ, and its state medal winners:
106: Dom Munaretto, St. Charles East
Dom Munaretto has won on the world stage, and this season dominated on the prep scene. And despite all of his success, the St. Charles East freshman embraced his first-ever IHSA state title as much as anything he has won.
With his all-out attacking assault, savvy, silky smooth set-up, and non-stop pace and energy, Munaretto (50-0) gave the Saints their first of three state titles, with his 19-7 major decision victory over the talented sophomore from Belvidere North, Brayden Teunissen.
“This feels so awesome right now to win my first state championship,” said Munaretto, while becoming a key figure in the Saints advancing to the 3A Dual-Team state tournament for the first time since 2001.
“Wrestling here at St. Charles East is better than I ever expected, and to be a part of a team in a great room with great coaches is something that’s really been a lot of fun,” added Munaretto, who needed a little extra time to break down the aforementioned Teunissen (48-3), who has also enjoyed a sensational season at North, which recently won its first regional title since 2004.
“(Brayden) was a good opponent, but I know he didn’t want me to open up – so he tried to slow me down and tie me up,” Munaretto said. “It was important to be patient, continue to shoot, look to my angles, and just wear him down with my fitness, and pace.”
Munaretto’s plan worked when the lead went from 4-1 at three minutes, to 8-2, then 11-4, before a third-period explosion would guarantee a lop-sided victory.
“Dom is a guy who is always looking to improve – he’s always trying new moves, and pushing his limits on what he can, and cannot do on the mat,” said teammate Ben Davino, who is a frequent partner of Munaretto – who was a 2022 World Champion representing the United States in Rome in the 45kg category, and No. 3 in most national polls.
The next four men after Munaretto and Teunissen all earned their well-deserved first state medals. In order of finish, third- through sixth-place: Rocco Hayes (Sandburg, 41-7); Nicholas Garcia (Marmion Academy, 28-6); Caden Correll (Normal Community, 51-2); and Maddox Garbis (Plainfield North, 42-5).
113: Seth Mendoza, Mt. Carmel
It was time to pull the fire hose out because Seth Mendoza was just burning things up on mat No. 1 on Saturday night.
The Mt. Carmel sophomore kept the Caravan faithful alive and alert with his high energy, all-action attack that gave him a 3-0 lead from early in the second period, to an eventual tech-fall at 5:46, as the now two-time state champion finished off Deion Johnson (33-7) of Homewood-Flossmoor by a score of 23-8.
Mendoza, who recorded a tech-fall in his 106 final last season, registered a trio of tech-falls, including his 2023 title match.
“It’s always about extending my lead during matches,” Mendoza said. “Deion, I knew if I did just that he would have a difficult time keeping up with my pace.”
With clinical precision, Mendoza would pick apart the No. 2-rated Johnson (33-7), who advanced into this final after edging Brady Phelps of Schaumburg, 4-3 in their Saturday morning semifinal.
Phelps (40-2) was sixth a year ago and now added a fifth place medal to his collection.
Dominic Ducato (35-3) who is on his way to wrestle next fall at St. Cloud State, finished off a sensational season and career for head coach Gary Conrad, who is stepping down after 11 seasons in charge at Jacobs.
“I am super proud of both Dom and James Wright (sixth at 138) – I’ve known both since they were eight-years old in kids club,” Conrad said., “For me, it’s a great way to go out with these two great young men, who have been so dedicated to our program, with each having great families to share this experience with.”
Ducato would avenge a 4-2 loss suffered here a year ago at the hands of Ethan Spacht (Bradley-Bourbonnais, 41-7) in the quarterfinals – then defeat Spacht once again for third place with a 3-2 decision.
Batavia junior Ino Garcia (Batavia, 25-9), fourth in 2022, added a sixth-place medal to his resume.
120: Massey Odiotti, Loyola Academy
Up until the arrival of Massey Odiotti, the cupboard was nearly bare of state medals at Loyola Academy, except for a sixth-place finish by Michael Paloian in 2012 at 182.
Following his first appearance at state in 2021, Odiotti was runner-up to three-time state champion Ben Davino in 2022, before turning in a memorable and magnificent final year for the Ramblers that would end with the Northwestern-bound wrestler climbing atop the podium in Champaign.
Odiotti (40-6), the top-ranked man at 120 all season long, would validate his status with a pair of pins to start the tournament, followed by an impressive effort during a 12-2 major in his
semifinal victory over AJ Marino (St. Charles East, 40-9).
That win led to Odiotti’s hand being raised after Lockport freshman Justin Wardlow (41-13) was unable to wrestle due to an injury suffered in his semifinal bout with eventual fourth-place medalist, Teddy Flores of Maine South.
“I would have liked to have wrestled that final – it’s too bad for (Wardlow) – but in the end, I was able to achieve what I came here for,” admitted Odiotti, who won the Dvorak and three other majors along the way.
“Coach (Matt) Collum has been the driving force to our program – he’s the reason for my improvement, and success, as well as our team, which had its best year ever,” said Odiotti.
The Ramblers sent a program high eight wrestlers to the Barrington sectional, and set another record with five in the state field, including 220-pound runner-up, Kai Calcutt.
It was a topsy-turvy three days in this weight class, which saw Nos. 2-4: Zach Stewart, Damian Recendez, and Michael Esteban forced to fight for their wrestling lives in order to claim a state medal. Resendez (Mt. Carmel, 23-13) came away with a fifth place medal, the third of his career.
The aforementioned trio would all be sent off, and into the wrestle-backs of this high-profile field by unheralded but obviously talented opponents such as Flores (40-5), and Joel Muehlenbeck (Prospect, 34-13) who both had been here before, yet had never enjoyed the success they would ultimately enjoy.
Flores, an IWCOA qualifier in his rookie season, would come on strong at the end of the season when he claimed top honors at the Central Suburban League (CSL) tournament, then at regionals the following week, and at the Conant sectional where he beat then-No. 5, AJ Marino, 4-2 in the final.
“Teddy had been at his best coming into sectionals, but after winning there it was then that all of us, including Teddy, felt like he could come in here and compete with anyone,” said Maine South head coach, Kevin Hansen, after his best man beat Resendez in his wrestle-back semifinal.
Muehlenbeck (34-13) would jump start his run towards a sixth-place finish with a 9-4 defeat of Resendez in their state opener. He then lost to Flores in the quarterfinals, then two straight in wrestle-backs before Resendez evened the score with the Prospect senior.
“When it’s your last state tournament of your career, there are not any more chances to bring home a medal, so to do that this year is really amazing,” said Muehlenbeck, who won (42) a year ago at 106.
126: Ben Davino, St. Charles East
No. 1 Ben Davino burst out of the blocks of the 126-pound weight class, and never let up until reaching the final against No. 2 Jameson Garcia (Marmion Academy) in what many in the big crowd inside State Farm Center deemed the premier contest to watch.
The two giants in the prep wrestling world did not let down its audience in a match that pitted the all-action, lethal attack-minded Davino against the clever, crafty, and highly-skilled Garcia..
To give this final even more ‘juice’ was the fact that these two 26-pound stars came in as two-time state champions, and both nationally-ranked: Davino at No. 1, and the Harvard-bound Garcia, No. 18.
A chess match of sorts would greet the crowd who watched Davino defend a pair of ankle picks, while the St. Charles East junior missed a take-down near the edge to bring the first period to an end.
Davino would start down and easily escape; Garcia would draw even after Davino cut him loose after a hard ride for the first minute of the third period, which gave way to an extra session soon thereafter.
Once there, the speed and pace of this thriller would increase – most notably from Davino, who saw an opening and recorded the eventual take-down, which led to another quick strike that would see this match end at 6-1.
“Jameson is such a great opponent, he can do so many things that you need to be careful of – I was disappointed in the way I wrestled in my final, but it still was great to win a third state title over someone as good as Jameson,” Davino said.
“Ben is one of the best there is around,” Garcia said. “I had my chances in that first period, and throughout the match we both fought hard to make it a very close match. In the end, when he forced me to take a shot, he just was on me so quick, and that was the match.”
Davino now becomes the first in Saints history to claim three state titles to eclipse the two his coach, Jason Potter earned in 1998 and 1999 at 171 pounds.
When the day was done, the Saints program would pick-up eight state medals to bring the overall total for the program to 24.
Fremd sophomore Evan Gosz (43-2) now has a pair of third-place state medals following his 10-4 decision over fourth-place Nathan Knowlton.
Gosz was marvelous over the three days, recording his 24th pin of the season in his state opener, followed with another dominating effort in a 9-1 major decision to set-up his semifinal with Garcia, in which he fell just short in a 2-1 decision.
“I likely waited a little too long to get to my shots, especially in the third period against Jameson,” Gosz said. “But I felt I was right there with one of the best in the nation.”
Aaron Camacho (Bolingbrook, 34-7) finished fifth, and Hersey sophomore, Maksim Mukhamedaliyev (37-17) who upset No. 4 Aidan Huck (Batavia, 37-11) on Thursday, placed sixth..
132: Sergio Lemley: Mt. Carmel
Sergio Lemley did it again.
The Mt. Carmel senior, No. 2 in the country, won his fourth high school state title, three of which came here in Illinois and the other in Indiana, after holding off four-time state medalist Will Baysingar (Prospect) in an edgy, hard-fought 3-2 affair at 132 pounds.
After a tepid first period, Lemley (35-1) would score all of the points of the match with an escape 15 seconds into the second period, followed by the lone take-down of the contest, near the edge 15 seconds later.
“I knew this match would be a tight, defensive six minutes, so it was important for me to get the lead and then manage it the rest of the way,” Lemley said. “I wanted to make sure (Baysingarl) didn’t get into his attack where he is so dangerous.” Lemley will wrestle next fall at the University of Michigan, where he will major in Mechanical Engineering.
“I did all that I could to get that second period take-down, then just put everything I had into that last period to win this match, and state title,” continued Lemley. “(VIncent) Robinson, and Baysingar are great opponents, so to get past both of them is something for me to be proud of.”
No. 1-ranked Lemley needed to get by No. 2 Vincent Robinson (Homewood-Flossmoor, 33-3) in his semifinal; he did so, but not easily, with a 2-1 ultimate tie-breaker triumph enough to send him through. Robinson will wrestle at North Carolina State in the fall.
In the top half of this first class bracket, Baysingar (50-2) crushed all three of his opponents, beginning with a tech-fall in his state opener, followed by back-to-back pins, all in under three minutes.
“The goal was to win, and get off the mats as quick as possible to conserve my energy, then watch Lemley and Robinson go after each other,” said Baysingar, in advance of his third consecutive state final appearance, who came into the tournament at No. 14 in the nation.
“It was all about scoring off the head lock, and to expose (Lemley) wherever we could after watching hours of film on him,” Baysingar continued. “He’s a tough guy to score on at any time, and when you’re chasing the lead it’s especially difficult to do.”
Baysingar lost just four matches out of 170 in a four-year career, and will wrestle in the fall for Illinois. “(Baysingar) is our all-time leader in wins, pins, and take-downs, and simply put he is the GOAT of Prospect wrestling. There’s no debate on that subject,” Prospect head coach Dan Keller said.
Robinson defeated York senior Sean Berger (39-4) for third place, with Mikey Dibenedetto (Glenbard North, 25-8) using a 6-0 victory over James Wright (41-7) of Jacobs to earn fifth place.
Prior to moving over to Glenbard North, Dibenedetto was a 1A state qualifier at IC-Catholic Prep, then twice more at Lake Park, before settling in with Travis Cherry and the Panthers.
Wright successfully garnered his first state medal after three previous attempts to give Jacobs its second medal of the weekend, and seventh in its history.
138: Nasir Bailey, Rich Township
Nasir Bailey (43-1) turned in one of the most dominant three-day performances of his career at State Farm Center to take home his third IHSA title, and fourth straight high school crown after the Rich Township senior recorded a 5-2 decision over Tyler Guerra (46-6) from St. Charles East.
Bailey, No. 2 in the country, would open his last prep tourney with a record-setting pin (13 seconds) then follow with another record-setting effort when he needed just 2:20 to register a technical fall to book his place in the finals against Guerra.
“I took a loss in the semifinals at the Ironman, and it really helped me regain my focus and commitment to working hard, knowing all along that February is when it really meant something,” Bailey said.
Bailey, who defeated Guerra 10-3 in his 2022 state semi-final before holding off Baysingar in the 132-pound final, is ranked No. 1 in the nation in a handful of publications and will compete next fall at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, where his older brother (Bilal) is on the roster at 157.
“My older brothers were there for me in my freshman year, and it was something I was thinking about before and after my final,” said Bailey, who was a part of IHSA history when he, along with Sincere, and Bilal all won state titles in 2020 at Thornton Fractional North.
Nasir, and Sincere were Texas state champs the following year, before Nasir returned to claim his third prep crown a year ago.
Guerra, who came in at No. 3 in the latest IWCOA poll would avenge an early season loss to No. 2 Lorenzo Frezza (42-1) with a 4-3 semi-final decision over the Stevenson four-year star.
“(We) learned some things from that 6-4 loss to (Frezza) – who is an incredible talent and can do so many different things to beat you,” St. Charles East coach Jason Potter said. “But we knew if he got the lead, Tyler’s ability to ride could be the difference in what we figured would be a tight, hard-fought match.”
Frezza won in a tie-break on the third-place mat over Hinsdale Central’s CodyTavoso.
“I have been so fortunate to have someone like Lorenzo with me for four years,” Stevenson coach Shane Cook said. “He’s a remarkable young man who has been the type of leader who comes along rarely during your coaching career.”
Frezza leaves Cook and his staff with a trio of third-place state medals, four state appearances, and as the the all-time leader in victories with 151, as he departs for Columbia University to continue his wrestling career.
Bailey, Guerra, Frezza, and Tavoso were the clear top four all season. Tavoso (46-4) came back through wrestle-backs to claim fourth place after his defeat of Jacob Lachs (41-14) of Glenbard West to complete a superb career for the Red Devils.
Tavoso joined some lofty company with his fourth state medal, joining former Red Devils Brian Allen, and Juwan Edmond. The Princeton-bound Tavoso set a single season program record for pins with 31 and leaves with 133 career victories.
Lachs won a 6-3 decision on the fifth-place mat over Lockport senior Logan Kaminski (35-23).
145: Jaydon Colon, St. Charles East
The stars appeared to be aligned for No. 1 Noah Tapia, who mashed the competition throughout an unbeaten regular season.
But Jayden Colon had dreams of his own.
Tapia tossed aside all three of his opponents in Champaign with relative ease, setting up a final with Colon, who moved over to St. Charles East after claiming the 2A top prize at 145 for Montini Catholic.
This contest was yet another No. 1 versus No. 2, with Tapia the prohibitive favorite with his six majors, which included the Dvorak title that the Moline star won 6-4 over Colon. So signs pointed to Tapia following in the footsteps of his great friend and former teammate, Kole Brower, who gave the Moline program its 15th state champion when he won at 138 last season.
Colon had other ideas, and his dream materialized in the title match when he recorded an escape with 12 seconds remaining in overtime to take a 4-3 lead, dealing Tapia a heart-breaking defeat.
“I won a state title without really a single terrific shot, just like I did last year at Montini when I beat (Mason) Alessio (Joliet Catholic Academy),” said an exhausted Colon (41-5), who dealt Tapia his first loss of the season to end a remarkable year at 52-1, and 99-4 for two years.
“It was a real grind tonight. My shoulder is aching so it was a lot of grit, determination, and defending in order to keep him from opening up an attack that’s dangerous.”
Both men looked to throw the other during the first extra session after six minutes were unable to settle this contest, which ended at 3-3 after a Colon reversal initially gave the junior the lead at 3-2 with just the third period remaining.
“We learned some things from that match at the Dvorak, so we had a good plan in place, which I thought worked out really well for me,” said Colon.
“When overtime came, I went more to my strength – upper body stuff. And in that last overtime period, I was looking to get the pin but when I was unable to, that’s when I grabbed the one point (escape) for the win.”
Tapia saw the silver lining of a fine season in the dark cloud of losing on the state title mat.
“This loss hurts a lot but it doesn’t mean it was all for nothing,” Tapia said. “All of the work I’ve put in during the offseason and regular season will only make me better in college.” Tapia will wrestle next fall at Hofstra University.
No. 3 Antonio Alvarado (Belvidere North, 52-3) ended a superb career in third place to give him two state medals, while Marist sophomore Will Denny (27-8) took home fourth place.
Lake Zurich senior Scott Busse (47-5) earned himself a well deserved fifth-place medal, his first state finals medal in three attempts after a 9-6 decision over Cael Andrews (Batavia, 46-9).
“I broke my ankle here a year ago, then suffered a shoulder injury earlier during this season that likely required surgery,” Busse said. “But I never gave in to all of that, and kept working harder each time out with the focus always being to get on the podium, So to reach that goal feels very good right now.” Busse recorded almost 250 takedowns while leading Lake Zurich in pins (25) and every other statistic during his wonderful final year with the Bears.
152: Nolan Allen, West Chicago
There were so many deep and talented weight classes in Champaign, and the 152-pound division created plenty of interest in advance.
And why not? The top six men would move up and down in the state rankings, with just about everyone grabbing the top spot before the first whistle of the tournament would open things up in this group.
Jacob Luce (39-13) would strike for the first upset when the DeKalb junior sent No. 6 Harrison Konder (Downers Grove North, 41-6) into wrestle-backs after his 11-5 victory in the quarterfinals.
There would be more to follow as the tournament would progress with No. 3 Nolan Allen (West Chicago) sending No. 1 Kaden Fetterolf (Batavia) off, and into wrestle-backs with a hard fought 6-1 decision. That win earned Allen a spot in the finals with Edmund Enright (Mt. Carmel, 19-3) who managed to navigate his way through this high-profile bunch.
There is an old saying in sports that offense wins games but defense wins championships, and that’s exactly what Allen would supply in all four of his matches. Allen’s contest with Enright went from 2-1 midway through the second period to his historic pin at 3:53 to give the West Chicago program its first state title since 1979.
When the match ended, Allen leapt into the arms of coach James Phillips.
“I cannot tell you how proud of Nolan we all are right now,” Phillips said of Allen (30-0), who never allowed any of his rivals the time, space, or opportunity to pry him open en route to his championship.
“It was a great weight class – so tough, and with so many fantastic wrestlers who were all very capable of putting a lot of points up at any time,” Allen said. “But for me, it was all about staying composed and just slowing them down with a lot of hand-fighting and defense. I really felt like I wore all of them down.”
Aside from the tactical plan devised for Allen heading into the long weekend, it was his square stance, stingy defense, and almost a dare to his opponents to shoot that proved to be the difference.
“I knew I had to likely grind out a few of my matches this weekend, and I really feel like that was the difference between winning and losing,” Allen said. “But that pin in the final was the icing on the cake of an amazing state tournament for me.”
The marvelous freshman from Warren Township, Aaron Stewart (43-2), came back from his heart-breaking 3-2 loss to Allen in the semifinals to capture third overall after he beat the 2022 state runner-up Fetterolf (48-3), with Konder (41-6) recording a 3-2 triumph against Luce for fifth place.
“It was an incredible weight class, and I would guess if they came back and wrestled another 8-10 times, there would be a lot of changes in the final standings,” said Downers Grove North coach Chris McGrath.
160: Ethan Stiles, Conant
Ethan Stiles started his run towards another state title the day after the Conant senior won in Champaign a year ago at 152.
So it wasn’t a surprise when the Nebraska-bound Stiles (31-0) locked up a third title after his sterling performance in his final with No. 2 Logan Swaw (46-2) of Lockport in the 160-pound final.
“It was always about doing whatever it takes to get back out here in the state final, and winning it once again,” said Stiles, who was third during his rookie year at Montini Catholic, before capturing an IWCOA crown the next season, when he went a perfect 10-0.
“I’ve committed myself to improve in all parts of my game – mentally and physically – while paying special attention to my fitness and diet in order to win here one more time, and to prepare for college in the fall.”
Stiles handed Swaw his only two losses on the year, the second coming by 3-0 decision in the state finals.
“I knew it would be a real battle with (Swaw), so it was important to be strong, stay in good position, be smart with my shots, get a lead, then defend and ride him as hard as I could in order to break him down.”
Swaw, who was sixth here a year ago, and will wrestle at Illinois next fall, was near flawless on his way to the final. Swaw vs. Stiles was the sixth finals match between the No. 1- and No. 2-ranked wrestlers in 3A.
After the referee ruled a stale-mate 90 seconds into the match, Stiles – on his fifth shot of the period – finally recorded a take-down.
Stiles, No. 4 in the nation, rode out Swaw for most of the second period and then grabbed some insurance with an escape to start the final period after. Stiles stayed in control for the rest of the regulation.
“This season it was important for me to be the best leader, in and out of our room, helping our younger guys, and doing my best to show the way for those who will be leaders next year,” said Stiles.
“Ethan has been a great leader this year,” Conant coach Andrew Guilde said. “He was just so impressive and dominating against whoever he ran into. To be honest, what makes him so difficult to beat is the fact that he has that look of a collegiate wrestler already, which makes him even tougher to beat.”
Owen Uppinghouse (Quincy, 44-2), Gunnar Garelli (Lyons Township, 41-11), Luke Swan (Downers Grove South, 39-10, and Anthony Guiterrez (St. Charles East, 28-12) are now all first time state medal winners after finishing third through sixth, respectively.
Swan would defeat Garelli for the Hinsdale Central sectional title, while Uppinghouse, who missed the last half of the 2022 season to an injury, added the 15th state medal to the Quincy program with his third-place finish.
170: Chris Moore, McHenry
With all due respect to the 16-man field at 170-pounds, Colin Kelly (Mt. Carmel) and Chris Moore (McHenry) were the favorites to be in the Grand March.
So it was fitting these two behemoths would meet in the last championship match of the night, in what would also be a rematch of the 160-pound final from a year ago when Kelly would edge Moore in overtime.
When the dust settled after a tight, intense six intense minutes, it was Chris Moore who lifted the big championship bracket board after his 3-2 victory, avenging his 2022 defeat to Kelly and giving the Warriors’ program its first ever individual state title.
“Last year my shoulder was in real bad shape, but that’s no excuse for my loss to (Kelly) last year,” Moore said. “But it was something that I used to make me work as hard as I could, in order to have another run at the state title,” said Moore, who was level with Kelly (26-3) at the start of the third period before delivering a takedown with 10 seconds left in the period.
Moore (43-0) would concede an escape with three seconds from time.
“Of course that loss in the final last year stung, but my confidence never wavered and I knew if it was Kelly again in the finals, I wanted to push the pace, be the aggressor, and just keep him on his heels as much as I could,” Moore said. “I feel like we executed a very good game plan in order to come away with the win.”
“Chris has meant so much to the McHenry program,” coach Dan Rohman said. “He’s raised the bar within our program, and is never one to shy away from high level competition. All of that has rubbed off on the others in the room, who want to perform at high levels because they have seen how the hard work and dedication of Chris has paid off.
“Last year we had six kids qualify for Fargo, this year we have so many more who are committed to wrestle in the offseason, and it’s because of what Chris has accomplished, and all of the time he puts in during the season and in the offseason as well.”
Moore, who will continue his career next fall at Illinois, has built an impressive resume to take along with him, including a 91-1 overall record over the past two years, 33 pins, and 29 tech-falls during that time, as well as an astounding 603 takedowns, 451 teams points earned, and 875 match points, while his opponents mustered just 366 against.
Moore won a 2A state medal his freshman year at Aurora Christian, followed that up with a third place 2A finish at Marian Central Catholic, before moving over to McHenry where he set all sorts of records.
Luke Zook (44-8) who led Yorkville with 90 takedowns, earned a third-place medal, while Libertyville junior Matt Kubas (42-9) was fourth
Lane Robinson (St. Charles East, 36-16), and Ari Zaeske (Lincoln-Way West, 41-7) placed fifth and sixth, respectively.
182: Jack Lesher, Marmion Academy
It’s not how you start but how you finish, and Jack Lesher firmly believes in that old sports axiom after the way his regular season came to a close.
The Marmion Academy junior opened the final session of the tournament on Saturday in stunning fashion, using a three-point near-fall just as time ended to take a 5-0 advantage over Pekin senior Shamon Handegan. He took that lead into the second period and basically rode out Handegan (41-1) for most of the next four minutes to record a well deserved 6-1 victory, and the 22nd state medal in Marmion’s program history.
“I was coming off the football season and I was dealing with a leg injury, which slowed me down even more,” Lesher (34-6) said. “But when I got back into wrestling shape, I was ready to make a serious run at a state championship.
“We have a great room of work-out partners and an unbelievable coaching staff. It’s the best in the state, in my opinion. So with my faith in God and all of the support around me, it was just go out there and let it fly.”
Handegan, who would defeat AJ Mancila (Bradley-Bourbonnais (47-7) in the Normal Community sectional final, was a state qualifier in 2022, and would end his season with a dazzling 40-3 record at 182.
Conor Phelan (34-16) of Marist topped Mancilla for third place, while No. 4 Rylan Breen (Mt. Carmel, 23-11), No. 3 Brody Murray (St. Charles East, 36-7) would finish fifth and sixth, respectively
195: Cole Matulenko, Libertyville
It took all of 31 record-setting seconds for Cole Matulenko to add another state title to the Libertyville books, when a thunderous throw and pin ended the 195-pound final to give the Wildcats their fifth individual state title in program history.
The seismic tremor felt after Matulenko’s pin of Marist’s No. 1 Peter Marinopoulos (20-1) was tempered slightly when Marinopoulos stayed down on the mat, after appearing to suffer an upper body injury. Thankfully, after being attended to by the stadium medical staff, Marinopoulos was able to walk off under his own power with some assistance.
“It went from total euphoria to – oh, no, Marinopoulos is down and hurt,” Matulenko said. “It’s not anything you like to see happen to an opponent.”
Matulenko has been a one man wrecking crew since claiming the top prize at regionals, following a disappointing loss at the Lake County Invite.
“Things finally came together for me,” Matulenko said. “I was lifting during the early morning before school, then again a couple of days a week, and when I told coach (Dale) Eggert about what I was doing he told me maybe it was time to take my foot off the gas with those workouts.”
“Cole was looking dead on his feet as we neared the state series,” Eggert said. “He wasn’t reacting to shots, and just looked sluggish. He was getting quite frustrated.
“He said that outside of practice he was lifting twice per week, which is enough if it’s done in an intense manner (but) Cole was lifting four days a week, more than a hour each time, and before school – which combined with him missing out on sleep, really had taken its toll on him.”
Eggert’s suggestion to ease off was just what the doctor ordered, and it was a refreshed and well-rested Matulenko (44-4) who went on a rampage. He had a pair of pins and a major at regionals, then pinned his way into the Barrington sectional final against freshman phenom Jaxon Penovich (45-7) who had lost to on two prior meetings.
Matulenko topped Penovice by 9-3 decision.
“After watching Cole in his sectional final with Penovich, I figured he had a chance against anyone in his state bracket,” Eggert said.
In his first match in Champaign last year, Matulenko lost by 15-6 decision to Marinopoulos.
“Last year did not go well for me, so I was anxious to get back down here to make amends,” said Matulenko, who is a three-sport star in wrestling, football, and as a thrower for the track team.
Eggert wanted his top man to keep Marinopoulos off his legs, while looking for his No. 1 shot that he’s been nailing his opponents with all season long.
“(Cole) has a great tilt, a move that turned the tide in his semifinal win over (Dominic) Thebeau from Belleville East,” Eggert said.
“It’s such an amazing feeling to win a state title for our program, coach Eggert, and coach (Vinnie) Jiuditta, who works his magic with all of our upper weight guys on the team,” said Matulenko.
“Everyone always believed in me, and it was their support, and me turning over everything to God that made the difference, when I just turned everything over to him.”
Matulenko, and his former partner in the room, 2022 state champion Josh Knudten, who drove to Champaign from Ann Arbor where he wrestles for the University of Michigan, would both participate in Fellowship of Christian Athletes huddle at the high school, led by Eggert.
“You could always count on Cole to share something insightful from our weekly message, and I am sure, if you would ask both him and Josh, they would both say they are not in (FCA) to win matches, but instead to grow in their relationship with Jesus Christ,” Eggert said.
Matulenko, who will wrestle next fall at UW-Eau Claire would later climb atop the podium alongside Marinopoulos, third place Thebeau, with Hunter Janeczko (Yorkville, 21-6), Penovich, then Matthew Janiak (37-9) of Plainfield South filling out the top six.
“All of this is still hard to believe, but I know it will hit me, maybe later tonight or more than likely tomorrow, and that’s when I will really enjoy taking it all in,” said Matulenko.
220: Ben Alvarez, Yorkville
Yorkville’s Ben Alvarez (38-8) would be crowned state champion in stunning fashion when the Yorkville junior beat freshman phenom Kai Calcutt of Loyola Academy, 3-2, in an ultimate tie-breaker contest that saw a stalling call decide the hard-fought affair.
“That was quite an ending to Ben’s final,” Yorkville coach Jake Oster said. “You rarely see a match end the way it did with that call.
“It was an intense, and real defensive match for Ben against a talented freshman who likes to attack and throw, which we were aware of. There was a lot of hand-fighting. Ben was really stingy defensively in his final, and for that matter throughout the tournament.”
Loyola Academy coach Matt Collum was understandably disappointed in the way the title match ended.
“I don’t really remember seeing a call made like that in a state final,” said Collum, who saw Calcutt (40-9) draw back even at 2-2 with an escape in the third extra session.
“(Kai) wrestled well all throughout the three days. We let some things get away from us in that final but he was pushing the pace. He showed that he belonged here at state, despite the outcome of the final.”
Alvarez’s journey to a state title followed an all-too common path.
“I got off to a slow start to the season because of an injury, but I really put the extra time in to catch back up,” he said. “With the help of my teammate, Hunter Janeczko, I was able to get myself ready for the last half of the season.”
Alvarez who registered 22 pins and 64 takedowns this season, was as stingy as his head coach acknowledged, as witnessed by his 10-0 decision in his state opener, followed by a 2-1 overtime quarterfinal with Ed Perry (Marmion Academy). That win led to a 3-1 thriller in the semifinals over Luke Liberatore (Marist) to ensure his spot in the final.
Leonardo Tovar (Plainfield North, 48-9) would edge Liberatore (34-12) for third with a 4-3 decision, with Hinsdale Central’s Marko Ivanisevic (44-3) coming back to claim his second consecutive fifth-place finish over Cooper Caraway (46-10) of Normal Community.
285: Ben Bielawski, Downers Grove North
In the unpredictable world of the heavyweight division, Ben Bielawski predicted after being crowned champion at the Clint Arlis Batavia Invite that he could climb atop the podium in Champaign just as easily as anyone else at 285.
Five weeks later to the day that Bielawski (45-1) proclaimed he was a serious contender, the affable big man from Downers Grove North would make good on his prediction with his 5-3 victory over Jonathan Rulo from Belleville East.
“We all felt Ben could be a state champion,” DG North coach Chris McGrath said. “He absolutely threw everything he had into getting ready for his last year of wrestling after the football season. He got bigger, stronger, and quicker, and all of that came shining through in a big way.”
McGrath’s plan for Bielawski came to fruition in Champaign, as he became the first individual state champion in program history.
“McGrath always believed in me,” he said. “As one of the lighter guys in this weight class, it was important to use my speed, and quickness, and my physical and mental strength to win against some of these big guys,” said Bielawski, who will play football next fall at D-3 power, UW-Whitewater.
The Trojans’ star faced a massive freshman in Rulo.
“(Rulo) was an enormous young man, but Ben is so athletic,” McGrath said. “He was an all-state nose tackle for us so he’s as strong as it gets, and you saw that in the second period when he reversed (Rulo) to take the lead for good.”
The 4-3 advantage Bielawski grabbed became 5-3 when he escaped after starting down, and from there the match saw plenty of hand-fighting from both big men, along with some terrific defending and positioning by Bielawski, who made sure his young opponent could not get in close to strike.
“He was a big, strong kid and he was aggressive, but I felt good throughout the match,” said Bielawski, a four-time state qualifier. “I was never in trouble, but I knew I had to stay cool and composed in the final minute in order to win the state title.
“I put so much time in leading up to the football season – lifting to make myself as strong, and fit as I could be to handle guys in this weight class. Tonight all of that effort, commitment, and hard work paid off in a big way.”
Sean Scheck (Marmion Academy, 34-9), won a state medal in his first state appearance after his defeat of Joliet West junior Wyatt Schmitt (43-4) in the third place match.
No. 4 Austin Barrett (St. Charles East, 38-9) and No. 5 Adam Lambaz (Elgin, 31-6) finished fifth and sixth, respectively. Lambaz became the first state medal winner for the Maroons since 2008 (Terrel Walker), and the 18th in program history.
“We are all so proud of Adam,” Elgin coach Gary Parciak said. “He’s a young man that has given so much back to our program, as both a leader and mentor to the younger guys in the room – he’s the guy who has helped put our program back on the map.”
IHSA 1A Dual Sectional Roundup
By Gary Larsen
Only two of last year’s eight dual team state finalists return in 2023, in defending 1A state champion Yorkville Christian and IC Catholic Prep, which is seeking its first team state medal.. Making their first-ever state finals appearances are Oakwood and Canton in a field that also includes LeRoy, Lena-Winslow, Coal City, and Auburn.
Lena-Winslow has two team state titles to its name, and LeRoy is chasing its second team title. Coal City leads all programs present in making its 11th state finals appearance in its long and storied history.
Here is a recap of Tuesday’s Class 1A dual team sectionals:
At El Paso-Gridley
Canton 57, Kewanee 24
Canton (28-9) makes its first dual team state finals appearance in history after winning 8 of 12 matches wrestled plus two forfeit wins against Kewanee. Coach Zach Crawford’s squad faces Lena-Winslow in a state quarterfinal dual on Friday.
106: Maddux Steele (Canton) FF
113: Jack Jochums (Canton) FF
120: John Davis (Canton) F 2:30 Landyn GreenHagen (Kewanee (H.S.))
126: Trevor Hedges (Canton) F 0:26 Benjamin Taylor (Kewanee (H.S.))
132: Brandon Eaton (Canton) F 1:41 Landon Mason (Kewanee (H.S.))
138: William Taylor (Kewanee (H.S.)) F 2:32 Jireh Hedges (Canton)
145: Wesley Chaney (Canton) F 2:27 Parker DeBord (Kewanee (H.S.))
152: Max Kelly (Kewanee (H.S.)) F 0:59 Wyatt Sego (Canton)
160: Jaxson Hicks (Kewanee (H.S.)) F 1:20 Danny Murphy (Canton)
170: Joseph Norton (Canton) F 0:21 Alejandro Torress (Kewanee (H.S.))
182: Alejandro Duarte (Kewanee (H.S.)) F 2:46 Aden Greene (Canton)
195: Rob Mayall (Canton) D 9-8 Jackson Hawkins (Kewanee (H.S.))
220: Grant Kessler (Canton) F 3:52 Douglas Swearingen (Kewanee (H.S.))
285: Asa Reed (Canton) F 0:25 Daniel Boswell (Kewanee (H.S.))
Leroy/ Tri-Valley 46, El Paso-Gridley 27
LeRoy/ Tri-Valley (24-1) is making its fourth state finals appearance, having won a team state title in 2012, placed second in 2009, and third in 2011 for coach Doug DeWald. Current coach Brady Sant Amour’s Panthers take on Coal City in Friday’s state quarterfinal dual.
195: Drendon Stickling (LeRoy) F 5:00 Parker Duffy (El Paso (E.P.-Gridley))
220: Jacob Bischoff (LeRoy) F 1:48 Chris Blackmore (El Paso (E.P.-Gridley))
285: Tate Sigler (LeRoy) MD 11-1Jesse Gerber (El Paso (E.P.-Gridley))
106: Brady Mouser (LeRoy) FF
113: Kobe Brent (LeRoy) F 1:32 Nolan Whitman (El Paso (E.P.-Gridley))
120: Logan Gibson (El Paso (E.P.-Gridley)) FF
126: Brock Owens (LeRoy) TF 17-1 Ethan Krugger (El Paso (E.P.-Gridley))
132: Colton Prosser (LeRoy) F 4:00 Jack Erwin (El Paso (E.P.-Gridley))
138: Tyler Roth (El Paso (E.P.-Gridley)) D 7-5 Jack Green (LeRoy)
145: Connor Lyons (LeRoy) MD 9-0 Waylon Melick (El Paso (E.P.-Gridley))
152: Bo Zeleznik (LeRoy) D 7-6 Conlee Landrus (El Paso (E.P.-Gridley))
160: Dax Gentes (El Paso (E.P.-Gridley)) FF
170: Ethan Whitman (El Paso (E.P.-Gridley)) FF
182: Cody Langland (El Paso (E.P.-Gridley))FF
Lena-Winslow/Stockton 41, Marian Central 30
Lena-Winslow/Stockton (32-5) makes its fourth appearance in the state finals under coach Kevin Milder, and the Panthers take on Canton in Friday’s state quarterfinals. Milder led Lena-Winslow to team state titles in 2017 and 2019, and a second-place finish in 2012.
Lena-Winslow won 8 of 14 matches against Marian, including seven in a row to end the dual, and earned bonus points in six of its eight wins.
106: Austin Hagevold (Woodstock (Marian)) F 0:31 Reece Demeter (Lena (L.-Winslow))
113: Andrew Alvarado (Woodstock (Marian)) F 5:19 David Prater (Lena (L.-Winslow))
120: Arrison Bauer (Lena (L.-Winslow)) F 2:40 Josh Gawronski (Woodstock (Marian))
126: Kaden Harman (Woodstock (Marian)) F 2:44 Mauricio Glass (Lena (L.-Winslow))
132: Vance Williams (Woodstock (Marian)) F 1:27 Mark Detwiler (Lena (L.-Winslow))
138: Nick Davidson (Woodstock (Marian)) MD 15-3 Carson McPeek (Lena (L.-Winslow))
145: Charlie Fitzgerald (Woodstock (Marian)) D 17-10 Karl Hubb (Lena (L.-Winslow))
152: Garrett Luke (Lena (L.-Winslow)) MD 12-3 Ethan Struck (Woodstock (Marian))
160: Jared Dvorak (Lena (L.-Winslow)) D 3-2 Max Astacio (Woodstock (Marian))
170: Eli Larson (Lena (L.-Winslow)) F 1:24 Connor Cassels (Woodstock (Marian))
182: Jace Phillips (Lena (L.-Winslow)) F 3:40 Rob Hernon (Woodstock (Marian))
195: Griffin Luke (Lena (L.-Winslow)) F 0:43 Hunter Birkhoff (Woodstock (Marian))
220: Mike Haas (Lena (L.-Winslow)) D 4-0 John Herff (Woodstock (Marian))
285: Henry Engel (Lena (L.-Winslow)) F 1:37 Ray Hughes (Woodstock (Marian))
Yorkville Christian 42, Riverdale 28
Defending 1A state champion Yorkville Christian (20-5) heads to the state finals for the second time under coach Mike Vester, and the Mustangs take on Auburn in Friday’s state quarterfinal dual.
Yorkville Christian won 8 of the 13 matches wrestled against Riverdale, which included five pins, one forfeit, and a pair of straight decisions.
106: Dean Wainwright (Port Byron (Riverdale)) F 1:02 Eli Foster (Yorkville (Christian))
113: Aiden Larsen (Yorkville (Christian)) D 3-2 Tharren Jacobs (Port Byron (Riverdale))
120: Ty Edwards (Yorkville (Christian)) F 0:22 Ethan Mathis (Port Byron (Riverdale))
126: Tristan Gleason (Yorkville (Christian)) F 2:38 Thad Jacobs (Port Byron (Riverdale))
132: Noah Dial (Yorkville (Christian)) F 3:12 Kolton Kruse (Port Byron (Riverdale))
138: Brock Smith (Port Byron (Riverdale)) F 0:35 John `Isaac` Gray (Yorkville (Christian))
145: Blake Smith (Port Byron (Riverdale)) F 2:59 Grason Johnson (Yorkville (Christian))
152: Drew Torza (Yorkville (Christian)) D 5-3 Eli Hinde (Port Byron (Riverdale))
160: Collin Altensey (Port Byron (Riverdale)) D 5-3 Tyler Martinez (Yorkville (Christian))
170: Jackson Gillen (Yorkville (Christian)) FF
182: Alex Watson (Port Byron (Riverdale)) MD 12-3 Jeremy Loomis (Yorkville (Christian))
195: Zac Bradley (Port Byron (Riverdale)) D 9-4 Christopher Durbin (Yorkville (Christian))
220: Jackson Mehochko (Yorkville (Christian)) F 2:55 Iyezaha Hill (Port Byron (Riverdale))
285: Garrett Tunnell (Yorkville (Christian)) F 4:28 Jake Baustian (Port Byron (Riverdale))
Auburn 48, Cahokia 32
Auburn (26-3) returns to the state dual team finals for the third time under coach Mike Grimm, having made the trip in 2017 and placed fourth in 2020. The Trojans had five pins and three forfeit wins in taking down Cahokia at Vandalia.
160: Colby Willhite (Auburn) FF
170: Joey Barrow (Auburn) F 1:00 Kendrick Williams (Cahokia (H.S.))
182: Skylar Fay (Auburn) F 1:29 Avan Spratt (Cahokia (H.S.))
195: Nick Deloach Jr. (Cahokia (H.S.)) TF 17-2 Grant Dobson (Auburn)
220: Quinterrous Jones (Cahokia (H.S.)) F 5:58 Clinton Lovens (Auburn)
285: Cole Edie (Auburn) F 0:52 jason Dowell (Cahokia (H.S.))
106: Avionne Brown (Cahokia (H.S.)) F 1:12 Ryer Parker (Auburn)
113: Drayven Hamm (Auburn) F 5:47 Ja`marcus Agnew (Cahokia (H.S.))
120: Nicholas Scott (Cahokia (H.S.)) TF 19-4 Jasmine Brown (Auburn)
126: Anthony Ruzic (Auburn) FF
132: Demerious Mcgill (Cahokia (H.S.)) F 1:42 Walker Britz (Auburn)
138: Kody Harlan (Cahokia (H.S.)) MD 11-3 Jayden Brown (Auburn)
145: Dresden Grimm (Auburn) FF
152: Quinten Chizmar (Auburn) F 3:51 Anthony Winters (Cahokia (H.S.))
Oakwood 46, Anna-Jonesboro 31
Coach Mike Glosser’s Comets (20-10) advanced to the team state finals for the first time in program history, and will do battle against IC Catholic Prep in a state quarterfinal on Friday.
The Comets had five pins, one major decision, and two forfeit wins against Anna-Jonesboro to advance..
160: Drew Holshouser (Anna (A.-Jonesboro)) F 3:18 Blake Barney (Fithian (Oakwood))
170: Dalton Brown (Fithian (Oakwood)) F 1:45 Metteo Vaca-Diez (Anna (A.-Jonesboro))
182: Harley Grimm (Fithian (Oakwood)) F 1:04 Carson Bracken (Anna (A.-Jonesboro))
195: Rayshaun Cannon (Anna (A.-Jonesboro)) F 0:53 Ezekiel Smith (Fithian (Oakwood))
220: Levi Jones (Anna (A.-Jonesboro)) F 1:22 Doug Myers (Fithian (Oakwood))
285: Eddie Dahmer (Anna (A.-Jonesboro)) F 2:46 Kade Flemming (Fithian (Oakwood))
106: Brayden Edwards (Fithian (Oakwood)) F 3:01 Zoee Sadler (Anna (A.-Jonesboro))
113: Drew Sadler (Anna (A.-Jonesboro)) MD 10-2 Tyler Huchel (Fithian (Oakwood))
120: Jack Aister (Fithian (Oakwood)) F 3:27 Brett Smith (Anna (A.-Jonesboro))
126: Thomas Wells (Fithian (Oakwood)) F 4:50 Lucas Hoehner (Anna (A.-Jonesboro))
132: Pedro Rangel (Fithian (Oakwood)) MD 11-2 Daniel Dover (Anna (A.-Jonesboro))
138: TJ Macy (Anna (A.-Jonesboro)) D 6-0 Carter Chambliss (Fithian (Oakwood))
145: Reef Pacot (Fithian (Oakwood)) FF
152: Bryson Capansky (Fithian (Oakwood)) FF
Coal City 75, Chicago Hope Academy 3
Coal City (40-2) advanced to its 11th dual team state finals with Tuesday’s sectional win, and its sixth under coach Mark Masters, who led the Coalers to second-place finishes in 2016, ‘19, and ‘20, and third-place finishes in 2015 and ‘18. Coal City faces LeRoy in its state quarterfinal dual on Friday.
152: Mataeo Blessing (Coal City) F 1:34 Tony Jones-Blakely (Chicago (C. Hope Academy))
160: Landin Benson (Coal City) F 0:42 Miguel Rodriguez (Chicago (C. Hope Academy))
170: Derek Carlson (Coal City) F 3:59 Tristan Phipps (Chicago (C. Hope Academy))
182: Cade Poyner (Coal City) F 0:56 Mastewal Evely (Chicago (C. Hope Academy))
195: Uriah Martin-Velez (Chicago (C. Hope Academy)) D 5-4 Andrew Feisley (Coal City)
220: Drake Dearth (Coal City) F 0:57 Alex Garcia (Chicago (C. Hope Academy))
285: Michael Gonzalez (Coal City) F 3:20 Roy Phelps (Chicago (C. Hope Academy))
106: Culan Lindemuth (Coal City) FF
113: Brody Widlowski (Coal City) F 0:30 Mike Garcia (Chicago (C. Hope Academy))
120: Aidan Kenney (Coal City) F 0:50 Jorge Rios (Chicago (C. Hope Academy))
126: Noah Houston (Coal City) F 1:38 Donnell Smith (Chicago (C. Hope Academy))
132: Brock Finch (Coal City) FF
138: Evan Greggain (Coal City) D 4-2 Samuel Lazarus Amador (Chicago (C. Hope Academy))
145: Brant Widlowski (Coal City) F 2:16 Bryan Gonzalez (Chicago (C. Hope Academy))
IC Catholic Prep 51, St. Laurence 28
Coach Jason Renteria takes IC Catholic Prep (2-3-1) to the state finals for the second straight year and the third time in program history, and the Knights take on Oakwood in a state quarterfinal on Friday.
The Knights had six pins, one straight decision, and one forfeit in winning 7 of the 11 matches wrestled against St. Laurence.
152: Joseph Gliatta (Elmhurst (IC Catholic)) F 1:05 Jacob Sellers (Burbank (St. Laurence))
160: Henry Coughlin (Burbank (St. Laurence)) MD 15-6 Nate Brown (Elmhurst (IC Catholic))
170: Jack Claussen (Burbank (St. Laurence)) F 0:47 Will Bryk (Elmhurst (IC Catholic))
182: Foley Calcagno (Elmhurst (IC Catholic)) F 1:54 Damien Torres (Burbank (St. Laurence))
195: Xavier Bitner (Burbank (St. Laurence)) F 1:22 Marcheon Griffin (Elmhurst (IC Catholic))
220: Vinnie Gonzalez (Elmhurst (IC Catholic)) D 2-0 Jaquin Moreno (Burbank (St. Laurence))
285: Isaiah Gonzalez (Elmhurst (IC Catholic)) F 1:10 Angelo Arellano (Burbank (St. Laurence))
106: Henry Manning (Burbank (St. Laurence)) FF
113: Nathan Martinez (Burbank (St. Laurence)) F 0:20 Clara Samayoa (Elmhurst (IC Catholic))
120: Saul Trejo (Elmhurst (IC Catholic)) FF
126: Ben Czarnowski (Elmhurst (IC Catholic)) F 0:59 Tyler Malonowski (Burbank (St. Laurence))
132: Kc Kekstadt (Elmhurst (IC Catholic)) F 1:54 Eduarado Arias (Burbank (St. Laurence))
138: Justin Grace (Elmhurst (IC Catholic)) FF
145: Bryson Spaulding (Elmhurst (IC Catholic)) F 1:30 Joseph Barnett (Burbank (St. Laurence))
IHSA 2A Dual Sectional Roundup
By Gary Larsen
Defending 2A champion Joliet Catholic, Deerfield, Brother Rice, and Mahomet-Seymour all return from last year’s dual state finals field. Deerfield was state runner-up to Joliet Catholic and Mahomet-Seymour finished third last year.
Joining those teams at this year’s finals in Bloomington will be Washington, Wauconda, Jacksonville, and Geneseo, and here is a recap of how those eight teams advanced through Tuesday’s Class 2A dual team sectionals:
At Brother Rice:
Defending 2A state champion Joliet Catholic takes on Jacksonville in a state quarterfinal dual on Friday, on the heels of its sectional title win over Chicago’s Noble/Comer on Tuesday at Brother Rice. Joliet Catholic swept Comer en route to its second state finals appearance under coach Ryan Cumbee.
Joliet Catholic Academy 75, Noble/Comer 0
120: Jason Hampton (Joliet (Catholic Academy)) F 2:31 Isaac Banks (Chicago (Noble/Comer))
126: Aurelio Munoz (Joliet (Catholic Academy)) F 1:00 Oryan Sandifer (Chicago (Noble/Comer))
132: George Hollendoner (Joliet (Catholic Academy)) F 1:21 Damarius Smothers (Chicago (Noble/Comer))
138: Nolan Vogel (Joliet (Catholic Academy)) F 1:11 Daryl Offord (Chicago (Noble/Comer))
145: Jake Hamiti (Joliet (Catholic Academy)) F 5:10 Malik Wynn (Chicago (Noble/Comer))
152: Luke Hamiti (Joliet (Catholic Academy)) MD 11-1 Faizol Salam (Chicago (Noble/Comer))
160: Connor Cumbee (Joliet (Catholic Academy)) F 2:20 Demetrius Walker-Hill (Chicago (Noble/Comer))
170: Mason Alessio (Joliet (Catholic Academy)) TF 17-0 Larnzell McNeal (Chicago (Noble/Comer))
182: Issac Clauson (Joliet (Catholic Academy)) F 2:28 Kenneth Barrett (Chicago (Noble/Comer))
195: Marcello Aguilar (Joliet (Catholic Academy)) FF
220: Alex Dalach (Joliet (Catholic Academy)) F 2:27 Blaine Sanders (Chicago (Noble/Comer))
285: Hunter Powell (Joliet (Catholic Academy)) F 3:41 Joshua Pombo (Chicago (Noble/Comer))
106: Double FF
113: Noah Avina (Joliet (Catholic Academy)) F 1:24 Jadden Scott (Chicago (Noble/Comer))
Brother Rice 38, Lemont 29
Brother Rice earned its second consecutive state finals appearance under coach Jan Murzyn, winning 8 of 14 matches over Lemont that featured bonus points in five of those wins, and a pair of sudden victory wins to boot.
Brother Rice squares off with Geneseo in its state quarterfinal dual Friday.
120: John Vega (Chicago (Brother Rice)) SV-1 4-2 Carter Mikolajczak (Lemont (H.S.))
126: Bobby Conway (Chicago (Brother Rice)) F 0:32 Ethan Spadafora (Lemont (H.S.))
132: James Bennett (Chicago (Brother Rice)) TF 23-8 Jullian Vallianatos (Lemont (H.S.))
138: Sammy Schuit (Lemont (H.S.)) MD 11-0 Jack O`Connor (Chicago (Brother Rice))
145: Johnny O`Connor (Lemont (H.S.)) MD 16-2 Pat Gilhooly (Chicago (Brother Rice))
152: Noah O`Connor (Lemont (H.S.)) D 4-1 John Fitzpatrick (Chicago (Brother Rice))
160: Colin Goggin (Chicago (Brother Rice)) D 8-7 Nico LoCoco (Lemont (H.S.))
170: James Crane (Chicago (Brother Rice)) F 3:16 Vinny DelliColli (Lemont (H.S.))
182: Charles Connolly (Chicago (Brother Rice)) F 0:35 Dillon Labno (Lemont (H.S.))
195: Gambino Perez (Chicago (Brother Rice)) SV-1 3-1 Nathan Wrublik (Lemont (H.S.))
220: Daniel Taylor (Lemont (H.S.)) F 1:08 Mac Murzyn (Chicago (Brother Rice))
285: Alex Pasquale (Lemont (H.S.)) F 3:38 Nick Baser (Chicago (Brother Rice))
106: James Bowes (Chicago (Brother Rice)) F 1:08 Matteo Vitro (Lemont (H.S.))
113: Cory Zator (Lemont (H.S.)) FF
Wauconda makes its second state finals appearance in program history, having placed second in 2017 for coach Michael Buhr. Current coach Trevor Jauch leads the Bulldogs into a state quarterfinal dual against Deerfield on Friday.
Wauconda won 8 of 11 matches wrestled against Montini to advance downstate.
Wauconda 55, Montini 24
138: Logan Andrews (Wauconda) FF
145: Cole Porten (Wauconda) F 3:59 Santino Tenuta (Lombard (Montini))
152: David Mayora (Lombard (Montini)) F 0:56 Branden Flores (Wauconda)
160: Nick Cheshier (Wauconda) F 0:45 AJ Tack (Lombard (Montini))
170: Zac Johnson (Wauconda) F 3:12 Sam Ostrowski (Lombard (Montini))
182: Sean Christensen (Wauconda) TF 17-2 Jaxon Lane (Lombard (Montini))
195: Evan Jocic (Lombard (Montini)) F 5:42 Joan Vazquez (Wauconda)
220: Mick Ranquist (Lombard (Montini)) F 1:45 Michael Merevick (Wauconda)
285: Joe Scianna (Wauconda) F 2:43 Mike Wind (Lombard (Montini))
106: Gavin Rockey (Wauconda) TF 19-3 Max Neal (Lombard (Montini))
113: Nathan Randle (Wauconda) FF
120: Kam Luif (Lombard (Montini)) FF
126: Lucas Galdine (Wauconda) F 2:26 David Hernandez (Lombard (Montini))
132: Kaden Hebert (Wauconda) D 13-6 Lewis Wais-Montoya (Lombard (Montini))
Deerfield 48, St. Patrick 23
St. Patrick forfeited four weight classes and Deerfield got bonus points in the four matches it won to advance downstate for the second consecutive year. Coach Mark Pechter brings his program to the team state finals for the fourth time, having placed fourth in 3A in 2017 and second in 2A last season.
138: Niko Karamaniolas (Chicago (St. Patrick)) D 8-2 Joey Shaffer (Deerfield (H.S.))
145: Charlie Cross (Deerfield (H.S.)) F 2:41 Sebastian Bruno (Chicago (St. Patrick))
152: Luca Davila (Deerfield (H.S.)) FF
160: Devin Nichol (Chicago (St. Patrick)) D 3-2 Will Holtz (Deerfield (H.S.))
170: Gio Hernandez (Chicago (St. Patrick)) MD 11-0 Grant Goldsmith (Deerfield (H.S.))
182: Kevin Sabau (Deerfield (H.S.)) FF
195: Aiden Cohen (Deerfield (H.S.)) F 0:40 Sal Espinoza (Chicago (St. Patrick))
220: Garvin Crews (Deerfield (H.S.)) FF
285: Jordan Meyers (Deerfield (H.S.)) FF
106: Danny Goodwin (Chicago (St. Patrick)) F 5:59 Vincent Serwan (Deerfield (H.S.))
113: Calvin Stahl (Chicago (St. Patrick)) MD 9-1 Noah Palzet (Deerfield (H.S.))
120: Olin Walker (Chicago (St. Patrick)) MD 11-3 Luke Reddy (Deerfield (H.S.))
126: Jordan Rasof (Deerfield (H.S.)) F 1:02 Justin Ranzzoni (Chicago (St. Patrick))
132: Jackson Palzet (Deerfield (H.S.)) F 5:59 Ben Kusar (Chicago (St. Patrick))
Washington won 10 of the 13 matches wrestled against Crystal Lake Central to advance to the state finals for the eighth time in program history. Washington won four straight team state titles from 2016-19 and placed second in 2020. Coach Nick Miller’s Panthers take on Mahomet-Seymour in Friday’s state quarterfinal round.
Washington 48, Crystal Lake Central 15
170: Cayden Parks (Crystal Lake (Central)) F 3:33 Zane Hulet (Washington)
182: Blake Hinrichsen (Washington) F 4:36 TJ Metz (Crystal Lake (Central))
195: Josh Hoffer (Washington) D 4-2 Jon Barrick (Crystal Lake (Central))
220: Justin Hoffer (Washington) MD 12-3 Tommy McNeil (Crystal Lake (Central))
285: Leo Diaz (Crystal Lake (Central)) F 2:41 Sean Thornton (Washington)
106: Symon Woods (Washington) FF
113: Noah Woods (Washington) D 10-4 Dylan Ramsey (Crystal Lake (Central))
120: Logan Makiney (Washington) D 8-4 Ramiro Rendon (Crystal Lake (Central))
126: Wyatt Medlin (Washington) D 12-7 Greco Rendon (Crystal Lake (Central))
132: Eli Gonzalez (Washington) MD 10-2 Brett Campagna (Crystal Lake (Central))
138: Peyton Cox (Washington) TF 15-0 Dom Vitale (Crystal Lake (Central))
145: Kannon Webster (Washington) F 0:46 Elliot White (Crystal Lake (Central))
152: Cael Miller (Washington) TF 18-3 Tommy Tomasello (Crystal Lake (Central))
160: Ben Butler (Crystal Lake (Central)) D 7-0 Braden Baker (Washington)
Geneseo 44, Sycamore 23
Geneseo won 9 of 14 matches against Sycamore, including 8 straight wins from 106-152, to advance to its fourth team dual state finals. Geneseo finished second in state in 2013 and 2014 under coach Jon Murray, who takes his squad to a downstate quarterfinal against Brother Rice on Friday.
170: Cooper Bode (Sycamore (H.S.)) TF 15-0 Logan Palmer (Geneseo)
182: Zack Crawford (Sycamore (H.S.)) F 0:29 Aaron Betcher (Geneseo)
195: Gable Carrick (Sycamore (H.S.)) D 2-0 Landon Shoemaker (Geneseo)
220: Tim Stohl (Geneseo) MD 10-1 Ethan Bode (Sycamore (H.S.))
285: Lincoln Cooley (Sycamore (H.S.)) D 1-0 Levi Neumann (Geneseo)
106: Tim Sebastian (Geneseo) F 3:34 Michael Olson (Sycamore (H.S.))
113: Grady Hull (Geneseo) D 5-3 Tyler Lockhart (Sycamore (H.S.))
120: Devan Hornback (Geneseo) F 3:13 Thomas Lind (Sycamore (H.S.))
126: Bryce Bealer (Geneseo) D 5-0 Jonathon Buckheister (Sycamore (H.S.))
132: Malaki Jackson (Geneseo) F 1:50 Logan Sandfox (Sycamore (H.S.))
138: Zachary Montez (Geneseo) F 1:55 Cole Kleiser (Sycamore (H.S.))
145: Kye Weinzierl (Geneseo) MD 12-1 Jaden Cochran (Sycamore (H.S.))
152: Josh Hock (Geneseo) FF
160: Gus Cambier (Sycamore (H.S.)) FF
Mahomet-Seymour won 36-34 over Glenwood and Jacksonville won 51-24 over Mt. Vernon to advance to this year’s dual state finals.
Mahomet-Seymour will take on Washington in Friday’s state quarterfinal round, one year after placing third in Illinois for coach Rob Ledin. Mahomet-Seymour is making its 20th appearance in the team dual state finals and won four state titles under coach Marty Williams in 1984, ‘86, ‘88, and ‘89. The Bulldogs also placed second in 1985 and third in 1987 under Williams, and finished third in Illinois under coach Rob Porter in 1991, ‘94 ‘97, and 2001.
Ledin will lead the Bulldogs downstate for the fifth time in his tenure,
Jacksonville will be making its first-ever appearance at the team dual state finals for coach Dustin Secrist and will square off with Joliet Catholic in their state quarterfinal dual.
IHSA 3A Dual Sectional Roundup
By Gary Larsen
Here’s a recap of Tuesday’s Class 3A team dual sectionals. The team state finals will take place Friday and Saturday at Grossinger Motors Arena in Bloomington.
St. Charles East 66, Maine South 9
The Saints were dominant Tuesday, winning 12 of the 13 matches wrestled including nine pins against Maine South. St. Charles East will compete in the team state finals for the third time in program history, having placed third in 1997 for coach Mick Ruettiger, and advancing in 2001 for coach Steve Smerz.
“I felt our guys wrestled really well on Super Tuesday,” Saints coach Jason Potter said. “It is a hard turnaround for the guys who are coming off a long weekend at individual state and I was impressed by their ability to get focused on short notice and take care of a tough Maine South team.
“We wrestled hard from top to bottom and we were even in the two matches we lost. We’re excited about the opportunity to compete for a state championship this weekend and the challenge of facing the returning champs (Mt. Carmel) on Friday night. We feel if we wrestle our best, we can beat anyone.”
106: Dom Munaretto (St. Charles East) F 1:35 Brett Harman (Maine South)
113: Christos Vaselopulos (Maine South) SV-1 10-8 Liam Aye (St. Charles East)
120: Logan Tatar (St. Charles East) FF
126: AJ Marino (St. Charles East) F 2:42 Majid Alavi (Maine South)
132: Ben Davino (St. Charles East) F 0:58 Luke Morrison (Maine South)
138: Ethan Penzato (St. Charles East) F 1:30 Sean Hamilton (Maine South)
145: Tyler Guerra (St. Charles East) F 1:01 Nate Beltran (Maine South)
152: Gavin Connolly (St. Charles East) D 3-1 Danny Spandiary (Maine South)
160: Alex Eng (Maine South) F 2:29 Ryan McGovern (St. Charles East)
170: Lane Robinson (St. Charles East) F 0:55 Sam Bartell (Maine South)
182: Brody Murray (St. Charles East) F 3:00 Fillip Michniewicz (Maine South)
195: Brandon Swartz (St. Charles East) F 2:27 Tommy Porrello (Maine South)
220: Christian Wilson (St. Charles East) F 2:27 Leo McDonald (Maine South)
285: Austin Barrett (St. Charles East) D 3-2 Tyler Fortis (Maine South)
York 38, Schaumburg 32
The final two matches of the York-Schaumburg dual decided things, with Austin Bagdasarian (220) winning a 1-0 decision and then Dominic Begora (285) winning by fall to send York to the team state finals for its first time ever.
York won 8 of 14 matches wrestled and got bonus points in six of those wins. The Dukes and coach Nick Metcalf will wrestle against Yorkville in Friday’s state quarterfinal round.
106: Austin Phelps (Schaumburg) F 1:57 Tommy Olins (York)
113: Jake Kubycheck (York) F 2:41 Jair Cole (Schaumburg)
120: Brady Phelps (Schaumburg) TF 20-5 Bobby Berner (York)
126: Callen Kirchner (Schaumburg) F 5:05 Jackson Hanselman (York)
132: Sean VanSleet (York) MD 12-3 Rocco Fontela (Schaumburg)
138: Sean Berger (York) F 2:33 Aiden Ploski (Schaumburg)
145: Frankie Nitti (York) D 8-4 Kolin Little (Schaumburg)
152: Gavin Hinkle (Schaumburg) F 3:55 Michael Grazzini (York)
160: Caden Kirchner (Schaumburg) F 3:24 Alejandro Carreon (York)
170: Danny DeCristofaro (York) MD 10-2 Logan Meyer (Schaumburg)
182: Sean Christoffel (Schaumburg) D 10-4 Matt Barton (York)
195: Evan Grazzini (York) F 3:59 Jacob Acevedo (Schaumburg)
220: Austin Bagdasarian (York) D 1-0 Jimmy Zinchuck (Schaumburg)
285: Dominic Begora (York) F 3:59 Dilon Najjar (Schaumburg)
At Marmion Academy:
Marmion Academy 51, Downers Grove South 21
Marmion went 10-4 with one forfeit win in matches against Downers Grove South and got bonus points in eight of the nine matches wrestled. Marmion advances to the team state finals for the ninth time in program history. Marmion is seeking its first-ever team state championship, having placed second in state twice (2013, 2016) and third twice (2014, 2019).
“The boys wrestled hard,” Marmion coach Anthony Cirrincione said. “It has been a while (2019) for Marmion, but we have been wrestling hard all year. The excitement of having an opportunity to compete for a team state title is real amongst the team. We will continue to ask the boys what we have asked them to do this entire season and that is to wrestle really hard and listen to the coaches. They have yet to not answer that request and nothing will be different this weekend. I expect us to compete really hard and give it everything we have.”
195: Mateusz Nycz (Marmion) F 4:00 Keandre Miles (DG South)
220: Teddy Perry (Marmion) F 1:07 Jayden Contreras (DG South)
285: Sean Scheck (Marmion) F 1:28 Semaj Croswell (DG South)
106: Nicholas Garcia (Marmion) TF 17-2 Trevor DiNaso (DG South)
113: Donny Pigoni (Marmion) MD 10-0 Miguel Castaneda (DG South)
120: Donnie Fields (DG South) FF
126: Jameson Garcia (Marmion) F 3:37 Angel Negron (DG South)
132: Ashton Hobson (Marmion) F 0:41 Jordan Christin-Holley (DG South)
138: Tyler Aters (Marmion) D 8-4 Dom Piehl (DG South)
145: Brody Kelly (Marmion) TF 20-3 Hugo Contreras-Lozano (DG South)
152: Collin Carrigan (Marmion) FF
160: Luke Swan (DG South) FF
170: RJ Samuels (DG South) D 6-3 Michael Phillips (Marmion)
182: Matty Lapacek (DG South) FF
Mt. Carmel 63, Naperville Central 9
Defending team state champion Mt. Carmel went 12-2 in matches against Naperville Central to advance to the team state finals for the 14th time in program history, having won team state titles under Hall-of-Fame coach Bill Weick back in 1992, ‘93, and ‘94, and also placed second in state in 2020 for current coach Alex Tsirtsis.
195: William Jacobson (Mt. Carmel) MD 14-4 Jacob Smetters (Naperville Central)
220: Nicolas Besteiro (Naperville Central) F 1:28 Nick Naujokas (Mt. Carmel)
285: Alexander Poholik (Mt. Carmel) F 1:35 over Chase Enfield (Naperville Central)
106: Kavel Moore (Mt. Carmel) F 1:02 Jacob Cochran (Naperville Central)
113: Lukas Tsirtsis (Mt. Carmel) F 3:24 Austin Aguinaldo (Naperville Central)
120: Seth Mendoza (Mt. Carmel) F 3:36 Ty Martin (Naperville Central)
126: Caleb Drousias (Mt. Carmel) MD 14-5 Ethan Olson (Naperville Central)
132: Jairo Acuna (Mt. Carmel) F 1:55 Mitchell Kaszuba (Naperville Central)
138: Sergio Lemley (Mt. Carmel) F 4:22 Larry Stubitsch (Naperville Central)
145: Liam Kelly (Mt. Carmel) MD 10-2 Hagan Taylor (Naperville Central)
152: Edmund Enright (Mt. Carmel) F 0:29 Christopher Bern (Naperville Central)
160: Gavin Bohan (Naperville Central) D 9-2 Kevin Kalchbrenner (Mt. Carmel)
170: Colin Kelly (Mt. Carmel) TF 24-8 Henry Rydwelski (Naperville Central)
182: Rylan Breen (Mt. Carmel) MD 10-0 Nyree Dabney (Naperville Central)
Hersey 34, Prospect 21
In a closely-fought dual, Hersey went 9-5 in matches won over Prospect, including three one-point decision wins from Aaron Hernandez (160), Anthony Cambria (182) and James Shaffer (132), and a pair of two-point wins from Ben Erhabor (220) and Parker Sena (152).
Hersey will be making its third trip to the team state finals, having last competed downstate in 1993 and 1997. They’ll take on Marmion in their state quarterfinal dual on Friday.
160: Aaron Hernandez (Hersey) D 6-5 Damien Puma (Prospect)
170: Michael Matuszak (Prospect) D 7-4 Fortis Variano (Hersey)
182: Anthony Cambria (Hersey) D 10-9 Nathan Lopez (Prospect)
195: Jaxon Penovich (Prospect) TF 22-7 Leo Delgado ((Hersey)
220: Ben Erhabor (Hersey) D 9-7 Conor Mitchell (Prospect)
285: Oleg Simakov (Hersey) F 5:09 Tommy Johl (Prospect)
106: Dan Lehman (Hersey) TF 18-3 Adam Epperson (Prospect)
113: Abdullokh Khakimov (Hersey) MD 11-2 Elijah Garza (Prospect)
120: Joel Muehlenbeck (Prospect) D 11-6 Esteban Delgado (Hersey)
126: Max Mukhamedaliyev (Hersey) MD 13-4 Jimmy Mateos (Prospect)
132: James Shaffer (Hersey) D 8-7 Giorgio Difalco (Prospect)
138: Lennon Steinkuhler (Prospect) MD 14-1 Rodrigo Arceo (Hersey)
145: Will Baysingar (Prospect) F 1:37 Jake Hanson (Hersey)
152: Parker Sena (Hersey) D 5-3 Alex Bootz (Prospect)
Warren 60, Belvidere North 16
Warren won eight of the 11 matches wrestled against Belvidere North and got bonus points in six of those eight wins, in advancing to the program’s first-ever trip to the team state finals for coach Brad Janecek. Warren squares off with Lockport in a state quarterfinal dual on Friday.
160: Royce Lopez (Warren) SV-1 2-1 Antonio Alvarado (Belvidere North)
170: Colin Young (Belvidere North) F 1:59 Justice Humphreys (Warren)
182: Demetrius Lin (Warren) F 3: 26 Juan Cervantes (Belvidere North)
195: Jeremiah Hixson ((Warren) F 0:40 Christian Mendoza (Belvidere North)
220: Caleb VanLeer ((Warren) FF
285: Anthony Soto (Warren) F 0:38 Zander Martinez (Belvidere North)
106: Jonathan Marquez (Warren) F 4:00 Unknown (Unattached)
113: Brayden Teunissen (Belvidere North) MD 13-1 Carlos Ordonez (Warren)
120:Jose Ordonez (Warren) F 1:29 Bryson Teunissen (Belvidere North)
126: Jorge Valenzuela ((Warren) D 11-5 Geren Stapleton (Belvidere North)
132: Zack Piszkiewicz (Warren) FF
138: Evan Onstead (Warren) F 1:51 Andrew Bucci (Belvidere North)
145: Dominick Girardin (Belvidere North) F 2:21 Daniel Currea (Warren)
152: Aaron Stewart (Warren) FF
At Lincoln-Way West
Lockport 42, Lincoln-Way West 22
Lockport went 9-5 in matches won against Lincoln-Way West to secure its eighth trip to the dual team state finals, having won the state crown in 2017, placed third in 2016 and 2022, and finished fourth in 2015, all under former coach Josh Oster. In his first season at the helm, current coach Jameson Oster takes his squad into a state quarterfinal dual against Warren on Friday night.
“The team wrestled really well,” Oster said. “Being down three starters made the dual a lot more interesting, but our guys stepped up like they’ve been doing all season. We are looking to keep this momentum going and bring home another trophy this weekend.”
220: Nick Kavooras (Lincoln-Way West) MD 11-1 Malik Salah (Lockport)
285: Wojciech Chrobak (Lockport) TF 16-0 Michael Bylaitis (Lincoln-Way West)
106: Isaac Zimmerman (Lockport) F 1:43 Carter Dibenedetto (Lincoln-Way West)
113: Timmy O`Connor (Lockport) D 5-3 Haden Anderson (Lincoln-Way West)
120: Liam Zimmerman (Lockport) F 0:23 Caiden Selof (Lincoln-Way West)
126: Jad Alwawi (Lockport) MD 12-0 Jakob Siwinski (Lincoln-Way West)
132: Karter Guzman (Lincoln-Way West) F 2:43 Robert Vukobratovich (Lockport)
138: Logan Kaminski (Lockport) D 9-3 Jase Salin (Lincoln-Way West)
145: Luke Siwinski (Lincoln-Way West) D 11-7 Chris Miller (Lockport)
152: Durango Valles (Lockport) D 10-3 Tyler Mansker (Lincoln-Way West)
160: Jimmy Talley (Lincoln-Way West) D 7-3 Max Knezevich (Lockport)
170: Logan Swaw (Lockport) F 1:06 Devin Swidergal (Lincoln-Way West)
182: Aidan Nolting (Lockport) F 3:02 Nate Elstner (Lincoln-Way West)
195: Anthony Sherman (Lincoln-Way West) F 1:23 Chase Creed (Lockport)
Yorkville 35, Edwardsville 23
Yorkville won 8 of 13 matches wrestled including four of the final five matches to notch its 11th trip downstate. The Foxes most recent state titles came in 1993 and ‘94 under coach Bob Long and they finished second in state in their most recent trip downstate under coach Joe Fornell in 2012.
In his 7th year at the helm, current coach Jake Oster takes Yorkville downstate to face York in a state quarterfinal dual on Friday.
220: Ben Alvarez (Yorkville (H.S.)) F 1:28 Roman Janek (Edwardsville (H.S.))
285: Dawson Rull (Edwardsville (H.S.)) D 10-3 Logan Fenoglio (Yorkville (H.S.))
106: Liam Fenoglio (Yorkville (H.S.)) D 5-0 Bryson Nuttall (Edwardsville (H.S.))
113: Tyler Perry (Edwardsville (H.S.)) F 4:00 Ramsey Barton (Yorkville (H.S.))
120: Levi Wilkinson (Edwardsville (H.S.)) MD 14-6 Nathan Craft (Yorkville (H.S.))
126: Ryan Richie (Edwardsville (H.S.)) SV-1 9-7 Dominic Recchia (Yorkville (H.S.))
132: Jack Ferguson (Yorkville (H.S.)) D 4-1 Zeke Rhodes (Edwardsville (H.S.))
138: Dom Coronado (Yorkville (H.S.)) MD 9-1 Blake Mink (Edwardsville (H.S.))
145: Drew Landau (Edwardsville (H.S.)) MD 14-6 Caleb Viscogliosi (Yorkville (H.S.))
152: Ryder Janeczko (Yorkville (H.S.)) F 1:27 Brendan Landau (Edwardsville (H.S.))
160: Cam Peach (Yorkville (H.S.)) MD 11-0 Jack Cloud (Edwardsville (H.S.))
170: Luke Zook (Yorkville (H.S.)) FF
182: Hubey Thomas (Edwardsville (H.S.)) D 4-0 Colten Stevens (Yorkville (H.S.))
195: Ryan Stockl (Yorkville (H.S.)) D 5-2 Simon Schulte (Edwardsville (H.S.))
Class 2A Individual State Finals
By Patrick Z. McGavin
CHAMPAIGN – Everything old proved new again—with some delirious twists and turns.
Redemption was the ruling metaphor of the Class 2A State Championships at State Farm Arena here Saturday night.
By one measure, the dominant teams took hold on Mat 2–Joliet Catholic with five finalists, Washington four, and Aurora Christian three.
The most satisfying story was the possibility of the comeback.
Four wrestlers had a year to imagine and ponder a different scenario than what befell them last year—the heartbreak of losing a state championship match.
If the best teams invariably produce the best wrestlers, success begets deeper levels of accomplishment. The best wrestlers tend to come back—again and again.
“Illinois is one of the best states in the country for wrestlers,” said Washington senior Kannon Webster, a three-time state champion.
“It is not a shocker that kids are coming back year after year, and putting themselves in the finals, and putting themselves on the top of the podium.”
The rankings refer to Rob Sherill’s Illinois Matmen standings. Seeds refer to the IHSA points-based system.
Here is a closer look at how the state championship matches played out.
Class 2A state champions
106: Anthony Alanis, Grayslake Central, junior
The rivalry of Anthony Alanis and Gavin Rockey constitutes its own narrative.
Their paths have been inescapably intertwined throughout the state series—clashing in successive weeks in the regional, sectional and fittingly, the largest stage.
Alanis seized the early advantage with two first period takedowns and withstood the rally of Rockey for the tense and superbly contested 8-6 final.
Alanis (44-1) reached his dream of ascending one level higher at the state podium after he lost to Drew Davis of Glenwood in the 106-pound state championship match last year.
His only loss came against Antioch sophomore Gavin Hanrahan at 113 pounds.
“A big difference from last year is that I was definitely not as nervous,” Alanis said. “I have been in this environment before, and I have been on this mat before.
“I felt more comfortable.”
Scoring first is also a great psychological advantage.
“Compared with our other matches, I think personally what was different was that I already knew what I wanted at the beginning of the match,” Alanis said. “I knew I was going to go as hard as I could for six minutes, and I wasn’t going to let up at any point in the match.”
He was dominant through the early stages of the tournament, posting a first period fall and technical fall en route to the upper bracket championship.
As a runner-up in the regional and sectional, Rockey (29-6) had a more contested path. He also posted a first period fall and a decisive quarterfinal victory.
Four of his defeats came against Alanis.
As riveting as the title match proved, it was eclipsed to some extent by the history making effort of Bremen freshman Morgan Turner.
She became the first female wrestler in state history to capture a medal by defeating Civic Memorial sophomore Bradley Ruckman 4-2 in the third-place match.
Turner (35-3) eschewed a chance to capture a girls state championship. She took Alanis to the brink in the semifinal before falling 3-0.
“It feels great,” Turner said. “Along the journey, I felt like I could have done better. I just wanted a bigger challenge of going up against the boys as a way of really raising the bar.”
Freshman Harrison Dea of Morton (Ill.) captured fifth place with the 10-4 decision over junior Ivan Munoz of Ottawa.
113: Drew Davis, Glenwood, junior
Any defending state champion has a natural aura. They also have a massive target on their back, the one everybody wants to take down.
Drew Davis survived the odds, and punched his return ticket with the hard fought and deeply satisfying 3-2 victory over Wauconda freshman Nate Randle.
Davis is angular and rangy, and blessed with superb technique and explosive athleticism.
He posted back to back technical falls to begin his title defense. He ended the perfect run of Montini junior Ben Dunne with the 8-1 victory in the semifinals.
Randle (31-9) achieved something almost unprecedented—he finished higher at the individual state meet than the sectional, where he was third behind Dunne and Hanrahan.
Randle improved with each match, showing toughness, verve and natural instincts.
He gave Davis everything he wanted, using his power and speed to throw off the lightning forays of Davis.
Scoreless at the start of the second period, Davis finally created some breathing space with an escape and takedown.
Randle stayed tight and restless, showing burst and energy.
Sophomore Deven Casey of Aurora Christian captured his second consecutive third place trophy with the 3-1 victory over Joliet Catholic freshman Jason Hampton.
Casey (40-8) seized control with a second period takedown.
Hampton (39-10) edged Dunne 4-3 in the semifinal wrestleback. Rock Island junior Truth Vesey earned fifth place with the medical forfeit over Dunne (18-3)
120: Gylon Sims, Joliet Catholic, senior
As a freshman, Gylon Sims made a surprise run to the state championship at 106 pounds.
He made it a habit.
A four-time state finalist, Sims put the finishing touches on his stunning individual career with the 5-3 sudden victory over Aurora Christian sophomore Josh Vazquez.
Sims (41-6) created the high-wire drama with an escape with about 18 seconds remaining in regulation.
Vazquez (26-7) proved a skilled and creative adversary in his own right.
The two wrestled earlier this year, with Sims pulling out the 3-2 victory. Vazquez had several benchmark wins, most significantly a victory over Class 3A state champion Massey Odiotti of Loyola.
Vazquez appeared in the driver’s seat after his takedown put him up 3-2 late in the third period.
“I think my biggest motivation was this was my last year, and I knew I could not go out like that,” Sims said. “He was fighting hard not to give up any points, and obviously I had the same mentality.”
Given new life with the late escape, Sims took control in the extra time, getting the jump on Vazquez.
“I lost in the finals as a freshman, but I wasn’t really expecting to make it,” Sims said. “Once I did, I remember telling myself I never wanted to miss out on that experience.
“I made sure I made that march every year.”
Bremen senior Nore’ Turner fell just short of matching the achievement of his younger sister.
Senior Tyler Evans of Prairie Ridge secured the 5-2 victory in the third-place match. Evans finished 42-5.
Nore’ Turner posted a final record of 33-5.
In the fifth-place match, Rock Island junior Daniel McGhee (27-7) pulled out the 7-6 decision over freshman Kameron Luif (36-12) of Montini.
126: Bobby Conway, Brother Rice, sophomore
Bobby Conway packed three or four different matches into one berserk and helter skelter action.
The results proved revealing, spectacular, and intensely dramatic.
Facing undefeated defending state champion Colby Crouch of Triad, Conway staged two amazing comebacks at the start of the first period and the second period, went up and then fell behind.
He nearly pinned Crouch twice only to lose his balance and get reversed. A stunning combined 28 points were scored until Crouch suffered an injury.
Conway was declared the winner by injury default when Crouch was unable to complete the match.
“I just kept pushing forward,” Conway said. “In that situation, the moment you stop it’s over. Confidence is everything.
“You come into any match just thinking you’re not losing. When I was in that tunnel, I didn’t see myself losing. I couldn’t see the possibility of losing. I had great energy, and I was confident. Even if he put me on my back, I was confident I would win.”
Crouch (31-1) led 4-0 early in the first period and 9-4 at the start of the second period.
Conway was unbowed, twice scoring back points, yielding three times and four lead changes.
Crouch had gone up 15-13 late in the second period at the time of the injury.
Conway (23-1) overcame a stained knee injury during the season, becoming the second Brother RIce state champion in consecutive years.
Wiry and long, Conway utilized his superior length to throw off Crouch to catch him twice on his back.
“When he got me right off the bat, if I had not been long enough, he might have put me on my back,” Conway said. “I might have gotten stuck.
“It’s a good thing I am long enough.”
Ranked No. 6, Conway suffered his only loss against Loyola state champion Massey Odiotti.
Conway edged No. 5 Jordan Rasof, the tournament second-seed, in the semifinals.
Crouch had two first period falls en route to the upper bracket title.
In the third-place match, Washington freshman Wyatt Medlin registered a 20-5 technical fall over junior Tyler Weidman (40-13) of Grayslake Central.
Medlin gave Crouch his toughest match in the lead up to the final before falling in the competitive 10-5 decision during the semifinals.
In the fifth-place match, Caleb Scott (39-12) of Civic Memorial outlasted Rasof (44-8) with the 4-2 ultimate tie breaker decision.
132: Santino Robinson, Mascoutah, senior
Santino Robinson played out the most satisfying outcome in his mind.
Then he realized it.
Robinson has crossed borders to arrive at this point. A two-time state finalist in Missouri, he completed his magic run.
Robinson (41-0) completed his perfect season with the 4-2 tiebreaker over Washington sophomore Peyton Cox.
The mesmerizing showdown felt preordained given the two were ranked 1-2 throughout the season.
Cox (44-3) suffered his second consecutive heartbreaking state finals loss, having dropped the 120-pound title against Crouch last year.
After a scoreless first period, the two alternated escapes, setting up the dramatic conclusion.
“I knew that if I was able to take him down, I was going to win the match,” Robinson said. “That was my whole thinking, I just had to get the takedown.”
The clash of styles made the match all the more bracing and illuminating, with Robinson holding the advantage in quickness and athleticism, Cox carrying out the edge in power and strength.
Robinson deployed his speed and quickness to maneuver out of potentially dangerous moments.
His superior quickness finally broke Cox down, his escape and takedown turning the tide.
“I got in on his legs a couple of times, but I was not able to finish it,” Robinson said. “I knew eventually I was going to be able to finish one if I kept firing.”
Sophomore Zachary Montez of Geneseo earned the impressive 8-6 victory over junior Edgar Albino of Antioch to capture third place.
Montez (48-3) won four consecutive matches after a tough quarterfinal loss against Robinson. Albino (34-5) defeated Normal West junior Evan Willock in the semifinal wrestleback.
In the fifth-place match, Oak Forest senior Caden Musselm (35-5) posted the second period fall of Willock (39-7).
138: Gauge Shipp, Galesburg, junior
If ever the name fit the athlete, Gauge Shipp proved the moment prophetic.
He was the athlete everybody else in his field was ultimately measured against.
He proved himself a performer without peer.
Shipp hit multiple milestones as an undefeated champion who reached the 50-win threshold with his 15-0 technical fall of Joliet Catholic senior Jake Hamiti.
He made quite the leap, jumping up three weight classes after he finished sixth at 120 pounds last year.
Ranked No. 8, Shipp (50-0) overpowered Hamiti in the championship with his impressive command of speed, power, and technical prowess.
He punctuated one of the lopsided runs in the tournament with a fall, technical fall and major decision.
“I came in every day this season, and I worked on just getting better,” Shipp said. “I never plateaued. I am always working.
“There is a certain thing in my brain that I just unlocked this year. I just feel like every time I am out there, I am the best wrestler. I am completely confident in myself, and my abilities.”
Ranked No. 3, Hamiti edged Patrick Mullen of Aurora Christian in the quarterfinal and followed with a decisive victory over top-ranked Anthony Streib of Antioch in the semifinal.
Shipp was at a different level, ultimately untouchable.
Streib (27-4) recovered from his semifinal loss to Hamiti with the 8-2 decision over senior Sammy Schuit (33-10) of Lemont in earning third-place distinction.
In the fifth-place match, Dylan Watts (34-8) of Bloomington edged sophomore Ben Capitosti of Mattoon (43-10).
145: Kannon Webster, Washington, senior
The pound for pound question is a natural and highly entertaining one to ponder.
With the three state championship classes unfolding simultaneously, the kaleidoscopic view allows one to entertain all possibilities.
Kannon Webster certainly belongs at the top of any order, and very much in the discussion for the best wrestler in the state, regardless of class or weight.
Webster decimated the field for the third time in his career. He was the closest the class had to a fait accompli—meaning an outcome that was already decided.
Webster captured his second consecutive state title and the third of his illustrious career with the 18-8 major decision over Bryce Griffin of Civic Memorial.
Webster (50-0) won at 106 pounds as a freshman and defeated Santino Robinson last year at 132 pounds.
His breathless pace and relentless speed allowed Griffin little time to breathe.
He posted three falls during the preliminary bouts to capture the upper bracket.
“I am just going to go out there, and just compete the same every time and score as many points as possible,” Webster said.
“I like to be the one who sets an example with my leadership qualities, for the rest of the team and be the one that kids look up to. I hope they take something away from my wrestling.”
Ranked No. 2, Griffin (48-5) edged second-seeded and No. 3 Caleb Nobiling of Antioch 6-5 in the semifinals.
Nobiling (38-9) captured third place recognition with the 5-3 decision over junior Aidan Blackburn of Mattoon.
Blackburn (41-8) also qualified for the top bracket semifinal.
In the fifth-place match, Nolan Mrozowski (42-11) earned the major decision over senior Josyah Holland (25-8) of Crete-Monee.
152: Taythan Silva, Aurora Christian, senior
Taythan Silva had a different memory of a year ago.
After losing in the fifth-place consolation semifinal, he realized he had nothing tangible to show for his efforts.
“Every practice this year, I realized I didn’t really do anything last year, and I had to keep going,” he said.
Silva made a grand statement with his riveting 1-0 victory over Montini junior David Mayora in the championship match.
He secured his escape in the second period and then used his quickness, speed and power to subdue Mayora in the final period.
“We wrestled in freestyle last spring, and we have also wrestled before when we were younger,” Silva said. “We have known each other, and we know how each other wrestles.
“It was about trying to wear him down, and see who was going to score.”
Silva (39-7) gave Aurora Christian another state champion, a hallmark for the new powerhouse.
The top-seed and top-ranked Mayora (47-3) won by technical fall, decision and major decision in reaching the championship.
In the third-place match, Sycamore’s Gus Cambier posted the second period fall of Joliet Catholic’s Connor Cumbee.
Glenwood’s Aden Byal defeated Collin Reif of Jacksonville by major decision in finishing fifth.
160: Mason Alessio, Joliet Catholic, senior
Motivation takes on many forms and permutations.
Of the multiple state finalists who came up just short a year earlier, Mason Alessio of Joliet Catholic accomplished what nobody else could claim.
He eviscerated the sting of that memory.
Alessio punctuated a dominant run with a first period fall of Dunlap junior Nick Mueller.
Alessio (43-3) lost only once in state, against Lockport state finalist Logan Swaw.
He also wiped clean the memory of his loss against Jayden Colon in the 145-pound state championship last year.
Colon transferred from Montini to St. Charles East, and stunned previously unbeaten Noah Tapia of Moline to win the Class 3A 145-pound state championship.
In registering the only state finals fall in Class 2A, Alessio completed another extra piece of the equation.
He did not concede a point during the state series run, massing a 31-0 cumulative score in his preliminary results.
Mueller (43-8) was overpowered in the championship match. His tournament run was impressive, with a major decision in the quarterfinals and a sharp performance in the semifinals.
In the third-place match, Sycamore’s Zack Crawford stormed back from his quarterfinal defeat against Montini’s Will Prater to win four consecutive matches.
In the third-place match, Crawford (43-2) defeated Zane Hulet of Washington by major decision.
Hulet (29-15) defeated Prater (42-8) by medical forfeit in the wrestleback semifinal.
Ben Butler (38-13) of Crystal Lake Central also defeated Prater by medical forfeit in the fifth-place match.
170: Abe Wojcikiewicz, Civic Memorial, senior
Events come at you fast, no matter the circumstances.
A year ago, Abe Wojcikiewicz was sailing toward an apparent undefeated state run until he was stunned in the semifinals.
It was the ultimate wake up call. At state, anything is possible.
Wojcikiewicz removed any questions or doubt about his follow up action with a dominant 17-5 major over Washington senior Blake Hinrichsen.
Wojcikiewicz (47-2) registered two victories by technical fall and a first period fall in the semifinals.
“That is going to weigh on anybody who experiences that, and my whole mentality this year has just been to dominate people,” Wojcikiewicz said
Hinrichsen (41-7) was also masterful in the run up to the state final. In one of the best matches of the tournament, he edged Aiden Cohen of Deerfield 12-10 in the semifinals.
In the third-place match, Cohen (47-5) ended his remarkable individual career with the 10-2 major over Crystal Lake South sophomore Cayden Parks (40-8).
Amare Overton of Rock Island captured fifth place with the first period fall of Brenden Benz of Carbondale.
182: Matty Jens, Grayslake Central, junior
Second place was not an option.
Matty Jens had a year to mull over the circumstances of his 5-3 loss in the championship last year against rival Shane Moran of Crystal Lake South.
Funny enough, Moran saw the future a year ago, acknowledging that Jens was just a sophomore.
“He still has two more years.”
Jens actually led Moran 3-0 in that championship match.
Cognizant of that, he never let up against Joliet Catholic sophomore Nico Ronchetti.
He posted two first period takedowns in the 9-1 major decision.
“I think the early takedowns were not a surprise,” he said. “They were just a part of the game plan. I think I was in control the whole time, and he was kind of broke early.”
Like his teammate Anthony Alanis, Jens had to work through the extreme disappointment of coming so close.
Jens did not have to worry about a long wait. The three state championship matches began at his weight.
He did not have to mull over his options.
“It was definitely weird being the first match up,” he said. “I have never had to do that before. I even asked Anthony what I should do.
“It definitely gave me less time to think, and I was just ready to wrestle.
Jens (32-0) is now 79-3 his last two years of wrestling.
He posted two falls and a 7-4 decision against Steven Marquez of Rock Island in the semifinals.
He had a private bond with Alanis through their shared experiences, and now joint state titles.
“We always brought up last year’s final with each other, and we would always push each other and use that as fuel in everything we did,” Jens said.
Ronchetti (32-17) was one of the wild cards of the finals, a literally out of nowhere sophomore who stunned top-seeded Brennan Houser of Mahomet-Seymour 7-6 in the semifinals.
His magic ran out against Jens.
Marquez edged Phil Shaw IV of Danville 7-5 in the third-place match.
In defeating Koen Rodebush of Triad by technical fall in the fifth-place match, Houser achieved a special distinction of a 50-win season
220: Justin Hoffer, Washington, senior
In the toughest, deepest draw in the class, Justin Hoffer was the last man standing.
Ranked No. 3, he took out top-ranked Connor Lorden of LaSalle-Peru 5-2 for the championship.
His speed and athleticism was the difference maker, yielding takedowns in the second and third period.
Justin Hoffer (43-1) won by technical fall in the quarterfinals, and edged No. 2 and top seed Jack Barnhart 6-4 in the semifinal.
The top-ranked Lorden edged previously unbeaten Alex Jackson (35-2) of Bremen in the quarterfinals, and beat Alex Hamrick of Glenwood in the semifinals.
In the third-place match, Hamrick (46-5) subdued Jackson 4-3. He previously had two top-five finishes at 285 pounds.
Leo Meyer (47-7) of Mattoon captured fifth place by medical forfeit of Barnhart.
285: Dillan Johnson, Joliet Catholic, junior
Watching the deep curved ceilings of the State Farm Arena is the typical fate of anybody who goes up against Dillan Johnson.
The defending state champion needed less than two and a half minutes of time to post two falls.
Aurora Christian senior Braden Hunter made Johnson work.
In the end, Johnson reigned supreme, staking his claim to being the best in the country.
Hunter used his explosive combination of power and speed to register four takedowns in the 8-2 victory.
Johnson (43-0) has not conceded a takedown. He posted falls of Class 3A finalists Ben Bielawski and Jonathan Rulo.
“I don’t really focus too much on the rankings or things like that,” Johnson said. “The one thing it does is motivate me to just keep working hard.
“It’s a difficult task sometimes, but my dad helps me out a lot with that.”
In the first period, Johnson got in tight on Hunter with a single leg. Hunter used his superior height and weight to offset the action.
Eventually Johnson was just too quick and powerful.
“I just focus on what I am going to do, and what my takedowns are,” he said.
Despite the loss, Hunter (12-1) made a remarkable recovery just to get to this point. He suffered a torn meniscus last fall playing football.
He also dealt with complications of the flu on Friday. He soldiered on.
“The final didn’t really go the way I wanted, but I will take what I can get with the month that I had,” Hunter said.
Third is the second charm for Notre Dame’s Karl Schmalz (34-3), who ended his standout career with his second consecutive third-place state finish with his 4-2 comeback victory over Andy Burburijia of Crystal Lake South.
“I didn’t wrestle well enough against Braden Hunter, and I wanted to come back strong,” Schmalz said.
The third-place match was a repeat of the title match of the Illini Classic that Schmalz won in sudden victory.
A junior Burburijia finished the season 33-5.
In the fifth-place match, Lincoln Cooley of Sycamore defeated Max Accettura of Vernon Hills by ultimate tiebreaker 2-1.
Canton, Unity have six qualifiers at Class 1A Clinton Sectional
Canton continued its historic season, following up on its third regional title and its first since 2009, by getting a school-record six state qualifiers, with half of those being champions, at the Class 1A Clinton Sectional.
Illini Bluffs also had three champions and eight other schools had one title winner. Unity also finished with six qualifiers for this weekend’s IHSA State Finals in Champaign while Illini Bluffs and Tremont each had four state qualifiers and El Paso-Gridley, Farmington, Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley/Fisher, LeRoy/Tri-Valley, Macomb and Peoria Notre Dame had three apiece.
Winning championships for coach Zach Crawford’s Canton Little Giants were Trevor Hedges (126), Joseph Norton (170) and Asa Reed (285) while John Davis (120) placed second and Maddux Steele (106) and Danny Murphy (160) both finished in fourth place.
“Joseph’s a three-year captain for our team, so his leadership in the room, and in the classroom and in the community, all of it has been excellent,” Crawford said. “It’s a group effort, it starts from our youth coaches all the way through our junior high and all the way to the high school. And it’s a family that’s needed to build it.We have a great group of seniors. We have a big senior class and they’ve been leaders in the room for four years. This is only the third time in program history that we’ve won regionals.”
Leading the way for coach Logan Patton’s Unity Rockets were champion Nick Nosler (195) and runner-up Kyus Root (170). Third-place finishers were Kaden Inman (138) and Hunter Eastin (182) while Hunter Shike (126) and Ryan Rink (152) both finished in fourth place.
“We had nine guys qualify for sectional and only two seniors, who were both in the finals doing their thing,” Patton said. “We went 4-for-4 in the bloods with three sophomores and a freshman. They understood the game plan to get to the semis, since if you get to the semis you have two chances to get to the state tournament. We took some bad losses in the semis and some expected losses. But they all bounced back, they didn’t sulk, they didn’t pout. They all went out there and performed really well.”
Capturing first-place finishes for coach Shawn O’Connor’s Illini Bluffs Tigers were Hunter Robbins (106), Jackson Carroll (138) and Paul Ishikawa (145) while Ian O’Connor (132) took second place. State qualifiers for coach TJ Williams’ Tremont Turks were champion Payton Murphy (120), runner-up Bowden Delaney (126), third-place finisher Mason Mark (132) while TJ Conner (182) placed fourth.
Also winning sectional championships were Farmington’s Keygan Jennings (113), St. Joseph-Ogden’s Holden Brazelton (132), Kewanee’s Max Kelly (152), El Paso-Gridley’s Dax Gentes (160), PORTA’s Bryar Lane (182) and Beardstown’s Owen O’Hara (220).
Other second-place finishers were LeRoy/Tri-Valley’s Brady Mouser (106), Lutheran Schools Association Decatur’s Clinton VerHeecke (113), Kewanee’s William Taylor (138), Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley/Fisher’s Carson Maxey (145), Monmouth United’s Jake McElwee (152), Deer Creek-Mackinaw’s Gage Sweckard (160), El Paso-Gridley’s Cody Langland (182), The High School of Saint Thomas More’s Brody Cuppernell (195), Macomb’s Ethan Ladd (220) and Bismarck-Henning-Rossville-Alvin’s Hunter Wilson (285).
There were three rematches of regional titles with the sectional champion once again prevailing. Those were at 152, where Kelly and McElwee had met at Kewanee, at 195, where Nosler and Cuppernell faced off and at LeRoy, and at 220, where O’Hara and Ladd squared off at Macomb.
Nine of the sectional finals matches featured two top-10 individuals competing while four others involved at least one finalist who was in the top 10, and all four of those also won titles.
Additional third-place finishers were Peoria Notre Dame’s Ian Akers (106), Chase Daugherty (145) and Mike McLaughlin (285), Farmington’s Bradlee Ellis (126) and Rese Shymansky (170), Macomb’s Carter Hoge (152) and Max Ryner (195), Warrensburg-Latham’s Logan Roberts (113), Lutheran School Association Decatur’s Garrett VerHeecke (120), Hoopeston Area’s Angel Zamora (160) and LeRoy/Tri-Valley’s Jacob Bischoff (220).
And others who finished in fourth place were Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley/Fisher’s Shawn Schlickman (120) and Aiden Sancken (195), Clinton’s Cayden Poole (132) and Will Winter (145), LeRoy/Tri-Valley’s Kobe Brent (113), El Paso-Gridley’s Tyler Roth (138), Mercer County’s Bodie Salmon (170), Eureka’s Landon Wierenga (220) and Knoxville’s William Stowe (285).
Nine of the sectional champions also won regional titles at the Macomb Regional. They were Robbins, Jennings, Hedges, Carroll, Ishikawa, Norton, Lane, O’Hara and Reed. Two Macomb Regional champions took second at the sectional, Davis and O’Connor, while Hoge and Ryner took third after winning titles at Macomb and Murphy, the other Macomb champ, took fourth. One of the sectional finals was a rematch of the regional finals, with O’Hara again beating Ladd.
Top records for state qualifiers from the Clinton Sectional include Ishikawa (47-0, 1.000), Gentes (48-1, .980), Norton (47-1, .979), Clinton VerHeecke (44-1, .978), O’Hara (35-1, .972), Jennings (32-1, .970), Robbins (31-1, .969), Nosler (48-2, .960), Brazelton (45-2, .957), Hedges (44-2, .957), Murphy (36-2, .947), Lane (48-3, .941), Ryner (48-3, .941), Wilson (47-3, .940), Mouser (42-3, .933), Delaney (41-4, .911), Taylor (41-4, .911), Garrett VerHeecke (40-4, .909), Akers (39-4, .907), Davis (38-4, .905), Eastin (46-5, .902), Shymansky (37-4, .902), Cuppernell (39-5, .886), Sancken (31-4, .886), Ladd (46-6, .885), Carroll (45-6, .882) and Root (45-6, .882).
In a testament to just how competitive the sectional was, the average record of the 28 finalists prior to their title matches was 40.68-3.5. The title match featuring the fewest losses by both participants was at 113 where once-beaten Jennings handed unbeaten Clinton VerHeecke his first defeat of the season by recording a fall in 1:52.
Individuals in the top 10 in Rob Sherrill’s Illinois Matmen rankings who failed to advance (with rankings listed) include Tremont’s Konnor Martin (7th at 113), Mercer County’s Ethan Monson (7th at 120), Pontiac’s Aidan Scholwin (10th at 106), Bismarck-Henning-Rossville-Alvin’s Nathanael Gnaden (10th at 220) and PORTA’s Issak Espenschied (10th at 285).
Seniors who fell one win shy of qualifying for state included Illini Bluff’s Avery Speck (120), Beardstown’s Jonny Marquez (132) and Bryan Gil (138), Ridgeview/Lexington’s Caeden Lopshire (152), LeRoy/Tri-Valley’s Ethan Conaty (160), Kewanee’s Jaxson Hicks (160), Knoxville’s Jaxin Johnson (170), Mercer County’s Gavin Minteer (182), Warrensburg-Latham’s Walker Allen (195), Bismarck-Henning-Rossville-Alvin’s Nathanael Gnaden (220) and University High’s Isaiah Im (220).
Several individuals fell one win shy of state trips on twice after losing consecutive matches in the semifinals and consolation semifinals. They included LeRoy/Tri-Valley’s Brock Owens (126), Connor Lyons (145) and Conaty (160), Mercer County’s Kale Stirn (113), Monson (120) and Minteer (182), Bismark-Henning-Rossville-Alvin’s Gnaden (220), Kewanee’s Hicks (160), Knoxville’s Johnson (170) and The High School of Saint Thomas More’s Robert Vavrick (285).
Before the finals, Sharron Jones of Decatur, a long-time scorer at local tournaments as well as at the IHSA Finals, was recognized for being one of the inductees of the Class of 2023 for the Illinois Wrestling Coaches and Officials Association’s Hall of Fame for her service to the sport.
Class 1A Clinton Sectional championship matches
106: Hunter Robbins (31-1), Illini Bluffs D 3-2 Brady Mouser (42-3), LeRoy/Tri-Valley
113: Keygan Jennings (32-1), Farmington F 1:52 Clinton VerHeecke (44-1), Lutheran School Association Decatur
120: Payton Murphy (36-2), Tremont D 4-1 John Davis (38-4), Canton
126: Trevor Hedges (44-2), Canton MD 11-3 Bowden Delaney (41-4), Tremont
132: Holden Brazelton (45-2), St. Joseph-Ogden D 7-0 Ian O’Connor (44-7), Illini Bluffs
138: Jackson Carroll (45-6), Illini Bluffs TF 3:46 William Taylor (41-4), Kewanee
145: Paul Ishikawa (47-0), Illini Bluffs D 14-7 Carson Maxey (35-5), Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley/Fisher
152: Max Kelly (40-8), Kewanee F 1:29 Jake McElwee (35-10), Monmouth United
160: Dax Gentes (48-1), El Paso-Gridley D 8-1 Gage Sweckard (40-11), Deer Creek-Mackinaw
170: Joseph Norton (47-1), Canton F 0:28 Kyus Root (45-6), Unity
182: Bryar Lane (48-3), PORTA MD 8-0 Cody Langland (39-7), El Paso-Gridley
195: Nick Nosler (48-2), Unity MD 13-2 Brody Cuppernell (39-5), The High School of Saint Thomas More
220: Owen O’Hara (35-1), Beardstown D 3-1 Ethan Ladd (46-6), Macomb
285: Asa Reed (31-6), Canton D 10-5 Hunter Wilson (47-3), Bismarck-Henning-Rossville-Alvin
Class 1A Clinton Sectional third-place matches
106: Ian Akers (39-4), Peoria Notre Dame D 6-4 Maddux Steele (39-8), Canton
113: Logan Roberts (37-6), Warrensburg-Latham D 5-1 Kobe Brent (38-10), LeRoy/Tri-Valley
120: Garrett VerHeecke (40-4), Lutheran School Association Decatur F 1:03 Shawn Schlickman (30-10), Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley/Fisher
126: Bradlee Ellis (40-9), Farmington F 1:07 Hunter Shike (36-15), Unity
132: Mason Mark (43-6), Tremont D 3-2 Cayden Poole (41-8), Clinton
138: Kaden Inman (36-14), Unity MD 12-3 Tyler Roth (19-6), El Paso-Gridley
145: Chase Daugherty (31-6), Peoria Notre Dame M. For. Will Winter (27-5), Clinton
152: Carter Hoge (45-7), Macomb F 3:34 Ryan Rink (36-16), Unity
160: Angel Zamora (40-10), Hoopeston Area M. For. Danny Murphy (6-2), Canton
170: Rese Shymansky (37-4), Farmington F 3:19 Bodie Salmon (27-7), Mercer County
182: Hunter Eastin (46-5), Unity F 5:48 TJ Connor (41-8), Tremont
195: Max Ryner (48-3), Macomb F 2:00 Aiden Sancken (31-4), Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley/Fisher
220: Jacob Bischoff (40-8) LeRoy/Tri-Valley D 2-0 Landon Wierenga (35-11), Eureka
285: Mike McLaughlin (29-16), Peoria Notre Dame M. For. William Stowe (40-7), Knoxville 106 – Hunter Robbins, Illini Bluffs
After settling for second place a year ago at 106, Hunter Robbins has definitely been focused on getting to the top of the podium this weekend in Champaign.
But the Illini Bluffs junior had a major setback in the latter part of the season when he was sidelined by an injury. But he was able to return for the postseason and Robbins (31-1), who’s ranked second, hopes that he’s ready to go in his third trip to state. He looked to be in good form after opening with a win by technical before capturing a 2-0 decision over Peoria Notre Dame’s Ian Akers in the semifinals and then prevailing 3-2 over LeRoy/Tri-Valley’s Brady Mouser in the 106 title match to become the first of his team’s three champions.
“My first time back was for regionals,” Robbins said. “It definitely was hard because I only got a week of training in, but I have to believe in my training is. If it was five weeks off or five weeks where I wasn’t off, I would still come in as the same person. I’m just happy it happened then and not now. My practice room definitely helps out a lot. They keep me up and keep me going. I almost got it last year but I didn’t and I don’t settle for that.”
Mouser (42-3), a sophomore who’s ranked sixth, also opened with a win by technical fall before earning his spot in the finals with a 14-2 victory over Canton’s Maddux Steele. After winning four titles this season, he hopes to find a spot on the awards stand in his second trip to state.
Akers (39-4), a sophomore and returning qualifier who’s ranked fourth, was going after his sixth tournament title of the season. He bounced back from loss to Robbins with a decision over Pontiac’s Aidan Scholwin, who was ranked tenth, and then beat freshman Steele (39-8) 6-4 in the third-place match.
113 – Keygan Jennings, Farmington
In a showdown between two competitors who had only one loss between them, Keygan Jennings made a major statement about what he intends to do on the big stage at the State Farm Center this weekend.
The Farmington junior improved to 32-1 after recording a fall in 1:52 in the 113 title match over Lutheran School Association Decatur freshman Clinton VerHeecke, who entered the matchup with a 44-0 record. Jennings, ranked third and a two-time state placewinner after taking sixth last year and fifth at the IWCOA in 2021, opened with a fall before capturing an 8-4 win in the semifinals over Warrensburg-Latham’s Logan Roberts.
“This year I decided that we’re just going to go all in and I didn’t play football this season,” Jennings said. “Some times you have say that I’m going to stick to this one sport and just go all in. I decided to hit double practices a lot and training with some of my good buddies at Young Guns and the Compound, guys like Brock Smith and Gauge Shipp. We’re small town boys coming out of nowhere and showing them what we have.”
VerHeecke, who along with his brother Garrett (40-4), who also qualified by taking third place at 120, are members of the first-year program at the school that they decided to attend after being home-schooled. VerHeecke, who’s ranked second behind a returning state champion, Carlyle’s Tyson Waughtel, had won four tournament titles this season. He put himself into his fifth finals after capturing a quick fall in his opener and another in 2:38 over Mercer County’s Kale Stirn.
Roberts (37-6), a sophomore who’s ranked fourth, responded to his loss to Jennings with a fall over Canton’s Jack Jochums before winning 5-1 over LeRoy/Tri-Valley’s Kobe Brent (38-10) for third place. Brent, a sophomore, who’s ranked sixth, got sent to the wrestlebacks after his
quarterfinals loss to Jennings, but he won his next three matches to earn his first state trip.
120 – Payton Murphy, Tremont
After experiencing a forgettable junior season, Payton Murphy was hoping to conclude his career with a bang in a new setting, competing for IWCOA Hall of Famer TJ Williams and his program at Tremont.
So far, so go for the Turks senior, who improved to 36-2 and led the way for his school’s four qualifiers after capturing a 4-1 victory over Canton’s John Davis in the 120 title match. Murphy, who’s ranked fourth and also qualified for state trips in 2021 at the IWCOA and in 2020 as a freshman, followed a quick fall in the quarterfinals with a wild 7-6 semifinals decision over Mercer County junior Ethan Monson, a two-time state qualifier who was ranked seventh, but missed out on a third trip after losing to Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley’s Shawn Schlickman.
“It’s been a fun year,” Murphy said. “I’ve had some matches where I’ve learned a lot. Coach Williams pushes us every day to get better and better. And just with the mentality that he gives us, it feels like you’re going to succeed before you walk onto the mat. He has such a big impact on the sport for what he’s doing and for what he’s going to do in the future in this sport. I couldn’t have asked for a better coach, he’s like a father figure. I got injured last season and unfortunately couldn’t finish it off.”
Davis (38-4), a senior who’s ranked ninth, was one of four Little Giants who reached the title mat and one of their six state qualifiers, which establishes a new record for Canton. After winning 2-0 in the quarterfinals over El Paso-Gridley’s Logan Gibson, Norton earned his spot in the finals with a fall in 5:07 over Lutheran School Association Decatur’s Garrett VerHeecke.
VerHeecke (40-4), a freshman like his brother Clinton (44-1), who took second place at 113, helped to start up the first-year program at the Decatur school. Just missing out on being the only ranked freshman in his weight class, he can take solace that he’s won 40 matches and is headed to the state finals in his debut season after winning 12-4 over Illini Bluffs senior Avery Speck and then getting a fall in 1:03 over junior Schlickman (30-10) in the third-place match.
126 – Trevor Hedges, Canton
It’s fun to be part of a day where your program accomplishes something for the first time, and that’s what Trevor Hedges got to be a part of as Canton qualified six individuals for state.
As a bonus, he joined Joseph Norton and Asa Reed as champions for the Little Giants, who hope to also make more history in the dual team tournament. Hedges (44-2), a senior who’s ranked seventh, won his fourth tournament of the season and is headed back to state for a third time and hopes to improve upon a fourth at the IWCOA finals in 2021. Hedges followed a fall in the quarterfinals with a 13-0 major decision over LeRoy/Tri-Valley’s Brock Owens before winning an 11-3 major decision over Tremont’s Bowden Delaney in the 126 title match.
“I just want to first say, give all glory to God,” Hedges said. “Everything that I am is because of Him. This is a record, this is the first time that we’ve taken this many kids to state. My freshman year, I was a match away from going to state, then I got fourth and that was exciting, but it wasn’t good enough.”
Delaney (41-4), a sophomore who also qualified for state last season, is one of four qualifiers for Tremont. He earned his spot on the title mat with a quick pin in the quarterfinals and then he followed that with a fall in 2:43 over Unity freshman Hunter Shike (36-15) in the semifinals.
Farmington freshman Bradlee Ellis (40-9) joined champion Keygan Jennings and third-place Rese Shymansky as qualifiers for the Farmers after winning four-straight matches following a quarterfinals loss to Shike. After recording two falls, Ellis won 9-7 by sudden victory over Owens to reach the third-place match, where he turned the tables on Shike and won by fall in 1:07.
132 – Holden Brazelton, St. Joseph-Ogden
After taking sixth place a year ago as a freshman, Holden Brazelton is excited about what he can achieve in his second visit to the IHSA Finals at the State Farm Center in Champaign.
The St. Joseph-Ogden sophomore, who’s ranked seventh and owns a 45-2 record, should be excited about the possibilities after emerging as the champion at 132 at the Clinton Sectional, which featured four of the top 10 in the state in the weight class. After winning by technical fall in the quarterfinals, he recorded a fall in 3:14 in the semifinals over Quincy Notre Dame’s Bradi Lahr and then captured the title with a 7-0 decision over Illini Bluffs’ Ian O’Connor.
“I have higher expectations from here,” Brazelton said. “Last year, it was just a goal to be there and quite an experience and an atmosphere. Last year, it was just nerves and I didn’t eat the right foods. But this year as a sophomore, I’ve been learning to eat better food. We have new coaches this year, and coach (Bill) Gallo has come in. It’s a really good coaching staff with a lot of experience behind them and I really like the coaches because they train me hard and have people come in.”
O’Connor (44-7), a junior who’s a three-time state qualifier that’s ranked ninth, was hoping to win his fifth tournament title of the season and join teammates Hunter Robbins, Jackson Carroll and Paul Ishikawa as Clinton Sectional champions. O’Connor opened with a 7-2 win over LeRoy/Tri-Valley’s Colton Prosser in the quarterfinals before claiming a 6-3 decision over Clinton’s Cayden Poole in the semifinals to earn his spot on the title mat.
The third-place match was a rematch of a quarterfinals meeting that featured the other two ranked individuals at the sectional, Tremont junior Mason Mark (43-6) and sophomore Poole (41-8), with Mark, a 2021 IWCOA qualifier, ranked sixth and Poole ranked eighth. Poole won a 7-3 decision over Mark in the first matchup and after Mark bounced back with three-straight wins and then was able to avenge the earlier loss by capturing a 3-2 decision over Poole.
138 – Jackson Carroll, Illini Bluffs
Any time an athlete can win a sectional title by technical fall, it’s an encouraging sign and being joined at state by three teammates who were also finalists, including two who were champions, it’s easy to see why Jackson Carroll should be excited about how he’ll fare at the state finals,
where he hopes to enjoy the same type of success that some of his teammates have had.
Carroll (45-6), a sophomore who’s ranked ninth, joins Hunter Robbins and Paul Ishikawa as champions for Illini Bluffs while Ian O’Connor took second in the competition. Carroll won by technical fall in 3:46 over Kewanee’s William Taylor in the 138 finals. He won a pair of major decisions to reach the title match, beating El Paso-Gridley’s Tyler Roth in the semifinals.
“I have great practice partners and a great coaching staff,” Carroll said. “It’s great when your practice partners are a state runner-up and a state champ. Our room is awesome. They work hard and they push me, especially my teammate, Paul (Ishikawa), who coaches me every day, he’s awesome. We have really good wrestling down here and I’m right there with all of them. I’m feeling really confident.”
Taylor (41-4), a senior and one of two finalists and state qualifiers for the Boilermakers, hoped to win his fourth tournament title of the season. After winning his opener by fall, he prevailed 11-9 over Unity’s Kaden Inman in the semifinals.
Inman (36-14), a sophomore, was one of six qualifiers for Unity and one of four who’s just a sophomore or freshman. After losing the close decision to Taylor in the semifinals, he had few troubles in his next two matches as he followed a win by technical fall with a 12-3 major decision over Roth (19-6), a senior, to claim third place.
145 – Paul Ishikawa, Illini Bluffs
As the top-ranked individual at 145 and unbeaten with a 47-0 record after capturing a seventh tournament title, Paul Ishikawa has good reason to be upbeat about having a special weekend at the state finals, as he had in 2021 when the IWCOA held a state finals.
The four-time state qualifier who won a title in 2021 and then placed fourth last season, joins three of his teammates in Champaign who are all seeking to become the fourth individual to win a state for the school that’s located in Glasford. After opening with a win by technical fall, Ishikawa won 18-7 over LeRoy/Tri-Valley’s Connor Lyons in the semifinals and then captured a 14-7 decision over Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley/Fisher’s Carson Maxey in the 145 title match.
“Our team puts so much effort into the state tournament, because that’s where it counts,” Ishikawa said. “Our bottom half of the lineup is pretty stacked. Me, Ian and Jackson are all close to weight, we go at it, for sure. I came from one of the best coaches ever, TJ Williams, and now I’m with another great coach. The IWCOA was a state championship. Hopefully this year, I can prove to everyone that I am a state champ.”
Maxey (35-5), a junior who was an honorable mention selection and one of three state qualifiers for his team, won a 3-1 decision in the quarterfinals over Clinton’s Will Winter before claiming a 9-3 decision over Peoria Notre Dame’s Chase Daugherty in the semifinals. As a result, Maxey competed against each of the other three state qualifiers at his weight class.
Daugherty (31-6), a sophomore who is one of three Notre Dame qualifiers who also all took third place, bounced back from his semifinals loss to Maxey with an 8-5 decision over El Paso-Gridley’s Waylon Melick before winning third place by medical forfeit over senior Winter (27-5) who was one of two qualifiers for the host Maroons.
152 – Max Kelly, Kewanee
While the title matchup at 152 between Max Kelly and Jake McElwee was unique among finals in the event since it was the only one that didn’t feature a top-10 individual, considering who was involved, it was extremely important to the two programs that were involved.
Kelly (40-8), a senior who earned his first trip to state, was one of two qualifiers and the only champion for Kewanee while McElwee (35-10), a junior making his state debut, was the lone qualifier for Monmouth United. In a rematch of the Kewanee Regional finals, Kelly won by fall over McElwee for the second week in a row, this time in 1:29. Kelly won all three of his matches by fall, with the quickest coming in the semifinals in 0:40 over Unity sophomore Ryan Rink.
McElwee, who claimed a second-place finish for the third time this season, was the lone sectional qualifier for his program. After opening with a quick pin, McElwee captured a 6-4 decision over Eureka’s Derrick Wiles in the quarterfinals and then won another close decision, by an 11-8 margin, over Macomb’s Carter Hoge in the semifinals.
Hoge (45-7), a senior that was ranked 10th after winning three titles, including his own regional, became one of the Bombers’ three qualifiers after winning 11-7 over Ridgeview/Lexington’s Caeden Lopshire (27-11) in the consolation semifinals and then claimed third place with a fall in 3:34 over Rink (36-16).
160 – Dax Gentes, El Paso-Gridley
After not being able to place in his first two trips to the state tournament, Dax Gentes was focused on finally getting on the awards stand and a 48-1 record with seven tournament titles suggests that he will likely achieve his goal in Champaign.
The El Paso-Gridley senior, who’s ranked fifth at 160 and was one of three qualifiers for his team, opened with a quick and then claimed a 16-6 major decision over LeRoy/Tri-Valley’s Ethan Conaty in the semifinals before capturing an 8-1 decision over Deer Creek-Mackinaw’s Gage Sweckard in the title match.
“It’s been a good season,” Gentes said. “Obviously with it being my senior year, I’m working hard in the room and just trying to have fun, too. I just try to keep it as a positive experience all of the time and not let it get into my head too much. Coach (Zachary) Zvonar was an assistant my sophomore year and this year is his first year as head coach. It has definitely helped me to have some around who has wrestled at the college level. And just the energy that he brings and he’s always super excited. And coach (Joe) Cliffe always has input and it helps to have someone who’s been around the sport for so long.”
Sweckard (40-11), a senior who also qualified for state a year ago, was the lone representative of his program at the sectional. He won three-straight decisions to reach the title mat, capturing a 3-0 decision over Canton’s Danny Murphy in the quarterfinals and then prevailing 8-5 in the semifinals over Kewanee’s Jaxson Hicks.
In the third-place match, Hoopeston Area sophomore Angel Zamora (40-10) won by medical forfeit over Murphy, a junior who has competed in just eight matches, winning six of those. After falling in his first match, Zamora won four in a row, clinching his spot as the Cornjerkers’ lone qualifier with a fall in 4:54 over Hicks (39-9). Murphy, one of six qualifiers for the Little Giants, won three in a row following his loss to Sweckard and edged Conaty (34-15) with a 5-4 decision to secure his trip to state.
170 – Joseph Norton, Canton
After finishing third at 170 a year and also third at the IWCOA finals in 2021, Joseph Norton not only has been focused on reaching the title mat but also becoming just the third individual from Canton to win a state championship.
The Little Giants senior, who was ranked second, assured his spot as one of the favorites to win the state title at 170 after claiming top honors at the Clinton Sectional for his fourth tournament this season. Norton (47-1) won the championship with a fall in 0:28 over Unity’s Kyus Root. After opening with a win by technical fall, he claimed a 16-3 win over Knoxville’s Jaxin Johnson. He was one of Canton’s three champions and helped lead the team to a record six qualifiers.
“I’m doing really good this year, and going to state this year just tops it off,” Norton said. “We had a record-setting number of qualifiers and the first time qualifying for the team sectional. I’ve mainly been working on perfecting what I do and do whatever I can do to the best that I can be. And I have good practice teammates and good coaches. Coach Crawford is basically a father to all of us. And we have three other assistants who help wrestle with the kids.”
Root (45-6), a senior who was ranked sixth and a two-time state qualifier, was one of six Unity athletes to advance to state. He followed up a fall in the quarterfinals with a pin in 3:41 over Farmington’s Rese Shymansky in the semifinals.
Shymansky (37-4), a junior honorable mention selection who had won three titles this season, bounced back from his semifinals defeat to Norton with a fall in 3:19 over Mercer County sophomore Bodie Salmon (27-7). Shymansky became one of the Farmers’ three qualifiers after recording a fall in 1:17 over Illini West’s Shawn Watkins (26-9) in the consolation semifinals.
182 – Bryar Lane, PORTA
The fascinating story of the emergence of Bryar Lane as a state title contender at 182 one year after missing his junior season due to heart surgery got an extra chapter added to it when the second-ranked PORTA senior improved to 48-3 after capturing top honors at 182 in the Clinton Sectional after defeating the third-, fourth- and fifth-ranked individuals at his weight class.
Lane, ranked second and a sixth-place finisher in the IWCOA in 2021 who has committed to Kentucky Wesleyan College in Owensboro, Kentucky to continue his education and career, won his fifth title of the season with an 8-0 major decision over El :Paso-Gridley’s Cody Langland in the 182 finals. After capturing a 3-1 decision over Tremont’s TJ Conner in the quarterfinals, he earned his spot on the title mat with a 5-0 victory over Unity’s Hunter Eastin.
“I’m so lucky that I’ve gotten all of these opportunities, it’s just everybody and everything,” Lane said. “It was a big blessing to be able to come out of the hospital happy and healthy. I think it was like the first big news of my life. It’s hard to be told that you should probably be dead, it’s crazy. You just have to be positive through it all and you have to do the things that make you happy. If you think you’re not going to make it, then you’re not going to do it. It’s 100 percent a mind game. Coach (Jeff) Hill has been great. We took six to the sectionals, but he made sure that there were people in the room for everybody. He has those connections that it seems like no one else does, so that’s nice.”
Langland (39-7), a senior who was ranked fourth and winner of three tournament titles, followed a quick fall with a 3-0 decision over Mercer County’s Gavin Minteer (22-12) in the semifinals to square off against Lane for the sectional championship.
Eastin (46-5), a sophomore who was ranked third, bounced back from his semifinals loss to Lane with a fall in 2:20 over Kewanee’s Alejandro Duarte (34-10) to assure that he would advance to state and then recorded another pin, this time in 5:48 over Conner (41-8), a senior who was a state qualifier a year ago who was ranked fifth, Following his quarterfinal loss to Lane, Conner got two pins before edging Minteer 6-5 to guarantee his state trip.
195 – Nick Nosler, Unity
Focused on being a state champion this season after just missing out on achieving that accomplishment a year ago, Nick Nosler didn’t have many difficulties in becoming Unity’s lone champion to lead the way among its six state qualifiers.
Nosler (48-2), a senior who was top-ranked at 195, won his fifth tournament of the season when he claimed a 13-2 major decision over The High School of Saint Thomas More’s Brody Cuppernell in the 195 finals. After opening with a fall, Nosler captured an 8-0 major decision over Macomb’s Max Ryner in the semifinals.
Cuppernell (39-5), a junior that was a state qualifier a year ago who was ranked fifth, was the only state qualifier for his team, who just missed getting another qualifier, Robert Vavrick at 285. After recording a nine-second fall in his opener, Cuppernell followed with two more pins, recording one in 4:21 in the semifinals over Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley/Fisher’s Aiden Sancken.
Ryner (48-3), a senior ranked fourth who won four tournaments and qualified for state in 2022 and 2021, beat Warrensburg-Latham’s Walker Allen (33-12) by fall in 1:23 to reach the third-place match where he faced junior Sancken (31-4), who was ranked eighth, and Ryner claimed third place with a fall in 2:00.
220- Owen O’Hara, Beardstown
While two of his teammates, Jonny Marquez and Bryan Gill, fell one win shy of earning a state trip, Owen O’Hara assured Beardstown that it would get a state qualifier after he stayed out of the consolation bracket by pinning his way to the finals at 220 and then winning a decision.
O’Hara (35-1), a senior who was ranked fourth and an IWCOA qualifier in 2021 and an IHSA qualifier in 2020, used a pair of first-period falls, including one in 1:44 over LeRoy/Tri-Valley’s Jacob Bischoff in the semifinals before capturing a 3-1 decision over Macomb’s Ethan Ladd in the 220 title match.
“It’s been really great back wrestling this year, O’Hara said. “Last year, I didn’t end up making it to regionals or anything since I was hurt. I had to put in a lot of hard work and a lot of time and a lot of dedication. I’m real happy with how I placed here, but there’s more hard work to be done.”
Ladd (46-6), a senior who was ranked sixth and a state qualifier in 2022 and 2021, followed a 3-0 quarterfinals win over University High’s Isaiah Im (36-13) with another 3-0 decision in the semifinals over Bismarck-Henning-Rossville-Alvin’s Nathanael Gnaden (39-10).
Bischoff (40-8), a junior who was ranked ninth that had won four tournament titles, responded to his semifinals loss to O’Hara by claiming a 6-4 win by sudden victory over Im to secure a state trip and then beat Eureka senior Landon Wierenga 2-0 in the third-place match. Wierenga (35-11), who lost 4-2 to Bischoff in the quarterfinals, won 4-0 over Gnaden to assure his state trip.
285 – Asa Reed, Canton
Asa Reed capped a memorable sectional showing for Canton when he captured the championship at 285 to give the Little Giants three champions, joining Trevor Hedges and Joseph Norton, on a day where coach Zach Crawford’s team had a record six state qualifiers.
Reed (31-6), a senior who was ranked sixth, claimed a 10-5 decision over Bismarck-Henning-Rossville-Alvin’s Hunter Wilson in the title match. Following a quick fall in his opener, Reed punched his ticket to the finals with a fall in 5:02 over The High School of Saint Thomas More’s Robert Vavrick in the semifinals.
“This is my first time that I’m going to state,” Reed said. “I’ve gone to sectionals and lost in blood rounds every time. Everyone on the team performed really well. All of them are pushing and they’re all supportive of everything. This has really put us on the map for a sport.”
Wilson (47-3), a senior who also qualified for state last year, collected an 8-1 win in his opening match before recording a fall in 2:26 in the semifinals over Knoxville senior William Stowe.
Peoria Notre Dame junior Mike McLaughlin (29-16) became the third member of his team to qualify, all placing third, when he won by medical forfeit over Stowe in the third-place match. McLaughlin had to take the long route to qualify after falling to Vavrick (28-8) in his first match. He won his next four matches, with the key one being in the consolation semifinals when he avenged his earlier defeat to Vavrik with a 3-1 win by sudden victory. Stowe (40-7), the lone qualifier for Knoxville, pinned Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley/Fisher’s Aydin Cornell (17-9) in 2:29 to assure himself of a state trip.
Class 2A Sectional roundups
Glenwood, Civic Memorial lead the way at Highland Sectional
Glenwood qualified eight individuals for this weekend’s IHSA Class Finals while Civic Memorial led the way with three champions at the Class 2A Highland Sectional.
Winning two titles apiece were Bloomington and Mahomet-Seymour, with the latter having the second-highest number of state qualifiers with six. Mattoon will send five to state while Bloomington, Centennial, Civic Memorial, Mt. Vernon and Normal have four state qualifiers.
Winning titles for coach Jeremy Christenson’s Civic Memorial Eagles were Bradley Ruckman (106), Bryce Griffin (145) and Abe Wojcikiewicz (170) while Caleb Scott (126) took second.
Coach Jerod Bruner’s Glenwood Titans were led by champion Drew Davis (113) while Brandon Bray (195), Alex Hamrick (220) and Mark Helm (285) were second, John Ben Maduena (132) and Aden Byal (152) took third and Tyler Clarke (106) and Justin Hay (170) were fourth.
Other sectional title winners were Bloomington’s Dylan Watts (138) and Maddox Kirts (160), Mahomet-Seymour’s Brennan Houser (182) and Mateo Casillas (195), Mt. Vernon’s Dillon White (120), Triad’s Colby Crouch (126), Mascoutah’s Santino Robinson (132), Jacksonville’s Collin Reif (152), Centennial’s Jack Barnhart (220) and Southeast’s Robert Hull (285).
Also taking second-place were Normal West’s Evan Willock (132) and Brock Leenerman (170), Bloomington’s Tyler Barlow (106), Mahomet-Seymour’s Caden Hatton (113) Centennial’s Declan Pate (120), Mattoon’s Ben Capitosti (138), Mt. Vernon’s Rider Searcy (145) Triad’s Aiden Postma (152), Carbondale’s Isaiah Duckworth (160) and Danville’s Phil Shaw IV (182).
Additional third-place finishers were Mattoon’s Korbin Bateman (126), Aidan Blackburn (145) and Leo Meyer (220), Carbondale’s Brenden Banz (170) and Aiden Taylor (195), Rochester’s Conner Carroll (106), Urbana’s Cordero Sims (113), Normal West’s Froylan Racey (120), Mahomet-Seymour’s Donovan Lewis (138), Centennial’s Tyler Easter (160) and Triad’s Koen Rodebush (182).
Fourth-place finishes were also turned in by Mt. Vernon’s Ethan Rivera (182) and Mason Randall (195), Mahomet-Seymour’s Colton Caraway (220) and Camden Harms (285), Mattoon’s Tristan Porter (113), Bloomington’s Javier Enriquez-Lynd (120), Normal West’s Austin Johnston (126), Centennial’s Trevor Schoonover (132), Highland’s Tyson Rakers (138), Rochester’s Nolan Mrozowski (145), Lincoln’s Isaac Decker (152) and Jacksonville’s James Cotton (160).
Top records of state qualifiers featured Robinson (37-0, 1.000), Crouch (28-0, 1.000), Casillas (48-1, .980), Houser (47-2, .959), Bateman (45-2, .957), Davis (45-2, .957), Wojcikiewicz (43-2, .956), Searcy (39-2, .951), Barnhart (36-2, .947), Banz (44-3, .936), Busch (40-3, .930), Griffin (45-4, .918), Hamrick (42-4, .913), Taylor (42-4, .913), White (39-4, .907), Reif (45-5, .900), Willock (36-4, .900), Byal (43-5, .896) and Meyer (43-5, .896).
Seniors who fell one win shy of earning a state trip included Mahomet-Seymour’s Reese Wilson (27-22 at 126), Carbondale’s Aiden Murphy (34-11 at 138), Normal West’s Xavier Edwards (26-15 at 145), Centennial’s Nick Pianfetti (40-4 at 152), Lanphier’s Connor Janssen (32-6 at 160), Riverton’s Colin Ripperda (18-5 at 170), Civic Memorial’s Logan Cooper (22-7 at 195), Champaign Central’s Zavier Neill (30-15) and Marion’s Kanye Gunn (32-9 at 285).
Championship matches of the Class 2A Highland Sectional
106: Bradley Ruckman (33-8), Civic Memorial M For Tyler Barlow (25-16), Bloomington
113: Drew Davis (45-2), Glenwood TF 5:40 Caden Hatton (37-11), Mahomet-Seymour
120: Dillon White (39-4) Mt. Vernon F 0:59 Declan Pate (29-10), Centennial
126: Colby Crouch (28-0), Triad F 0:27 Caleb Scott (35-10), Civic Memorial
132: Santino Robinson (37-0), Mascoutah F 2:00 Evan Willock (36-4), Normal West
138: Dylan Watts (31-6), Bloomington D 5-4 Ben Capitosti (40-7), Mattoon
145: Bryce Griffin (45-4), Civic Memorial MD 15-6 Rider Searcy (39-2), Mt. Vernon
152: Collin Reif (45-5), Jacksonville D 8-2 Aiden Postma (38-9), Triad
160: Maddox Kirts (35-6), Bloomington F 1:56 Isaiah Duckworth (35-9), Carbondale
170: Abe Wojcikiewicz (43-2), Civic Memorial M For Brock Leenerman (19-5), Normal West
182: Brennan Houser (47-2), Mahomet-Seymour F 2:37 Phil Shaw IV (29-5), Danville
195: Mateo Casillas (48-1), Mahomet-Seymour D 6-0 Branon Bray (35-15), Glenwood
220: Jack Barnhart (36-2), Centennial D 5-1 Alex Hamrick (42-4), Glenwood
285: Robert Hull (27-5), Southeast F 0:14 Mark Helm (27-9), Glenwood
Washington qualifies 10 individuals from the 2A Rochelle Sectional
Washington, the second-ranked team in Class 2A, is tied with Marist and Mount Carmel for the fifth-largest number of state qualifiers after having five individuals win championships and five others place fourth or better at the Class 2A Rochelle Sectional to give it 10 individuals who will compete in this weekend’s IHSA Finals in Champaign.
Leading the way for coach Nick Miller’s Panthers at the sectional were champions Wyatt Medlin (126), Peyton Cox (132), Kannon Webster (145), Blake Hinrichsen (170) and Justin Hoffer (220) while Josh Hoffer (195) was second, Noah Woods (113), Eli Gonzalez (138) and Zane Hulet (160) placed third and Cael Miller (152) finished fourth.
Rock Island qualified seven individuals while Aurora Christian, Crystal Lake Central and Rochelle all will each be represented by five qualifiers in Champaign.
Coach Joel Stockwell’s Rock Island Rocks received title wins from Steven Marquez (182) and Andrew Marquez (195) while Sammy Niyonkuru (106), Truth Vesey (113) and Amare Overton (170) took second. Daniel McGhee (120) was third while Tristan Willoughby (145) placed fourth.
Aurora Christian had four champions, Deven Casey (113), Josh Vazquez (120), Taythan Silva (152) and Braden Hunter (285) while Pat Mullen took second place.
Other tournament champions were Morton’s Harrison Dea (106), Galesburg’s Gauge Shipp (138) and Sycamore’s Zack Crawford (160).
Also claiming second-place finishes were Crystal Lake Central’s Greco Rendon (126) and Ben Butler (160), Sycamore’s Gus Cambier (152) and Lincoln Cooley (295), Prairie Ridge’s Tyler Evans (120), Freeport’s Jacob Redington (132), Morton’s Steven Marvin (145), Cary-Grove’s Gabe Simpson (182) and LaSalle-Peru’s Connor Lorden (220).
Additional third-place finishes were Rochelle’s Joseph Nadig (126), Brock Metzger (182) and Kaiden Morris (220), Geneseo’s Zachary Montez (132) and Kye Weinzierl (145), Crystal Lake Central’s Cayden Parks (170) and Joe Barrick (195), Ottawa Township’s Ivan Munoz (106),
Peoria High’s Kenny Rutherford (152) and Crystal Lake South’s Andy Burburijia (285).
Fourth-place finishes were also turned in by Rochelle’s Tommy Tourdot (113) and Zavier Villalobos (120), Galesburg’s Rocky Almendarez (132) and Emilio Torres (170), Prairie Ridge’s Jake Lowitzki (106), Richwoods’ Bernard Cox (126), Geneseo’s Malaki Jackson (138), Dunlap’s Nick Mueller (160), Woodstock’s Zachary Canaday (182), Peoria High’s Malachi Washington (195), Rockford East’s Lee Smith, Jr. (220) and Crystal Lake Central’s Leo Diaz (285).
Shipp and Webster both are unbeaten with 46-0 records as they head to Champaign. Other top records among the state qualifiers from the Rochelle Sectional include Hunter (9-0, 1.000), Justin Hoffer (39-1, .975), Crawford (38-1, .974), Zachary Montez (43-2, .956), Cox (41-2, .953), Lorden (35-2, .946), Vesey (38-3, .927), Redington (37-3, .925), Evans (42-4, .913), Burburijia (30-3, .909), Smith, Jr. (40-4, .909), Steven Marquez (36-4, .900), Munoz (32-4, .889) and Andrew Marquez (38-5, .884).
Class 2A Rochelle Sectional championship matches
106: Harrison Dea (33-9), Morton D 9-5 Sammy Niyonkuru (29-10), Rock Island
113: Deven Casey (36-7), Aurora Christian F 1:48 Truth Vesey (38-3), Rock Island
120: Josh Vazquez (23-6), Aurora Christian MD 15-6 Tyler Evans (42-4), Prairie Ridge
126: Wyatt Medlin (21-4), Washington MD 10-2 Greco Rendon (28-9), Crystal Lake Central
132: Peyton Cox (41-2), Washington TB 2-1 Jacob Redington (37-3), Freeport
138: Gauge Shipp (46-0), Galesburg TF 2:39 Pat Mullen (22-10), Aurora Christian
145: Kannon Webster (46-0), Washington F 1:12 Steven Marvin (15-9), Morton
152: Taythan Silva (35-7), Aurora Christian D 10-3 Gus Cambier (41-6), Sycamore
160: Zack Crawford (38-1), Sycamore D 2-0 Ben Butler (35-11), Crystal Lake Central
170: Blake Hinrichsen (38-6), Washington MD 13-5 Amare Overton (38-9), Rock Island
182: Steven Marquez (36-4), Rock Island F 0:44 Gabe Simpson (23-8), Cary-Grove
195: Andrew Marquez (38-5), Rock Island D 5-3 Josh Hoffer (30-18), Washington
220: Justin Hoffer (39-1), Washington F 3:56 Connor Lorden (35-2), LaSalle-Peru
285: Braden Hunter (9-0), Aurora Christian D 6-0 Lincoln Cooley (31-4), Sycamore
Joliet Catholic Academy qualifies 13 at Hinsdale South Sectional
Defending Class 2A champion Joliet Catholic Academy will be well represented at this weekend’s IHSA State Finals with 13 Hilltoppers on hand, the second-highest total of state qualifiers behind Coal City, which is sending all 14 of its competitors to Champaign.
Coach Ryan Cumbee’s Hilltoppers, who are top-ranked in Class 2A, had seven champions and six more qualifiers than the next-best total at the Hinsdale South Sectional in Darien, which was seven for Lemont, and that mark is tied for the tenth-best total for qualifiers in all classes.
The next-best total of sectional qualifiers at Hinsdale South were Oak Forest (6), the host Hornets (5) and Bremen, Brother Rice, Evergreen Park and St. Rita of Cascia, who all qualified four individuals. Crete-Monee (3), Richards (2), Thornton (2), Kennedy (1) and Marian Catholic (1) are the only other teams in the 26-team competition who will be sending athletes to state.
Winning titles for JCA were Jason Hampton (113), Gylon Sims (120), Jake Hamiti (138), Connor Cumbee (152), Mason Alessio (160), Nico Ronchetti (182) and Dillan Johnson (285) while Noah Avina (106) claimed second place. Nolan Vogel (132) and Zach Pomatto (195) took third and George Hollendoner (126), Luke Hamiti (145) and Hunter Powell (220) finished fourth.
State qualifiers for coach Erik Murry’s Lemont squad were champion Johnny O’Connor (145), second-place finishers Cory Zator (113), Sammy Schuit (138), Noah O’Connor (152), Nathan Wrublik (195) and Alex Pasquale (285) and Carter Mikolajczak (126), who took third place.
Advancing to state for coach Shawn Forst’s Oak Forest Bengals are champion Caden Muselman (132) and third place finishers Hunter Daniel (145), Steve Strelow (152) and Max Corral (170) while Jack Castaneda (160) and Tim Marusarz (285) took fourth place. Qualifying for coach Steve Matozzi’s Hinsdale South Hornets were third-place finishers Mikey Wallace (106), Jovani Piazza (182) and Griffin Carr (220) as well as Toqir Mir (113) and Alec Miller (170), who both placed fourth.
Bremen and Brother Rice each had two champions. Top finishers from the Bremen Braves were title winners Morgan Turner (106) and Alex Jackson (220) while Nore’ Turner (120) took second and Eroc Perez-Nava (285) took third. Qualifiers for Brother Rice’s Crusaders were first-place finishers Bobby Conway (126) and Gambino Perez (195) while Chuck Connelly (182) placed second and John Fitzpatrick (152) took fourth
Advancing for St. Rita were runners-up Nino Protti (126) and Sean Larkin (132) and third-place finishers Austin Dangles (120) and Connor Pasch (138). Qualifying for state for Evergreen Park were champion Aseal Rubalcava (170 and second-place finisher Eduardo Antunez (220) while Johan Bonilla (106) and Chance Woods (120) both finished fourth.
Richards qualified runner-up Mike Taheny (160) and fourth-place finisher Luke Kawa (132) while Thornton did the same with second-place finisher Davion Adams (170) and Qilee Jackson (195) placing fourth. The other two state qualifiers were Kennedy’s Victor Alvarado (113), who took third, and Marian Catholic’s Joey Baranski (138), who finished fourth.
Top records of state qualifiers from the sectional are highlighted by unbeaten Johnson (39-0, 1.000) and Jackson (31-0, 1.000). Others are Rubalcava (32-1, .970), Conway (19-1, .950), Morgan Turner (31-2, .939), Alessio (39-3, .929), Muselman (32-3, .914), Nore’ Turner (30-3, .909), Piazza (28-3, .903), Johnny O’Connor (41-5, .891) and Alvarado (32-4, .889).
Seniors who missed qualifying for state by one victory include Gary Comer College Prep’s
Jadden Scott (106) and Faizol Salam (152), Richards’ Muath Jiliani (126) and Adnan Abuzir (220), Crete-Monee’s Jerome Brown (138), Solorio Academy’s Antonio Padilla (170), Morgan Park’s Jadden Shores (182), Marian Catholic’s Tanner Clasen (182), Lindblom’s Jakob Okonkwo (195), Kankakee’s Michael Bannerman-Blakston (195) and Oak Forest’s Adam Richter (220).
Class 2A Hinsdale South Sectional championship matches
106: Morgan Turner (31-2), Bremen D 6-2 Noah Avina (25-22), Joliet Catholic Academy
113: Jason Hampton (35-8), Joliet Catholic Academy D 7-3 Cory Zator (36-6), Lemont
120: Gylon Sims (37-6), Joliet Catholic Academy M. For. Nore’ Turner (30-3), Bremen
126: Bobby Conway (19-1), Brother Rice F 1:04 Nino Protti (23-12), St. Rita
132: Caden Muselman (32-3), Oak Forest D 6-2 Sean Larkin (26-4), St. Rita
138: Jake Hamiti (34-15), Joliet Catholic Academy OT 3-1 Sammy Schuit (29-8), Lemont
145: Johnny O’Connor (41-5), Lemont D 8-3 Josyah Holland (22-5), Crete-Monee
152: Connor Cumbee (28-16), Joliet Catholic Academy D 7-5 Noah O’Connor (35-10), Lemont
160: Mason Alessio (39-3), Joliet Catholic Academy F 1:44 Mike Taheny (38-7), Richards
170: Aseal Rubalcava (32-1), Evergreen Park MD 12-0 Davion Adams (25-12), Thornton
182: Nico Ronchetti (29-16), Joliet Catholic Academy D 5-3 Chuck Connelly (27-5), Brother Rice
195: Gambino Perez (16-5), Brother Rice D 7-2 Nathan Wrublik (26-4), Lemont
220: Alex Jackson (31-0), Bremen F 5:46 Eduardo Antunez (32-9), Evergreen Park
285: Dillan Johnson (39-0), Joliet Catholic Academy F 0:58 Alex Pasquale (34-8), Lemont