By Patrick Z. McGavin
Wrestlers like Caden Hatton are never content just to stay in place.
One of two outcomes typically happens to the best athletes: you either get better or you decline. Nothing rarely stays the same.
“I think we’re coming back bigger and better this year,” Hatton said. “We’re filling good weights.”
Last season, Hatton was one of three Bulldogs who achieved all-state distinction. Mahomet-Seymour was a Class 2A state powerhouse who had five state qualifiers.
The Bulldogs defeated Antioch 35-34 for the third-place trophy in the 2A state dual championships.
“We want to add on that,” Mahomet-Seymour coach Rob Ledin said. “We had some guys last year who definitely did not perform how they wanted to.
“We are upper-class heavy, so we are expecting big things.”
The Bulldogs had a tournament-best four individual winners and captured the 12-team championship of the Neuqua Valley Scuffle on Saturday, December 3.
Mahomet-Seymour had four champions, four runner-ups, and a third-place finisher in amassing 211 points to the 184 points of second-place Warren.
Harlem finished in third place with 159.5 points.
Montini, who finished sixth with 105.5 points, had a second-best three individual champions. Montini’s David Mayora, who was third in Class 2A at 152 pounds last season, earned the most outstanding wrestler award.
Warren and Loyola had two champions apiece. The host Wildcats, Bolingbrook and Taft had one individual winner each.
The tournament featured five athletes who finished all-state last season.
Mahomet-Seymour dominated despite not fielding wrestlers at 120, 132 and 138 pounds.
The Bulldogs prevailed with top-end talent and skill.
“We are putting in a lot of work,” said Brennan Houser, who captured the 182-pound championship.
“A lot of us have the same partners that we had last year, and it builds the chemistry to be great. Today was really fun to go all over, and you see different styles and that prepares you for the state championships.”
Ledin views a team with a high ceiling, and one that has aspirations of winning a state dual team championship at Bloomington at the end of February.
The Neuqua Valley Scuffle was an important step.
“Hopefully this year maturity, another year of strength, another year of practice, off-season workouts, and we can continue to build and be a better team throughout the year,” Ledin said.
Results by weight class
Warren’s Jonathan Marquez showed an impressive command of discipline, quickness, and point of attack.
He captured the individual championship with a third-period pin of Taft’s Bernie Roque. Capable at both the neutral and top positions, Marquez punctuated a strong performance with the fall at 5:12.
After a first-round bye, he defeated Mahomet-Seymour’s Colton McClure 6-1 in the semifinal round.
Despite the loss, Roque was impressive in his own right with second-period falls in his two preliminary matches.
Loyola’s James Hemmila posted the third-period fall of McClure in the third-place match. Angel Godinez of Bolingbrook edged Montini’s Maxwell Neal 8-6 for fifth place.
Nobody can lose without getting scored on. Hatton made the math work for him.
He conceded just one escape in posting two dominant victories en route to his weight class title.
After dispatching Warren’s Carlos Ordonez 8-1 in the semifinals, Hatton captured the 9-0 major decision victory over Neuqua Valley’s Arjun Bharadwaj in the championship match.
“I like to wrestle quick—quick on my get, quick on top, quick on bottom, and be explosive,” Hatton said.
“Top, for sure. I worked really well on top today.”
Bharadawaj reached his half of the bracket with a first-period pin of Harlem’s Justin Lewis.
Ordonez defeated Lewis by pin for third-place honors. Elgin’s Julius Avendano needed just 13 seconds to defeat Taft’s Lance Rosales for fifth place.
Kameron Luiz was in a zone, keying the Broncos’ tournament-best three individual champions.
Fast, explosive, and overpowering, he was virtually untouchable in cruising to his championship title.
He put the finishing touches on his extraordinary day with the 16-0 technical fall over Jared Craig of Bolingbrook for his personal title.
He also posted a technical fall and a second-period pin in running roughshod over his competition.
Craig edged Bartlett’s Ryan Richey 6-4 to capture the upper bracket.
Warren’s Jose Ordonez pinned Richey in the first period for third-place distinction. Elk Grove’s Nicasio Acino also posted the first-period fall of Harlem’s Izayah Olejniczak for fifth-place honors.
Massey Odiotti of Loyola is one of the state’s best wrestlers.
After he was upset by Aurora Christian’s Josh Vasquez at the Moore-Prettyman Tournament last week, he went seeking his own brand of personal satisfaction. A defending state finalist in Class 3A last season finished 40-5 at 120 pounds, Massey showed technical prowess and precision with three dominant individual performances.
Following up two falls in his preliminary matches, Odiotti claimed the individual title with the 12-0 major decision over Elk Grove’s Grant Madl.
For his part, Madl showed range and explosiveness in capturing the lower bracket by posting two falls.
Harlem’s Ethan Hagerman defeated Warren’s Jorge Valenzuela 7-5 in the third-place match.
Reese Wilson of Mahomet-Seymour earned fifth place with the second-period pin of Elgin’s Jacob Rosas.
Bolingbrook’s Aaron Camacho secured the Raiders’ lone individual title with his fall in the closing seconds of the second period of Harlem’s Myles Babcock.
Interestingly, Loyola’s Patrick Zimmer provided the toughest resistance with a tight 6-4 decision in the quarterfinals.
Camacho also had a fall in his second-round match against Elk Grove’s Anthony Ochoa.
Babcock captured the lower bracket with a technical fall and second-period pin over Neuqua Valley’s Jay Chidley in the semifinal round.
Chidley responded with the 12-1 major decision over Ochoa for third place. Zimmer earned the first-period fall of Warren’s Dylan Grunwald.
Warren’s Evan Onstad put in the work.
He decimated the field by registering two technical falls and two major decisions for his individual title.
Fast and explosive on his feet, he performed at a higher level, overpowering the opposition with his excellent footwork, throws, and top actions.
He defeated Harlem’s Donavin Vanderheyden 15-0 in the championship match.
Vanderhayden recorded two falls in winning his side of the bracket.
Elk Grove’s Niko Thanopoulos defeated Taft’s Austin Dempsey for third place. Bolingbrook’s Tom McDermott posted the first-period fall of Loyola’s John Walsh to capture fifth place.
Tallen Pawlak saw a recognizable figure in his tournament final, his teammate Donovan Lewis, in the only example of the tournament where a team fielded two athletes in the same weight class.
Pawlak took care of business with the second period fall. A state qualifier who finished 36-16 last year, he has a very familiar shape and pattern.
“I get a takedown, and I like shooting singles—that’s my thing. I like to get that takedown, and go to work,” he said. “On top, I really just turned everybody that I went up against today.”
He captured his side of the bracket with a first period fall, and a 12-0 major in the semifinal.
Lewis was no typical second-stringer. He posted two falls to reach his half of the bracket.
“I think our expectations are to be a state dual team champion,” Pawlak said.
Harlem’s Aidan Zacharuk earned the second-period fall of Warren’s Zachary Piskiewicz for third-place recognition.
A state qualifier last season, Marian Catholic’s Joey Baranski edged Atzin Bazan of Bolingbrook 2-1 in the fifth-place match.
Without question, the headliner of the tournament and match of the tournament was Mayora’s 4-2 decision over Warren’s Aaron Stewart.
This clash of the titans featured a contrasting and brilliant showdown of two dominant performers. Mayora captured the lower bracket with a second-period fall and 20-5 technical fall of Deandre Hughey of Mahomet-Seymour in the semifinal.
Stewart posted back-to-back technical falls in dominating the upper bracket.
Harlem’s Andrew Ryder edged Hughey 7-6 in the third-place match. Bolingbrook’s Marcus Poe secured the first period pin of Bartlett’s Zain Yasoob for fifth place.
Will Prater secured the Broncos’ third individual title with his second-period pin of Mahomet-Seymour’s Nick Demos.
Prater captured his bracket with the 10-5 decision over Warren’s Royce Lopez in the semifinals.
Demos clipped Ben Larsen of Harlem 4-2 in his semifinal match.
Lopez defeated Larsen in the third-place showdown with the third-period fall.
Loyola’s Hunter Pacholski beat Elk Grove’s Jacob Eisner by third-period fall in capturing fifth place.
Neuqua Valley’s Silvano Spatafora delivered for the hosts, using his blitzing, aggressive style with the 16-4 major over Elgin’s Fabian Ramirez.
Spatafora literally ran away with the title.
The metaphor is apt, given he is a bruising, gifted running back who helped the Wildcats win the DuPage Valley Conference and reach the second round of the Class 8A state playoffs.
“I think I emulate how I run the ball, and how I wrestle, just being tough,” he said. “I think there’s definitely a correlation.”
His relentless pace established a go-for-broke rhythm.
“My double-leg takedown was great today,” he said. “I think that is the best thing in my arsenal. I think in that championship match, what really helped is I was able to get that double leg.”
Mahomet-Seymour’s Cale Hillard posted the third-period fall of Harlem’s Wyatt Hoffman for third-place honors.
Lloyd Mills of Marian Catholic earned fifth-place recognition with his 13-6 decision over Warren’s Justice Humphreys.
Mahomet-Seymour’s Brennan Houser rarely wastes an effort or throwaway action.
Everything has a purpose.
“My style is all about working on being quicker than the other guys,” he said. “I wrestle very physically, and I like to score a lot of points, with lots of outside shots and high crosses.”
Last season, he finished 44-11 and sixth at 182 pounds. He remains at the top of his craft.
Houser registered three lightning-fast first period falls in overpowering the field in his weight class. He pinned Bolingbrook’s Emiliano Gil-Lane in 1:37 for his personal title.
Gil-Lane posted two third-period falls en route to winning the upper bracket.
Bartlett’s Ryan Gura provided his school’s top place finisher with the first period fall of Marian Catholic’s Tanner Clasen in the third-place match.
Harlem’s Kaden Christensen posted the second period pin of Neuqua Valley’s Joseph Metlicka in the fifth-place match.
Mahomet-Seymour’s Mateo Casillas is virtually in a class by himself. A state runner-up as a sophomore, he posted a stunning 57-2 record in finishing third at 195 pounds last season.
Two top state finishes have only deepened his desire for the ultimate.
“I’m just trying to stay hungry with what I have,” he said.
“I am hungrier than ever to get that state title. I know I am definitely capable, with my abilities. I know that if I wrestle to my ability, I can win state at 195.”
Casillas orchestrated one of the most impressive performances with two falls and a one-sided championship match with the 13-0 major over Jeremija Hixson of Warren.
Hixson had a fall and major decision in capturing the upper bracket.
In the third-place match, Elk Grove’s Benny Schlosser earned the first period pin of Harlem’s Andrew Redmon.
Bartlett’s Kaivin Robles secured fifth place with the 10-1 major over Frankie Macieo of Marian Catholic.
Most freshmen who excel tend to be on the lighter side. Loyola’s precocious Kai Calcutt is an outlier, big, bold and brazen.
He seized control of the championship match against the Bulldogs’ experienced Colton Crowley with the third period pin in raising his record to 7-1 on the season.
The fall came at the 5:54 mark.
“At first, I was a little bit hesitant at first with my offense.” he said. “I’m just a freshman, and this is my first year. I’m really just working on getting to my offense quicker against these bigger guys.”
Last season he participated in elite national age-group tournaments, underlining his ability to operate well above his birth certificate.
“I was at national tournaments throughout eighth grade, and that really helped me out a lot, especially learning how to make small kid moves on bigger guys,” Calcutt said.
Crowley won by decision and first period fall to capture his half of the bracket.
In the third-place match, Elk Grove’s Dylan Berkowitz closed out his strong showing with the second period fall of Montini’s Evan Jocic.
Bolingbrook’s Dominic Hargrove edged Warren’s Anthony Sote 6-5 in the fifth-place match.
Taft’s Grzegorz Krupa achieved his ultimate objective with the 6-3 decision over the Bulldogs’ Camden Harms for the Eagles’ sole individual championship.
“I thought I performed well,” he said.
“I was disappointed I didn’t get the pin in the finals, but I’m still trying to get my cardio to where it needs to be. I know once I’m in better shape there’s no one that can beat me. These tournaments with ranked guys and state qualifiers are great, because I’m trying to win state this year. So getting these tough matches early helps prepare me for state.”
He posted two falls in the preliminary rounds.
Harms also registered two falls in capturing side of the bracket.
In the third-place match, Elgin’s Adam Lambaz responded sharply with the first-period fall of Elk Grove’s Mike Milovich.
Neuqua Valley’s Mahomet Nurundinov posted the pin over Montini’s Michael Ranquist for fifth place.
By Curt Herron
Mattoon edges hosts for Civic Memorial Bradley Invite Title
The two squads battling for top honors at Saturday’s Steve Bradley Invitational couldn’t have been much closer as Mattoon edged host Civic Memorial 191.5-188 to capture the title of the 20-team event that was held in Bethalto.
Jacksonville beat Murphysboro 168.5-159.5 for third while Vandalia (147.5), Alton (110), Olympia (93), Bloomington (92), Benton (82.5) and Champaign Central (77.5) rounded out the top half of the field.
Leading the way for coach Brett Porter’s champion Greenwave were champions Korbin Bateman (132) and Leo Meyer (220), runners-up Logan Blackburn (126) and Aidan Blackburn (145) and third-place finishers Tristan Porter (113) and Ben Capitosti (138). Placing fifth were Vincent Gibson (120) and Jason Skocy (160) while TJ Owens (195) claimed sixth place.
Coach Jeremy Christeson’s runner-up Eagles won five titles as Bradley Ruckman (106), Caleb Scott (126), Bryce Griffin (152), Abe Wojcikiewicz (182) and Logan Cooper (195) all took firsts, Ayden Wesley (170) placed second and Mason Walker (145) was fourth.
And top performers for coach Dustin Secrist’s third-place Crimsons were champions Deshawn Armstrong (120) and Collin Reif (145) and second-place finishers were Luca Thies (182) and Oliver Cooley (220). Taking third-place were Abram Davidson (160) and Aiden Surratt (285) while Mason Meyer (195) finished fourth.
Other champions were Carlyle’s Tyson Waughtel (113), Benton’s Mason Tieffel (138), Vandalia’s Eric McKinney (160), Murphysboro’s Dayton Hoffman (170) and Jersey Community’s Jaydon Busch (285).
Additional second-place finishers were Murphysboro’s Jackson Graff (106), Kaiden Richards (113), Aiston Holt (120) and Bryce Edwards (132), Vandalia’s Owen Miller (138) and Wyatt Dothager (195), Bloomington’s Maddox Kirts (160) and Stephen Carr (285) and Olympia’s Bentley Wise (152).
In title matches decided by decisions, Armstrong nipped Holt 8-7 (120), Scott edged Logan Blackburn 4-3 (126), Cooper got past Dothager 6-5 (195), Waughtel beat Richards 7-1 (113), Reif won 9-3 over Aidan Blackburn (145), McKinney defeated Kirts 7-1 (160) and Meyer beat Cooley 10-4 (220).
Bateman won by fall in 5:45 over Edwards (132), Griffin pinned Wise in 0:50 (152), Hoffman won by fall over Wesley in 1:16 (170), Wojcikiewicz recorded a pin in 0:17 over Thies (182) and Busch won by fall in 0:25 over Carr (285). Ruckman won by technical fall over Graff (106) and Tieffel won by technical fall over Miller (138).
Other third-place finishers were Vandalia’s Pierson Wilkerson (120) and Dillon Hinton (132), Alton’s William Harris (126) and Antoine Phillips (152), Bloomington’s Eli Satterfeal (106), Murphysboro’s Liam Fox (145), Champaign Central’s Asher Kotowski (170), Benton’s Gavin Hedger (182), Highland’s Ashton Zobrist (195) and East Alton-Wood River’s Drake Champlin (220).
Also finishing fourth were Highland’s Gavin Merkle (106), Dalton Balint (113) and Tyson Rakers (132), Alton’s Aslan Merioles (120) and Chris Jones (138), Centralia’s Lane Griffin (126), Bloomington’s Noah Misukonis (152), East St. Louis’ Pierre Walton (160), Olympia’s Cole Bauer (170), Vandalia’s Justin Proctor (182), Champaign Central’s Zavier Neill (220) and Murphysboro’s Franklin Eovaldi (285).
Bateman (132), Busch (285) and Wojcikiewicz (182) all scored 28 team points, Griffin (152) and Tieffel (138) each had 27.5 team points, McKinney (160) and Reif (145) both scored 27 team points while Hoffman (170), Scott (126) and Waughtel (113) had 26 team points.
Belleville East girls capture title at Granite City Tournament
Belleville East claimed top honors in Friday’s 19-team Granite City Tournament with 134.5 points while Edwardsville beat out Mt. Vernon 87-81 for second. Jacksonville (72), Belleville West (67), Granite City (58), Alton (50), Collinsville (45) and Triad (45) were next in line.
Coach Rashad Riley’s champion Lancers got first-place finishes from Alexis Bernal (100), Alexcia Harden (105), Brionna Lattin (135), Kami Ratcliff (190) and Kiara Ganey (235) while Keely Rulo (190) and Alonna Rehmer (235) finished second and Lea Kuc (145) took third.
“I’m just proud of our girls and the progress that we’re making,” Riley said. “We’re led by Kiara Ganey and she pretty much gets us going. Just the growth of Kiara, Alonna, Keely, Kami and Alexcia is just marvelous and every week we get better. The energy on our team is contagious right now. The girls are just happy to come to practice and they want to be pushed like the boys.”
Top performers for coach Jon Wagner’s runner-up Tigers were champions Gigi Linhorst (110), Holly Zugmaier (125) and Mackenzie Pratt (140) while Allison Kirk (100) and Olivia Coll (105) both took second and Maddy Allen (110) finished fourth.
Leading coach Alejandro Wajner’s third-place Rams were runner-up Madison Teriet (155), third-place finishers Jai Anna Terry (110) and Faith Barrett (190) while Ava Derry (125), Deshay Gradford (135), Addison Stamper (140) and Addy Barrett (235) all finished fourth.
Others who won championships were Alton’s Antonia Phillips (145) and Elanna Hickman (155), Lanphier’s Ella Miloncus (115), Jacksonville’ Alexis Seymour (120), Collinsville’s Taylor Dawson (130) and Granite City’s Samir Elliott (170).
Also finishing in second place were Carbondale’s Faith Loyd (125) and Ariel Lipe (145), Triad’s Kelsey Davis (120), Glenwood’s Jenna Tuxhorn (130), Jacksonville’s Vada Gregory (135), Belleville West’s Jubri Edwards (140), Hazelwood Central, Mo’s Carrington Reed (110) and Clayton, MO’s Elise Martin (115)
One week after Ratcliff and Rulo didn’t compete in the finals of the Normal Community Invite, they met in the first round of five at 190 with Ratcliff capturing a 2-0 decision. Ganey, a two-time state champion, made her season debut in a tournament by recording a fall in 1:00 in the 235 title match over teammate Rehmer.
Beside the top two scoring teams in the field, the only other team to have two champions was Alton, who won titles at both 145 and 155. Returning state champion Phillips won her title at 145 with a fall in 1:02 over Lipe while Hickman claimed first at 155 with a pin in 1:24 over Teriet.
In other championship matches, Linhorst prevailed 12-10 over Reed at 110 and Miloncus was a winner by fall in 3:41 over Martin at 115.
In round competition, Bernal beat Kirk by fall in 3:43 and by technical fall at 100, Harden won by fall in 3:14 and 1:43 over Coll at 105, Seymour defeated Davis by fall in 1:47 at 120, Zugmaier captured a 10-3 win over Loyd at 125 and Dawson pinned Tuxhorn in 3:05 at 130. Lattin won by fall in 4:24 over Gregory at 135, Pratt pinned Edwards in 0:15 at 140 and Elliott had no contests at 170.
Also claiming third place finishes were Belleville West’s Brooke Zeller (115) and Daniela Hernandez (135), Lanphier’s Anna Miloncus (120), Carbondale’s Ayda Williams-Collins (125), Jacksonville’s Haily Dewitt (130), Waterloo’s Kenzie Youngman (140), Triad’s Payton Markovic (155) and Granite City’s Chloe West (235).
Additional fourth-place finishers were Granite City’s Yanneli Velazquez (155) and Briana Moore (190), Triad’s Abigail Schaft (115), Belleville West’s Dwyriha Blanchard (130) and Collinsville’s Alanni Torres (145).
Dawson (130) had the most team points with 34 while Ratcliff (190) had 32 points and Lattin (135), Pratt (140), Rulo (190) and Tuxhorn (130) all scored 26 team points.
Glenwood claims championship of own invite
Glenwood had six champions and three second-place finishers to help it capture top honors in its own 15-team Glenwood Invite on Saturday in Chatham.
Triad defeated Centennial 241-194.5 for second place while Grayslake Central (157), Mt. Vernon (153), Collinsville (122), Carbondale (112) and O’Fallon (88.5) rounded out the top eight teams in the field.
Winning titles for coach Jerod Bruner’s first-place Titans were Kayle Blankenship (106), Drew Davis (120), John Ben Maduena (132), Aden Byal (152), Justin Hay (182) and Alex Hamrick (220) while Tyler Clarke (106), Bradley Dollus (138) and Mark Helm (285) took second place.
Finishing in fourth place for the hosts were Anny Williams (138) and Brandon Bray (195) while Jaxon Ferguson (106), Owen Ottino (132), Braxton Warren (145), Jonah Broughman (152) and Maximus Wiezorek (182) all took fifth place.
Top performers for coach Russ Witzig’s runner-up Knights were champion Colby Crouch (138) and second-place finishers Aiden Postma (145) and Nate Engler (220). Taking third was Ben Baumgartner (126) while Will Kelly (106), Brayden Rowe (132) and Braden Carlson (152) finished in fourth place and Brody Smith (113) and Matt Hobbs (285) were fifth.
Leading the way for coach Andrew Nyland’s third-place Chargers were title winner Tyler Easter (160), runner-up Nick Pianfetti (152), third-place finishers Jaiden Smith (113), Declan Pate (120) and Brandon Harvey (220) and finishing in fifth place was Darell Dugar (126).
Other champions were Grayslake Central’s Anthony Alanis (113) and Aaron Cramer (195), Mt. Vernon’s Dillon White (126) and Rider Searcy (145), Carbondale’s Brenden Banz (170) and Southeast’s Robert Hull (285).
Also taking second place were Carbondale’s Isaac Smith (132) and Aiden Taylor (195), Peoria Notre Dame’s Ian Akers (113), Mt. Vernon’s Ethan Verdeyen (120), Grayslake Central’s Tyler Weidman (126), Decatur Eisenhower’s Isaiah Hayes (160), Dunlap’s Nick Mueller (170) and Collinsville’s Cody Lutz (182).
Title matches decided by decision included Maduena 9-7 in sudden victory over Smith (132), Banz won 9-7 over Mueller by sudden victory (170), Blankenship won 4-1 over Clarke (106), Alanis was a 10-4 winner over Akers (113), Byal won 6-2 over Pianfetti 6-2 (152), Hay was a 5-3 winner over Lutz (182) and Cramer won 17-7 over Taylor (195)
In other first-place matches, White pinned Weidman in 1:03 (126), Crouch won by fall over Dollus in 3:01 (138), Searcy won by fall over Postma in 0:54 (145), Easter pinned Hayes in 5:23 (160), Hamrick won by fall in 2:44 over Engler (220), Hull pinned Helm in 5:43 (285) and Davis won by technical fall over Verdeyen (120).
Also claiming third-place finishes were Mt. Vernon’s Maddux Randall (170), Ethan Rivera (182) and Mason Randall (195), O’Fallon’s Kalib Schultz (132) and Andrew Orlaski (138), Collinsville’s Jordan Thigpen (106), Notre Dame’s Chase Daugherty (145), Carbondale’s Aiden Murphy (152), Southeast’s Adrian Mack (160) and East Peoria’s Skylar Carr (285).
Other fourth-place finishers were Collinsville’s Mason Hare (113) and Nathan Cagg (160), East Peoria’s Cole Brooks (126) and Jose Del Toro (285), Notre Dame’s Eddie Couri (120), MacArthur’s Shaundell Watson (145), Dunlap’s Joe Weeks (170), O’Fallon’s Gavin Gentille (182) and Peoria Heights’ Isaac Coleman (220).
Hamrick (220), Hull (285), Searcy (145) and White (126) led the way with 30 team points while Crouch (138) had 29.5, Cramer (195), Davis (120) and Easter (160) all had 29 team points, Alanis (113), Byal (152) and Hay (182) had 28.5 points and Maduena (132) had 28 team points.
Rochelle makes history, Morton’s girls dominate
By Gary Larsen
Rockford East’s Giardini Invitational
Nineteen teams rolled into Rockford on Saturday, and ultimately it was Rochelle and Geneseo that battled it out for the team title, with Rochelle (188.5) ultimately edging Geneseo (180.5) to take the crown.
The Co-op team from Belvidere (164) finished third, followed in fourth by host Rockford East (145.5). Kaneland (135), Richmond (130), Hampshire (127.5), Metamora (95.5), Rolling Meadows (71.5), and Winnebago (62) rounded out the top 10 team finishers.
Rochelle’s Xavier Villalobos (120) won the Hubs’ lone individual title on the day, with an 11-2 major decision against Kaneland’s Kamron Scholl. Placing second for Rochelle were Joseph Nadig (126), Grant Gensler (152), Brock Metzger (182), and Kaiden Morris (220). Fourth-place finishes came from Freddie Hernandez (106), Anthony Milburn (113), Brenden Voight (145), and Leo Stoffel (160).
Roman Villalobos (170) and Jaden Cook (285) also placed sixth for Hubs coach Alphonso Vruno.
“The kids wrestled extremely hard on Saturday,” Vruno said. “We only had one champ so it took a complete team effort. We performed well in the third round sending four to the third-place matches and five to the finals.
“We were very proud as a coaching staff to accomplish something Rochelle has not been able to do, win the Rockford East Tournament. However, we only went 1-8 in the final round and did not reach our goal of 200 points as a team. We’ll be back Monday, happy but also hungry. As my assistant coach Nelson Baker says, “the purple tide is coming.”
Second-place Geneseo got an individual title from Zachary Montez (138), plus second-place finishes from Tim Sebastian (106) and Kyle Weinzierl (145), and thirds from Josh Hock (152), Aiden Damewood (170), Tim Stohl (220), and Levi Neumann (285).
Third-place Belvidere got four individual titles, from Brayden Teunessen (106), Bryson Teunessen (113), Antonio Alvarado (152) and Colin Young (160), plus a second from T.J. Mitchell.
Other individual champions at Rockford East were Richmond’s Emmet Nelson (126), Kaneland’s Caden Grabowski (132), Freeport’s Jacob Redington (145), Hampshire’s Niko Skoulikaris (170), Winnebago’s Lucas Cowman (182), Kaneland’s Max Pietak (195), LaSalle-Peru’s Connor Lorden (220), and Rockford East’s Lee Smith (285).
Also placing second were Rockford East’s Joseph Young (113), Kaneland’s Kamron Scholl (120), Rockford East’s Malik Ali (132) and Dana Wickson (138), and Malachi Cannon (160), Winnebago’s Charley Murray (170), and Metea Valley’s Jesus Rojas (285).
Finishing third were Richmond’s Kyan Gunderson (106) and Klay Madula (113), Rolling Meadows’ Alan Velazquez (120), Metamora’s Connor Graham (126), Thornton’s Fred Osborne (132), Kaneland’s Kyle Rogers (138), Richmond’s Brody Rudkin (145), Metamora’s Karson Hale (160), Richmond’s Alex Reyna (182), and Metamora’s Adam Sloan (195).
Belvidere’s Colin Young scored the most team points in the tournament with 30, while Belvidere’s Antonio Alvarado, Kaneland’s Max Pietak, LaSalle-Peru’s Connor Lorden, and Winnebago’s Lucas Cowman each scored 28 team points in the tournament.
Waukegan Girls Tournament
Morton dominated the 18-team girls’ tournament in Waukegan, scoring 171 points and sending five wrestlers to the title mat and getting individual titles from Leilany De Leon (130) and Violet Mayo (190).
Ariana Diaz (100), Lluvia Ochoa (105), and Nayeli Rodriguez (110) all placed second for Morton coach Fernando Arriata, who also got thirds from Lilana Garcia (115), Faith Comas (135), Jackelyn Padilla (155), and Sofia De La Sancha (235), and fourths from Emma Valenzuela (115) and Vivian Varela (190).
“All the girls wrestled tough on Saturday and are really showing growth this season,” Morton coach Fernando Arratia said. “We have wrestlers who are returning from last season and a lot of new ones who are debuting on the mat and are eager to learn. There were girls who placed but they all wrestled a bunch of tough girls from other schools.”
Morton’s 26 wrestlers were the most by any team in the tournament, with 16 of them scoring team points. Second-place Grayslake North (85) had seven wrestlers entered, as did third-place Grant (80). Curie (67), Maine South (67), Plainfield Central (64), Riverside-Brookfield (63), Zion-Benton (63), Dundee-Crown (53), and Fremd (53) rounded out the top 10 team finishes.
Second-place Grayslake North was led by second-place individual finishes from Vanessa Alvarez (135) and Quinna Sheets (145), a third from Julia Landmesser (170), a fourth from Rebekah Moncivaiz (155), and a sixth-place finish from Kenya Bahena (120).
Third-place Grant had two individual champions in Snow Khi (105) and Joanna Szelag (120), and a third-place finisher in Cassidy Graham (145).
The day’s other individual champions were Montini’s Kat Bell (100), Grayslake Central’s Gianna Arzer (110), Maine South’s Angela Lee (115), Waukegan’s Noelani Rodriguez (125), Riverside-Brookfield’s Danaly Villagomes (135), Dundee-Crown’s Perla Lomeli (140), Lemont’s Suzanne Knutte (145), Palatine’s Jasmine Hernandez (155), Plainfield Central’s Alicia Tucker (170), and Curie’s Aaliyah Grandberry (235).
Second-place individual finishers included Saint Viator’s Natalie Gubernaut (115), Riverside-Brookfield’s Eleanor Aphay (120), Fremd’s Zuri Sarmiento (125), Zion-Benton’s Delia Alaniz (130), Maine South’s Alyssa Gianola (140), Palatine’s Sabrina Cargill (155), Waukegan’s Valeria Millan (170), and Wheeling’s Karina Avila (190) and Jasmine Rene (235).
Others placing third were Curie’s Evelin Martinez (100) and Melani Martinez (105), Dundee-Crown’s Diamond Rodriguez (110), Riverside-Brookfield’s Frankie Abasta (120), Lemont’s Molly O’Connor (125), Palatine’s Amaya Jackson (130), and Plainfield Central’s Miah Banda (140) and Zyon Jordan (190).
Grant’s Joanna Szelag scored the most team points in the tournament with 29. Wrestlers posting 28 points for their teams were Dundee-Crown’s Perla Lomeli, Riverside-Brookfield’s Danaly Villagomes, Plainfield Central’s Alicia Tucker, and Waukegan’s Noelani Rodriguez.
Sterling’s 44th Carson DeJarnatt Invitational
The annual tournament hosted by Sterling saw Dixon score 217 points to top second-place Galesburg (187). Third-place Sterling (186) finished a single point out of second place.
The 8-team field also included Fulton (133), Clinton, IA (116), Erie (85), Oak Lawn (78), and Newman 67).
Dixon’s Jacob Renkes (106) kicked of the title round with a 9-4 decision over Galesburg’s Josh Larkin, and teammate Ayden Rowley (113) followed suit with a pin on the title mat against Galesburg’s Christian Delacruz. Steven Kizman (170) won his title by 6-3 decision over Sterling’s Gage Tate, and heavyweight Sean DeVries completed Dixon’s quartet of titles with a pin against Fulton’s Braiden Damoff.
Placing second for Dixon were Jayden Wiedman (132), Cade Hey (138), and Ethan Mick (195), while James Simpson (126), Jayce Kastner (160), and Owen Brooks (182) finished third, and Alex Reuben (220) placed fourth for the team champion Dukes.
“I’m real proud of the way these kids wrestled,” Dixon coach Micah Hey said.“They’ve been working real hard in practice and it’s nice to see it pay off for them. It was one of those days where the one-point matches and overtimes went our way. That’s always really nice.
“It was great to get seven in the finals and the kids that wrestled back had great contributions, too.”
Second-place Galesburg got titles from Gauge Shipp (126), Rocky Almendarez (132), and Dishon Nolen (220); seconds from Larkin (106), Delacruz (113), and Anthony Makwala (152); and thirds from Emilio Torres (170) and Nick Makwala (195).
Sterling’s individual titles came from Zyan Westbrook (120) and Isaiah Mendoza (152). Also reaching the title mat and placing second were Thomas Tate (160), Gage Tate (170), and Oswaldo Navarro (220), and Sterling got third-place finishes from Cael Lyons (106), Landon Kenney (132), and Javier Luna (285).
Other individual champions at Sterling were Newman’s Carter Rude (138), Clinton’s Luke Jennings (145), Erie’s Jase Grunder (160), Fulton’s Zane Pannell (182), and Erie’s Luke Otten (195).
Third-placers also included Oak Lawn’s Ryan Bisonaya (113), Clinton’s Brody Harrington (120) and Brady Jennings (138), Fulton’s Ben Fosdick (145), Skylier Crooks (152), and Chris Carroll (220).
Others who placed fourth were Fulton’s Justin Heck (106) and Camryn Lippens (113), Newman’s Briar Ivey (120), Clinton’s Danny Peters (126), Fulton’s Broden VenHuizen (132), Sterling’s Dylan Ottens (138) and Austin Clemens (145), Oak Lawn’s Hunter Gray (152), Clinton’s Peyton Pettengill (160), Fulton’s Mason Kuebel (170), Galesburg’s John Willis (182), Clinton’s Mason Luckritz (195), and Galesburg’s Jesse Hendrix (285).
Named for long-time former Hinsdale South coach Mike Matozzi, the 2022 version of the Matozzi invite saw the host Hornets run away from the 10-team field in Darien.
Hinsdale South posted a 216-146 edge in the final team score over second-place Highland Park. Fenwick (112) finished third, followed by Glenbard South (100), St. Laurence (98), Argo (89), Tinley Park (52), and Lindblom (47.5).
Hinsdale South coach Steve Matozzi sent nine wrestlers to the championship mat and got four individual titles on the day. Mikey Wallace (106), Sam Rallo (126), Jovanni Piazza (182), and Griffin Carr (220) all won by fall on the title mat for the Hornets.
“We had an amazing tournament,” Matozzi said.
Placing second for Hinsdale South were Toqir Mir (113), Appollo Cobb (132), Noah Ririe (152), Alec Miller (170), and Gavin Slaughter (285). South also got thirds from Alex Schuetz (120) and Andrew Musil (145) and a fourth from Andrew Miller (160).Second-place Highland Park got individual titles from Nate Ferrari (132), Mark Martinez (138), Dmitry Derbedyenyev (152), and Jacques Munkhjargal (195), seconds from Ian Buduan (126) and Emmet Polte (160), and a third-place finish from Darius Robinson (170).
Third-place Fenwick got titles from Aiden Burns (160) and Finn McGee (170), and third-place finishes from Michael Frighia (126) and Max Kenny (132).
Other individual Matozzi champions included Argo’s Juan Villa (113), Lindblom’s Diego Salgado (120), St. Laurence’s Jacob Sellers (145), and Glenbard South’s Brian Yun (285).
Wrestlers placing second included St. Laurence’s Henry Manning (106), Tinley Park’s Carter Leshock (120) and Andrew Koepke (138), Argo’s Israel Lopez (145) and Jacob Fries (182), St. Laurence’s Xavier Bitner (195), and Glenbard South’s Danny Langner (220).
Third-place finishers also included Glenbard South’s Xander Nicola (106), St. Laurence’s Tyler Malinowski (113), Back of the Yards’ Saeed Uliah (138), Glenbard South’s Reid SeBahar (152), Logan Price (160), and Yazdan Alifor (182), Argo’s Marcin Hodorowicz (195), Tinley Park’s Eric Jenkins (220), and Back of the Yards’ Fernando Gomez (285).
By Patrick Z. McGavin
SKOKIE – Lockport senior Claudia Heeney is a walking advertisement for the new possibilities of girls’ wrestling.
“At my school, I know a lot of girls who come up to me, and talk about wrestling and ask me if it’s fun, or if they should try it,” Heeney said.
“I always encourage them to come out, and say what an amazing opportunity. It takes a lot of confidence. You have to be courageous to go out there.”
As the state prepares for the second full season of a formal state series, girls’ wrestling has never felt so immediate, impactful, and expanding.
Lockport is Exhibit A.
“Last year we had 14 girls, and we have eight returners,” Lockport coach Nate Roth said. “They’re moving along very well, and now we have 35 girls on the team.
“We have these girls who know how to wrestle, and then we have these girls who have been wrestling for three weeks. It feels like a different season, and it’s very cool to see the new girls developing and learning how to wrestle.”
The Porters showcased their depth, skill and rapidly expanding technical prowess in capturing the 22-team field of the inaugural Niles West Girls Invitational on Saturday in Skokie.
Heeney was one of the architects of the championship. She defeated Hoffman Estates’ Sophia Ball with a fall in 2:40 for the 125-pound championship.
Lockport edged Hoffman Estates 172 to 165 for the team title. West Aurora finished third with 135 points while Conant had 121, Round Lake 112 and Yorkville had 103 points.
In the 14 weight class divisions, Lockport, Hoffman Estates, West Aurora and Round Lake each had two individual champions.
Underlining the growing popularity of the sport, the tournament featured seven auxiliary championships at 120, 125, 130, 155, 170, and 190 pounds.
The 230-pound class also featured an exhibition match.
The tournament format allowed teams to enter more than one wrestler per weight class.
Lockport took advantage.
“It’s cool seeing the older girls who are the leaders, and teaching the younger girls how to do it,” Roth said.
“The returning girls have done a great job of taking on that leadership role. It feels awesome that we have all of these opportunities for all of these girls.”
Coming off the pandemic season of two years ago, last year was both transitional and groundbreaking. Schools like Lockport, Hoffman Estates, West Aurora, and Round Lake are realizing the groundswell of support and growth.
“Tons of the new girls on the team said, ‘Wow, I wish I knew about this last year. I would have joined last year,’” Roth said.
“This year I was able to do a lot of advertising, and it paid off. These girls are gung-ho. I had one girl who had been running cross country for eight years, and now she says she likes wrestling better after three weeks.”
A graduate and former wrestler at the school, Roth is now positioning the girls as an equivalent of the boys’ powerhouse that won the Class 3A team dual state championship in 2017 and took third place last season.
Now the girls stand on their own.
“Last year we were still technically an umbrella of the boys’ program,” Roth said. “We are a separate entity. We are doing our best to live up to the Porters’ name.”
Champions and weight class finishers at the Niles West Invitational:
100 – Riley Kongkaeow, Round Lake
Round Lake freshman Riley Kongkaeow blitzed the field with three dominant first period falls.
She defeated her teammate Autumn Turner in the championship match with a fall in 1:00. After receiving a bye in the first round, she needed just 3:45 of mat time to register the three victories.
A senior, Turner also impressed on her side of the bracket with two falls to qualify for the championship.
In the third-place match, Montini’s Kat Bell recovered from her semifinal loss with a first period pin of Lockport’s Monica Skibicki.
Yorkville’s Kayleigh Shannon defeated Conant’s Nallely Zaragoza for fifth place.
105 – Vianny Hernandez, Round Lake
Senior Vianny Hernandez maintained Round Lake’s dominance of the early weights by cruising to the championship with three first period pins.
She defeated Yorkville’s Dani Turner with a fall at 1:55 in the finals.
All three of her pins were in the first period. Only Turner was able to last longer than a minute of mat time.
Turner also had two dominant performances in the early rounds to reach her side of the bracket championship.
Lockport’s River VanderVelde captured third place with the 12-7 decision over West Aurora’s Regan Mitchell.
Lane Tech’s Sofia Guerrero defeated Hoffman Estates’ Sophia Matias for fifth place.
110 – Caitie Cassello, Lockport
Lockport senior Caitie Cassello saved her best for last.
After posting two falls at exactly one-minute in her two preliminary matches, she seized the moment with a 21-second pin of Maine East’s Eliana Badeen in the 110 championship match.
“There are some matches where I am definitely more of the aggressor, and others I am more technical,” Cassello said.
“I had a lot of matches today, and sometimes that is a lot. In a way, I was just trying to get them over with. I was definitely very aggressive, and it worked out in my favor.”
Badeen also impressed in the preliminary action with two first period falls.
Lockport’s Averi Colella posted a fall in 1:34 over Round Lake’s Leslie Jimenez-Chavez for third place.
Addison Trail’s Veronica Cosio registered a fast pin of Lockport’s Hannah Wolf for fifth place.
115 – Angela Lee, Maine South
In the first competitive final, Maine South senior Angela Lee prevailed over Evanston’s Ariana Flores with a tough 6-1 decision.
Flores reached the final by defeating Lockport’s Liz Ramirez 14-4 in the semifinal round.
In the third-place match, Ramirez won by forfeit over Addison Trail’s Nina Matthews.
Metea Valley’s Uliana Shevtsova defeated Niles West’s Zoe Pomeranets 8-3 in the fifth-place match.
120 – Yamilet Aguirre, Yorkville
Yorkville junior Yamilet Aguirre revealed a dazzling and overpowering mix of technique, quickness and athleticism in dominating her weight class.
After two falls in the first minute to reach the final, Aguirre completed her superb run with the fall over Lane Tech’s Nyah Lovis in 2:12.
Despite the loss, Lovis was impressive in the run up to the final, posting a third-period fall and a tough 6-3 decision over Round Lake’s Ireland McCain in the semifinals.
McCain defeated Lockport’s Ava Thompson 7-4 in the third-place match.
Lockport’s Maya Hernandez defeated Addison Trail’s Lluvia Sanchez-Galvan with a first period fall for fifth place.
125 – Claudia Heeney, Lockport
Precocious and disarming, Claudia Heeney showed few nerves in her high school debut.
Quick and explosive, the Lockport freshman got to her designated spots, and influenced the tempo and rhythm of each of her matches. After two first-period falls in reaching the championship, she punctuated her impressive day with a pin in 2:40 over Hoffman Estates’ Sophia Ball.
“It’s an amazing opportunity to be able to wrestle, and go out there and win,” Heeney said. “The most important thing is just having confidence, and just knowing what I am doing, and I can go out there and win.
“I always have a game plan, and I always have a black up. Whenever I face a move I don’t know how to do, I always look at my corner, or just know a move off of that. I always feel like I’m one step ahead of my opponent.”
A sophomore, Ball was the equal of Heeney until the championship. She registered two pins that took less than a minute of wrestling time to capture her side of the bracket.
Evanston’s Priscilla Hartwell defeated West Aurora’s Alina Williams by fall in 2:39 in the third-place match.
Conant’s Beth Ciavarella defeated Yorkville’s Brooke Coy to finish fifth.
130 – Emmy O’Brien, Hoffman Estates
Hoffman Estates junior Emmy O’Brien is not passive or somebody who waits to react to an action.
“I’m very instinctive, and an aggressive wrestler, but not in an angry way,” O’Brien said. “I get on the mat with the mindset that my opponent does not deserve to wrestle me.
“I go into every match just believing I am going to win, not ifs, or maybe kind of thing.I focus on speed, aggression, and technique.”
O’Brien captured the individual title with a fall in 1:39 over Waukegan’s Noelani Rodriguez.
O’Brien finished the day with three falls. Just one of those matches lasted beyond the first period.
“I either make the first move, or I figure out what my opponent likes to do, and I hand fight as much as possible,” O’Brien said. “I can feel her instinct, like which arm she is going to shoot with, or what leg she is going to shoot with.”
Despite the championship loss, Rodriguez showed her own impressive command, with just the right balance of speed, athleticism and power. She posted three falls in her preliminary matches.
Conant’s Ewa Kroupa posted a fall in 1:29 of Lockport’s Lucy Madrigal for third place.
In the fifth place match, Fenton’s Roxana Patino defeated West Aurora’s Rachel Lopez 7-4.
135 -Mannie Anderson, Conant
Conant senior Mannie Anderson had no peer with the most physically overpowering performance of the tournament.
Showing breathtaking technique, quickness and strength, Anderson needed just 1:13 of mat time to capture her individual championship.
She punctuated her remarkable turn by defeating Hoffman Estates’ Gianna Rossi in 0:27 for the title.
Rossi recorded the first period fall of Addison Trail’s Ruth Castillo to reach her side of the championship bracket.
In the third place match, Castillo won by fall in 2:35 over Zion-Benton’s Emily Ortiz.
Mundelein’s Khloe Heerdegen defeated Maine East’s Soobin Chung for fifth place.
140 – Al Ghala Mariam Al Radi, Niles West
Senior Al Ghala Mariam Al Radi provided the host Wolves with their brightest moment with her fall in 1:33 over West Aurora’s Giselle Marine for the title.
She won by technical fall and a first period pin to reach the championship match.
Marine had two second period falls to capture her side of the weight bracket.
Niles West’s Aaizah Khan of Niles West captured the third-place trophy with a fall in 0:39 over Hoffman Estates’ Annie Rokoci.
In the fifth-place match, Conant’s Aubrey Mueller edged Maine East’s Alyssa Gianola 14-11.
145 – Audreynah Gillentine, Zion-Benton
In a strategic, back-and-forth final, Zion-Benton’s Audreynah Gillentine prevailed over Round Lake’s Brianna Perez 12-8 in the championship match.
Gillentine reached the championship with two first-period falls.
Perez defeated West Aurora’s Kymber Hall by first-period fall in the other semifinal bracket.
Hall defeated Lockport’s Melanie Esparza with a fall in 1:31 in the third-place match.
Lyons Township’s Jax Tamburello defeated Yorkville’s Joanna Okunnu for fifth place.
155 – Sophia Sosa, Fenton
Sophia Sosa delivered Fenton’s only individual championship with the dramatic and tough 6-3 decision over teammate Yamile Penaloza.
Sosa registered a first-period fall of Mundelein’s Axel Warzecha in the semifinal bracket.
Penaloza also had back-to-back pins in capturing her side of the bracket.
In the third-place match, Warzecha beat Yorkville’s Ellie Dubs by fall in 0:57.
Hoffman Estates’ Nikky Hubbard defeated Lockport’s Deylin Manteca Claros with a second-period fall to capture fifth place.
170 – Ionicca Rivera, West Aurora
West Aurora’s Ionnica Rivera is ready for her encore.
“It’s been kind of nerve-wracking because I made it to state last season, and I want to do it again,” she said.
“I just have to work harder.”
Rivera built off the promise and foundation of last season by posting a fall in 2:36 over Lockport’s Kelli Watkins for the individual title.
She won her first two matches by fall and injury default.
“I felt like I had the advantage on top and was able to turn her once I got the takedown,” Rivera said. “At the start of the second period, I was on the bottom, and I reversed it, and I felt like that was the moment where I really took control, and got her on her back.
Watkins dominated the upper bracket by making quick work of her two preliminary opponents. She registered an 18-second fall to qualify for the championship round.
Maine East’s Alexa Garcia defeated Lyons Township’s Alex Flores in the third-place match.
Hoffman Estates’ Isabella Chiovari finished in fifth by defeating Lane Tech’s Nicole Chmelar.
195 – Anji Gonzalez, Hoffman Estates
Hoffman Estates’ Anji Gonzalez started out fast, and never looked back.
Her first match took just 12 seconds. That moment foreshadowed the rest of the day.
She concluded one of the most impressive actions with a fall in 1:27 over Maine South’s Angelina Guanajuato for her crowning achievement.
“No girl could beat me, and it was all about a positive mindset,” Gonzalez said. “I felt the pressure of the whole team relying on me, and that just pushed me more.
“I’m slowly getting into a more aggressive wrestler. Last year was my first year, and I was nervous. Now I feel more comfortable.”
Guanajuato registered a fall, technical fall and 12-4 semifinal decision over Lyons Township’s Maddy Pieroni to capture the lower bracket.
Waukegan’s Val Millan defeated Pieroni by first period fall for third place.
In the fifth-place match, Addison Trail’s JD Quijona Perez defeated Fenton’s Caitlyn Platta with a second period fall.
230 – Brittney Moran, West Aurora
West Aurora sophomore Brittney Moran felt as light as a feather. She moved like lightning.
“I am usually at 190, and this is the first time I have ever wrestled at this weight,” Moran said. “My second match today was really eye-opening because I saw how effective my shots were.”
Moran proved too quick, explosive, and athletic with a 21-second pin of Zion-Benton’s Naiomi Bell in the 230 championship match.
“I was just getting into the mobility of the match, and getting into the zone, and figuring out what they were going to do next,” Moran said. “The biggest part was just sizing up my opponent.”
Her three falls required just 2:04 aggregate mat time.
“I saw the opportunity of me growing as a person since I am only a sophomore,” Moran said. “I feel like my wrestling should be better, so I am taking more shots, with the duck overs and also the headlocks, which I am actually using less.
“My coaches always told me to take shots, and I never listened until this year.”
Bell had two falls in the preliminary rounds to capture the top bracket.
In the third-place match, Conant’s Rye Reyes defeated Evanston’s Jereni Marshall with a fall in 21 seconds.
Lyons Township’s Sienna Garcia-Rizzo defeated West Aurora’s Vicky Statkowicz for fifth place.
Auxiliary and exhibition results
1st place – Lilly Ritchy, Lockport over Ellie Frost, Lane Tech
3rd place – Olivia Pelayo, Hoffman Estates over Aizza Lopez, West Aurora
5th place – Enisa Hodzovic, Maine South over Jocelyn Cortes, Round Lake
1st place – Lizzie Rock, Lockport
2nd place – Justiss Silas, Yorkville
3rd place – Ximena Fernandez, Round Lake
4th place – Angie Hernandez, Yorkville
5th place – Jaelyn Gutierrez, Warren
1st place – Eunice Ji, Hoffman Estates
2nd place – Sophia Dolinar, Warren
3rd place – Jocelyn Guadararrma, Mundelein
4th place – Gloria Liaudanskis, Lockport
1st place – Abby Cacique, West Aurora
2nd place – Alena Oshana, Maine East
3rd place – Yanneth Estrada, Mundelein
4th place – Scarlett Dubs, Yorkville
1st place – Gracie Tanquay, Lockport
2nd place – Naomi Foote, Zion-Benton
3rd place – Marlowe Lang, Evanston
4th place – Lotus Alhyasat, Maine South
1st place – Elisabeth Villasenor, Addison Trail
2nd place – Sophie Kelner, Lockport
3rd place – Aberdeen Rios, West Aurora
4th place – Annalise Aberman, Conant
5th place – Alexa Rodriguez, Addison Trail
1st place – Evelyn Villarreal, Addison Trail
2nd place – Anjolie Villarreal, West Aurora
3rd place – Carmela Pecoraro, Addison Trail
4th place – Xochiti Flores, Lyons Township
By Mike Garofola for the IWCOA
BARRINGTON – Building from the bottom up, by paying attention to the small details, and making the room at Hersey one of family-first, head coach Joe Rupslauk has moved the needle forward in just a short amount of time.
The Huskies, who last year won their first Mid-Suburban League title in 20 years, got their season off to a perfect start when they outscored the field of 31 at the Moore-Prettyman Invitational to lift the big trophy at this 31st-annual event that’s hosted by Barrington.
“When I took over this program, we couldn’t fill out a lineup, and our numbers were down all over – but I remember calling up-then Barrington head coach, Dave Udchik, and just begging him to let us into the Moore-Prettyman,” recounts Rupslauk.
“Dave finally let us in, and even though I knew we were not ready to come anywhere close to being able to compete in such a great field of teams, I knew, with the great coaching staff we assembled (that) we could show we belong if we had the right young men in the program who wanted to work as hard as they could.”
In 2018, the Huskies were 26th out of 27 teams with 29 points, claiming just one medal. Then in the following year, they were 21st out of 29 teams with 60.5 points, while doubling their medal count.
After Covid wiped out the 2020 tournament, the Huskies finished 14th in a 32-team field last season, with 84.5 points and six medal winners.
On Saturday, with plenty of depth throughout a lineup that grabbed bonus points whenever, and wherever possible, the Huskies used their lone individual title from Aaron Hernandez (160) and nine overall medals to collect 204.5 points, which was 22 more than second-place Libertyville, and 24 more than league rival Prospect, and its 180.
“Those first two years (here) all of our matches were at the back half of the Barrington fieldhouse because we were not good enough to have anyone wrestling on the four major mats in the championship bracket,” joked Rupslauk.
“(But) when the current group of upperclassmen came into our program, we could see the change in the culture, and with the support of their families, administration and the wrestlers themselves who trained, and traveled all throughout the offseason, we’ve built something we can now be proud of, but the work never ends.”
Over the two days of competition, the Huskies went a combined 48-22, with junior Daniel Lehman (106), Hernandez, and heavyweight, Oleg Simakov scoring nearly 70 team points between them.
“Hersey came out strong from the start, and had a really good showing in the first big weekend tournament of the year,” said Libertyville coach Dale Eggert, whose team claimed seven medals, one of which was a first-place finish by junior, Matt Kubas at 170.
Third-place Prospect had as many medal winners as Hersey with nine, but three came on eighth-place finishes.
“We lost a couple of very good guys from last year’s team, but we also returned a lot of our starting lineup, and have a couple of new guys who have been working hard in the room, and look like they’re ready to step in to help us out this year,” Hernandez said.
Last year, Marmion Academy put 215.5 points on the board to take home the championship trophy with Libertyville again earning runner-up honors with 193.5 points.
Here’s a breakdown of the champions and their weight classes from Barrington’s Moore/Prettyman Invitational:
106- Brayden Tuenissen, Belvidere
Brayden Tuenissen got the final session off to a roaring start with a fall in 4:54 over Hersey’s Daniel Lehman to capture the first title of the tournament.
The Belvidere sophomore, who was a state qualifier in his rookie season for head coach Danny Martinez, took a first-period lead over Lehman, a sophomore, with a nicely-played double and increased his advantage to 3-0 with an escape near the edge to begin the second period before making it 5-0 with 30 seconds remaining in the period.
“Getting the first takedown of any match is really important (he) had a high stance, and I was in good position to take advantage of (that), and after that, I just concentrated on adding to my lead, and not allowing him to get any points,” said Tuenissen, who lost to the eventual 106-pound state champion Mount Carmel’s Seth Mendoza, in second-round action in Champaign, after winning his state opener.
“The experience of competing in a big stadium, and in that atmosphere is going to be really helpful for me this year,” said Tuenissen, who had an impressive 42-7 record a year ago.
“Brayden has become a team captain for us this year, and had this event circled on his calendar since we committed to coming here, he’s an exciting kid to watch wrestle, and he’s always going for the pin,” said Martinez.
Lehman pinned the second-seed, Hinsdale Central’s Fernando Chavez, to advance into the final, while a couple of freshmen, Lyons Township’s Griff Powell and Grant’s Vince Jasinski rounded out the top four in this division with Powell claiming third with an 8-7 decision.
113 – Deven Casey, Aurora Christian
Deven Casey earned his second consecutive Moore-Prettyman crown after his hard-fought 3-1 decision over Bradley-Bourbonnais’ Ethan Spacht in a contest that was all but decided off a late second period scramble in which the Aurora Christian sophomore recorded a takedown to build his advantage to 3-0.
“I knew (Spacht) was a big technique guy, and a senior with a lot of experience, so I wrestled smart, kept my spacing, and tried not to give him too many chances to get (in) on me,” said Casey, who was third at 106 in the Class 2A state tourney a year ago and had a 32-7 record.
“I worked really hard during the offseason, particularly with my fitness in order to be in better shape than last year, especially after coming back from Fargo,” said Casey, who came into the season ranked second in the state behind the reigning state champ, Glenwood’s Drew Davis.
Spacht, a two-time state qualifier, who took fifth last season at 106 and finished 29-5, booked his place in the final with a 2-0 win over Jacobs senior Dominic Ducato, who he defeated 4-2 in the state opener for both last season.
Ducato, who was 25-7 last season, beat Plainfield South junior Rudy Silva 15-2 to place third.
120- Josh Vazquez, Aurora Christian
Josh Vazquez sprung an early tournament surprise when the Aurora Christian sophomore held off Loyola Academy’s top-ranked Massimino Odiotti, 8-5, to claim the big prize at 120 pounds.
Vazquez, No. 2 in 2A at 132, and Odiotti, a state runner-up a year ago, gave the big crowd plenty to cheer about after Vazquez took a 5-1 lead 30 seconds before the end of the second period when he finished a terrific high single.
Odiotti, whose brilliant season a year ago was ended by St. Charles East’s Ben Davino in the 120-pound finals, came roaring back to make a game of it with a takedown at the edge to make it 5-4, and then 6-5 to start the third period before Vazquez closed him out with a takedown in front of the scorers table with 14 seconds left.
“Odiotti is the type of guy who can go 6-7-8 minutes hard, (he’s) big and strong, so that was something we were concerned about even before the match,” said Aurora Christian coach Danny Alcocer.
“But Josh, who might have lost a match like this a year ago, has come a long way in parts of his game (he’s) more offensive minded this year, he’s able to continue to add points as the match progresses, and his movement and ability to take and finish his shots, has improved tremendously from a year ago,”
Prairie Ridge’s Tyler Evans and Libertyville’s Luke Berktold held their seeds and finished third and fourth, respectively, with Evans winning by fall in 1:34.
126- Evan Gosz, Fremd
Evan Gosz opened his sophomore season on a high note by overwhelming the competition at 126 pounds, including his final opponent of the tournament, Joliet SWest’s Carson Weber, who he beat 9-0 to claim his second-straight championship trophy at Barrington.
“Evan just loves to compete and loves this sport, (he) knows where everyone is at in the state polls, and as you saw today, really enjoys watching other matches, he’s just laser focused on the sport, and is especially that way when he steps onto the mat for his matches,” Fremd coach Jeff Keske said.
Gosz, one of five Vikings to make it downstate a year ago, and one of three who brought back a state medal after finishing third, pinned his way into the final where he went up 4-0 during a marvelous second period.
“It was all about getting a good start right from the first whistle, and not letting up (trying) to hit my shots, and doubles when, and where I could,” said Gosz, who competed at the Super 32 in North Carolina and at Fargo, where he was in the same bracket as the eventual champion, Ben Davino.
“I don’t know how anyone can score on Ben, or for that matter beat him this year,” said Gosz, who won conference, regional and sectional titles last season.
Prospect senior Joel Muelenbeck, a state qualifier last season, finished third following an 8-1 victory over Loyola Academy senior Patrick Zimmer.
132- James Wright, Jacobs
What a performance and what a scoreline for James Wright, who turned in a dominating two-day showing to easily capture the 132 pound title.
The Jacobs senior needed just a tick over six minutes to collect a trio of pins leading up to his semifinals win by technical fall and a mere 96 seconds to record another technical fall triumph, by a 19-4 score, in his finals with Libertyville junior Hunter Hill.
“James just loves to compete,” Grant coach, Gary Conrad said.
“His offense is fun to watch, and he has always had a lot of energy, a great gas tank, which our program takes great pride in, and he likes to put (it) all out there with his aggressive style that utilizes the many tools that he has.”
Wright, a three-time state qualifier, was 26-8 a year ago, with one of those victories coming in his state opener bhe y major decision before he ran into the eventual state champion, Mount Carmel’s Sergio Lemley.
Wright grabbed another major decision victory in the consolation round before his dream of a state medal was dashed by Glenbard North’s Paul Woo in a 4-2 loss.
Wright was second at regionals to Stevenson star Lorenzo Frezza and again one week later at the Barrington sectional.
“James is looking to medal at state this year after losing a close one in the blood round, he’s looking to improve with each week leading up to the Dvorak in late December,” Conrad said.
Wright has his eyes set on attending the University of Central Missouri next fall, where former Jacobs star and returning All-American John Ridle competes, as does Frezza’s brother, Tommy.
Lyons Township’s Claudio Rodriguez and Plainfield Central’s Aiden Rudman rounded out the top four medal winners at this weight with Rodriguez claiming third with a 4-2 decision.
138- Lorenzo Frezza, Stevenson
Two high-speed trains collided in the 138-pound final, Lorenzo Frezza versus Will Baysingar, a clash of two senior stars with plenty of hardware in their trophy cases and well over 200 career victories between them.
Baysingar, No. 2 at 138 and Frezza, No. 3 at 132, both serious contenders for a state title in the spotlight before an anxious audience, who watched this dynamic duo dominate on their way to this final.
Frezza brought the fans to attention when he scored a takedown with 45 seconds remaining in the first period, conceding a quick escape, and another off the whistle to open the second period to signal chess-like action to send this affair into its final period level at 2-2.
Frezza started in the down position, and for the second time in this match, surprised his opponent with a clever, and crafty reversal 30 seconds in, before riding out the University of Illinois-bound Baysingar, who later drew closer at 4-3 with an escape.
Thrice the two combatants would fall out of the circle and start over in neutral, but Frezza held off the advances of his rival to secure a hard-fought 4-3 victory.
“I think that early first takedown kind of shocked Will a little, he almost never is taken down,” said Frezza, third a year ago at state at 126 with a sparkling 42-2 record.
“Will is so quick, and strong, but I felt like I was able to counter those strength(s) with constant movement, and working to get my shots (in) – it was the type of match I expected,” admitted Frezza, who will wrestle next fall at Columbia University in the Ivy League.
“This was an important win for Lorenzo, who is well aware that as big of a win this one is, that it is a long season, and he will have to continue to work hard (which) he is 150 percent on board with,” Stevenson head coach Shane Cook said.
“It obviously was not the result we were looking for, or the effort (either), but we’ll be back in the room and get back to work and I guarantee you this match will inspire him from here on out,” Prospect head coach, Dan Keller said.
For his efforts, Frezza was named Outstanding Wrestler (O.W.) by the coaches who had a handful of worthy candidates to choose from.
Lane Tech senior Finn Merrill won 5-1 over Hersey junior Jake Hanson in the third-place match.
145- Antonio Alvarado, Belvidere
Turn back the clock to last February at Barrington, and Antonio Alvarado and Scott Busse both had advanced into a sectional final in their respective weight divisions.
Something obviously had to give when the two met in the 145-pound final after each man lost their sectional final – Busse at 138 to Cole Rhemrev and Alvarado to Charlie Fifield at 145.
In a tightly-contested six minute contest, it was Alvarado who would prevail, 6-5 to win his first title in the event, and the second on the day for Belvidere, who finished seventh overall along with Lyons Township, each with 114 points.
“Antonio has developed a relentless mindset, he stays in good position(s) and is constantly looking to create offense, with a high end pace that makes it difficult to keep (up) with over a six minute match,” Blue Thunder head coach, Danny Martinez said.
“He’s been known as ‘Takedown Tony’ through the years, so his ability to score multiple takedowns is what ultimately got him his title.”
Both men would easily go through the bracket, and into the semifinals where Alvarado took a default advancement while Busse had a rougher go of it against three-time state qualifier and two-time state medal winner, Hinsdale Central’s Cody Tavoso, a three-time state qualifier and two-time state medal winner, who is the No. 4 138-pounder in the state.
Busse took the lead for good with an escape to start the third period and then insured his 5-3 victory with a takedown at the edge and in front of Tavoso’s corner.
Busse was a state qualifier a year ago,but suffered a broken ankle in his second-round match with Downers Grove South’s Jimmy Nugent to put an abrupt end to his season.
“I spent a lot of time rehabbing, with plenty of physical therapy support, so I feel like I am ready to go after a state medal this year,” said Busse, who was 33-6 a year ago.
“The improvement for Antonio comes from his confidence, I’ve noticed a maturity, and increased self belief in himself,” says Martinez of Alvarado, who placed fifth at 145 at state with a 42-7 record.
“He had championship aspirations last season, and it was tough to come back, and work your way through wrestlebacks at state after realizing you will not reach the ultimate goal, but he’s always been a kid that puts his head down, and fights through adversity.”
Tavoso earned third place honors, winning by injury default over Joliet West’s Austin Perella.
152- Nolan Allen, West Chicago
Nolan Allen gave the field at 152 a glimpse of what to expect from the West Chicago senior when he followed up two-straight pins with his overtime semifinals thriller over the top-seed, Aurora Christian’s Taythan Silva in advance of an impressive six-minute effort in his final.
Allen defeated Belvidere’s Colin Young 7-1 to claim top honors and to give the Wildcats their lone title of the weekend.
“I felt really good from the start of this tournament, and especially in my final, it all came together for me during these two days despite the fact that I’ve been dealing with a respiratory problem,” Allen said.
“That semifinal was a really tough match against a very good opponent, but I stayed under control, and kept it together in each extra overtime period to get a big win,” said Allen, who was chasing a 4-2 deficit to Silva after two periods.
It would stay even at 5-5 through extra time until Allen came away with a 6-5 triumph.
Allen was active, and kept moving his feet in his final, taking a 2-0 early lead, then riding out Young to hold his advantage after the first period.
An easy out after starting down, and a takedown made it 5-0 heading into the final period where Allen would concede an early escape before putting the finishing touches on this contest 30 seconds from time.
“It feels good to win at a tournament as big as this one and hopefully it’s the first of many for me this season,” Allen said..
Silva eventually finished third after claiming a 3-2 decision over Lyons Township junior Gunnar Garelli.
160- Aaron Hernandez, Hersey
One of the key figures in the memorable run a year ago for Hersey would give the Huskies their lone championship bracket when senior, Aaron Hernandez earned his first major title after a well-deserved 7-3 victory over a league rival, Prospect’s Connor Munn.
Hernandez, whose thrilling 6-4 blood round victory at Barrington a year ago in sectional action gave him his first trip downstate, never trailed in his contest with Munn, grabbing a late-second period takedown to take a 3-0 lead into the final period enroute to his win.
“As a team, we’re looking to build off of the success we had last season, and have an even better season this year and for me, all of my work during the offseason going to tournaments and working to improve my cardio and fitness (hopefully) gives me the chance to compete for a state medal,” Hernandez said.
Hernandez,, No. 7 in the preseason polls, opened the tournament with a fall and major decision before running into Downers Grove South’s Luke Swan, a two-time state qualifier who also qualified for Fargo, whom Hernandez led 4-1 before recording a 8-3 victory.
After a tepid first period, Hernandez got a hold of the left leg of Munn, and finally was awarded a take-down seconds before the second period ended to go up 3-0.
Working the edge smartly, Hernandez earned a pair of takedowns to increase his advantage to 7-2 before a late escape made it 7-3. Munn, No. 9 at 152, was a state qualifier last season.
In the third-place match, Stevenson senior Thomas Schoolman won 7-2 over Swan.
170- Matt Kubas, Libertyville
Matt Kubas threw plenty of praise to his teammates following his 12-4 major decision victory over Wheaton North’s Mikey Rosch to capture the 170-pound title on Saturday.
The Libertyville junior used a variety of bonus point victories to reach the final, beginning with a technical fall to open his tournament, followed by a pin in his quarterfinals before consecutive major decisions gave Kubas his championship bracket.
“I’m really fortunate to have guys like Austin (Gomez), Cole (Matulenko) and Owen McGrory to (go) with everyday in the room – they were a big part of my success at this tournament,” said Kubas, who last year qualified for state, but was forced out due to a knee injury.
“(The) knee injury that kept me out of state was disappointing, but after I was cleared to get back in action, I spent a lot of time training with coach (Zach) Brunson, who has really helped me with every part of my game.”
Kubas finished a double halfway through the first period, conceded a nice reversal to Rosch and hen continued to build upon his lead as the match rolled on. Rosch, the No. 2 seed,, won 29 a year ago en route to his first state appearance.
Crystal Lake Central sophomore Cayden Park won 6-3 over Plainfield South sophomore Colin Bickett to claim third place.
182- AJ Mancilla, Bradley-Bourbonnais
It took just 30 seconds to come away impressed with AJ Mancilla whose magnificent two-day performance, and high character would culminate in the Bradley-Bourbonnais junior claiming the top prize at 182.
“When you talk about AJ, well, I just don’t know where to begin,” said Boilermakers head coach, Mickey Spiwak, who starred at Lake Zurich, then later at Cornell College in Iowa.
“I get real emotional when talking about (AJ) because he’s such a terrific young man who leads by example and with high morals (who) cares about his teammates, and the students around him in school, who I’ve seen be a voice for those who are struggling in a variety of ways on a daily basis,” Spiwak said.
“(Coach) Spiwak is the absolute best (he’s) made me a better wrestler, and even better person,” said Mancilla, second at Barrington a year ago and champion this year following his 3-2 victory over the top-seed,, Libertyville’s Austin Gomez, who bumped up from 170 for this weekend.
“I take a lot of pride in going hard (for) six full minutes, and to make it near impossible to (be) taken down,” said Mancilla, who never conceded a takedown in his four matches over the two days of play.
“My quarterfinal was tough, but again my fitness and work rate was the difference in my opinion,” admitted Mancilla, who beat Fremd’s Ali Adel 8-3 in an ultimate tie-breaker.
Once in his finals with Gomez, who was third last year at state, the two stayed in the center of the mat for most of the first period until they traded escapes.
Mancilla took the lead for good with a nicely-played double 30 seconds into the final period, then held off the Wildcats senior down the stretch.
“That first takedown, whenever it comes in a match is so important, and for me, it allowed me to work with the lead the rest of the way,” said Mancilla, who was 36-6 last season,, losing in the blood round at the Granite City sectional.
In the third-place match, Fremd senior Ali Adel won 5-3 over Hersey junior Anthony Cambria.
195- Jaxson Penovich, Prospect
It’s rare to find a freshman having any kind of success in the upper weights, let alone doing so with near-precision results.
Prospect rookie Jaxson Penovich dispatched all five of his opponents, the first two via pins and the last three by major decision, including his final contest of the two days against Libertyville senior Cole Matulenko.
Penovich overcame an early deficit to take a 3-2 lead after one period, before his unrelenting offensive assault ended in a 12-4 major decision and the first, of what could be several major titles for this confident youngster appears to be a terrific new addition to Dan Kellers’ wrestling room.
“Jaxson is a big-time worker in the room, never stops, and if he continues, he has a chance to be a special kind of wrestler for us,” said Keller, in his first full year in charge of the Knights after leading the club to its first-ever dual team state trophy last year, which was a fourth-place finish in Bloomington.
Penovich needed just over two minutes on opening day, followed by a 13-3 major to advance into the semifinals where he took down the top-seed, Plainfield South’s Matthew Janiak, with yet another major, by a 16-7 score, to advance into his finals with three-sport star and returning state qualifier Matulenko.
Penovich was an Illinois Freestyle state champion, and IKWF state champ as well.
“I really feel like being in a room like ours at Prospect, and training (non-stop) at Relentless has made me capable of competing with anyone in my weight class this season,” admitted Penovich, who says Relentless founders, Jordan Blanton, and Ryan Prater have helped fine tune his all-around game into one that will allow him to enjoy plenty of success this season.
Lyons Township senior Cooper King took third place after beating Janiak 11-7.
220- Marko Ivanisevic, Hinsdale Central
A taste of state tournament success last year has made Marko Ivanisevic wanting a bigger bite this time around for the Hinsdale Central junior, who entered this season as the No. 2 man at 220, and he’s wanting more.
“(Andrew) Blackburn-Forst ended my run with a quick pin in the quarterfinals, so my goal this season is to get back down(state) and win it all,” said Ivanisevic, whose 7-1 decision over Kai Calcutt, an impressive freshmen from Loyola Academy, gave him the title at 220 pounds.
“When the season was over last year, I went right away to (Izzy Style), getting bigger, stronger, and quicker, than with our football season ending sooner, than later, I lost 15 pounds and got right back to putting everything into my training for wrestling,” said Ivanisevic, who play right tackle for the Red Devils.
Ivanisevic held a 5-0 advantage after two periods, before conceding an escape to start the third period, but stayed in control the rest of the way and then ensured victory with a takedown in the waning moments.
“This is a good way to begin the season, but there’s a lot of work ahead of me,” said Ivansevic, who finished fifth at state, and first at the Northern Plains Regional Freestyle tournament last May in Wisconsin Dells.
Ivansevic survived in overtime against the eventual third-place medal winner, Libertyville’s Owen McCrory in the quarterfinals to stay alive in the front draw, before claiming a 5-0 win over Prospect’s Conor Mitchell to book his place in the final.
McGrory defeated Mitchell 6-3 to claim third place in the tournament.
285- Wyatt Schmitt, Joliet West
In the always unpredictable, topsy-turvy heavyweight division, it was Wyatt Schmitt who came out untouched on his way to the 285-pound title.
The Joliet West junior, who began the tournament as the No. 3-seed, pinned his way into the finals against Hersey’s Oleg Simakov, who’s 6-8, where his work rate, pace, and desire to stay with his pre-match plan was enough to earn a hard-fought 3-2 decision.
“I honestly feel like my constant movement, and pace really was the difference because I thought in that third period (he) was running out of gas,” said Schmitt, who was 33-12 a year ago after advancing to the state tournament.
It was a typical push-and-pull first period until Schmitt, starting down in the second period, recorded an escape, in addition to doing a solid job of staying away from Simakov, and his front headlock.
“I just kept him moving and not allowing him to get in on me,” added Schmitt, whose takedown 30 seconds to make it 3-1. A late escape from Simakov finished the scoring.
Schmitt was a member of Team Illinois at the Freestyle National Duals last June.
Downers Grove South senior Semaj Croswell edged Libertyville’s Caleb Christensen by a 4-3 score in the third-place match.
|Team ResultsHersey 204.50, Libertyville 182.0, Prospect 180.0, Crystal Lake Central 127.0, Joliet West 125.5, Fremd 117.5, Belvidere North, Lyons Township 140.0 each, Barrington 113.5, Stevenson 111.0, Aurora Christian 101.5, Loyola Academy 101.0, Bradley-Bourbonnais 100.0, Hinsdale Central 98.0, Downers Grove South 93.0, West Chicago 85.0, Lake Zurich 83.0 Chicago Lane 77.0, Grant 73.0, Jacobs 71.0, Prairie Ridge 63.5, Hampshire 63.0, Plainfield South, Wheaton North 59.0 each, Washington 57.0, Bolingbrook 49.0, Glenbard East 48.0, Plainfield Central 45.0, Waubonsie Valley 34.0, Sandwich 32.5, Fenwick 18.0.|
By Curt Herron
NORMAL – Last season, in the debut of girls wrestling as a sanctioned sport by the IHSA, Joliet Central fielded a successful team that was the top-scorer in the Naperville Central Sectional.
However, the other school in its district, Joliet West, did not have a squad and its girls didn’t get an opportunity to compete as a team but still fared well while competing in the same sectional.
But now that both schools are together as a co-op program, Joliet Township may very well be a bigger force to be reckoned with this season considering how it performed in one of Saturday’s two opening-day tournaments, the 32-team Normal Community Invitational in Normal.
Joliet Township had two champions to help it register 168.5 points, which was 20.5 points ahead of runner-up Schaumburg, the champion of the same competition last season, when Normal Community hosted the initial tournament that featured the newest IHSA sport.
Homewood-Flossmoor also had two champions to help it claim third place with 123.5 points while Richwoods finished fourth with 116 points and Minooka took fifth with 103 ;points. Normal West (64.5), Belleville East (60), Canton (58), Gibson-City-Melvin-Sibley/Fisher co-op (50) and Granite City (47) rounded out the top-10 teams in the field. Last season, Schaumburg beat Joliet Central 172-100 for top honors.
Winning titles for the coach Liz Short’s Joliet Township team were Eliana Paramo (115) and Itsel Vivanco (125) while Chloe Wong (105) and Anna Franco (135) finished in third place. Briahna Klobnak (130), Wonderful Naw (155) and Alexa Latham (190) took fourth while Kimberly Baron (110) and Nydia Martinez (190) placed fifth. Also scoring points in the B bracket was the first-place finisher at 235, Janiya McMurtry.
Paramo used three falls to win her title at 115, with the quickest coming in the finals in 1:34 over LeRoy/Tri-Valley’s Jaelyn Brumfield. Vivanco opened with a major decision and got a decision in the semifinals before recording a fall in 3:43 over Schaumburg’s Madyson Meyer at 125.
Leading the scoring for Joliet Township were Paramo (28 points), McMurtry (26), Vivanco (23), Franco (15), Naw (15), Wong (15), Latham (13) and Baron (10).
Short, who wrestled for coach Kevin Carlson at Glenbard East and then competed at Northern Michigan University, where she got the opportunity to take advantage of the presence of the Olympic Training Center at the school that’s located in Marquette, Michigan.
After enjoying a successful season with just athletes from Joliet Central competing last year, Short is looking forward to seeing how much better this squad can be with the addition of the Joliet West wrestlers. With so many athletes and not nearly enough help to coach all of them, the Joliet Township coach definitely has her hands full but is happy about this opportunity.
One of the highlights for the Joliet Township co-op team is that they get the opportunity to appear in The Clash in January and the program is hoping to do more fundraising in order to provide the girls with the best possible experience while they’re at the national competition.
“It’s exciting to see the growth,” Short said. “We’ve grown quite a bit and have had some girls in the offseason with some more freestyle. We went from around 20 last year to around 45 to 50 and we brought 30 to the tournament. Now it’s cool to see the girls from last year who didn’t have very many teammates and now they have a whole team and support. The more we have, the stronger it makes our room and the more different partners they have and the variety they can see with different wrestling styles. It’s just an awesome opportunity.
“What’s awesome about really building a sport from the ground level is that in specialized sports like baseball and softball, you have to play club or travel ball, you can’t just pick up a glove and be successful. But in girls wrestling, it’s good since they can see success and that really spurs people to push along and to move forward.
“I like our team culture and how they’re just so supportive. I’ve noticed that they’re good students of the sport and they want to work on technique and want to learn. And they really genuinely seem to be excited about the sport. I love wrestling and it gave me so many opportunities and I just want to share that with everybody. It’s just awesome to see people catch on and get that love of the sport.”
Two champions also took first at last year’s tournament, Normal West’s Angel Bateson at 105 and Homewood-Flossmoor’s Attalia Watson-Castro at 140. Watson-Castro was the lone nationally-ranked individual and 2022 IHSA individual champion in the field. Belleville East’s nationally-ranked and two-time state champion Kiara Ganey didn’t compete on Saturday.
Galesburg’s Hannah Almendarez (100), Normal Community’s Pyper Wood (120), Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley/Fisher’s Avery Schlickman (130) and Homewood-Flossmoor’s Ini Odumosu (235) all won titles after placing second in the event in 2021.
Two 2021 Normal Community Invite champions came up a bit short of repeating. Schaumburg’s Valeria Rodriguez fell to Moline’s Maryam Ndiaye 7-2 in the 155 finals and Normal West’s Sammy Lehr, the first winner of an invite title a year ago, missed out on a finals matchup with teammate Bateson after falling in the semifinals.
Two other returning champions lost in the quarterfinals to eventual second-place finishers and then won three matches to finish fifth, Richwoods’ Kyley Bair (105) and Schaumburg’s Madeline Zerafa-Lazarevic (135).
Runner-up Schaumburg had one champion, Diya Patel, at 110 while Keara Micek (145), Meyer (125) and Rodriguez (155) lost in title matches. Leading scorers for coach Matt Gruszka’s Saxons were Patel (26), Micek (22), Rodriguez (22), Meyer (20) and Zerafa-Lazarevic (17).
Other invite champions included Morton’s Karen Canchola (135), Collinsville’s Alanni Torres (145) and Richwoods’ Jaida Johnson (170). There was officially no champion at 190 since Belleville East had both finalists and Keely Rulo and Kami Ratcliff preferred not to settle the matter. Homewood-Floosmoor also had two teammates meeting in a title match at 235 where Odumosu won a 5-0 decision over Joselyn Williams in a clash of returning IHSA placewinners.
Others who claimed second place finishes were Canton’s Aubrianna Putman (135) and Kinnley Smith (140), Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley/Fisher’s Justice Mulligan (100), Belleville East’s Alexcia Harden (105), Mahomet-Seymour’s Kalista Granadino (110), LeRoy/Tri-Valley’s Jaelyn Brumfield (115), Morris’ Ella McDonnell (120), Pekin’s Jaylah Dalton (130) and Homewood-Flossmoor’s Kristen Roberts (170).
Nine individuals scored 28 team points, Minooka’s Addie Cailteux (120 B), Richwoods’ Kaila Williams (155 B), Almendarez (100), Bateson (105), Canchola (135), Paramo (115), Schlickman (130), Torres (145) and Wood (120) while Watson-Castro (140) had 27.5 team points.
There were 10 placewinners from the initial IHSA finals that were competing and four of them, Paramo (115), Watson-Castro (140), Johnson (170) and Odumosu (235), won titles. Another champion, Wood (120), fell one win shy of a medal a year ago. And 2022 placewinners who took second on Saturday were McDonnell (120), Rodriguez (155) and Jocelyn Williams (235).
Two Joliet Township teammates met for first in the 125 B bracket with Callie Crandall winning by fall over Keily Centeno. Also taking first in the B brackets were Minooka’s Addie Cailteux (120) and Richwoods’ Kaila Williams (155). Cailteux won by fall in her final match over Normal Community’s Trey Fletcher while Williams won 3-1 over Minnoka’s Dylanie Cecala in her finale.
In addition to the girls tournament, there was a junior-varsity boys competition and the host Ironmen had four champions in the main bracket while Mahomet-Seymour and PORTA both had two title winners in that bracket.
Title winners in the first seven weights were Normal Community’s Jackson Soney (106), Austin Chiesi (120) and Jaren Frankowiak (132), Galesburg’s Josh Larkin (113), Mahomet-Seymour’s Auggie Gaudio (100), Moline’s Lemarion Robinson (138) and Morton’s Caiden Robison (126).
Placing first in the last seven weights were PORTA’s Hunter Morris (220) and Issac Gunian (285), Havana’s Gaitlin Servis (160), LeRoy/Tri-Valley’s Zach Wright (152), Metamora’s Brant Adams (145), Normal Community’s Victor Reyes (170) and Pontiac’s Carlito Lattin (182).
Here’s a rundown of the champions at the Normal Community Invite:
100 – Hannah Almendarez, Galesburg
After falling one win shy of earning a trip to the initial IHSA finals, Hannah Almendarez is determined to not come short again this season.
The Galesburg junior kicked off her season in impressive fashion when she recorded falls in three of her four matches, including a pin in 2:21 over Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley/Fisher’s Justice Mulligan in the 100 title match. She made history last season when she competed in the first title match at the tournament, but lost in the 100 finals to Normal West’s Sammy Lehr.
After opening with a quick fall, Almendarez won 8-3 in the quarterfinals over Richwoods’ Marisol Perez before recording a pin in 1:58 in the semifinals over Clinton’s Rihanna Ortiz.
“I’ve been trying real hard and working exactly for this and I’m glad that I accomplished something,” Almendarez said. “Last year I got second place in this exact tournament and I was working for first place, but I unfortunately didn’t get that. I’m hoping to get to state this year.”
Mulligan reached the title mat following a pair of first-period falls, needing just 1:00 to pin Galesburg’s Emylee Miller in the semifinals to prevent an all-Silver Streaks finals.
In the third-place match, Miller recorded a 12-7 decision over Ortiz. Perez captured fifth place with a fall in 0:38 over Joliet Township’s Aridna Arciniega.
105 – Angel Bateson, Normal West
After joining teammate Sammy Lehr as the first two girls to win invitational titles in the sport in this tournament a year ago, Angel Bateson intends to make more history in 2022-23 by doing what Lehr also accomplished, qualifying for the debut of the IHSA finals.
Normal West senior Bateson became the first individual to repeat as a champion in the state’s inaugural tournament, after winning the title at 105 and shares the honor with Homewood-Flossmoor’s Attalia Watson-Castro, the lone IHSA champion in the field, who took first at 140.
The repeat title was accomplished thanks to three first-period falls, including one over Joliet Township’s Chloe Wong in 1:38 in the semifinals before Bateson recorded a fall in 1:46 in the finals over Belleville East’s Alexcia Harden. She hopes to qualify for state, something she was unable to do last year since she was sidelined due to an injury.
“I’m very happy that I won this tournament two years in a row,” Bateson said. “My goal this year is to go to girls state and hopefully place first. The key is going to practice every day and working hard. This one is very important to me. I’ve been trying to make girls state for two years years in a row and both years I was out with an elbow injury. This year I’m healthy and going in strong for the season and I’m very confident that I can get to state.”
Harden, who qualified for state last season, was impressive in reaching the title mat, needing less than a minute each time to record three falls, with one in the quarterfinals in 0:36 over a state placewinner, Richwoods’ Kyley Bair, and then preventing an all-Wildcats title matchup by pinning Lehr in 0:44 in the semifinals.
Wong, who qualified for state a year ago, beat Lehr 9-4 in the third-place match while Bair won 3-0 in the fifth-place match over East Peoria’s Bailey Lusch in a rematch of last year’s fifth-place match at the IHSA finals, which Lusch won by a 5-2 score.
110 – Diya Patel, Schaumburg
After recording a pair of first-period falls and then adding another pin in the finals to capture top honors at 110, Diya Patel already is excited about doing something that five of her teammates did a year ago, which is qualifying for the IHSA finals.
The Schaumburg sophomore needed just 32 seconds to get a pin in the quarterfinals over Minooka’s Liliana Delgado and went 44 seconds in a semifinals win over Ottawa’s Kailee Lane to advance to the title mat, where she pinned Mahomet-Seymour’s Kalista Granadino in 2:37 to become her school’s lone champion.
“We were pretty good last year, so I think that the bar has been set pretty high,” Patel said. “And all that we’re looking for is improvement. Last year, I almost made it to state, and was like 10 seconds away. And then doing freestyle afterward motivated me, and I got more aggressive.”
After recording a fall in the quarterfinals, Granadino captured a 4-0 semifinals victory over Homewood-Flossmoor’s London Gandy to become her school’s lone finalist.
In the third-place match, Lane edged Gandy 6-4 while Joliet Township’s Kimberly Baron captured fifth place with a fall in 4:00 over Delgado.
115 – Eliana Paramo, Joliet Township
Eliana Paramo wasn’t all that thrilled about competing against boys on Joliet West’s junior-varsity a year ago but she is understandably excited about her prospects for this season since she now competes against only girls as a member of Joliet Township’s co-op team.
The junior, who placed fifth at 115 at the IHSA finals, definitely made quite an impression on her new teammates from Joliet Central after becoming one of her team’s two champions, recording three falls, with the last two in the opening period, to capture top honors at 115.
After getting a pin in 3:48 to win her quarterfinals match against Schaumburg’s Nina Akimoto, Paramo recorded a fall in 1:38 over Richwoods’ Baya Perez, a state qualifier last year, in the semifinals and then needed a few seconds less than that to get a pin in 1:34 over LeRoy/Tri-Valley’s Jaelyn Brumfield.
“It’s really awesome to have the opportunity to just wrestle girls and to be able to go against girls that really love wrestling,” Paramo said. “It’s awesome because this is our first year of having a combined team with both Joliet West and Joliet Central. So this is my first year actually being able to wrestle in the girls tournaments. Last year, I didn’t get to wrestle much because of COVID and West wasn’t really going to girls tournaments, so I was on the J-V team for the boys. This year I finally get the opportunities so that I can work toward my goals.”
Brumfield followed a first-period fall in the quarterfinals with a 7-4 decision over Homewood-Flossmoor’s Nina Hamm, a state qualifier last year, in the semifinals to reach the title match, joining Morton’s Karen Canchola, who won top honors at 135, as the only finalists who were their school’s lone representatives in the competition.
Hamm recorded a fall in 2:37 over Perez to win the third-place match. Akimoto bounced back from her quarterfinals loss to Paramo by recording three-straight falls of 45 seconds or less, including 0:41 in the fifth-place match against Minooka’s Brooklyn Doti, who was a state qualifier a year ago.
120 – Pyper Wood, Normal Community
After coming up one win shy of earning a state medal at the initial IHSA finals, Pyper Wood is definitely on a mission this season to get to the awards stand.
And the Normal Community senior started her quest to return to state and come away with a medal in a good fashion as she followed three falls with a 4-3 victory over Morris’ Ella McDonnell, who is a returning state placewinner, in the 120 title match.
Wood recorded a fall in 3:50 over Minooka’s Sabina Charlebois in the quarterfinals and then got a pin in 2:57 over Deer Creek-Mackinaw’s Josie Barham in the semifinals to reach the title mat, where she went on to become the host’s only champion in their season-opening tournament.
“I definitely want to place this year,” Wood said. “In my freshman year, state got cancelled and then sophomore year, everyone just came together and there were no sectionals. I definitely like the fact that this builds work ethic and along with the idea of becoming a role model for younger girls that are wrestling.”
McDonnell, a junior who took fourth at 105 last season, opened with a fall before winning 8-0 in the quarterfinals and then got a pin in 2:28 in the semifinals over Collinsville’s Emma Ford.
Barham claimed a third-place finish with a fall in 0:56 over Ford. Richwoods’ Isabella Motteler followed a 4-2 quarterfinals loss to Barham by recording two falls to reach the fifth-place match. The sophomore, who was sixth at state at 115 a year ago, completed the run with a fall in 1:51 over Homewood-Flossmoor’s Ava Anderson, a 2022 state qualifier, to take fifth place.
125 – Itsel Vivanco, Joliet Township
Itsel Vivanco saved her best for last in her quest to be one of her team’s two champions at the season-opening Normal Community Invite.
After capturing a 10-2 victory over Minooka’s Olivia Rojas in her quarterfinals match at 125, the Joliet Township co-op senior defeated Lemont’s Molly O’Connor 5-0 in the semifinals.
Then in a clash of qualifiers from last year’s inaugural IHSA finals, Vivianco recorded a fall in 3:43 over Schaumburg’s Madyson Meyer to join teammate Eliana Paramo as a champion of the competition that her team won the title of by 20.5 points over the defending champion Saxons.
“I think that since this is my last year, it’s good to have a good start because I feel like that sets the pace for the rest of the year,” Vivanco said. “And it’s nice to get a feel for everything that I’m going to go through. All of our girls were really pumped and really ready. A lot of girls won matches and they were placing and bringing home medals, which is really good for our team. They’re really hard-working, no matter what. Even if they’re struggling, they all want to learn.”
Meyer competed for just over a minute in both of her first two matches, going 1:03 in the semifinals before recording a fall over Erie/Prophetstown’s Michelle Naftzger.
Naftzger claimed third place with a fall in 2:46 over O’Connor and Minooka’s Sophia Rausa, a state qualifier last season, followed a 4-2 win in the wrestlebacks over Westville/Georgetown-Ridge Farm’s Laney Cook with a 5-0 decision over Richwoods’ Indhira Moore to place fifth.
130 – Avery Schlickman, Gibson City-Mevin-Sibley/Fisher
In the day’s only title matchup between two individuals who both took second place in last year’s historic Normal Community Invite, Avery Schlickman figured to have her hands full when she faced off against Jaylah Dalton for top honors at 130.
In a clash between two individuals who also represented their teams in the inaugural IHSA finals, the Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley/Fisher sophomore recorded a fall in 3:59 to cap a day where she recorded a fall in 15 seconds in the quarterfinals over Morris’ Madison Lauterbach and then won by fall in 1:42 over Joliet Township’s Briahna Klobnak in the semifinals.
Dalton recorded three-straight falls to reach the title mat, needing 0:41 to record a fall over Joliet Township’s Izabel Barrera in the quarterfinals and then 0:45 in the semifinals to pin Minooka’s Kira Cailteux.
Cailteux defeated Klobnak 11-4 in the third-place match and Schaumburg’s Munkhchuluun Khuderchuluun bounced back from a fall in her opener against Dalton to record falls in nine and 16 seconds before pinning Joliet Township’s Alexandra Rosas in 2:48 to claim fifth place.
135 – Karen Canchola, Morton
Although she was one of four individuals in the tournament who were sole representatives of their schools, Karen Canchola made Morton proud by claiming top honors at 135 after following up on falls in her first three matches with a 1-0 decision over a state qualifier on the title mat.
Canchola won by fall in 1:25 in her opener with Mahomet-Seymour’s Gabby Dawson before pinning Joliet Township’s Veronica Klobnak in 0:54 in the quarterfinals. After recording a fall in 0:39 over University High’s Addison Nord in the semifinals, the Potters sophomore edged Canton’s Aubrianna Putman for the title. Last season, she reached the sectional semifinals, where she lost to the eventual 155 champion, Unity’s Lexi Ritchie, but then lost her next match.
“This sets my priorities high,” Canchola said. “Last year I went to the first girls sectionals. Because I competed in the sectionals, but didn’t make it, I think that’s pushed me harder to try to do it this year. So I’ve put more commitment and dedication into this sport, since it’s a very difficult and hard sport that’s not meant for everybody.”
Putman followed a fall with a 12-1 victory over a 2021 Normal Community Invite champion and IHSA qualifier, Schaumburg’s Madeline Zerafa-Lazarevic, before winning 8-1 over Joliet Township’s Anna Franco to earn her spot on the title mat.
Franco edged Nord 5-4 to capture third place while Zerafa-Lazarevic, who fell one win shy of a medal at 130 in the initial IHSA finals, recorded three first-minute falls in the consolation bracket, wrapping up fifth place with a pin in 0:16 over Klobnak.
140 – Attalia Watson-Castro, Homewood-Flossmoor
As the lone IHSA champion in the field and one of one of just three defending champions in the Normal Community Invite who were able to get back to the title mat, it was a pretty good bet that Attalia Watson-Castro would hand her school its first title of the day.
And that’s just what happened as the nationally-ranked Homewood-Flossmoor senior who won last year’s IHSA title at 135 joined Normal West’s Angel Bateson as a champion after winning by fall in 3:52 over Canton’s Kinnley Smith in the 140 finals to cap a day where she won by technical fall over Minooka’s Lexie Lakota in the quarterfinals and recorded a fall in 2:36 over another Minooka athlete, Hayla Hammer, in the semifinals.
Smith followed up on a fall in 1:16 in her opener by getting a pin in 1:03 in the semifinals over Rantoul’s Jac Corbin to give the Little Giants competitors on the title match at consecutive weights with Aubrianna Putman also advancing at 135.
Hammer, who opened with a pair of first-minute falls before running into Watson-Castro, closed out her day on a high note by recording an 18-7 win over Corbin to take third place. In the fifth-place match. Erie/Prophetstown’s Jayda Rosenow, who qualified for state last year, bounced back from a quarterfinal fall to Smith with two quick pins before defeating Minooka’s Eva Beck by fall in 2:29 to take fifth.
145 – Alanni Torres, Collinsville
Alanni Torres didn’t need to spend a whole lot of time on the mat in order to capture top honors at 145 in the Normal Community Invite.
The Collinsville sophomore captured the title with a fall in 1:37 over Schaumburg’s Keara Micek. That followed a pin in 1:16 over another Saxons athlete, Olivia Furlan, in the semifinals and Torres kicked off her successful day with a pin in 0:30 over Bloomington’s Alicia Swank.
“It feels nice,” Torres said. “I want to thank my coaches because they push me every day in practice and make sure I do everything that I’m supposed to be doing. And it feels nice to win since I really didn’t wrestle a lot last year. This was very exciting.”
Micek also didn’t waste much time advancing to the title mat. After opening with a fall in 0:42 in the quarterfinals, she got a pin in 1:26 in her semifinals match with Lemont’s Suzanne Knutte.
Knutte recorded a fall in 2:54 over Furlan to claim third place while Swank needed a 2-1 win by ultimate tiebreaker over Richwoods’ Nakiza Williams to advance to the fifth-place match, where she captured a 10-5 decision over Minooka’s Beth Castro.
155 – Maryam Ndiaye, Moline
Maryam Ndiaye was excited to see Moline get back to the state dual team finals for the first time since 2000 last season and she hopes that coach Jacob Ruettiger can also help lead the Maroons junior and her teammates to a very successful season.
Ndiaye kicked off the campaign on a high note by capturing top honors at 155 with a 7-2 victory over Schaumburg’s Valeria Rodriguez on the title mat. Rodriguez not only won a title at the same weight in last year’s historic initial competition but also placed third at state at 155.
After getting a quick over Minooka’s Abigail Boersma, Ndiaye won 6-2 over Canton’s Katelyn Marvel, a state qualifier a year ago, in the quarterfinals and then recorded a fall in 0:34 in the semifinals over Olympia/Heyworth’s Jordan Bicknell, who also qualified for state last year.
“It’s great to wrestle at Moline,” Ndiaye said. “Knowing that our boys and girls are kicking butts is how you know that Moline is doing great. I believe that I can go far in wrestling and I believe that my performance could have been better. I realized today that I wanted to get first place. The things that I’ve done to help me is due to my mentality. If you want to win and you put that in your head, then no matter what, you’re going to win. And if you don’t win, you still have that mentality that helps you when you’re wrestling.”
Rodriguez opened with a first-minute fall before capturing a 2-0 quarterfinals win over Plainfield South’s Teagan Aurich. The Saxons junior assured herself of being her team’s fourth finalist when she won by fall in 2:43 over Joliet Township’s Wonderful Naw in the semifinals.
Bicknell impressed as her school’s lone representative by claiming third place with a fall in 2:56 over Naw. Marvel captured fifth place after recording a pin in 0:54 over Aurich.
170 – Jaida Johnson, Richwoods
After placing third in the IWCOA tournament in 2021 and second a year ago to Unity’s Lexi Ritchie at 155 in the initial IHSA finals, Jaida Johnson obviously has her sights set on capturing a state championship this season.
Claiming a title in the opening tournament is a great start toward that goal and winning a close title match is a bonus. Following a fall in 0:33 over Clinton’s Kyndall Taylor in the quarterfinals and a fall over Granite City’s Samir Elliott in 3:11 in the semifinals, the Richwoods junior captured a 1-0 decision over Homewood-Flossmoor’s Kristen Roberts for the 170 title.
“This was our first tournament and for a lot of us to place, I feel like that is great,” Johnson said. “We work hard in practice and we’re working every day. This is a very good program and we always have fun even though we’re always working. I think that’s a very important combination because when you combine fun and work ethic, it keeps you motivated. I feel like placing first in state is a really big deal for me because I feel like I have to go from third to second and I don’t want to back track. So I want to keep a stellar rating and finish first this year.”
Roberts, who was a state qualifier a year ago, opened with a fall in the quarterfinals and then pinned Minooka’s Hannah Herman in 0:48 in the semifinals to become one of four Vikings who reached the title mat.
Elliott, a senior who was second at 182 in 2021 in the IWCOA and qualified for the IHSA finals last season, took third place after recording her third fall of the day, with this one coming in 2:52 over Herman. Minooka’s Sidney Ray recorded four-straight falls in the consolation bracket with the last one in 0:43 over Taylor in the fifth-place match.
190 – Kami Ratcliff and Keely Rulo, Belleville East
It’s not often that a tournament doesn’t have a champion, and while Keely Rulo and Kami Ratcliff would naturally have each liked to have won a title at the season-opening Normal Community Invite, they were quite content to go down as unofficial co-champions.
After the two Belleville East athletes reached the title match at 190, senior Rulo and junior Ratcliff decided not to square off, providing the bright spot of the day for the Lancers, who didn’t have nationally-ranked and two-time defending state champion Kiara Ganey on hand, but her influence on the pair of finalists was quite obvious.
“It feels good competing against somebody who’s number one in the country because it gives me more competition,” Rulo said of Ganey. “I just wished that my teammate wasn’t in my bracket so we could have both done good and got first. I feel like this is finally my year and I’ve got my head all the way in the game.”
Ratcliff pinned Homewood-Flossmoor’s Jazaria Akins in 1:26 in the quarterfinals and won a 4-0 decision over Moline’s Ruby Sepeda in the semifinals while Rulo reached the title mat with three falls, winning in 1:03 in her opener with Homewood-Flossmoor’s Basirat Sodiq, then going 1:39 in a quarterfinals win against Normal West’s Maria Milani and needed 2:40 in the semifinals to pin Joliet Township’s Alexa Latham.
“I feel like I’m finally in my prime this year,” said Ratcliff, who was a state qualifier last season. “I just wish that my teammate wasn’t in my weight class and then I would have been first.”
Sepeda, who qualified for state last year, took third with a fall in 2:42 over Latham while Joliet Township’s Nydia Martinez followed up on a 6-5 consolation win over Akins to claim fifth with a pin in 0:34 over Milani.
235 – Ini Odumosu, Homewood-Flossmoor
In the second clash of teammates in a title match, juniors Ini Odumosu and Jocelyn Williams capped a successful day for Homewood-Flossmoor with Odumosu winning 5-0 over Williams on the 235 title mat in a matchup of two Vikings who won medals at the inaugural IHSA finals.
Odumosu, who took fifth at 190 a year ago, opened with a fall in 0:40 in the quarterfinals over Ottawa’s Shelby Rank and won by fall in 3:29 over Minooka’s Peyton Kueltzo in the semifinals.
“It was a little nervous because we both know our skill levels and how each of us wrestle,” Odumosu said. “So it was kind of like figuring out what I had to do because we both know each other so well. In the end, we just had to get on the mat and do what you have to do to come out victorious. Last year we had eight girls out of our whole team at state, which is very impressive. The veteran girls that we have are really working toward getting the new girls on our team to step up so they’re comfortable with wrestling at such a high level,”
Williams, who placed fourth at 235 last season, won 8-1 over Normal Community’s Shelby Hailey, a state qualifier who fell one win shy of a medal a year ago, in the quarterfinals before capturing a 6-0 semifinals win over Westville/Georgetown-Ridge Farm’s Savanna Buckellew.
Kueltzo, who also qualified for state last year, won by fall in 1:26 over Buckellew to claim third place while Belleville East’s Alonna Rehmer, another 2022 state qualifier, followed up on a 5-3 decision over Pekin’s Brooklyn Garcia with a 9-0 victory over Schaumburg’s Nadia Razzak in the fifth-place match.
By Curt Herron for the IWCOA
Glenbard North captures championship at Conant’s Hruska Classic
Glenbard North scored 216.5 points to capture top honors at Conant’s Chris Hruska Classic. Coach Travis Cherry’s Panthers finished ahead of runner-up Glenwood (186) and third-place finisher Carl Sandburg (181.5) at Saturday’s 18-team competition in Hoffman Estates.
Winning titles for Glenbard North were Kalani Khiev (113), Christian Chavez (132), Solomon Gilliam (138) and Johnnie Robertson (170) while Rylan Kradle (145), Treshon Williams (152) and Blake Maday (220) all claimed third-place finishes.
Coach Jerod Bruner’s runner-up Titans received titles from Drew Davis (120), Aden Byal (152) and Alex Hamrick (220) while Justin Hay (182) finished second, John Ben Maduena (126) and Thomas Vansacik (132) took third while Owen Ottino (132) and Anny Williams (138) both claimed fourth place.
Top placewinners for coach Clinton Polz’s third-place Eagles were champions Rocco Hayes (106) and Zac Ritter (160), runner-up Madden Parker (113), third-place finishers Tyson Bruce (120), John Thompson (182) and Mike Rydell (285) while Ahmad Jaffal (195) took fourth.
Oswego (152.5), South Elgin (136), Conant (131.5), Geneva (127.5), Round Lake (113.5) and Oswego East (88) rounded out the top-half of the field.
Other champions were Oswego’s Brayden Swanson (126) and Cruz Ibarra (195), South Elgin’s Nico Clinite (145), Conant’s AJ Hernandez (182) and Elgin’s Adam Lambaz (285).
Also finishing in second place were South Elgin’s Demetrios Carrera (106), Leo Rosas (145) and Tommy Roath (285), Geneva’s Maguire Hoeksema (152) and John Schmidt (195), Bloomington’s Maddox Kirts (160), Conant’s Harley Stary (220), Elgin’s Fabian Ramirez (170), Kenwood Academy’s Cameron Griffin (126), Leyden’s Rusty Klug (132), Oswego’s Colin Brown (138) and Round Lake’s Alejandro Cordova (120).
In some of the closest title matches, Hayes won 5-3 over Carrera (106), Khiev beat Parker 7-2 (113) and Ritter edged Kirts 9-7 (160), Capturing title wins with major decisions were Clinite (145) and Robertson (170) while Ibarra (195) fell one point shy of getting a major decision.
Individuals who recorded falls in their title matches were Swanson (126), Chavez (132), Gilliam (138), Byal (152), Hernandez (182), Hamrick (220) and Lambaz (285) while Davis (120) claimed his title with a win by technical fall.
Also taking third place were South Elgin’s Andre Rios (138) and Josh Taylor (195), Conant’s Jack Campbell (170), Geneva’s Joey Sikorsky (106), Round Lake’s Grayson Kongkaeow (113) and Oswego’s Joey Griffin (160).
Others who took fourth were Oswego East’s Noah Demarco (152), Dyaln Crawford (170) and Joshua Edwards (220), Bloomington’s Tyler Barlow (113) and Dylan Watts (145), De La Salle’s Josue Hernandez (182) and David McCarthy (285), Conant’s Chase Hura (126), Geneva’s Dylan Konkey (160), Notre Dame’s Johnny Sheehy (106) and Oswego’s Brett Zajac (120),
Five individuals finished with 30 team points, Byal (152), Gilliam (138), Hamrick (220), Lambaz (285) and Swanson (126) while Chavez (132) collected 29.5 team points and Clinite (145) and Davis (120) scored 29 points.
Wauconda rolls to Vernon Hills Cougar Thanksgiving Invitational title
Wauconda had seven title winners and collected 259.5 points to easily claim top honors at Saturday’s Vernon Hills Cougar Thanksgiving Invitational. Glenbrook South took second with 210 points while Rolling Meadows was third with 127 points at the competition in Vernon Hills.
Rounding out the top half of the 16-team field were Evanston (104), Taft (89), Harvard (72), Bartlett (69.5), Burlington Central (66) and host Vernon Hills (66).
Leading the way for coach Trevor Jauch’s champion Bulldogs were title winners Gavin Rockey (106), Lucas Galdine (120), Cooper Daun (132), Cole Porten (145), Nick Cheshier (152), Zac Johnson (160) and Sean Christensen (182). Joe Scianna (220) claimed second place and Eric Alvarado (170) finished fourth.
Champions for coach Pat Castillo’s runner-up Titans were Max Brown (138) and Alex Enkabaatar (220) while Marcos Santos (126), Henry Downing (145), Patrick Downing (160), Ilkin Badalov (170) and Drew Duffy (285) took second place. Drew Philbrick (152) and Tony Prieto (182) finished in third place.
The top performer for coach Joe Puzzo’s third-place Mustangs was Alan Velasquez (120), who finished second. Taking third place were Javier Hurtado (160) and Eladio Castillo (220) while Jayden Garcia (106), Josh Rappa (152) and Jack Rappa (182) all finished fourth.
Other champions were Evanston’s Marco Terrezzi (126) and Charlie Bolich (170), Harvard’s Gabe Sanchez (195), Taft’s Grzegorz Krupa (285) and Kenosha, WI Christian Life’s Drew Dolphin (113).
Also finishing in second place were Harvard’s Owen Vail (113) and Marques Merida (138), Bartlett’s Kaivan Robles (195), Evanston’s Jason McDermott (132), Hoffman Estates’ Julian Bonilla (152), Taft’s Bernie Roque (106) and Woodstock North’s Kaden Combs (182).
In some of the closest title matches, Galdine won 6-4 over Velasquez (120), Brown beat Merida 4-1 (138), Bolich edged Badalov 3-2 (170), Sanchez won 6-2 over Robles (195) and Johnson captured a 10-4 victory over Patrick Downing (160).
Recording falls in their title matches were Rockey (106), Dolphin (113), Terrezzi (126), Daun (132), Porten (145), Christensen (182), Enkbaatar (220) and Krupa (285). And winning by major decision in the first-place match was Cheshier (152).
Others who claimed third place were Burlington Central’s David Wyruchowski (106), Austin Lee (120) and Doug Phillips (126), Evanston’s Roger Holloway (132) and Declan Glascott (145), Vernon Hills’ Kevin Halley (195) and Max Accettura (285), Bartlett’s Emma Engels (113), Woodstock North’s Doug Zimmerman (138) and Christian Life’s Landon Cashmore (170).
Also finishing in fourth place were Glenbrook North’s Ayaan Rizwan (113), Ebin Fladeland (132) and Kyle Pambah (220), Maine East’s Roman Knitter (120) and Edgar Estrada (126), Harvard’s Riley Vest (285), Hoffman Estates’ Joshua Ellery (195), Niles North’s Mathew Trimberger (145), Taft’s Michaelangelo Scalera (160) and Vernon Hills’ Jack McGowean (138).
Christensen (182) had the most team points with 30 while Daun (132), Dolphin (113), Enkabaatar (220), Porten (145) and Terrezzi (126) all scored 28 team points.
Richwoods edges hosts to capture title at Illini Bluffs Invite
Richwoods made the most of its lineup of 10 competitors as it prevailed over host Illini Bluffs by a 168.5-159 margin to capture top honors at Saturday’s 17-team Illini Bluffs Invite in Glasford.
Knoxville edged Farmington 136.5-131 to claim third place while Macomb (112.5), East Peoria (106), Peoria’s Notre Dame (82), Olympia (79) and Eureka (77.5) were next-best in the event.
Leading the way for coach Rod Boyer’s champion Knights were champion Bernard Cox (126), runners-up Colton Boyer (113) and Gabe Robb (120), third-place finishers Christopher Harris (138) and Michael Vincent (160) and fourth-place finisher Rikyis Doss (132) as all 10 of its individuals placed sixth or better.
Top performers for coach Shawn O’Connor’s host Tigers were champions Hunter Robbins (106), Ian O’Connor (132), Jackson Carroll (145) and Paul Ishikawa (152), second-place finishers Jacob Strube (106) and Avery Speck (126) and Wyatt Knowles (113), who took third.
Coach Mike Leab’s third-place Blue Bullets were led by second-place finishers Gage Fox (132), Mitchell Parish (138), Dilan Vanbeveran (195) and William Stowe (285) while Adam Scalf (120) and Jaxin Johnson (170) took third place and Hunter Johnson (113) finished fourth.
Farmington and Macomb had three champions, Claiming firsts for the Farmers were Keygan Jennings (120), Connor Huber (138) and Rese Shymansky (170) while the Bombers got titles from Carter Hoge (160), Max Ryner (195) and Ethan Ladd (220). East Peoria’s Skylar Carr (285), Notre Dame’s Ian Akers (113) and Peoria Heights’ Ethan Kelton (182) also placed first.
The other second-place finishers were Eureka’s Derrick Wiles (152) and Dillon Wiles (160), Dunlap’s Nick Mueller (170), East Peoria’s Kaden Rowland (182), Notre Dame’s Chase Daugherty (145) and Peoria Heights’ Isaac Coleman (220).
Ten individuals won titles by fall, Robbins (106), Jennings (120), Cox (126), O’Connor (132), Huber (138), Ishikawa (152), Hoge (160), Kelton (182), Ryner (195) and Ladd (220).
Carroll (145) won a major decision, Shymansky (170) was one point shy of a major decision, Carr (285) was a 6-1 victor over Stowe and Akers (113) won by injury default.
Olympia had three third-place finishers, Bentley Wise (152), Cole Bauer (182) and Nolen Yeary (220). Others who took third were East Peoria’s Chase Bancroft (195) and Jose Del Toro (285), Farmington’s Bradlee Ellis (126), Illinois Valley Central’s Parker Ringenberg (106), Macomb’s Cohen Green (132) and Washington J-V’s Cruise Brolley (145).
Also taking fourth place were Dunlap’s Kalan Delbridge (120) and Tristan Mosack (126), Farmington’s Logan Utt (160) and Ethan Shields (195), Limestone’s Gabe Hodges (145) and Ethan Dixon (220), Monmouth United’s Jake McElwee (152), Notre Dame’s Joe Culp (182), Olympia’s Kelton Graden (170), Peoria Heights’ Noah Wood (138), ROWVA’s Brooke Stickle (106) and Washington J-V’s Sean Thornton (285).
Carroll (145) led all competitors with 31 team points while Shymansky (170) was next-best with 30. Carr (285), Ishikawa (152), Jennings (120) and Kelton (182) all collected 28 team points.
By Gary Larsen
Marian Central Catholic’s new coaching staff features a pair of co-head coaches that Illinois wrestling fans know all too well.
Head coaches Jordan Blanton and Ryan Prater won individual state titles as high school wrestlers at Richmond-Burton and Plainfield Central, respectively, and then wrestled at the University of Illinois together.
David Silva had the program at Marian humming at a high level before handing the head coaching reins to his nephew, Fernie Silva, last season. Blanton and Prater plan on maintaining the high standard set by the Silvas and building on it.
Class 1A Marian Central posted a 164.5-144.5 edge over second-place and host Antioch, at this year’s Ted DeRousse Individual tournament. Normal West placed third with 140 points and Grayslake Central was fourth with 135.5 points.
“My expectations are high and I’d say today we wrestled awesome, but I wouldn’t say we met my expectations,” Blanton said. “This was an opportunity to come somewhere close to home and wrestle some great competition, and that’s what it was. There are a lot of areas we need to get better but we had some big wins today and showed that we’re a team that can contend.”
Marian Central sent three champions to the top of the awards stand in Antioch. Kaden Harman (126), Vance Williams (132), and Ray Hughes (285) each won individual titles, and the Hurricanes got a second-place finish from Hunter Birkhoff (195) to lead the charge.
Marian Central also got third-place finishes from Charlie Fitzgerald (145), Ethan Struck (152), and Max Astacio (160), a fourth from Andrew Alvarado (120), and a fifth from Nick Davidson (138).
Second-place Antioch got a first from Gavin Hanrahan (113), seconds from Edgar Albino (132) and Caleb Nobiling (145), and third-place finishes from Logan Perez (106) and Seth Gomez (195).
“The guys wrestled well,” Antioch coach Wilbur Borrero said. “There were some situations we probably could have done better but at this stage of the season, we’re okay with it. We’ll be better by the end.”
Third-place Normal West got second-place finishes from Abram Rader (106) and Matt Hanold (285), plus thirds from Austin Johnson (132) and Evan Willock (138).
Fourth-place Grayslake Central got individual titles from Matty Jens (182) and Aaron Cramer (195) and a second-place finish from Anthony Alanis (113) to lead the way.
With less than half its varsity lineup entered in the tournament, fifth-place Yorkville Christian (124.5) — defending 1A team champion and ranked No. 1 heading into this season — had three individual champions in Drew Torza (152), Tyler Martinez (160), and Jackson Gillen (170).
Marian Central enters the season ranked 17th in 1A but with a tournament team title already under their belts, the Hurricanes aim to just keep proving themselves as the season gets rolling.
“We have serious potential,” heavyweight Hughes said. “We had a few transfer kids come in and kids that have been wrestling for three or four years on varsity. I think we’ll be a huge hammer in our division.”
2022 Ted DeRousse Individual Tournament champions:
106: Daniel Goodwin, St. Patrick
The Shamrocks’ Goodwin went 3-0 in a four-man round-robin format among four 106-pounders to win the 106 A bracket. Goodwin and Normal West’s Abram Rader both went 2-0 before squaring off for the title, with Goodwin winning by 7-0 decision.
Goodwin pinned West Aurora’s Dehmoni Dean and won 2-1 against Antioch’s Logan Perez before topping Rader, who had first-period pins over Perez and Dean before taking on Goodwin.
113: Gavin Hanrahan, Antioch
In a battle between two of Illinois’ best 2A wrestlers at 113, the Sequoits’ sophomore won a 5-2 decision on the title mat over Grayslake Central junior Anthony Alanis.
Hanrahan opened with a pin over St. Patrick’s Calvin Stahl, then won by major decision in his semifinal over West Aurora’s Robby Wyland. Stahl went on to place fifth and Wyland took third, so finishing 3-0 and knocking off eventual place-mat winners at every turn made for a fine day of wrestling for Hanrahan.
Hanrahan’s title win had additional significance.
“He never beat (Alanis) before. He finally got him,” Antioch coach Wilbur Borrero said. “Gavin wrestled well and had a good tournament. He’s a tough kid, competitive and he’s only a sophomore. We expect good things from him and that win was a big stepping stone for him.”
Alanis used a pin and then a major decision in his semifinal match to reach the title mat. Wyland won a 12-5 decision over Carmel’s Matthew Lucansky on the third-place mat, and Stahl won 9-4 for fifth against Wheeling’s Max Katz finished sixth.
120: Co’Ji Campbell, St. Joseph Catholic Academy (WI)
Campbell capped his 3-0 day with a 5-1 title-mat decision at 120 over Mundelein’s Bryce Durlacher. Campbell opened with a pin and then won 9-7 in overtime against Yorkville Christian’s Ty Edwards in their semifinal match. Edwards then won by fall on the third-place mat against Marian Central’s Andrew Alvarado.
Durlacher reached the title mat with a pair of pins over Normal West’s Jaxxon Long and Alvarado. The fifth-place match saw Long win by fall against Deerfield’s Luke Reddy.
126: Kaden Harman, Marian Central Catholic
The Hurricanes’ senior won his first Ted DeRousse title as the first of Marian’s three individual champions on the day.
Harman went into Saturday’s action prepared by an opening triangular during the week.
“We had a tri against Marmion and Lockport on Wednesday and I saw two of the top three guys in 3A, so that was a good warmup for this,” Harman said. “I was able to kind of compete with some of the best of the best so I guess it kind of showed up here today. And I just won a tournament so it can’t get much better than that.”
Harman, who placed fifth in Illinois at 113 last season, won a major decision Saturday before winning his semifinal match 10-5 over Mundelein’s Benji Albavera. Harman then locked horns with St. Patrick’s Olin Walker in the finals, taking a 3-0 lead into the third period on his way to a 6-1 decision win.
Walker opened his tournament with a 5-4 tiebreak win over Deerfield’s Jordan Rasof, then won his semifinal by 10-5 decision over Grayslake Central’s Tyler Weidman.
Weidman topped Albavera via 9-2 decision on the third-place mat, while Normal West’s Froylan Racey won 5-1 over Rasof for fifth.
132: Vance Williams, Marian Central Catholic
Williams posted pins in his first two matches to reach the finals, winning his title by 10-5 decision over Antioch’s Edgar Albino in a title match between two of Illinois’ best at 132 pounds.
“Vance Williams is a big leader on our team and he beat Edgar Albino, who I’m super high on,” Blanton said. “Edgar will be right there for a state title in 2A and that was two bulls locking horns. So for Vance to get that win today was huge for his confidence.”
Albino reached the finals with a fall and then a semifinal tech fall win. Normal West’s Austin Johnson took third by fall against Wheeling’s Patrick Tinsley, and West Aurora’s Jesse Clayton won by fall on the fifth-place mat against Richards’ Muath Jilani.
Williams placed fourth in Illinois at 132 last season.
138: Wilson Wright, New Trier
Wilson won an 8-7 decision in his semifinal match against Normal West’s Evan Willock, then won another hard-fought battle, 3-2 over West Aurora’s Dayne Serio on the title mat at 138.
The Trevians’ senior placed second in Antioch last year and he felt stronger as the day unfolded on Saturday en route to winning his first DeRousse title.
“In the morning I had a little weight cut so I was a little slow but as the day went on I felt better and better,” Wright said. “My re-shots felt really good and my leg defense was good. I worked so hard on defending my leg in the off-season and I feel a lot better about it this year.”
Gutting out two wins to win a title should only bring confidence in tight situations for the New Trier senior. Wright is happier with his defense and like every wrester, intends to tackle the next thing he wants to improve upon.
“My chain wrestling. I need to take multiple shots because it can’t just be one and done,” Wright said. “It’s all about that mat time. Last year I struggled with it but I put in a lot of time in the off-season to get better at that.”
The freshman Serio opened with a 3-1 decision over Richards’ Luke Kawa before Mundelein’s Ethan Thomas injury defaulted in their semifinal match. Willock won by fall against Thomas on the third-place mat and Marian Central’s Nick Davidson won by major decision for fifth against Kawa.
145: Nasir Bailey, Rich Township
The returning state champion and top dog this year at 138 pounds wrestled up at 145 and buzz-sawed his way to a DeRousse title, posting three pins on the day.
Illinois’ top-ranked wrestler at 138 in 3A took on the top-ranked wrestler at 145 in 2A in Antioch’s Caleb Nobiling in the finals, with Bailey winning by fall at 1:47.
Wrestling up a weight is always a challenge Bailey embraces.
“The challenge against bigger guys is just to go out there and continue to dominate,” Bailey said. “But the way I train I’m ready for 145, 152, whatever.”
Bailey went 41-0 in winning his IHSA state title last season and he went 41-2 in winning a 2A state title at 120 as a freshman.
“I just stay hungry by focusing on another title and I don’t overlook anybody,” Bailey said. “Every time I go out there I wrestle the same match. Ever since my first state title as a freshman, I felt like that’s the way I should approach it.”
Nobiling opened with a major decision win over Carmel Catholic’s Nicholas Asilani, then won 3-1 in his semifinal match against Marian Central’s Charlie Fitzgerald.
Fitzgerald won by fall for third place over Normal West’s Cody Sears, and New Trier’s Eli Polacek won an 8-7 decision against Asilani on the fifth-place mat.
152: Drew Torza, Yorkville Christian
Yorkville Christian ran the table at 152, 160, and 170, and that momentum started with senior Drew Torza. Torza won 3-2 in his semifinal match against Marian Central’s Ethan Struck and then put an exclamation point on his day with a 9-1 major decision win for the title at 152, against New Trier’s Tagg Miller.
Miller opened his tournament with a fall, then won 6-3 in his semifinal match against Normal West’s Xavier Edwards. Struck then won by fall for third place against Edwards, while Richards’ Xavier Lara won a 10-5 decision on the fifth-place mat against Deerfield’s Will Holtz.
160: Tyler Martinez, Yorkville Christian
Nobody managed a single point scored against Martinez on Saturday, as he posted a 17-0 tech fall win, a 1-0 semifinal win over Marian Central’s Max Astacio, then a 5-0 title-match win over West Aurora’s Noah Quintana.
One year after placing third in Illinois at 160, Martinez is ranked second at 160 in 1A and Quintana is ranked second in 3A to start the season.
“Noah was an old club teammate of mine,” Martinez said. “I knew he was a solid wrestler and he’s comfortable in weird positions. I just wrestled to the best of my abilities and tried to get it done.”
Quintana posted a fall and then a tech fall win to reach the finals. Astacio placed third thanks to a 5-1 decision against Antioch’s Ben Vazquez, and Mundelein’s Ty Murray won by fall for fifth against Deerfield’s Grant Goldsmith.
It was a pair of low-ankle singles that earned Martinez both of his takedowns in the title match, one in the second and one in the third period.
After placing third last year, Martinez is hungry to scale the top of the podium in Champaign this year. And he’s put in the work to try to get there.
“I trained all season, I’ve been lifting all summer, and I trained a lot of Greco over the summer,” Martinez said. “I don’t think I shot two or three times all of last year but I’m shooting a lot this year.”
170: Jackson Gillen, Yorkville Christian
The top wrestlers in Illinois typically wrestle all year round. Gillen is one of those, and asked if he ever wakes up and just doesn’t feel like training, he had a quick reply.
“That’s every day,” Gillen joked.
Gillen won a state title at 170 last season and enters this year ranked No. 1 at that weight. His goal is obvious.
“I want to win another one,” Gillen said. “And I even shot a couple times today, so that was good. You can shoot all day at practice but it’s totally different once you’re in a match. I felt good today. Not great, not bad, just good.”
The senior posted a pair of pins to reach the finals in Antioch, but Deerfield’s Aiden Cohen had to injury default and couldn’t wrestle in the title match.
Gillen pinned Richards’ Jeremiah Gill and then pinned Mundelein’s Mac Restrelli in his semifinal match. Cohen edged West Aurora’s Francisco Solis 2-1 to open his tournament, then won by tech fall in his semifinal against Grayslake Central’s Carter Vincent.
Restrelli went on to pin Vincent for third place, while Solis pinned Gill on the fifth-place mat.
182: Matty Jens, Grayslake Central
Top-ranked Jens burned through the competition in Antioch. Jens posted a fall, a tech fall, then a fall on the title mat against St. Patrick’s Gio Hernandez.
Jens dominated his way to a 19-6 lead in the third period against Hernandez before winning by fall. The junior played football in the fall and is working his way back into wrestling shape.
“It’s a long football season but I have to get past that and just get in shape quick,” Jen said. “Last year I could wrestle for hours and I was good. Other than that, my hands felt super-heavy today and that’s good, and I just have to keep moving my feet. But my body feels strong and that’s a positive, so I just have to get in wrestling shape.”
Hernandez won 10-8 over Jeremy Loomis of Yorkville Christian and then won his semifinal 5-1 over New Trier’s Tyler Jackson. Jackson won 11-9 for third place against Normal West’s Gus Schreiber and Loomis placed fifth with a fall against Antioch’s Josh Sanchez.
Jens placed second in Illinois at 182 last year — a fact that he’s not about to let himself forget. “That one still stings,” he said. “I still watch that match daily to keep me going. It’s my background on my phone and every time I see it I have to go get a workout in.”
195: Aaron Cramer, Grayslake Central
It was a short bracket with only five wrestlers entered at 195 and Cramer took care of business as the top-ranked 2A wrestler in Illinois. Cramer won a major decision in his semifinal match and then won by fall at the 1:00 mark on the title mat at 195 against Marian Central’s Hunter Birkhoff. Birkhoff won by fall against St. Patrick’s Jack Clancy to reach the title mat.
Antioch’s Seth Gomez won by major decision for third place against Clancy, while West Aurora’s Payton Corral placed fifth.
220: Adnan Abuzir, Richards
Abuzir opened with a 5-1 decision win against Antioch’s Donald Carson, then gutted out a 4-3 overtime decision in his semifinal match against Mundelein’s Abisai Hernandez. Waiting for Abuzir on the title mat was St. Patrick’s Aiden Gomez, who posted a pair of pins to reach the finals.
Abuzir persevered, winning by fall against Gomez at the 2:53 mark.
Hernandez won by fall on the third-place mat at 1:58 against Normal West’s Gage Hutchinson, and Lakes Katimahmud Goldsmith won by fall at 1:27 on the fifth-place mat against Carson.
285: Ray Hughes, Marian Central Catholic
Hughes gave Marian Central its third individual title of the day via 6-0 decision in the finals against Normal West’s Matt Hanold. Both wrestlers reached the title mat with a pair of pins each.
At a hair under 6-foot tall and weighing around 270, Hughes figures to use a superior gas tank to great effect this season against some of the bigger and heavier wrestlers he’ll face.
“What it comes down to for me is conditioning,” Hughes said. “Other kids can be gassed in the third period so I have to keep my conditioning up. I know that if I can take them to the third period, I can have that advantage.”
His coach has no doubt that Hughes will do just that.
“Ray Hughes is a big, strong, experienced wrestler and a perfect example that with confidence and keeping it simple, and being the best-conditioned guy, you can turn a corner real quick,” Blanton said. “He’s one of the hardest workers on the team and one of our leaders.”
Hughes was happy with the way he wrestled Saturday.
“It was good. I had a reversal in the second period after I put a lot of pressure on in the first period and got a stalling call,” Hughes said. “Hand fighting is obviously important in heavyweight matches to wear guys out.
“I had an average season last year, maybe a fifty percent win rate. The big thing for me was realizing I had to get stronger so I spent a lot of time in the weight room. I also worked on a lot of footwork things and a lot of small things.”
Grayslake Central’s Armando Castaneda won a 9-3 decision on the third-place mat against Wheeling’s Joseph Schaefer, while Antioch’s James Kasprzak won by fall for fifth place against New Trier’s Michael Abiantoun.
The IWCOA is pleased to announce a partnership with University of Illinois wrestling and the Illinois Regional Training Center to host the 2022 IWCOA Coaches Convention. We are beyond excited to offer this experience for our High School, Middle School, and Youth Coaches. The Illini and IRTC staff are exceptional and the agenda that has been assembled will provide a great experience for all who attend.
Registration is now open. You can learn more by going to https://iwcoa.net/coaches-officials-convention/.
We hope to see you in Champaign October 14 and 15!
By Curt Herron
For the IWCOA
For a quarter of a century, the Illinois Wrestling Coaches and Officials Association Frosh/Soph State Championships has been an excellent training ground for individuals who enjoyed successful seasons but fell a bit short of advancing to the IHSA Individual State Finals.
Eight of the 15 champions and 31 of those who placed eighth or better at the 26th annual IWCOA Frosh/Soph Championships at the Bank of Springfield Center fell one win shy of advancing to the IHSA finals in Champaign. Also, 45 of the place winners had 25 or more wins and 24 of those won 30 or more matches heading into the IWCOA series.
Normal Community had two champions, Caden Correll at 101 and Cole Gentsch at 106. No other team had multiple title winners, although four others had two finalists.
Lincoln-Way Central’s Ameer Alamawi was first at 126 and Caden Harvey took second at 132. Rock Island’s Andrew Marquez won the title at 195 while Daniel McGhee placed second at 120. Rochelle’s Kaiden Morris took first at 220 and Joseph Nadig was second at 113. And Joliet Catholic Academy received second-place finishes from Justus Snapp at 126 and Connor Cumbee at 152.
Other IWCOA Frosh/Soph champions were Elk Grove’s Grant Madl at 113, Granite City’s Caleb Scott at 120, Yorkville’s Ryder Janeczko at 132, West Aurora’s Dominic Serio at 138, Mount Carmel’s Carlos Perez at 145, Stevenson’s Themba Sitshela at 152, Downers Grove South’s Matty Lapacek at 160, Bradley-Bourbonnais’ AJ Mancilla at 170, Barrington’s Ayden Salley at 182 and Lemont’s Alex Pasquale at 285.
Also finishing in second place were Ottawa’s Ivan Munoz at 101, Romeoville’s Brian Farley at 106, Highland Park’s Mark Martinez at 138, Lincoln-Way East’s Domanic Abeja at 145, Wheaton Warrenville South’s Sedeeq Al Obaidi at 160, Libertyville’s Owen McGrory at 170, Moline’s James Soliz at 182, Hersey’s Leo Delgado at 195, Lena-Winslow/Stockton’s Michael Haas at 220 and Lincoln-Way West’s Alexander Poholik at 285.
Here are the stories of the 15 IWCOA Frosh/Soph champions, with additional information on the other place winners at their weight classes.
101 – Caden Correll, Normal Community
All season long, Caden Correll was under 100 pounds, which proved to be a problem since he was in the same weight class as his teammate, Cole Gentsch.
While state-ranked Gentsch would compete at 106, Correll had to bump up to 113 for the IHSA state series, and reached the Class 3A Granite City Sectional, where he finished with a 29-9 record. But being closer to his own weight in the IWCOA series, the freshman showed off his talents. After Correll lost to Ottawa sophomore Ivan Munoz 7-5 in the Normal Community Regional title match, he beat Munoz 11-1 in the Heyworth Sectional title match and then defeated him again 5-2 when the pair met for the third-straight finals in the 101 championship. Correll won 7-3 over Wauconda freshman Gavin Rockey in the quarterfinals and 10-5 over Belleville West freshman Rocky Seibel in the semifinals to advance to the title mat. Gentsch also took first at 106 as the pair became Normal Community’s first champions in the IWCOA Frosh/Soph Tournament and the Ironmen were the only team to have two title winners. Correll opened the tournament with a win by technical fall and then won a major decision.
“Caden was ranked honorable mention most of the year in 3A and had wins over 2A state qualifiers and one 2A placer during the year,” Normal Community coach Trevor Kaufman said. “He weighed in at 96 to 97 pounds all year and for the IHSA regional had to go 113 as Cole Gentsch manned the spot at 106. He still managed to get second at regionals giving up a bunch of weight. He’s a tough kid that will do great things in the sport and will only get better as he gets closer to the weight.”
Munoz, who went 12-5 this season and fell one win shy of qualifying for state at the 2A Sycamore Sectional, claimed a 5-3 decision over Lemont sophomore Carter Mikolajczak in the quarterfinals and a 6-3 victory over DeKalb sophomore Eduardo Castro in the semifinals. He had two falls to kick off his run to the title mat.
Mikolajczak, who won over 20 matches this season, took third place. After falling to Munoz in the quarterfinals, Mikolajczak advanced by forfeit and fall before winning 7-5 over Seibel and then 5-1 over Rockey in the third-place match. He followed a quick fall with a 2-1 decision in his second match. Rockey, who went 15-7 this season and fell one win shy of advancing to state from the 2A Deerfield Sectional, bounced back from his quarterfinals loss to Correll by following a major decision with a 3-2 win over Rochelle sophomore Tommy Tourdot and a 4-1 victory over Castro. Rockey won a pair of decisions to kick off the tournament.
In the fifth-place match, Seibel, a Class 3A Granite City Sectional qualifier who went 18-9, claimed a 5-3 decision over Castro, who was a member of the Barbs’ 23-1 squad that’s coached by IWCOA Hall of Famer Sam Hiatt which lost to Mount Carmel 32-27 in the IHSA Class 3A Dual Team championship. Seibel won 8-7 over Stevenson sophomore Andrew Chamkin in the quarterfinals and then fell 10-5 to Correll in the semifinals while Castro won 3-2 over Joliet Catholic Academy freshman Noah Avina in the quarterfinals before losing to Munoz 6-3.And in the seventh-place match, Tourdot, who went 26-14 and came up one win shy of state at the 2A Sycamore Sectional, won by fall in 1:48 over Downers Grove North freshman Tyler Tiangco, who went 30-13 and fell one win shy of advancing to state from the 3A Hinsdale Central Sectional.
106 – Cole Gentsch, Normal Community
After placing sixth in Greco Roman at Fargo in 2021 and then winning five tournament titles and being ranked in the top 10 this season with a 32-2 record heading into the 3A Granite City Sectional, Cole Gentsch figured to be a potential candidate to be a medalist at the IHSA finals one week later.
But the Normal Community freshman was unable to advance out of the sectional, which featured five others who were also ranked in the top 10 and finished with a 34-4 record. However, Gentsch focused on being an IWCOA Frosh/Soph champion and did just that after winning 3-0 over Romeoville sophomore Brian Farley in the 106 finals to make the Ironmen the only team with two champions and gave them their first two champions in the history of the event, with Caden Correll taking first at 101. Gentsch claimed an 8-0 win over Edwardsville freshman Levi Wilkinson in the quarterfinals and won 5-2 over Oswego freshman Brayden Swanson in the semifinals after getting falls in his first two matches.
“Cole was 32-1 coming into the IHSA regional and was ranked in the top 10 most of the year in 3A,” Ironmen coach Trevor Kaufman said. “He was in the loaded Granite City Sectional where six of the top 10 kids were and was not able to make it out. He had multiple wins over 106- and 113-pounders that ended up placing this year and just happened to be in one of the toughest sectionals in the state. To show the depth of the weight class, five of the top six kids at frosh-soph state at 106 were in the Granite City Sectional.
“Both Caden and Cole became the first Frosh/Soph state champs for our school and are hoping to replicate these results in the IHSA tournament in the future. They push each other on a daily basis which will only continue to get them better. They both plan to compete in Freestyle and Greco through the offseason where Cole is already a Fargo All-American in Greco from last year.”
Farley went 21-6 and also advanced to the 3A Granite City Sectional. He captured an 8-1 win in the quarterfinals over Hersey freshman Daniel Lehman and then claimed a 4-2 semifinals win by sudden victory over Moline freshman Devon Jones. Farley opened with a win by technical fall and captured a 7-0 decision in his second match.
In the third-place match, Swanson was a winner by fall in 1:46 over Jones. Swanson, who went 25-14, won 5-0 in the quarterfinals over Carl Sandburg freshman Madden Parker, then fell to Gentsch in the semifinals and won 10-2 over Lehman. He opened the tournament with a fall and then got a win by technical fall. Jones, who finished 28-15 and was on the Maroons’ first state dual team since 2000, won 11-4 in the quarterfinals over Elgin sophomore Julius Avendano, was edged by Farley in the semifinals and responded with an 8-4 win over Wilkinson. Jones kicked off his tournament with a pair of falls.
For fifth place, Lehman won by fall in 0:50 over Wilkinson. Lehman, who finished 29-18 and fell one win shy of advancing to the Class 3A Barrington Sectional, responded to his quarterfinals loss to Farley with two decisions, including a 6-2 win over Avendano before falling to Swanson. Wilkinson, who went 32-11 and fell one win shy of state at the 3A Granite City Sectional, lost to Gentsch in the quarterfinals, then recorded two wins, with the latter being a 4-3 decision over Parker. Wilkinson was the lone medalist of the eight qualifiers for the Tigers, who are coached by IWCOA Hall of Famer Jon Wagner.
In the seventh-place match, Parker won by fall in 0:46 over Avendano. After both fell in the quarterfinals, they responded with falls to assure themselves of medals for top-eight finishes. Avendano finished 20-2 and fell one win shy of qualifying for the Class 3A Conant Sectional.
113 – Grant Madl, Elk Grove
After falling one win shy of a trip to state at the Class 3A Conant Sectional, it would have been very easy for Grant Madl to move on from wrestling and focus on his third sport of the school year, baseball.
But the Elk Grove sophomore, who also plays football, decided to try to place at the IWCOA Frosh/Soph finals for the second year in a row after taking fourth at 106 last year. He not only placed again but won the title at 113 after capturing a 3-0 victory over Rochelle freshman Joseph Nadig in the championship match. Madl, who finished 28-8 this season with three second-place finishes in tournaments, won 10-8 by sudden victory in the quarterfinals over Lockport freshman Liam Zimmerman and then earned his spot on the 113 title mat with a 4-2 semifinals victory over Hersey freshman Maksim Mukhamedaliyev. Madl opened the tournament with a fall and then captured a 5-0 win in the second round.
“Placing last year and falling short in the blood round at the varsity sectional this year really motivated him to enter these championships and end the season on a high note,” Elk Grove coach Dan Vargas said. “Grant is an extremely hard worker, exceptional teammate and a fearless competitor. He works hard in the classroom and also plays football and baseball. His championship this weekend is a testament to his work ethic during the season because he is only wrestling three-to-four months out of the year unlike many of these year-round wrestlers.”
But Madl’s title was just the frosting on the cake for the Grenadiers, who advanced all seven individuals that they entered in the regional, which was tied for third for the most qualifiers for the competition. And although the finals weren’t scored, Elk Grove ended up with the third-most points with 77, behind only Hersey and Joliet Catholic Academy. The Grenadiers’ coach was very excited that three other three-sport athletes also competed, including one who took fifth, and three athletes fell one victory shy of earning a medal.
“Our 285-pounder, Mikey Milovich, who is also a three-sport athlete, took fifth as a freshman and really only competed half the season this year,” Vargas said. “He made this happen by being aggressive and wanting to make a statement for himself and his teammates and had six pins and went 6-2 at state. Freshman Dylan Berkowitz (195) and sophomores Mo Burt (195) and Benny Schlosser (182) all lost in the blood round and freshman Nicasio Acino (106) went 2-2 and sophomore Anthony Macina (132) went 1-2. As a team we had a great showing. This is a very promising sign for us that we have some competitive underclassmen that are looking to continue and improve upon the positive trajectory at Elk Grove. Maybe adding some emphasis to team scores and giving out plaques for the top teams at this event could help increase participation and competition.”
Nadig, who went 34-13 and qualified for the 2A Sycamore Sectional at 120 won by fall in 2:55 in the quarterfinals over Lincoln-Way East sophomore Zach Miller. Nadig advanced to the 113 title mat with an 8-3 semifinals victory over Deerfield freshman Jordan Rasof. Nadig kicked off his run to the title mat with two falls.
Mukhamedaliyev, who went 31-20 and fell one win shy of advancing at 113 at the 3A Barrington Sectional, captured third place after recording a fall in 1:37 over Zimmerman. He beat Stagg sophomore Anas Ahmed 11-7 in the quarterfinals and then after being edged by Madl in the semifinals, Mukhamedaliyev won 7-4 over Waubonsie Valley freshman Elias Gonzalez. The Hersey freshman opened his tournament with a win by technical fall and a pin. Zimmerman, who went 15-8, didn’t compete in the individual series but wrestled three times at the IHSA Dual Team Finals for the Porters, who placed third in Class 3A. After falling in overtime in the quarterfinals to Madl, Zimmerman responded with a major decision and won 7-5 over Naperville Central sophomore Tyler Martin and 4-1 over Rasof. The Porters freshman opened with a fall and followed with a 7-0 decision. Next season, he’ll have a new head coach since Josh Oster is stepping down after taking seven teams to state and winning four trophies since 2012 at the school he attended.
Rasof won two major decsions before beating Gonzalez 5-1 in the quarterfinals and then lost in the semifinals 8-3 to Nadig. Rasof, who went 30-17 and fell one win shy of advancing from the 2A sectional that his school hosted, lost to Zimnmerman but then won by injury default in 3:33 over Gonzalez to claim fifth place. He also went 1-1 at the IHSA Dual Team finals where his Warriors lost 39-33 to Joliet Catholic Academy in the title meet for the program’s best-ever finish. Gonzalez, who finished 26-15 and fell one win shy of advancing to the 3A Hinsdale Central Sectional, lost to Rasof in the quarterfinals and then won a pair of 5-3 decisions, with the latter being in sudden victory over Miller before he lost to Mukhamedaliyev and then had to default due to injury in his rematch with Rasof. In the seventh-place match, Martin beat Miller by an 8-2 score. Martin, who finished 23-13, was one win shy of qualifying for state at the 3A Hinsdale Central Sectional.
120 – Caleb Scott, Granite City
While almost all of the title winners of the IWCOA Frosh/Soph Championships are looking forward to bigger and better things with their current programs, it’s unclear where Caleb Scott will be competing next season.
Scott, a sophomore who claimed top honors at 120 with a 9-7 win by sudden victory over Rock Island sophomore Daniel McGhee, competed at Granite City in December and improved to 17-1 after winning a title at Springfield’s Joe Bee Memorial. But he didn’t see much more action for the Warriors after that and was no longer with the program in January, even though that’s who he competed for at the IWCOA Finals. After opening with a decision and a fall, Scott won 5-0 over St. Rita of Cascia freshman Nino Protti in the quarterfinals and pulled out a 5-4 win over Libertyville sophomore Luke Berktold in the semifinals to set up his title matchup against McGhee.
McGhee, who finished with a 40-13 record and fell one win shy of qualifying for state at the Class 2A Sycamore Sectional, got a win in team’s 41-34 loss to Deerfield in the quarterfinals of the IHSA Class 2A Dual Team Finals in Bloomington, which was the Rocks’ first state trip to that event in 30 years. McGhee followed up on a major decision and win by injury default by winning 14-7 in the quarterfinals over Lane Tech sophomore Robert James Zavala and earned his trip to the finals with a fall in 3:21 over Carl Sandburg freshman Ryan Hinger. McGhee was one of two qualifiers and finalists for Rock Island with classmate Andrew Marquez capturing top honors at 195.
In the third-place match, Berktold won by fall over Clinton freshman Cayden Poole in 2:57. Berktold, who went 22-14, closed out his IHSA season with a win in the Class 3A Dual Team quarterfinals when the Wildcats, coached by IWCOA Hall of Famer Dale Eggert, fell 46-27 to eventual champion Mount Carmel in their first state trip since 2014. He also fell one win shy of qualifying for a trip to individual state at 126 at the Class 3A Barrington Sectional. Berktold followed a fall and 4-3 decision with a 5-3 win in the quarterfinals over Lincoln-Way West freshman Luke Siwinski before falling 5-4 to Scott in the semifinals. He bounced back with a fall in 1:41 over Wheaton Academy sophomore Will Hupke.
Poole, who finished 34-10 and competed in the Class 1A Olympia Sectional, got a pin in his first match before getting edged 1-0 by Protti. He responded to that with five-straight wins in the consolation bracket, which was capped by a fall over Siwinski, an 11-0 major decision over Protti and a fall over Hinger in 2:29 to advance him to the third-place mat.
Claiming fifth place was Hupke, who won by fall in 4:09 over Hinger to avenge a loss in the quarterfinals. Hupke, who finished 33-6 and fell one win of qualifying from the rugged Class 1A Princeton Sectional. The lone qualifier from his school to take part in the competition, Hupke lost to Hinger by technical fall in the quarterfinals, bounced back with a 9-1 win over Edwardsville’s Blake Mink and then won by fall over Zavala in 4:43 before losing to Berktold. Hinger, who went 28-9 and fell one win shy of advancing from the Class 3A Hinsdale Central Sectional, opened with two falls before beating Hupke by technical fall. After getting pinned by McGhee in 3:21 in the semifinals, he lost to Poole by fall.
And in the seventh-place match, Zavala won 9-2 over Protti. Zavala, who finished 31-9 and competed in the 3A Conant Sectional, opened the tournament with a fall and win by sudden victory before losing 14-7 to McGhee in the quarterfinals. After claiming a 9-7 win over Grant’s Ethan Tarvin, he lost by fall to Hupke. Protti, who was the lone medal winner for the Mustangs, won a pair of decisions to start his tournament and then fell to Scott 5-0 in the quarterfinals. After edging Oak Park and River Forest freshman Joseph Knackstedt 7-6, Protti fell 11-0 to Poole and settled for eighth.
126 – Ameer Alamawi, Lincoln-Way Central
Ameer Alamawi went into the IWCOA Frosh/Soph State Championships with a third-place finish in the IWCOA Coal City Sectional and a second-place showing at the Joliet West Regional after going 15-15 this season and taking fourth place in the regional to miss out on advancing to the Class 3A Granite City Sectional.
That’s why some might have been surprised to see the Lincoln-Way Central sophomore emerge as the champion at 126 after capturing a 3-2 win over Joliet Catholic Academy sophomore Justus Snapp in the title match. Alamawi won 7-1 over Metea Valley sophomore Avery Hogsed in the quarterfinals and 7-3 over Hersey’s Rodrigo Arceo in the semifinals to earn a matchup against Snapp, who he also beat 6-4 in overtime for third place in the IWCOA Coal City Sectional. He also lost 3-1 in the regional finals against his Knights teammate, Ryan Mackowiak. After winning his first match by fall, Alamawi claimed a 3-1 victory over Washington sophomore Eli Gonzalez in the second round.
“Ameer had to overcome quite a bit of adversity this year, especially early in the season, where he sat out a month from a broken hand in football,” Knights coach Tyrone Byrd said. “He also had a very competitive Ryan Mackowiak, who won the sectional last week, nipping at his spot. Ameer dialed in the last month cleaning up several technical errors from the season. Competitively he always is trying to win, and in the last month he did it smarter. He has shown a lot of physical control in the state series. He picked a great time to click.”
Byrd, an IWCOA hall of famer from Clinton who competed at the University of Illinois, was pleased with the showing of his Knights, who advanced five individuals to Frosh/Soph State and all of them won medals, which included a second-place finish from Caden Harvey at 132 and Ryan Mackowiak, was one of three Knights who placed seventh. Both Harvey and Mackowiak won IWCOA sectional titles.
“Lincoln-Way Central had five make it to the IWCOA Fresh/Soph State Tournament and all five placed,” Byrd said. “Ryan Mackowiak, Keston Cohn and Tim Key all placed seventh with Caden Harvey placing second and our champ was Ameer Alamawi at 126 pounds. The tournament as a whole was great for the Knights as all them went made home with hardware. I am excited to see how this translates to future varsity success. It’s a bright future for the Knights.”
Snapp is a sophomore who went 19-8 that didn’t compete in the IHSA individual series, but did collect a win against Antioch in the Class 2A semifinals for the state champion Hilltoppers. Snapp advanced to the title mat with a 4-0 win over Marist freshman Tyrese Johnson in the quarterfinals and a 9-3 victory over Hersey sophomore Jake Hanson in the semifinals. After capturing a 4-3 win in his first match over DeKalb freshman Hudson Ikens, Snapp recorded a fall in 3:42 in the second round.
In the third-place match, Glenbard North freshman Rylan Kradle won 5-0 over Hanson. Kradle won a decision in his first match and lost 7-5 on a tiebreaker to Mackowiak in the second round but then went on to win five-straight matches, which included a win by technical fall over Arceo to advance to the third-place mat, a 3-2 win over Mackowiak to avenge his earlier defeat and a fall in 3:32 over Johnson to assure himself of a medal. Hanson went 21-22 and wasn’t able to advance from the Class 3A Fremd Regional. After getting a decision and fall in his first two matches, Hanson won 7-5 by sudden victory over Mackowiak in the quarterfinals, but then fell to Snapp in the semifinals and beat Naperville Central’s Steven Kaszuba 5-0 to earn his spot on the third-place mat.
Kaszuba took fifth place with a 5-0 victory over Arceo. After getting pinned by Arceo in 1:00 in the quarterfinals, Kaszuba won a 3-0 decision over Gonzalez and beat Hogsed 11-0 before falling to Hanson. After opening with two major decisions, Arceo, who was one of two Hersey medalists at 126, won by fall over Kaszuba but then fell to Alamawi 7-3 in the semifinals and lost by technical fall to Kradle. In the seventh-place match, Mackowiak won 6-3 over Hogsed to also give the Knights two medalists at the weight class.
132 – Ryder Janeczko, Yorkville
After placing second in the Southwest Prairie Conference Tournament to move his record to 22-6, Ryder Janeczko didn’t compete in the IHSA individual series.
But the Yorkville freshman, who got his final win of the season in the IHSA Class 3A St. Laurence Dual Team Sectional when the Foxes fell 39-24 to eventual third-place finisher Lockport to suffer their first loss in 19 dual meets. Janeczko looked to finish on a high note and did that by capturing top honors at 132 in the IWCOA Frosh/Soph Championships when he beat Lincoln-Way Central freshman Caden Harvey 7-5 in sudden victory in the title match. In the quarterfinals, he beat Minooka sophomore Cole Stonitsch 13-4 win and won 14-1 over Highland freshman Tyson Rakers in the semifinals. The champion followed a fall in his opener with a 9-6 win over Belvidere North freshman Dominick Girardin.
“Ryder wrestled well,” Foxes coach Jake Oster said. “He didn’t end his season how he wanted and made it a point to wrestle well that weekend and prove to himself that he is one of the best in the state. He looked really good and went out there looking to score points. In the quarterfinals he wrestled Stonitsch, who had beaten him in the conference finals, and won 13-4.”
Harvey, who finished 19-12 after not being able to advance from the challenging Class 3A Homewood-Flossmoor Regional, was one of five Knights who won medals and one of two who advanced to the title mat, with 126 champion Ameer Alamawi being the other. After winning 5-2 in his first match, Harvey captured three-straight one-point decisions to reach the title mat, winning 6-5 in the quarterfinals over Brother Rice freshman Jack O’Connor, who finished 15-12 after competing in the 2A Dual Team finals in the Crusaders’ first appearance there, and then the Knights freshman won 5-4 over Pekin sophomore Ramez Watson in the semifinals before losing in sudden victory to Janeczko for the title.
In the third-place match, Dakota sophomore Jason Bowers won 3-2 over Watson. Bowers finished 21-7 but couldn’t advance from the rugged Class 1A Dixon Regional because he had to bump up to 152 since he was around the same weight as four of his Indians teammates who were all medal winners, champions Phoenix and Maddux Blakely, runner-up TJ Silva and fifth-place finisher Tyler Simmer. Bowers was able to avenge a second-round 3-1 loss to Watson by winning six-straight matches in the consolation bracket. The first five wins were by six points or more, including a 12-4 victory over Grant sophomore Douglas Zimmerman and a 7-0 triumph over Rakers before meeting Watson again.
Watson, who finished 33-12 with two tournament titles and competed in the 3A Granite City Sectional, won decisions in his first two matches, including a 3-1 victory over Bowers in the second round. He followed that with a fall in 4:38 over Sandwich sophomore Sy Smith in the quarterfinals before falling 5-4 to Harvey in the semifinals. He assured himself of a trip to the third-place mat with an 8-3 victory over Stonitsch but fell 3-2 to Bowers to claim fourth place.
Stonitsch won 3-0 over Rakers to claim fifth place. Stonitsch, who beat Janeczko 7-5 to win the SPC championship and finished 22-15 after being unable to advance from the 3A Granite City Sectional, dropped a 13-4 decision to Janeczko in the quarterfinals after opening the tournament with a decision and a fall. Then Stonitsch captured a 6-3 victory on a tiebreaker over Seneca freshman Robert Nelson, who went 34-11 and fell one win shy of qualifying from the Class 1A Coal City Sectional. After winning 13-8 over Lincoln-Way Central sophomore Keston Cohn, Stonitsch fell to Watson prior to claiming fifth place.
Rakers, who finished 30-16 after being unable to qualify from the Class 2A Mahomet-Seymour Sectional, opened with a fall and a decision before winning 4-1 in the quarterfinals over Morton sophomore Steven Marvin, who finished 31-11 and fell one win shy of advancing from the 2A Sycamore Sectional. After losing to Janeczko in the semifinals, Rakers fell to both Bowers and Stonitsch to take sixth. In the seventh-place match, Cohn won 11-4 over Zimmerman. Cohn dropped his first match to Bowers and followed with four-straight wins before splitting his last two matches and Zimmerman lost his second match and then won three in a row before suffering two defeats.
138 – Dominic Serio, West Aurora
By most standards, Dominic Serio had an outstanding freshman season, posting a 39-9 record, which included a title in the Southwest Prairie Conference and two second-place finishes in other tournaments.
But the West Aurora standout was looking to finish out on a better note after coming up one win shy of qualifying for the IHSA Individual Finals at the Class 3A Hinsdale Central Sectional and made the most of the opportunity to claim top honors at 138 at the IWCOA Frosh/Soph Championships in Springfield when he won 13-3 over Highland Park sophomore Mark Martinez in the title match. Serio was certainly impressive the tournament, recording two falls and two wins by technical fall to advance to the title mat; He won by fall in 1:40 in the quarterfinals over Washington sophomore Timmy Smith and in the semifinals, he won by technical fall over Deerfield freshman Christian Wittkamp.
“After a pair of heart-breaking losses in the IHSA sectional tournament to the eventual third- and fourth-place finishers at the state tournament, Dom continued his training for the next best thing,” Blackhawks coach Andrew Plata said. “Luckily, he found that success that he had been striving for in the Frosh/Soph Tournament. Dom was very dominant in every aspect of his matches.”
Martinez, who finished 17-6 and competed in the Class 3A Barrington Sectional, got falls in his first two matches and then won 7-3 over Metea Valley sophomore Patrick Mullen in the quarterfinals and captured a 6-1 victory over Providence Catholic sophomore Geno Papes in the semifinals.
In the third-place match, Papes defeated Washington sophomore Kaiden Hacker by a 7-3 score. Papes, who went 18-8, opened with a decision and a fall before edging Hacker 5-4 in the quarterfinals before losing 6-1 in the semifinals to Martinez. After beating Naperville Central sophomore Christopher Bern 13-0, Papes defeated Hacker again, this time, 7-3 for third. Hacker, who opened the tournament with two falls, bounced back from his quarterfinals loss to Papes with three-straight wins, including falls over Plainfield East sophomore Nicholas Duggan and Wittkamp before settling for fourth place.
Bern avenged a 13-8 loss to Wittkamp in the second round with a 7-5 win over him in the fifth-place match. Bern won four-straight matches in the consolation bracket before losing to Papes. Wittkamp, who was on the Warriors’ Class 2A dual team squad that finished second at the IHSA finals, opened the Frosh/Soph Finals with three-straight decisions, including an 8-5 win over Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley/Fisher sophomore Carson Maxey in the quarterfinals, after falling to Serio in the semifinals, Wittkamp lost twice.
And Maxey won 3-2 over Duggan for seventh place. Maxey, who went 27-13 and competed in the Class 1A Olympia Sectional, won his first two matches before falling 8-5 to Wittkamp in the quarterfinals and then Bern in the consolation bracket. Duggan, who was 22-16 and competed in the 3A Granite City Sectional. fell to Serio in his first match but then recorded four-straight falls in the wrestlebacks, with the last one over Mullen, before dropping his final two matches.
145 – Carlos Perez, Mount Carmel
Carlos Perez definitely closed his sophomore season on a high note by not only getting the opportunity to be able to wrestle a pair of matches in the IHSA Dual Team finals, where his team won the Class 3A championship but he also was able to win the title at 145 in the IWCOA Frosh/Soph Championships.
Perez, who went 8-10 this season and split his two matches at the Dual Team finals in Bloomington for Class 3A champion Mount Carmel, getting a win against Libertyville in the quarterfinals and loss against DeKalb in the title meet, which the Caravan won 32-27 for the first state title since 1994. Perez won 3-0 over Lincoln-Way East sophomore Domanic Abeja in the Frosh/Soph championship match. After getting a win by technical fall and a decision in his first two matches, Perez defeated Downers Grove South sophomore Connor Kelly by technical fall in the quarterfinals and then recorded a fall in 3:24 in the semifinals over Granite City freshman Braden Kelly.
Abeja, who went 22-12 and was unable to advance from the Class 3A Granite City Sectional. He earned his spot in the finals with a 3-2 quarterfinals victory over Marian Central Catholic sophomore Max Astacio and then won 8-3 in the semifinals over United Township freshman Kayden Marolf. After getting a fall in his opener, Abeja won 9-5 over Stagg freshman Durango Valles. Abeja and his Griffins teammates enjoyed an historic season, finishing ranked sixth in Class 3A and winning their first conference championship.
In the third-place match, Coal City freshman Landin Benson won by fall in 1:54 over Connor Kelly. After losing his first match 8-1 to Wauconda sophomore Cole Porten, Benson claimed wins in all seven of his matches in the consolation bracket, five of which were falls. He closed out his dramatic tournament run with a fall in 2:20 over Valles, an 8-2 victory over Braden Kelly and a fall in 1:54 over Connor Kelly in the third-place match. Connor Kelly, who went 19-14 and was unable to advance from the Class 3A Hinsdale Central Sectional. After he recorded falls in his first two matches, Connor Kelly lost to Perez in the quarterfinals but then responded with three-straight falls to reach the third-place mat, pinning Geneseo sophomore Joshua Hock in 2:49 and then Marolf in 1:40.
Taking fifth place was Braden Kelly, who won by fall in 2:38 over Marolf. Braden Kelly, who went 26-20 and failed to advance to the Class 3A sectional that his school hosted, beat Hock 18-7 in the quarterfinals before getting pinned by Perez in the semifinals. After losing to Benson, he pinned Marolf in the fifth-place match. Braden Kelly opened the tournament with a win by technical fall and then won a decision in his second match. Marolf recorded falls in his first three matches, winning by fall in 2:43 over Washington freshman Braden Baker in the quarterfinals before losing 8-3 to Abeja in the semifinals and falling two more times in the consolation bracket to Connor Kelly and Braden Kelly.
In the seventh-place match, Valles won 4-3 over Hock. Valles, who went 21-11 and fell one win shy of advancing from the Class 3A Hinsdale Central Sectional, lost his second-round match to Abeja and then won three-straight matches, with the last those a fall over Baker in 3:30. After getting pinned by Benson, Valles edged Hock for third place. Hock, who went 33-16 and failed to advance out of the 2A United Township Regional, lost to Braden Kelly in the quarterfinals and then won 6-2 over Prairie Ridge sophomore Xander York, who finished 23-15 and fell one win shy of advancing from the 2A Deerfield Sectional. Hock was pinned by Connor Kelly before being edged by Valles to finish eighth.
152 – Themba Sitshela, Stevenson
Themba Sitshela had the difficult challenge of beating an individual who fell one win shy of advancing to Champaign for the IHSA Individual Tournament one week before being a member of a Class 2A championship squad that is coached by his father at the IHSA Dual Team State Tournament in Bloomington.
But that’s just what the Stevenson sophomore accomplished when he edged Joliet Catholic Academy sophomore Connor Cumbee 5-3 in the 152 title match at the IWCOA Frosh/Soph Championships. Sitshela, who went 27-17 and competed in the Class 3A Barrington Sectional at 160, reached the championship match after winning 11-2 over Mahomet-Seymour sophomore Caleb Hillard in the quarterfinals and recording a fall in 4:48 over St. Charles East’s Anthony Gutierrez to face Cumbee, who entered the title match on a roll after beating all four of his opponents by fall. Sitshela won by technical fall in his opener and 5-4 over Genoa-Kingston sophomore Brady Brewick in round two.
“Themba has an incredible work ethic,” Patriots coach Shane Cook said. “He has been improving exponentially throughout the course of the season. Winning the Frosh/Soph State Tournament is a testament to his hard work and his desire to succeed. We are excited about his future.”
Cumbee went 28-16 after falling one win shy of advancing from the 2A Sycamore Sectional but then came up big for his team in dual team competition as they beat Washington in the sectional in a clash of the state’s top teams before winning all three of their duals at the state finals in Bloomington to give JCA its first state title. Cumbee’s father is Ryan, a three-time medalist and member of three Class AA title teams at Providence Catholic for IWCOA hall of famer Keith Healy, who he later assisted, after attending Northwestern University. Prior to taking over at JCA, he led Marmion Academy to second- and third-place finishes. Cumbee earned his spot in the finals after recording four-consecutive falls, winning in 4:19 over Lane Tech sophomore Fernando Lopez in the quarterfinals and in 4:57 over Lena-Winslow/Stockton sophomore Jared Dvorak in the semifinals.
In the third place match, Dvorak won 5-2 over Gutierrez. Dvorak, who went 38-12 and fell one win shy of advancing to state out of the Class 1A Princeton Sectional, was a member of a team coached by IWCOA Hall of Famer Kevin Milder that was top-ranked for much of the year but fell 34-32 to Sandwich in the Rock Falls dual team Sectional. After opening with a fall and a decision, Dvorak edged Stagg sophomore Luke Barham 3-1 in the quarterfinals before getting pinned by Cumbee in the semifinals. But he bounced back with a 3-1 victory over Jacksonville sophomore James Cotton to earn his spot in the third-place match. Gutierrez opened with three-straight falls, including one in 1:55 over Cotton in the quarterfinals, before getting pinned by Sitshela. But he added another fall over Lopez before getting edged by Dvorak for third.
Cotton claimed fifth place after capturing a 4-2 win over Lopez. Cotton, who went 35-5 and came up one win shy of advancing to state from the Class 2A Mahomet-Seymour Sectional, opened with a major decision and a fall before being pinned by Gutierrez in the quarterfinals but then he won two narrow decisions, including a 5-2 win over Hillard to meet Dvorak to see who would compete for third place. After dropping a 3-1 decision, Cotton won a two-point decision over Lopez to claim third place. Lopez, who went 29-9 and competed in the Class 3A Conant Sectional, opened with two falls before getting pinned in the quarterfinals by Cumbee. But then he recorded falls over Fenwick sophomore Rowan White and Lincoln-Way Central sophomore Tim Key before getting pinned by Gutierrez and losing the close decision to Cotton.
In the seventh-place match, Key won by fall in 2:12 over Hillard. Key, who went 28-19 and qualified for the Class 3A Granite City Sectional, got pinned in his first match and then won four-straight and five of his next six matches to finish seventh. He was one of five medal winners for Lincoln-Way Central. Hillard recorded a fall and won a decision in his first two matches before falling to Sitshela in the quarterfinals and then beat Mount Carmel’s Kevin Kalchbrenner 10-7 to assure his spot on the awards stand.
160 – Matty Lapacek, Downers Grove South
The title matches at the IWCOA Frosh/Soph Championships have frequently involved two competitors who both fell one win shy of advancing to Champaign, but the scenario that Matty Lapacek faced in the 160 finals was a bit different than most of those since his opponent had suffered the same fate as him in the same sectional and weight class.
In his third meeting of the season with Wheaton Warrenville South sophomore Sedeeq Al Obaidi, Downers Grove South sophomore Lapacek jumped out to a 9-1 lead only to see his Tigers opponent rally to get to within 10-9, but Lapacek pulled away again to win 16-9 and claim his second win over Al Obaidi, who he pinned in 3:42 in the quarterfinals of the IHSA Class 3A Hinsdale Central Sectional but dropped a 4-2 decision to in the title match at the IWCOA Naperville Central Sectional. Lapacek, who went 30-12, recorded falls in his other four matches, needing just 0:28 against Dixon sophomore Steven Kitzman in the quarterfinals and winning in 3:23 in the semifinals over Quincy sophomore Owen Uppinghouse to set up the only title matchup of its kind at this year’s competition.
“Matty had a great tournament and Frosh/Soph State Series,” Downers Grove South coach Sean Lovelace said. “He wrestled a kid from Wheaton Warrenville South in the finals and they had split their first two meetings. It was an exciting final where Matty jumped out to a 9-1 lead, then the other kid came storming back and the score was 10-9 for Matty, who then put him on his back again to seal the state championship. Matty is a great kid and a grinder with awesome hips, we were so excited for him and can’t wait to see what the next two years hold for him.”
Beside Lapacek’s title, Lovelace had plenty to be proud of with his Mustangs in the tournament. He had two other medalists in Connor Kelly at 145 and Mack Piehl at 182 while Miguel Castaneda fell one win shy of getting a medal at 106 and Jayden Contreras didn’t place at 285. About the only downside for Downers Grove South was that RJ Samuels suffered an injury in the IWCOA sectional and was unable to compete at 152, and he had a good chance of being another medal winner. All of the qualifiers were sophomores.
“Our team finished in fifth place out of 220 teams in the unofficial team standings, which is probably our highest finish of all time, Lovelace said. “Considering we were missing RJ Samuels, this was a great showing and we were super proud of their efforts on the weekend to cap off their season. Connor had a great tournament, losing to the eventual champ in the quarterfinals and in the third-place match. He’s a pinner and is going to turn some heads next year. Mack placing in this tournament will be great for his confidence moving forward and he just keeps getting better and better.”
Al Obaidi, who went 31-11 this season, won by fall in 2:37 over Joliet Catholic Academy freshman Zach Pomatto in the quarterfinals and claimed a 9-1 major decision over Hononegah freshman Kurt Smith in the semifinals to earn his trip to the title match. He opened his run to the title mat with a win by technical fall and a decision. He was the only Tiger who competed in Springfield.
Uppinghouse won 4-2 over Smith to take third place. After recording falls in his first two matches, In the quarterfinals, Uppinghouse pinned Glenbard East sophomore Blake Salvino in 4:24 in the quarterfinals but then he got pinned in 3:23 by Lapacek in the semifinals. But he bounced back from that loss to capture an 8-0 win over Woodstock North sophomore Kaden Combs to earn his spot on the third-place mat. Smith, who went 14-5 and competed in the Class 3A Barrington Sectional, opened with two falls before getting a 3-1 win in the quarterfinals over O’Fallon freshman Terence Willis, who went 22-11 and competed in the Class 3A Granite City Sectional, and then losing to Al Obaidi in the semifinals. But he responded to that with a 7-2 victory over Kitzman.
In the fifth-place match, Combs won 9-2 over Kitzman. Combs, who went 21-6 this and fell one win shy of advancing to state at the Class 2A Deerfield Sectional at 170, lost in the second round to Al Obaidi but then won four-straight matches and five of the next six as he claimed major decisions over Willis and Pomatto before falling to Uppinghouse to send him to the fifth-place mat. Kitzman, who went 19-9 but was unable to advance out at 170 in the competitive 1A regional that Dixon hosted, won a decision and recorded a fall before getting pinned by Lapacek in the quarterfinals but he responded with a fall in 2:48 over Bartlett’s Ryan Gura and won 5-3 over Salvino before losing to Smith.
And Salvino won by fall in 0:51 over Pomatto to claim seventh place. Salvino, who went 27-15 and competed in the Class 3A Conant Sectional, lost by fall to Uppinghouse in the quarterfinals but then won by fall in 2:17 over Auburn’s Joey Barrow before getting edged by Kitzman. Pomatto’s lone win on varsity came in the Class 2A Dual Team semifinals in JCA’s 64-10 victory over Antioch on the day that the Hilltoppers made history by winning their first state title in the sport. The freshman fell to Al Obaidi in the quarterfinals before getting a fall in 4:51 over Hoopeston Area’s Angel Zamora to assure himself of a medal and then losing to Combs to compete for seventh.
170 – AJ Mancilla, Bradley-Bourbonnais
While AJ Mancilla might be playing baseball this spring, that didn’t prevent him from competing in the IWCOA Frosh/Soph Championships after he went 36-6 and was ranked in Class 3A thanks to two firsts and two seconds in tournaments but he came up one win shy of advancing from the Granite City Sectional to the IHSA Individual Finals.
The Bradley-Bourbonnais sophomore capped off a tournament where he won three major decisions and two decisions to claim top honors at 170 after capturing a 14-2 victory over Libertyville sophomore Owen McGrory in the title match. Mancilla’s closest match was his first, which he won 5-3 over Hersey’s Connor Cambria, then he won a major decision before winning 10-1 over St. Charles East sophomore Brandon Swartz in the quarterfinals and captured an 8-1 victory over Prospect sophomore Michael Matuszak in the semifinals. The Boilermakers had two qualifiers and sophomore Zach Anderson was hoping to place at 152 but he was hampered by injuries and split his four matches.
“AJ outscored his opponents 46-7 and only gave up escapes,” Boilermakers coach Mickey Spiwak said. “He has been going from wrestling workouts straight to baseball for the last three weeks. He had a lot of family show up to watch him and I think that contributed to his success. AJ used to try to win every match 1-0 or 3-2. We challenged him to open up this series, and he clearly stepped up to our challenge. We want our wrestlers to be exciting to the spectators, and putting points on the board is a big part of that.
Zach wrestled really tough and made it to day two, but was fighting through some injuries that caught up to him throughout the tournament. He has a very bright future ahead of him and we are excited for him.”
McGrory didn’t get many matches in this season, but that’s not surprising since he’s at the same weight as third-place finisher Austin Gomez and one weight below Class 3A state champion Josh Knudten, Beside being in a room with some of the state’s best, he’s also fortunate to have one of Illinois’ all-time winningest coaches, IWCOA Hall of Famer, Dale Eggert with 630 victories, as his coach and he also got the opportunity to be a member of the Wildcats state dual team, with the program making its first appearance since 2014. McGrory advanced to the title mat by winning four decisions, including a 6-2 quarterfinals victory over Romeoville sophomore Mason Gougis and a 6-4 win by sudden victory over Quincy sophomore Bryor Newbold in the semifinals.
Newbold, who went 34-15 and competed in the 3A Granite City Sectional at 182, took third place with an 11-3 victory over Neuqua Valley sophomore Silvano Spatafora. Newbold pinned Spatafora in 1:41 in the quarterfinals but then lost 6-4 on a tiebreaker to McGrory in the semifinals. Newbold secured his spot in the third-place match with a 7-4 win over Danville sophomore Dalton Brown. Spatafora, who went 12-14 and qualified for the Class 3A Hinsdale Central Sectional, got a bye and won a decision before being pinned by Newbold in the quarterfinals but responded with a fall, a 6-5 victory over Joliet Catholic Academy freshman Nicholas Ronchetti and a 4-2 win by sudden victory over Matuszak.
In the fifth-place match, Brown won by fall in 2:28 over Matuszak. Brown, who went 25-10 and fell one win shy of qualifying for state from the Class 2A Mahomet-Seymour Sectional, opened with two falls before losing 4-2 to Matuszak in the quarterfinals.Then got a fall and a 10-2 win over Swartz before losing to Newbold and then avenged his earlier loss to Matuszak to finish fifth. Matuszak, who went 11-10 for the Knights, who advanced to the IHSA Class 3A Dual Team Finals for the fourth time since 2015 and won their first trophy in the competition when they finished fourth. After beating Brown 4-2 in the quarterfinals, Matuszak lost to Mancilla and also was edged by Spatafora.
For seventh place, Swartz won 15-3 over Ronchetti. Swartz, who finished 29-11, lost to Mancilla in the quarterfinals and won two of his last three matches while Ronchetti, one of four JCA medalists, went 23-17 and got to compete in all three dual meets for his team at the Class 2A Finals in Bloomington, where the program won its first state title.
182 – Ayden Salley, Barrington
Of all of the champions of this year’s IWCOA Frosh/Soph State Finals, Ayden Salley was the lone one that fell one win shy of earning a trip to the IHSA Individual Finals while competing in a sectional that his school hosted, but he could share the pain with two others from Barrington, which did qualify three individuals from its Class 3A sectional.
But there would no heartbreak for the Broncos sophomore who went 27-8 this season with two tournament titles and one second-place finish when he competed at the Bank of Springfield Center as Salley kicked off his title run with two falls before winning 4-3 in the quarterfinals over Lincoln-Way East freshman Caden O’Rourke, then claiming a 7-0 in the semifinals over Unity freshman Hunter Eastin and capturing the title at 182 with another one-point decision, beating Moline sophomore James Soliz by a 10-9 score.
“Ayden won the Frosh/Soph state tourney and is coming into his own,” Broncos coach David Udchik said. “We always tell him that he’s at a ‘man’s weight class’ and he is really wrestling well. He is an underclassman and all of the team looks up to him. He has improved greatly over the past season and knows how to wrestle hard for ‘The Circle’.”
Soliz, who went 38-15 and fell one win shy of qualifying from the Class 3A Granite City Sectional, was able to take some consolation for his season since he was able to get a pin in the Class 3A Dual Team Finals as the Maroons earned their first trip to that competition since 2000 but fell 35-30 to Prospect in the quarterfinals. The Maroons sophomore opened the Frosh/Soph Tournament with three-straight falls, including one in 0:23 in the quarterfinals over Elk Grove sophomore Benjamin Schlosser and then earned his spot on the title mat opposite of Salley with a 9-2 semifinals victory over Normal West sophomore Gustav Schreiber.
In the third-place match, O’Rourke won 5-2 over Naperville North sophomore Matthew Murphy. The freshman was able to get in a few matches for a Griffins squad which finished ranked sixth in Class 3A and captured its first conference title while giving eventual Class 3A third-place finisher Lockport a run for its money in the Homewood-Flossmoor Regional. After opening with a fall and a decision, O’Rourke lost to Salley 4-3 in the quarterfinals but then responded with four-straight narrow victories to place third, winning 3-1 in sudden victory over Fremd’s Aaron Del Mar, 2-0 over Downers Grove South sophomore Mack Piehl, 4-3 over Schreiber and 5-2 over Murphy.
Murphy, who went 12-9 and fell one win shy of qualifying for the Class 3A Hinsdale Central Sectional, won his first match but got pinned by Providence Catholic sophomore Michael O’Connor in his second match to head to the consolation bracket. He captured five-straight victories, including two major decisions, completing the run with a 10-3 win over Schlosser, a 3-1 victory over Mount Carmel’s Josue Hernandez and a 5-0 win over Eastin before falling to O’Rourke by three points for third place.
Taking fifth place was Schreiber, who won by fall in 2:09 over Eastin. Schreiber won his first three matches by fall, including in 0:49 over O’Connor in the quarterfinals. After falling to Soliz 9-2 in the semifinals, he lost by a point to O’Rourke and beat Eastin by fall. Eastin finished with a 14-3 record for Unity, which finished 33-4 and took third place in Class 1A and didn’t see action in the postseason with runner-up Grant Albaugh at his weight and runner-up Nick Nosler at 195, but being around two of the state’s best no doubt benefited him. After opening with a major decision and then winning a narrow decision, Eastin won by technical fall in the quarterfinals over Belleville West’s Ethan Hofmeister before falling to Salley in the semifinals and then lost to Murphy to go for fifth. In the seventh-place match, Piehl, a 3A Hinsdale Central Sectional qualifier, won 7-1 over Hernandez, who was a member of Mount Carmel’s IHSA Class 3A championship team, which finished with a 19-4 record.
195 – Andrew Marquez, Rock Island
Andrew Marquez and Daniel McGhee were able to wrap up a memorable sophomore season for Rock Island when the pair competed for titles at the IWCOA Frosh/Soph Championships with Marquez taking first and McGhee falling in overtime to place second.
Marquez finished with a 37-14 record and fell one win shy of advancing from the rugged Class 2A Sycamore Sectional. But he was able to pick up a victory in his team’s 41-34 quarterfinals defeat against Deerfield, which was the Rocks’ first trip to the IHSA Dual Team Finals in 30 years. Marquez won the IWCOA Frosh/Soph Championships title at 195 with a fall in 1:17 over Hersey sophomore Leo Delgado. After recording falls in his first two matches, Marquez claimed a 7-6 win over Marist sophomore Michael Maloney in the quarterfinals and then won 14-0 over Seneca sophomore Chris Peura. During the season, Marquez won two tournament titles and took second place three times.
“We had two wrestlers make the finals,” Rocks coach Joel Stockwell said. “Andrew Marquez pinned his opponent to win the title and Daniel McGhee lost in overtime. I am always thankful for the efforts of the IWCOA to host great events for the student athletes trying to strive for greatness. The Frosh/Soph State series is no exception. If you go back and read the list of medalists you will often find many of those wrestlers go on to place at the IHSA State Tournament.”
Delgado was part of a special season for Hersey, which finished 13th in the IWCOA Class 3A rankings and won the Mid-Suburban League title. The Huskies sophomore opened the IWCOA Frosh/Soph Finals with three-straight falls, including one in 3:30 over Centennial sophomore Ettavias Holmen-Anderson in the quarterfinals. Then he earned a spot in the finals opposite Marquez by capturing a 5-0 victory over Loyola Academy freshman Joey Herbert in the semifinals. He had the best finish of the Huskies’ five medal winners.
In the third-place match, Peura won 5-4 over Warren sophomore Jeremija Hixson. Peura, who finished 41-9 and came up one win shy of advancing at the Class 1A Coal City Sectional, After getting falls in his first two matches, Peura won 4-2 in the quarterfinals over Hixson before falling to Marquez in the semifinals. Following an 11-1 win in the wrestlebacks over Mt. Vernon sophomore Mason Randall, Peura defeated Hixson again, this time by one point, to claim third place. Hixson, who went 22-19 this season and qualified for the Class 3A Barrington Sectional, followed a fall before winning 4-2 over Elk Grove freshman Dylan Berkowitz, but then lost by the same score to Peura in the quarterfinals. After getting a fall over Maloney and claiming a 1-0 win over Herbert, Hixson lost to Peura again to place fourth.
Finishing fifth was Herbert, who recorded a fall in 2:43 over Randall. Herbert, who went 14-13 this season and didn’t advance from the Class 3A Glenbrook South Regional, opened with two falls and a 2-1 decision with the second of the two pins coming in 4:11 over Randall in the quarterfinals. After falling to Delgado in the semifinals, Herbert was edged by Hixson and then recorded another fall over Randall to place fifth. Randall, who went 34-11 this season and qualified for the Class 2A Mahomet-Seymour Sectional, recorded two falls before suffering his first loss to Herbert and following a pin and 7-1 win over Naperville Central’s Jacob Smetters, he lost to 11-1 to Peura.
In the seventh-place match, Maloney won 9-1 over Smetters. Maloney, who finished 19-11 and fell one win shy of qualifying from the Class 3A Hinsdale Central Sectional at 285, was edged by Marquez 7-6 in the quarterfinals and then pinned Berkowitz before being pinned by Hixson. Maloney’s RedHawks got the opportunity to compete in the IHSA Dual Team Finals for the first time since 2014 but their 24-3 team that had been top-ranked in Class 3A late in the season lost 34-33 to Lockport in the quarterfinals. Smetters won by fall in his first match, and then was edged by Herbert 2-1 before winning three in a row, including wins over Curie sophomore Anthony Garcia and Holmen-Anderson before losing to Randall. He was one of Naperville Central’s five medalists out of seven qualifiers, capping a successful season where the Redhawks finished ranked ninth in Class 3A.
220 – Kaiden Morris, Rochelle
When a freshman can go 40-8 at 220 and win one tournament and finish in the top-three in three other invites, one would usually expect that such a performance would result in a trip to the IHSA Individual State Tournament, but that didn’t happen for Kaiden Morris, who fell one win shy of advancing out of the rugged Class 2A Sycamore Sectional.
But the Rochelle freshman was able to close out his successful debut on a high note when he captured the 220 championship at the IWCOA Frosh/Soph Tournament after edging Lena-Winslow/Stockton sophomore Michael Haas 3-2 in the title match. Morris kicked off his title run with three-consecutive falls, with the quickest of those coming in 1:24 over Carmel Catholic sophomore Patrick Lucansky in the quarterfinals. His final two matches were not only tight, they were both decided by the same score, 3-2, as he defeated Plainfield North sophomore Leonardo Tovar by one point in the semifinals to earn his spot on the title mat. With Joseph Nadig finishing second at 113, the Hubs joined four other teams as the only ones in the field to have two individuals who reached the title mat.
While Morris was unable to advance out of the sectional, his finals opponent couldn’t qualify at 285 from his regional, but there was no shame in that since the Class 1A Dixon Regional was loaded with several of the top teams in that class competing in the competition. Haas went 36-7 this season for Lena-Winslow/Stockton, which ended the season top-ranked in Class 1A but it fell 34-32 to Sandwich in the Rock Falls Dual Team Sectional. After opening the tournament with a pair of decisions, Haas won by fall in 2:58 over Joliet Central freshman Charles Walker and then got a fall in 5:00 over Naperville Central sophomore Nico Besteiro in the semifinals to earn his trip to the finals to face Morris.
In the third-place match, Warren freshman Anthony Soto won 5-2 over Jacksonville sophomore Oliver Cooley. Soto, who went 21-10 and fell one win shy of advancing from the Class 3A Barrington Sectional, opened with two falls before getting pinned by Tovar in 4:30 in the quarterfinals. He responded with two falls, including one in 2:15 over Glenbard North freshman Tyler Ott before claiming a 5-2 win over Besteiro. Cooley, who finished 26-13 and qualified for the Class 2A Mahomet-Seymour Sectional, lost his second-round match to Crystal Lake Central’s Thomas McNeil but then recorded five-consecutive victories and three-straight falls which was capped by a 3-1 win by sudden victory over Lyons Township sophomore Samuel Costello and a fall in 2:50 over Tovar. The Crimsons had three qualifiers and all of them won medals with Cooley getting the best finish.
Finishing in fifth place was Tovar, who won 4-2 in sudden victory over Besteiro. Tovar, who went 28-15 and fell one win shy of qualifying from the Class 3A Granite City Sectional, followed a decision with two falls, with the latter in 4:30 over Soto in the quarterfinals. After losing 3-2 to Morris in the semifinals, Tovar got pinned by Cooley and then took fifth to become the Tigers’ lone medal winner. Besteiro, who was one of five medal winners for Naperville Central, opened with three-straight decisions, including 4-0 over McNeil in the quarterfinals. After getting pinned by Haas, he lost a 5-2 decision to Soto.
In the seventh-place match, Costello won by fall in 2:12 over Ott. Costello, who went 21-19 and was a Class 3A Hinsdale Central Sectional qualifier at 285 and was the Lions’ lone state qualifier in the Frosh/Soph Tournament, lost to Haas 3-1 in his second match but then won three in a row, with the last win 6-1 over McNeil before losing 3-1 by sudden victory to Cooley. Ott also fell in the recond round to Soto and won three in a row, with the last two being a 7-5 win in sudden victory over Clifton Central sophomore Hunter Hull, who went 25-11 and was a 1A Olympia Sectional qualifier, and then a fall in 1:41 over Lucansky before getting pinned by Soto.
285 – Alex Pasquale, Lemont
Lemont has accomplished a great deal in the sport during the last 25 years but one thing that it hadn’t done was having a champion at the IWCOA Frosh/Soph Championships but Alex Pasquale ended that drought in the 26th annual competition.
The Lemont sophomore won 3-2 over Lincoln-Way West sophomore Alexander Poholik after getting a late reversal to claim top honors at 285. Pasquale went 29-9 this season and fell one win shy of qualifying for state at the rugged IHSA Class 2A Sycamore Sectional. After getting a quick pin in his opener and then edging Maine South freshman Tyler Fortis 6-5 in his next match, Pasquale won by fall in 2:08 over PORTA sophomore Isaac Guinan in the quarterfinals and captured a 7-2 victory over Jacksonville freshman Aiden Surratt to give his program two top-three finishers in the competition among their two qualifiers, with Carter Mikolajczak going 6-1 to claim third place at the lowest weight class, 101, in the competition. It was a great end to the season for Lemont, which finished as the fourth-ranked team in Class 2A according to Rob Sherrill’s final IWCOA rankings.
“Lemont has never had a IWCOA state champion in the previous 25 years until Alex Pasquale captured the championship at 285 pounds,” Lemont coach Erik Murry said. “I was extremely impressed with both sophomore wrestlers; Carter Mikolajczak finished in third place at 101 and went 6-1 while Alex achieved a perfect 5-0 to claim the title. Both guys wrestled the past couple weeks to qualify through regionals at Joliet West and sectionals held at Coal City to qualify for State. I was elated on how these guys repensented Lemont by going 11-1 on the weekend, especially competing in a 32-man bracket. In a couple of matches, our guys had to come from behind, including Alex’s final match. Having to come back in the third period with a key reversal late, then riding out the Lincoln-Way West’s Alexander Poholik to win a 3-2 final decision. Overall, I am happy that these guys continued wrestling after the regular season to get more experience and accolades and I expect them to be key contributors and leaders for Lemont next year. Lemont Wrestling has a lot to be excited about for the next couple seasons.”
Poholik, who did not compete in the IHSA state series for the Warriors, who are coached by 2020 IWCOA Hall of Famer Brian Glynn, followed a pin and a 10-5 victory over Evanston sophomore Destiny Ekwebelan in his first two matches. Then he claimed a 6-4 victory over Hampshire sophomore Joey Ochoa in the quarterfinals and won 3-0 over Plainfield Central freshman Antonio Montoya in the semifinals to earn his trip to the title mat. Lincoln-Way West had six qualifiers but Poholik was its lone medalist as freshman Luke Siwinski fell one victory shy of placing at 120.
In the third place match, Ochoa won 3-1 over Montoya. Ochoa, who did not compete in the IHSA individual series, opened his tournament with a pair of first-period falls before getting edged 6-4 by Poholik in the quarterfinals. But he responded to win his next four matches, closing with falls over Ekwebelan in 2:21 and Surratt in 1:41 before edging Montoya for third place. Ochoa was the lone medalist for the Whip-Purs, who had three qualifiers. Montoya, who finished 18-13 after competing in the Class 3A Granite City Sectional, was the lone qualifier for the Wildcats. After winning his first two matches by fall, he won 6-4 over Normal West sophomore Matt Hanold in the quarterfinals before getting edged by Poholik 3-0 in the semifinals. The freshman secured his spot in the third-place match with a fall in 1:32 over Elk Grove freshman Mike Milovich.
Taking fifth place was Milovich, who won by fall in 0:48 over Surratt. Milovich, who did not compete in the IHSA individual series, was one of seven qualifiers for the Grenadiers, and joined 113 champion Grant Madl as their only medalists while three others fell one win shy of placing. After getting pinned in the second round by South Elgin sophomore Thomas Roath, Milovich won four-straight matches by fall, pinning Guinan in 1:26 and Roath in 2:36 before getting pinned by Montoya. With a fall in his first and last matches, all six of his victories were the result of pins. Surratt, who went 21-12 but failed to qualify from his own Class 2A regional, capped a good tournament for the Crimsons, who got medals from all three of their qualifiers. Surratt followed a one-point decision with a pin and then won by fall in 3:45 over Roath in the quarterfinals before dropping a 7-2 decision to Pasquale in the semifinals and then getting pinned by Ochoa in 1:41 in the consolation semifinals.
In the seventh-place match, Roath won by fall in 1:37 over Ekwebelan. Roath, who finished 12-7 and advanced to the 3A Conant Sectional, was the lone medalist for the Storm. He opened with two falls before being pinned by Surratt in the quarterfinals but then he beat Bloomington sophomore Stephen Carr by fall in 0:34 to assure himself of a medal. Ekwebelan, who didn’t compete in the IHSA state series, was the lone medal winner for the Wildkits, who advanced eight individuals to the event. After falling to Poholik 10-5 in the second round, Ekwebelan won three-straight matches, pinning Clinton freshman Dawson Thayer in 4:07 and Hanold in 2:12 before getting pinned by Ochoa and Roath.