Barrington tops the dual field at Downers Grove South

By Patrick Z. McGavin for the IWCOA

Silas Oberholtzer has a keen sense of where he is on the mat, and a sharp feel for his own standards.

Success has its own reward. Getting there is just part of the equation. 

The Barrington 157-pound wrestler was happy though circumspect about his pursuit of individual perfection.

The purity and drive animate his every action.

“Personally I don’t think that was one of my better matches, but maybe it looked better from the outside,” he said. “I thought I could do a bit better.”

Falling behind at the start against Jonah Broughman of Glenwood, Oberholtzer eventually seized control with his excellent work in neutral, and his relentless style.

The up and down nature of the match was a memory by the third period after Oberholtzer caught Broughman on his back for the fall at 4:59.

The swing match proved decisive in the Broncos’ 35-26 victory in the championship match of the Larry Gassen Team Dual Championship at Downers Grove South on Saturday, December 9.

“I like these dual tournaments a lot,” Barrington coach Dan Keller said. 

“They teach you how to win duals. Your hammers have to get those bonus points. Every team has their role players. As much as you want to go in believing you are going to win, if the match starts to not go our way, we have to find a way to save points.”

The Broncos’ power packed middleweight triumvirate of Oberholtzer, Rhenzo Augusto and Brady Wright created a mathematical advantage teams could not overcome.

Wrestling at 144 pounds, Wright joined Oberholtzer with a perfect 5-0 run Saturday. 

A defending state qualifier, Augusto went 4-0. Wright overcame a 4-0 deficit for the exhilarating 6-5 decision over Glenwood’s Anny Williams. Augusto followed with a technical fall over Braxton Warren.

The third period fall by Oberholtzer provided the early 20-6 cushion by the Broncos. The Titans were left to chase. Barrington proved too deep and versatile to overcome.

“Our team did a great job of staying on task,” Oberholtzer said. “We got everything we needed to get the job done.

“This tournament proved the endurance of this team. It’s late in the day, and people don’t want to wrestle. They want to go home.”

Like any sport, confidence and momentum jam together. The traditional bracketed tournament is a wholly different test, of contrasting styles and quick recovery time.

Barrington has mastered both forms.

The Broncos captured their second major tournament of the first month of the season, following their first-place title of their own Moore/Prettyman Invitational on November 25.

“The biggest difference with the dual tournament meet is just wrestling as a team,” Wright said.

“Individually it’s just a different game. You just depend on yourself. As a team, you learn how to be tough. Our role guys know what to do, and our hammers know how to get falls, techs or major decisions.”

In the 16-team tournament featuring a versatile and geographically-balanced field, Barrington, Glenwood, defending champion Lincoln-Way East and Downers South reached the Final Four.

Barrington defeated Oak Forest, Maine South and Plainfield North in pool play.

The Broncos defeated Downers South 39-31 in the championship bracket semifinals.

Behind two-time defending state champion Drew Davis, Glenwood overcame a 29-10 deficit to stun Lincoln-Way East 37-35 in the other semifinal bracket.

One of the most significant actions of any dual is the starting weight class. The semifinal series began at 126 pounds, where Davis posted a technical fall and put the Titans out to the quick 5-0 lead.

In addition to Davis, the Titans featured three other state qualifiers with John Ben Maduena (5-0 at 138), Tyler Clarke (113) and Justin Hay (4-1 at 175).

The championship match began at 132 pounds, pushing Davis to the final match. He posted another technical fall in finishing 5-0.

Barrington mitigated the bonus points by creating a significant lead.

Daniel Blanke started things off spectacularly for the Broncos with a fall at 1:41 over John Vallar.

Barrington captured eight of the 14 matches. The Broncos had three falls and a technical fall. Glenwood countered with two falls and the technical fall by Davis.

The “hammers,” ostensibly canceled each other out.

Barrington won the swing matches. The unsung hero was Ayden Salley at 190 pounds, who prevailed 3-2 over Maximus Wiezorek in an ultimate tiebreaker. 

Salley secured an escape in the furious closing seconds of the second overtime that set up the closing rush.

Salley went 3-2, with both losses coming against elite state qualifiers in Downers South’s Matty Lapacek and Plainfield North’s Leonardo Tovar.

Wiezorek went 4-1, with two falls and a major decision. His second period fall in the semifinals sparked the Titans’ comeback.

The Broncos effectively put the match away with three consecutive wins at 285 (Clarence Jackson with the fall at 1:00), 106 (Kaleb Pratt with the riveting 11-8 victory over Clarke at 106) and 113 (Neel Talpallikar’s 10-6 decision over Jaxon Ferguson).

Clarence Jackson won four out of his five matches, with his only defeat against Maine South’s Tyler Fortis, who finished one match from placing at state last season.

“Our seniors really know how to lead the team, and they know what their role is,” Wright said. 

“I think our young guys are the future of the program, and they are learning. We always keep our feet on the gas.”

Success begets ever greater achievement.

“Everybody’s looking good, everybody’s putting in the hard work,” Augusto said.

The one invaluable difference of the dual championship format and the bracket individual tournament is the experimentation and versatility of the lineup.

Wrestlers have the freedom of movement not possible in a traditional format.

Pratt, for instance, went 3-0 at 106 pounds. TJ Foley replaced him in the lineup against Maine South, and he picked up a forfeit against Oak Forest.

Pratt was the fresher wrestler in the crucial championship match.

Blanke, who started the run with the fall at 132 pounds, wrestled his first four matches at 138 pounds, winning three out of four matches.

Placement matters, and the order takes on a deeper meaning.

The third-place match between Lincoln-Way East and Downers Grove South was the wildest of the day.

The Griffins exploded out of the gate with five consecutive falls and a 9-4 decision by Christian Darnell at 165 pounds for the seemingly insurmountable 33-0 lead.

The Griffins are thinned out a bit at the bottom of the lineup through inexperience and several football players not joining the team after Lincoln-Way East played Loyola in the Class 8A state football championship game.

The Mustangs responded with four consecutive falls, a forfeit and two exhilarating back and forth matches, where Miguel Castaneda clipped JT Theis 6-3 and Jadon Dinwiddie took down Nick Williams 7-2.

Suddenly Downers South held a 36-33 lead.

Kaidge Richardson was the difference maker with a 0:44 second fall over Jordan Holley.

Lincoln-Way East junior Alex Lizak was one of the revelations of the tournament.

After missing his entire sophomore season from complications of his shoulder surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff and labrum, he posted four falls and a decision in going 5-0 at 157 pounds.

He improved his record to 17-0.

“I like the pool play format because I feel like it singles out the better teams,” he said. “You get to see the best teams go at each other. That’s the best way rather than have two really good teams wrestle each other early on.”

The Griffins are going to be formidable in the stacked South Suburbs the remainder of the season.

Lincoln-Way East had seven wrestlers post at least four victories, with Lizak, Tyson Zvonar (5-0 at 132), returning state qualifier Domanic Abeja (5-0 at 150) and Darnell (5-0) going undefeated.

Richardson, Brayden Mortell (138) and Kevin Byrne (144) each finished 4-1.

“The format of this field is very exciting because you never know who you are going against,” Abeja said. “I was able to get into my offense today, and not let other people score against me.”

Everything broke right, and the Mustangs ran a superb tournament, competitive, involving and marked by excitement and unpredictable finishes.

“Fourteen of the 16 teams were in the Illinois Matmen rankings, either currently or previously ranked,” Mustangs’ coach Sean Lovelace said.

“We have all three classes represented, and Coal City was the 1A state dual champion last season.”

The tournament was founded by original coach and namesake Larry Gassen just a couple of years after the school opened in 1964.

It has been a mainstay of the early December wrestling calendar.

Downers South was also involved in the most significant pool play result during the third round.

In a riveting back and forth, the Mustangs edged Coal City 39-34.

The teams each won seven matches, with one crucial difference, the forfeit Downers South earned at 215 with Coal City not fielding a wrestler there.

The match was more like a basketball game, with each side mourning massive runs. Coal City won five consecutive matches between 132 and 157 pounds.

Downers South answered with four consecutive falls and the forfeit victory for the insurmountable 39-25 advantage with two remaining matches.

By far the smallest school in the field, Coal City showed why it remains the favorite in Class 1A.

After nine top-four finishes without capturing a state championship, the Coalers broke through with their riveting match against defending state champion Yorkville Christian.

Coal City had a tournament-best five wrestlers go 5-0. Sophomore Mason Garner was arguably the most impressive.

He posted five pins, with all three of his matches not lasting into the second period. Only TJ Johnson of Downers South took him to the third period.

Garner was awarded a special award for the most falls in the fewest minutes of wrestling.

“I just went out there, took my time and wrestled my match,” he said. “We actually lost a lot of seniors from the state championship team.

“We are pretty young, but we just have to keep wrestling and not get over our heads.”

Owen Petersen (106), Aidan Kenney (132), Brock Finch (150) and Brant Widlowski also went 5-0.

“We love the competition, and we love the target on our backs,” Widlowski said. “We have a banner in our room from the championship, with everybody’s name, the bracket and the trophy.

“Every break we’re always looking up, and saying if we want to be up there, we have to put in the work now.”

 Even if the team success was not at the heightened level of some of the other individual standouts, the day was an ideal platform to test their skill, power and strength against a deep and impressive field.

Some teams, most significantly Warren, were missing their top athletes, like sophomore Aaron Stewart, who was third at 152 pounds in Class 3A last season.

Stewart was at the Ironman in Ohio.

Plainfield North featured two of the top performers in Maddox Garbis, who finished sixth at 106 pounds in 3A last season.

Garbis finished 4-0. Tovar went 5-0.

Leonardo Tovar was third at 220 pounds.

“I like both the individual and now the dual team format,” Tovar said. “Individual duals against other teams give you a good look in tournaments like this.

“Today was just like the state tournament. You’re wrestling back to back, so this gets you ready for that environment.”

Here is the list of the other undefeated wrestlers, with a minimum three matches:


Nadeem Haleem, Andrew (113/120)

Tyler Tiancgo, Downers Grove North, (113)

Rocky Seibel, Belleville West (113)

Aidan Durrell, Plainfield North (120)

Carlos Ordonez, Warren (120)

Max Siegel, Andrew (126) 

Teddy Flores, Maine South (126)

Talon Decker, Mahoney-Seymour (138, 144)

Malaki Jackson, Geneseo (144)

Shane McGuine, Huntley (150)

Zachary Montez, Geneseo (150/157)

Jackson Castaneda, Oak Forest (165)

Kyle Weinzierl, Geneseo (165)

Cayden Parks, Crystal Lake Central (190)

Tommy McNeil, Crystal Lake Central (215)

Tyler Fortis, Maine South (285)

Markos Mihalopoulos, Huntley (285)


Maddox Garbis, Plainfield North (113)

Owen Ottino, Glenwood (120)

Luke Grindstaff, Plainfield North (138)

Connor Kelly, Downers Grove South (165/175)

RJ Samuels, Downers Grove South (175)

Jeremija Hixson, Warren (190)

Anthony Soto, Warren (215)


Luke Morrison, Maine South (132)

Matty Lapacek, Downers Grove South (190)

Cael Brezina, Downers Grove North (215)

Results of the championship match between Barrington and Glenwood

Barrington 35, Glenwood 26

132 – Daniel Blanke (Barrington) F 1:41 John Vallar (Glenwood)

138 – John Ben Maduena (Glenwood) F 3:24 Brennan O’Donnell (Barrington)

144 – Brady Wright (Barrington) D 6-5 Anny Williams (Glenwood)

150 – Rhenzo Augusto (Barrington) TF 18-2 Braxton Warren (Glenwood)

157 – Silas Oberholtzer (Barrington) F 4:59 Jonah Broughman (Glenwood)

165 – Maizone Milestone (Glenwood) D 3-2 Liam Tierney (Barrington)

175 – Justin Hay (Glenwood) D 7-0 Marino Benardi (Barrington)

190 – Ayden Salley (Barrington) UTB 3-2 Maximus Wiezorek (Glenwood)

215 – Cody Moss (Glenwood) D 7-3 Peter Kazaglis (Barrington) 

285 – Clarence Jackson (Barrington) F 1:00 Eli Moss (Glenwood)

106 – Kaleb Pratt (Barrington) D 11-8 Tyler Clarke (Glenwood)

113 – Neel Talpallikar (Barrington) D 10-6 Jaxon Ferguson (Glenwood)

120 – Owen Ottino (Glenwood) F 3:38 Saul Ramirez (Barrington)

126 – Drew Davis TF 17-2 Jacob Llames (Barrington)

Final results

3rd place

Lincoln-Way East 39, Downers Grove South 36

5th place

Coal City 51. Mahomet-Seymour 24

7th place

Downers Grove North 43, Plainfield North 26

9th place

Andrew 34, Huntley 30

11th place

Oak Forest and Warren did not wrestle

13th place

Crystal Lake Central 42, Geneseo 35

15th place

Belleville West and Maine South did not wrestle

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