Batavia 3-peats at Glenbrook South 

By Patrick Z. McGavin for the IWCOA

The unknown shadowed Batavia in its quest to stand atop the highest podium at the 58th Rus Erb Invitational at Glenbrook South Saturday.

The Bulldogs were trying to overcome a serious manpower shortage with four missing weight classes at 106, 113, 175 and 285.

“We were missing some spots this year,” said Aidan Huck, the Bulldogs’ 138-pounder. “Coming in I am not sure if we had a lot of confidence, but we knew our guys were going to get it done. 

“We just had to get those bonus points.”

Huck mirrored the larger fortunes of the team.

He captured his third consecutive individual championship as the Bulldogs used elite quality to overcome their depth issues to win a third consecutive Erb team championship.

Huck previously won the tournament at 113 and 126 pounds.

Batavia’s four individual champions pushed the Bulldogs past Oswego, who had a five-point advantage in the team scores heading into the place matches. 

Batavia finished with 161.5 points, edging the 156.5 scored by Oswego.  Deerfield (143.5), St. Patrick (138.5) and Riverside-Brookfield (132.0) finished in the top five.

Lake Forest senior Seth Digby (157) earned the most outstanding wrestler award; Oswego’s Brodie Slou (285) had five pins in 11:20 to finish with the most pins in the least time; and Batavia’s Ino Garcia (120) and Oswego’s Ethan Essick (150) tied with 30 for the most team points scored in the tournament. 

Buffalo Grove’s Chris Chi (165) scored the most points in a single match with 25; Richmond-Burton’s Kyan Gunderson (126) scored the most total match points with 56; and the largest seed-place difference came from Riverside-Brookfield’s Jacob Godoy, as the 15th-seeded wrestler placed fourth at 132.

Rus Erb championship match breakdowns:

106 – Daniel Goodwin, St. Patrick

St. Patrick sophomore Daniel Goodwin came of age.

“I spent a lot of time this week working with my coaches on building my attack, working on my hand fighting and getting into my offense,” he said.

It paid off spectacularly with his 11-1 major decision over Lane’s Evan Coles in the championship match.

The same two wrestlers faced each other last year in the third-place bout at 106 pounds.

“My style is hard-nosed, and gritty, but sometimes there’s a little bit of flash and you saw that today,” he said.

Goodwin (16-2) was explosive on his feet, and he was dominant on the ground. Coles had no answer.

“I had a lot of confidence in myself,” Goodwin said. “I made the changes in my attack, and I was able to build off each other. I really wanted to win this tournament.”

St. Patrick’s Jack Koenig won a 13-11 sudden victory over Buffalo Grove’s Dawson Horvath for third place, and Glenbrook South’s Urmuun Urtnasan earned the 10-7 decision over Riverside-Brookfield’s Mateo Gonzalez on the fifth-place mat.

113 – Alex Valentin, Lane Tech

Lane Tech’s Alex Valentin never lost sight of the larger objective. 

Even when down in the second period, the Lane junior knew he could not depart from his larger strategy of being aggressive and dialed into the moment.

“I really wanted to push the pace,” he said. “I was confident in myself.

My style is hard to explain. I just go out there and wrestle to the best of my ability. I feel like I have a more dominant top-down style.”

Valentin recovered from a 6-4 second-period deficit to pull out a 10-8 decision over Grant’s Vince Jasinski in the championship match.

Valentin (17-2) finished fourth at 113 last year. Jasinski (16-4) was the runner up at 106 pounds.

The takedown and three-point near fall by Valentin at the start of the third period shifted the momentum decisively. He withstood a late takedown to pull out the victory.

“I really like a neutral style, but like I said, my best is working top to bottom,” Valentin said.

Jonathan Theodor of Oswego won a 4-2 decision over Riverside-Brookfield’s Edgar Mosquera for third place, and Lake Park’s Bryce Mensik defeated Lakes’ Braiden Beau by medical forfeit on the fifth-place mat.

120 – Ino Garcia, Batavia

Batavia’s Ino Garcia missed the first three weeks of the season recovering from an injury.

He made up for the lost time, and also punctured the bittersweet feeling of losing a 2-1 decision in the championship match at 113 pounds a year ago. Garcia won the 106-pound championship two years ago.

“After the break and everything, I was just hyped up, and ready to go,” he said. 

Garcia blitzed Deerfield’s Adrian Cohen with a fall at 0:49 in the championship match.

After making his debut in a dual last Thursday, Garcia was fresh, live wired, and ready to make a statement. His body was expressly attuned to the moment.

He used an early four-point action with a takedown and back points for the sharp start.

A freshman, Cohen (13-4) was unprepared for the scope, intensity and drive of Garcia.

Garcia (4-0) finished sixth in Class 3A last February at 113 pounds, losing the fifth-place state match to Schaumburg’s Brady Phelps, his opponent at Rus Erb last year.

“I was more ready than him, and I think I went after this as if it were a state finals match or something,” he said.

St. Patrick’s Calvin Stahl had the 1-0 decision over Niles North’s Trent Tono for third place, and Sycamore’s Tyler Lockhart had the 10-7 decision over Richmond-Burton’s Clay Madula on the fifth-place mat.

126 – Robert James Zavala, Lane Tech

Lane’s Robert James Zavala conceded the first takedown in his championship match with Carmel’s Matthew Lucansky.

He responded with a series of sharp actions that dovetailed into a convincing 16-7 major for the second individual title for the Public League power.

He never got down on himself after falling behind, reacting with a five-point reversal and near fall points.

Two more takedowns in the second period expanded his lead to 10-5. He rode the momentum brilliantly, working his superior quickness and power.

Zavala (19-2) punctuated the performance with a takedown and two-point near fall in the closing seconds.

Lake Park’s Sergio Hernandez captured the 13-8 decision over Richmond-Burton’s Kyan Gunderson’s for third place, and Batavia’s Kyle Pasco defeated Oswego’s Vincent Manfre on the fifth-place mat.

132 – Luke Reddy, Deerfield

Deerfield’s Luke Reddy knows regardless of form or function, the imperative is always the same.

Set the tone, create the dominant rhythm and never let up.

“I always focus on wrestling my style, and never let anybody else take it to me,” he said. 

Reddy smashed Glenbrook South’s Max Brown with the 13-1 major in the championship match.

Reddy (15-1) finished second to Huck at 126 pounds last year. He was one match away from placing in the Class 2A state finals.

“We talk about the hammer and the nail, and I always want to be the hammer,” Reddy said. 

“I want to make my opponent uncomfortable. I was always calm, and ready to wrestle. I’ve won a couple of tournaments now. With this being my senior year, it’s really important to come out and dominate.”

Evanston’s Marco Terrizzi earned the 12-0 major decision over Riverside-Brookfield’s Jacob Godoy for third place, and Batavia’s Jack Duraski won by forfeit over St. Patrick’s Olin Walker on the fifth-place mat.

138 – Aidan Huck, Batavia

The third time was not just the charm. It set the backdrop for the Bulldogs’ championship drive.

Huck (17-1) has pushed up a couple of weight classes from a year ago, where he captured the 126-pound championship. His technique, power, skill and flexibility translates to any weight class.

Huck registered two takedowns and back points for a 7-0 lead through two periods for the 11-2 major over Grant sophomore Erik Rodriguez in the championship match.

“I think getting that first takedown really sets me apart from the other opponents.” Huck said. 

His takedown was the only points of the first period. He quickly followed up with an escape, takedown and back points during his dominant second period.

He has gained strength without sacrificing his speed or explosiveness.

“My first couple of meets this year, I was even at 144,” he said. “I wasn’t really focused on cutting weight this season. With the tournament, I thought 138 was the best fit for me, and I got the job done.”

Rodriguez (18-5) showed off as one of the bright underclass talents in the field. He finished third at 126 pounds last year.

Deerfield’s Jordan Rasof captured the 11-1 major over Sycamore’s Jayden Dohogne for third place, and Lane’s Nasser Hammouche defeated by forfeit Oswego’s Brayden Swanson on the fifth-place mat.

144 – Emmett Nelson, Richmond-Burton

An unfortunate sequence at the end of the semifinal series deprived the day of its most anticipated final.

Deerfield’s previously undefeated Mark Martinez suffered an ankle injury in the final moments of his semifinal victory over Glenbrook South’s Andrew Haritos.

Richmond-Burton star Emmett Nelson captured the title by medical forfeit.

Nelson, who went 46-3 in finishing second in Class 1A at 126 pounds last year, is one of the most dynamic and electrifying wrestlers in the state.

Nelson (15-0) had two major decisions and a 8-4 decision over Riverside-Brookfield’s Josh Gonzalez in the semifinals. 

“I think scoring points and keeping a good pace up is really important for me,” Nelson said. “I like to do as much as I can in that match.”

Regardless of class, Nelson is one of the best wrestlers in the state.

“I think 1A is really underestimated,” he said. “People might naturally belittle you, or think you’re not that good, but we had two champions today.” Martinez is 13-1.

Gonzalez earned the 7-1 decision over Lake Park’s Vince Merola for third place, and Oswego’s Dillon Griffin won by forfeit over Haritos in the fifth-place bout.

150 – Ethan Essick, Oswego

Oswego’s Ethan Essick has a sure and intuitive idea of when to go for broke. His aggressive and no-holds barred style even operates from a seemingly disadvantaged position.

Trailing 2-1 at the start of the second period, Essick caught Deerfield’s Charlie Cross in a cradle for the fall at 2:35 for the Panthers’ only tournament championship.

Essick (15-4) completed one of the most dominant performances of the day with four falls.

“I started on the bottom, and I built out my base and I got my head out, and he ducked out under my body and I hooked his leg,” he said. “I kept my mind good, and these things always just work out.”

Even though Cross secured the first takedown, Essick never lost his confidence or drive. “It’s always about the next takedown,” he said.

Niles North’s Oliver Quiros pinned Batavia’s Dylan Wells to capture third place at 150, and Riverside-Brookfield’s Jacob Noe won the 7-1 decision over Palatine’s Alan Allende on the fifth-place mat.

157 – Seth Digby, Lake Forest

Seth Digby was a cut above, faster, tougher and better than everybody who stood in his path.

He punctuated a dominant run with the 16-4 major over Oswego’s Colin O’Grady in the championship.

His flip of O’Grady for a four-point take down and back points illustrated his elite combination of power, strength, quickness and superb technique. In the run up to the final, Digby (17-0) posted three falls. He earned the most outstanding wrestling award.

Digby finished fourth at 152 pounds last year, losing to Sycamore’s Gus Cambier in the third-place match. Cambier also ended his season with a decision in the state finals.

Digby has been a man on a mission.

“I just like to wrestle at a high pace, and just work on a lot of things we do in the practice room,” he said. 

St. Patrick’s Van Grasser won by medical forfeit over Riverside-Brookfield’s Ethan Rivas for third place, and Glenbrook South’s Henry Downing earned the 7-1 decision over Grant’s Grayson Lennon in the fifth-place bout.

165 – Christian Wittkamp, Grant

Grant’s Christian Wittkamp had the perfect combination, at once insurmountable and unstoppable.

He orchestrated a dazzling individual tournament with a 17-2 technical fall over Buffalo Grove’s Chris Chi in the championship match.

Wittkamp (17-5) was both steady and intense, methodically and masterfully building his lead, applying pressure and force and finally delivering the knockout with a series of back points in the third period

Oswego’s Joseph Griffin captured the 7-4 decision over Lake Park’s Max Mohapp for third place, and Riverside-Brookfield’s Cade Tompkins won by fall over Evanston’s Xavier Starks in the fifth-place bout.

175 – Devin Nichol, St. Patrick

In the most unaccountable outcome of the day, Devin Nichol went deep into his soul to stage a remarkable comeback.

The St. Patrick senior overcame a 7-1 deficit at the start of the third period for the thrilling and dramatic 12-10 decision over Sycamore’s Cooper Bode in the championship match.

He executed two separate four-point actions, the most significant a takedown and back points in the closing seconds that wiped out the 10-8 deficit.

“Honestly I have no idea how that happened,” he said. 

“This might sound kind of weird, but I was thinking about my family and how they have always fought through life, and the least I could do was continue to work hard and not gas out and keep trying.”

As the momentum shifted, Nichol (17-7) was reanimated and energized.

“I thought it was going to go to overtime, but I just thought I could take a shot there and get him on his back,” he said.

Rolling Meadows’ Jack Rappa had the 3-0 decision over Buffalo Grove’s JJ Garay for third place, and Niles North’s Dionisi Ballas pinned Riverside-Brookfield’s Max Strong on the fifth-place mat.

190 – Ben Brown, Batavia

Ben Brown had the hammerlock, in effect. He was not going to be denied his chance.

In the most competitive championship, Brown engineered the thrilling and intense 1-0 victory over Buffalo Grove’s Caden Watson. 

His second-period escape was the difference. After finishing second at 195 pounds last year, Brown (13-0) rode out Watson through a tense and thrilling final period.

“I’m a big tight-waisted guy, and if I can get off to that one side, and keep good hip pressure, I just react to what they’re doing,” he said.

Watson nearly got free in the final 25 seconds with a deft roll move. Brown maintained his composure.

“I wrestled a different guy a couple of weeks ago, and he was rolling on me, so I’ve tried to be more conscious of that,” he said. “You can feel the pressure slip when they try that.

“You just hold on there.”

Palatine’s Trey Widlowski defeated St. Patrick’s Jack Clancy 9-3 in the third-place match, and Sycamore’s Gable Carrick won by fall over  Lakes’ Julian Ramos on the fifth-place mat.

215 – Asher Sheldon, Batavia

The familiarity struck home for Asher Sheldon.

In the only championship rematch from last year, Sheldon dominated St. Patrick’s Aiden Gomez with the 16-4 major for his second consecutive individual title.

In the 220-pound championship last year, Sheldon (18-1) posted the first period fall of Gomez.

“I’ve been working on my mindset, and telling myself that losing is not an option,” Sheldon said. “I’m just getting into a zone before my matches.

“I’ve been working on my feet with my coaches, and also my bottom/top. I am most dominant on my feet. Being a little lighter than most guys here, it allows me to have more speed that is very useful at a heavier weight.”

Lake Forest’s Yaree Sandifer had the second period fall of Niles North’s Ahmad Musa for third place, and Deerfield’s Max Drumke earned the fall over Glenbrook South’s Sammy Kubba in the fifth-place bout.

285 – Colin Kraus, Richmond-Burton

Richmond-Burton’s Colin Krause saw his chance.

Locked in a 1-1 dual with Evanston’s Jeremy Marshall, he engineered a stunning throw for the third period fall in the championship match.

Throughout the match, Marshall appeared to have the more dangerous offensive actions and repeatedly got into Kruse’s body.

Kruse (7-2) skillfully deflected his actions.

“He was getting a lot of body locks on me, and I had to respond,” Kruse said. “We were right outside the ring, and I got my hands free and I saw the opportunity.

“I just took it, and ended up on top.”

Oswego’s Brodie Slou defeated by second period fall Buffalo Grove’s John Saracco for third place, and Grant’s Landon pinned Palatine’s Jaylen Maiden on the fifth-place mat.

Rus Erb championship match results:

106 – Daniel Goodwin (St. Patrick) MD 11-1 Evan Coles (Lane) 

113 – Alex Valentin (Lane) 10-8 D Vince Jasinski (Grant)

120 – Ino Garcia (Batavia) F 0:49 Adrian Cohen (Deerfield) 

126 – Robert James Zavala (Lane) MD 16-7 Matthew Lucansky (Carmel)

132 – Luke Reddy (Deerfield) MD 13-1 Max Brown (Glenbrook South)

138 – Aidan Huck (Batavia) MD 11-2 Erik Rodriguez (Grant) 

144 – Emmett Nelson MF Mark Martinez (Deerfield)

150 – Ethan Essick (Oswego) F 2:35 Charlie Cross (Deerfield) 

157 – Seth Digby (Lake Forest) MD 16-4 Colin O’Grady (Oswego) 

165 – Christian Wittkamp (Grant) TF 17-2 5:47 Chris Chi (Buffalo Grove)

175 – Devin Nichol (St. Patrick) D 12-10 Cooper Bode (Sycamore) 

190 – Ben Brown (Batavia) D 1-0 Caden Watson (Buffalo Grove)

215 – Asher Sheldon (Batavia) MD 16-4 Aiden Gomez (St. Patrick)

285 – Colin Kruse (Richmond-Burton) F 4:27 Jeremy Marshall (Evanston)

Final team scores: Batavia (161.5) 2. Oswego (156.5) 3. Deerfield (143.5) 4. St. Patrick (138.5) 5. Riverside-Brookfield (132.0) 6. Grant (113.5) 7. Buffalo Grove (109.5) 7. Richmond-Burton (109.5) 9. Lane (105.5) 10. Glenbrook South (91.5) 11. Sycamore (74.5) 12. Evanston (73.0) 12. Niles North (73.0) 14. Lake Park (70.0) 15. Lake Forest (57.0) 16. Palatine (39.0) 17. Rolling Meadows (34.0) 18. Carmel (32.0) 19. Lakes (27.0) 20. Marian Catholic (1.0)

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