Class 1A State Champions stories

One three-time champion and 13 first-time title winners.

Four undefeated competitors and three others with one loss.

First-ever champions for Auburn, Carlyle and Yorkville Christian.

Three champions apiece for Dakota and IC Catholic Prep.

Two titles each for Lena-Winslow/Stockton and Riverdale.

Three individuals win titles in their third state trip while another wins in his fourth try.

Those were some of the biggest stories of the IHSA Class 1A Individual Finals.

The finals started at 145 but to be consistent with other stories, we begin at 106.

Here are the stories of the 14 state champions and their weight classes.

106 – Tyson Waughtel, Carlyle

It’s quite an accomplishment when you’re only a freshman and you’ve already achieved something that only two other male athletes at your school have done in over 100 years of competition, and that’s just what Tyson Waughtel pulled off on Saturday.

The Carlyle athlete, who came into the Class 1A IHSA finals top-ranked at 106, became the third male from his school to win a state title in an individual sport when he wrapped up a 52-0 debut campaign by capturing a 9-4 victory over Illini Bluffs sophomore Hunter Robbins in the championship match. Waughtel joins track and field athletes Charlie Baltimore (1998) and Karl Beckemeyer (1926) as state title winners at the school. The best previous showing by an Indians wrestler was a third-place finish at 220 in Class 1A by Kevin Roper in 2013 while Dale Allen took fourth at 220 in 1A in 2019 for the program’s other medal. He also was one of just 11 unbeaten IHSA champions at the tournament. 

A champion of six tournaments this season, including two that had several Class 2A teams in them, Waughtel opened with a pair of wins by technical fall, with the second of those coming in 3:13 in the quarterfinals over Peoria Notre Dame freshman Ian Akers, who was ranked tenth. In the semifinals, he claimed an 11-4 win over Olympia freshman Dylan Eimer, who was ranked sixth, to become the first individual from his program to advance to a state championship match.

“I feel like I knew it at the beginning of the year because I was so dominant,” Waughtel said. “Coming in as the number-one seed just gave me the motivation. This gives me a lot of motivation because now, I can say that I’m an IHSA state champ. This year was a lot different since I got a lot harder competition and they’ve all been training for this moment. Nobody had been a state champ at Carlyle, this was the first time. It feels amazing and I can’t wait to come back to Carlyle and everyone will be cheering me on.”

Robbins (31-4), who was second in Rob Sherrill’s IWCOA rankings and an IWCOA qualifier in 2021 who had four tournament titles this season, advanced to the finals by recording a first-period fall in his opening match and then winning 4-0 over Harvard senior Brian Hernandez (23-13) in the quarterfinals. He earned his spot in the title match when he won 8-4 in sudden victory in the semifinals over Anna-Jonesboro freshman Drew Sadler, who was ranked fifth.

“I was excited since I knew that I was in the state finals and I’m proud of myself, either way,” Robbins said. “I just wanted to leave it all out there, and I guess this gives me more push for next year. I’m excited to get back into the room. I’ve got people that push me in the room and that really a lot and that brings me up and I know that they’re all going to help me through this and get me ready for next year. I’m proud of myself. I was a little nervous going out there, If I make it here next year, I know how it is.”

Sadler (50-5) fell a bit short of becoming the third individual finalist for the Wildcats but is still one of only four from his school to earn all-state honors. After recording a first-period fall in his opener, he captured a 10-0 quarterfinals victory over Yorkville Christian freshman Aiden Larsen and then lost by sudden victory to Robbins in the semifinals. Following a 10-2 win over Litchfield junior Alex Powell in the consolation semifinal to guarantee a medal, he captured a 9-0 major decision over Eimer to claim third place.

“It feels amazing,” Sadler said. “I don’t even have words right now. It’s unbelievable right now, I think I’m dreaming. I knew I had a dang good chance of placing here, but I didn’t know that I’d get number three. I came out here with all of the confidence in the world, thanks to my practice partners, they helped get me this far.”

Eimer (43-7) opened with two falls, including one in 3:59 in the quarterfinals over Alleman senior Dalton Nimrick (34-8), who was ranked eighth. After falling to Waughtel in the semifinals,  Eimer beat Larsen 6-1 to advance to the third-place match. Larsen (42-8), who was ranked seventh and was one of five medalists for his team, responded to his quarterfinals defeat with two falls and then bounced back from a loss to Eimer to claim an 8-2 victory over Powell for fifth place. Powell (34-9), an IWCOA qualifier last year and a state qualifier in 2020 who was ranked fourth, claimed 3-2 and 6-3 decisions in the wrestlebacks before dropping his last two matches to finish sixth.

Akers (35-8) fell in the quarterfinals to Waughtel and then lost to Powell in the quarterfinal wrestleback to twice fall a win shy of a medal. Also losing in the quarterfinal wrestleback was Murphysboro freshman Kaiden Richards (40-12), the only one of five winners of 40 or more matches at the weight who didn’t finish in the top-six.

113 – Anthony Ruzic, Auburn

During his five tournament titles heading into the IHSA 1A finals, Anthony Ruzic was definitely a force to be reckoned with after winning 12 of 14 matches by fall with 10 of those coming in the opening period and the others being a win by technical fall and a 12-1 major decision in the sectional finals, the lone time that he had to go the full six minutes.

So it came as no real surprise that the Auburn sophomore who placed third a year ago in the IWCOA finals and then was a champion in Greco Roman at Fargo would continue his tournament success in Champaign when he rolled through the 113 bracket with three major decisions and an 8-2 victory in the championship match over Richmond-Burton freshman Emmett Nelson to complete his state title run with a 26-0 record. That win assured Ruzic that he would become his program’s first state champion, its second finalist and fourth medal winner, with Peyton Hudspeth taking second at 195 in 2017 being the previous-best showing for the Trojans.

After claiming a 20-8 victory in his opening match, Ruzic won 12-4 over Marian Central Catholic junior Kaden Harman in the quarterfinals and 14-4 against Farmington sophomore Keygan Jennings in the semifinals to send him into the 113 title match against Nelson. The Rockets freshman hung tough into the final period before Ruzic wrapped up his title, becoming one of just 11 unbeaten champions in Illinois. On Tuesday, Ruzic picked up a forfeit win when his team competed in the Unity Sectional, where they fell to Vandalia 54-30. Ruzic is the third Auburn male athlete to win a state title in the last 100 years, with the others in track and field, and the last of those was Kyle Sergent in 2003.

“It feels great,” Ruzic said. “In the end, all of the hard work that I put in just paid off, so it felt great to finally get it done. I got a good practice earlier, so I felt great. I just treated every match like it was the same and went match to match. The pressure really didn’t get to me because I know I’m the best.”

Nelson (41-4), who was ranked seventh with five-straight tournament titles to his credit, was a winner by technical fall in his opening match before capturing an 8-2 victory over East Alton-Wood River senior Aaron Niemeyer in the quarterfinals. After claiming an 11-7 semifinals victory over Harrisburg sophomore Tony Keene, Nelson joined one of the all-time greats not only from his own program but from the state, Jordan Blanton, as the only freshmen from their program to advance to a title match. Blanton, a 2008 Richmond-Burton graduate and four-time finalist who only lost once in his career in his junior season, happened to be in attendance at the tournament, interviewing top performers.

“This will be a good motivator for upcoming times and it will be a reminder for what I have to work for,” Nelson said. “There’s no stage like the state finals, so it was a great experience. They do a great job of promoting it and the atmosphere is awesome with the fans and the arena. So next year, it will be twice as nice to win it.”

Niemeyer (40-6), a sixth-place finisher in the IWCOA and state qualifier in 2020 who was ranked third, finished in third place after recording a fall in 2:42 over Keene. Following his quarterfinals loss to Nelson, he won four-straight matches in the consolation bracket, following a first-period fall with a 12-3 win over IC Catholic Prep freshman Andrew Alvarado (22-13) to assure himself of a medal. He won 4-3 over Jennings to advance to the third-place match, where he won to tie for the fifth-best finish ever for his program. 

“It’s great,” Niemeyer said. “He beat me earlier in the year. This is huge. Last year I took sixth, and other than that, we haven’t had anybody place, it’s been awhile. This sets an example to the freshmen on our team that you can lose in the first round, second round and come back and still get the next best thing.”

Keene (40-4), an IWCOA qualifier who had won four tournament titles and was ranked second, recorded two first-minute falls, including one in 0:36 over Newman Central Catholic freshman Briar Ivey in the quarterfinals. After losing to Nelson in the semifinals, Keene beat Harman 11-8 to compete for third place but his loss in that match resulted in him tying for the program’s best finals showing with their only other medalist, Aaron Bailey, who placed fourth in 1994.

Harman (37-12), who was ranked eighth, bounced back from his quarterfinals loss to Ruzic to go 3-1 in the consolation bracket to finish fifth. He beat Ridgeview/Lexington sophomore Danny Tay (37-8) 7-1 to guarantee a medal and responded to his loss to Keene with a 4-2 victory to claim fifth place over Jennings (44-4), who was a fifth-place finisher at the IWCOA that was ranked fourth and won five titles with one second in six tournaments. His sixth-place effort tied the finish of the program’s only other IHSA placewinner, Broc Shymansky, in 2019.

120 – Nick Renteria, IC Catholic Prep

After placing fourth as a sophomore in 2020 and taking fifth in the IWCOA in 2021, Nick Renteria was prepared to do whatever it took to not only improve upon his two previous state finals efforts but to finish on top of the awards stand in his third appearance at a state finals tournament.

And inspired by the efforts of two of his teammates who captured championships on an historic day for the Knights’ program, Renteria rolled to a pair of wins by technical fall and a major decision before claiming a 9-4 win over Yorkville Christian senior Isaac Bourge in the 120 title match to become his program’s fifth champion improved him to 28-1. He added two more wins to that total as his ninth-ranked team qualified for the dual team state finals in Bloomington but fell 39-34 to Tremont in the quarterfinals.

Renteria, who was ranked third and took first in his other five tournaments, won his first two matches by technical fall. including over Ridgeview/Lexington sophomore Braydon Campbell (31-7) in the quarterfinals and won 11-3 over Mercer County sophomore Ethan Monson in the semifinals. His title victory followed first-place efforts from Michael Calcagno at 182 and Jadon Mims at 220 to boost IC Catholic Prep’s individual champions from two to five and its overall titles from three to six, surpassing Joey Bianchini’s two titles and a second from 2016-2018 and Saul Trejo’s first in 2020. Renteria’s loss was to another finalist, Loyola Academy junior Massey Odiotti, who took second at 120 in 3A.. 

“My coaches preached all season that I’m the best here and that nobody could stop me, and I took that into my mindset this year,” Renteria said. “We all work hard together and push each other and those are my brothers. We all had the same goal and we accomplished it. I hadn;t been in the state finals before and I was able to get here and get a title, that was the best part about it, so much excitement. This is a huge boost going into the team race. We’re only getting stronger and my brothers are coming together. It’s just our mindset and the way that we push each other in the room. Everybody is going hard all of the time. Our coaches really preach that and they push us hard.”

Bourge (30-11), the only member of Yorkville Christan’s initial four-man team during his freshman season, made his third-straight state appearance and joined 170 champion Jackson Gillen as their program’s first two finalists on a day where the Mustangs had five placewinners. The fourth-ranked senior won three two-point decisions before falling in the finals to Renteria. After winning 2-0 over Marian Central Catholic junior Jack Fitzgerald (26-6), who was ranked second and placed fifth in the IWCOA, in his opener. He won 3-1 over St. Joseph-Ogden freshman Holden Brazelton, who was eighth, in the quarterfinals and then won 3-1 over Coal City sophomore Brant Widlowski in the semifinals. He added two more wins as his team not only advanced to the IHSA Dual Team State Tournament for the first time but secured a trophy with a 63-12 win over Ridgeview/Lexington.

“I’m really proud of how I did today,” Bourge said. “It’s always better to get first, but it’s second-best, I guess. Our team put all they had out there today. We had a couple of kids wrestle all the way back to third and fifth place. We have a state champion now and a second place. When we started with four kids, it was all trust. I’ve been with coach Vester since I was little, so I just followed him and trusted him and now we have 19 kids and five placers, and it’s just incredible.”

Newman Central Catholic sophomore Brady Grennan (44-2) entered the competition as the top-ranked individual at 120 with five-straight titles to his credit but after getting a win over Phoenix Military Academy sophomore Vin Moreno (28-5) in his opener, he was pinned in 6:00 by Monson in the quarterfinals. That sent him to the consolation bracket where he dashed Fitzgerald’s placing hopes with a 3-0 victory and then won 9-2 over Campbell to insure himself of a medal to go along with his third-place effort in the IWCOA.  Grennan advanced with a fall in 0:39 over Widlowski and then won his fourth consolation bracket match in a row with a fall in 3:56 over Monson to claim third place.

“The match was definitely so much better than the last one,” Grennan said. “This is not what I was shooting for, but it is what I got, and I’m proud of it.”

Monson (30-8), who took fourth last year in the IWCOA and ranked fifth, recorded falls in his first two matches, with the last of those coming in the quarterfinals over Grennan. Following his loss to Renteria in the semifinals, Monson pulled out a 1-0 victory over Brazelton before Grennan avenged his earlier defeat. Thanks to Monson’s sixth-place effort, the Golden Eagles have now had at least one medal winner in each season since 2010. 

Widlowski (42-9) was one of three Coalers who won medals and placed fifth. After opening with two narrow decisions, he lost a 3-1 decision to Bourge in the semifinals. After getting pinned by Grennan, the unranked sophomore improved on his sixth-place effort at the IWCOA by taking fifth when he recorded a fall in 3:25 over Brazelton, who had won four of his five tournaments, settled for sixth in his debut season and was his program’s first medal winner since 2017. Despite having the most wins in at 120, Shelbyville junior Calvin Miller (49-4) fell one win shy of a medal after falling 10-6 to Widlowski in the quarterfinals and 7-3 to Brazelton in the wrestlebacks.

126 – Phoenix Blakely, Dakota

Phoenix Blakely experienced the spectrum of results in his quest for a third-straight state championship. And not surprisingly, the Dakota junior saved his most-dominating performance in the 126 weight bracket when it mattered the most, on the title mat, where he claimed a win by technical fall in 5:13 over Benton sophomore Mason Tieffel.

After recording a fall in his opener over IC Catholic Prep sophomore Bryson Spaulding, Blakely (36-3) experienced his toughest challenge when he claimed a 6-3 victory in the quarterfinals over East Alton-Wood River senior Jason Shaw, who was ranked second and had two seconds and one third while competing in Missouri, Florida and at the IWCOA. But that was pretty much the end of the drama for an athlete that won titles at 120 the past two seasons and was top-ranked with four-straight tournament titles and all of his losses had come against individuals in Class 2A or 3A, with two of those being 2A champions, Freeport’s Markel Baker (126) and Washington’s Kannon Webster (132). 

He earned his spot in the finals after claiming a 10-1 major decision over Richland County freshman Carson Bissey before building a 17-2 advantage over Tieffel, who entered the title match with 47 victories and who placed third in the IWCOA and was ranked third. Now Blakely can begin to focus on the ultimate goal, of being a four-time champion, a feat accomplished in the program by Seth Milks (2006-2009) and Josh Alber (2011-2014). Alber is one of the many quality coaches that helped head coach Matt Jacobs’ Indians finish with two other champions, Phoenix’s brother Maddux at 138 and Noah Wenzel at 195, while TJ Silva just missed winning a title at 132 and Tyler Simmer took fifth at 145.

“With Noah getting that win right away, it got the momentum up and got me pretty hyped for that match, so I came in ready,” Blakely said. “It feels amazing to be back here, I love the atmosphere here. No 1A kid beat me this year and the people who beat me were Class 2A and 3A boys. My goal was to win another state championship. And hopefully, I’ll get four some day.”

Tieffel (47-4), who had won four-straight tournament titles after finishing second in two others, had already made history for his program before he met Blakely by becoming the second individual to advance to a title match, with Zach Wilson, a champion at 140 in 2008, being the other. He’s also his school’s first medalist since 2017. Tieffel opened with a major decision and then captured a 5-3 victory over Newman Central Catholic sophomore Carter Rude, who was ranked fifth. The Rangers sophomore won another narrow decision to earn his spot on the title mat opposite the eventual three-time champion, claiming an 8-6 semifinals victory over Polo junior Wyatt Doty.

“It was a really cool experience,” Tieffel said. “I’m happy with my season but I’m looking for more next year.”

Doty (31-6), who qualified for the IWCOA last season, followed a 10-0 major decision in his opener with an 11-5 quarterfinals victory over Canton junior Trevor Hedges (30-7), who was ranked eighth. After dropping the two-point decision to Tieffel in the semifinals, Doty captured a 6-5 victory over Shaw to advance to the third-place match, where again he won a close decision, a 4-2 triumph over Bissey. He’s the Marcos’ first medalist since 2016 and only five individuals from the program have fared better than him at state.

“I’m really excited,” Doty said. “This was my first time making it to state for IHSA and my first time placing. I’m super excited because I know that I put in the hard work this year to get to where I got. After I lost my semifinals match, I knew that I had to perform today to get to where I got, so it feels good.”

Bissey (26-4) capped his debut season with a fourth-place finish. Winner of four titles but unranked, Bissey opened with a major decision before prevailing 11-6 by sudden victory over DePaul College Prep senior Mikekal McClarin (24-4). After getting bumped into the consolation bracket by Blakely, he captured a 4-2 win over Rude before falling a bit short for third. He’s the highest place winner for the school in Olney, finishing two spots better than Zach Shoulders did in 2014 when he became the Tigers’ first medal winner.

Shaw (43-5) captured his fourth state medal and finished on a high note by getting a pair of falls in the wrestlebacks before falling by one point to Doty. He responded to that defeat with a 14-2 victory over Rude in the third-place match. Rude (45-6), who was a qualifier in last year’s IWCOA finals, followed a 17-4 victory with a 7-0 win over Rockridge freshman Jude Finch (39-13) before bumped into the fifth-place match to become of of three placewinners for the Comets.

132 – Brock Smith, Riverdale

A week after suffering his first defeat in 45 matches in the Class 1A Princeton Sectional championship match at 132, Brock Smith was determined that his one-point loss to Dakota’s TJ Silva would be the final one of his successful season.

Although the Riverdale junior had several tough matches in the Class 1A IHSA finals in Champaign, Smith reached his goal of becoming a state championship by avenging his lone loss to Silva by capturing a 2-1 victory in a tiebreaker to join teammate junior Collin Altensey as state champions for the Rams, who also got a fifth-place finish from Alex Watson. From 1996 to 2019 the Rams only won two state titles but with Bryan Caves taking first in 2020, the program has now won three titles at the last two IHSA finals.

Smith (48-1), who was top-ranked after winning five tournaments, is now a two-time placewinner, adding to his fifth-place finish in 2020. After opening with a fall over Prairie Central sophomore Donavan Lewis (30-8) in his opener, Smith won 6-3 in the quarterfinals over Auburn junior Dresden Grimm, who was ranked second. Then in the semifinals, he captured a 6-4 victory over Marian Central Catholic freshman Vance Williams, who was ranked fifth. That set up the rematch with the Dakota freshman, who won 9-8 in the sectional title match, however this time on a bigger stage, Smith was the one who was able to prevail by one point.

“I was very confident coming into this week and I pulled off the win,” Smith said. “I had strep throat last week and I lost and I didn’t practice at all this week and didn’t get to fine-tune anything. It was the first time being part of the Grand March and everything, it was a great experience and I loved every minute of it. I live for this, I train for this. I put in a lot of effort and doing the right things, even when no one was looking. Jody Strittmatter, Young Guns coach, praises the live to wrestle lifestyle and I’ve really thought about that. If you want to be a champion, you can’t go out and drink and smoke and any of that stuff and I don’t do any of that. I just focus on wrestling and focus on being a good kid.” 

Silva (35-7), who was ranked third, came up strong in the late going to win both the regional and the sectional and looked to join teammates Phoenix Blakely (126), Maddux Blakely (138) and Noah Wenzel (195) as state champions. After recording a fall in his initial match, Silva captured a 9-0 quarterfinals victory over Herrin sophomore Blue Bishop (34-6), who was ranked tenth, and then earned his spot in the finals with a 6-1 semifinals triumph over Oakwood/Salt Fork junior Reef Pacot, who was ranked fourth.

“It was a great opportunity and I’m more than honored just to have that,” said Silva. “I had the opportunity and the goal and I just fell short, so next year, I’m just going to come harder. I just have to keep working hard since I fell short. This pushes me harder for next year.”

Finishing in third place was Grimm (50-2), who was ranked second after winning four-straight tournaments and five out of six with the other finish being a second. A sixth-place finisher in the IWCOA, he also qualified for state in 2020. After winning his opener by technical fall and then losing to Smith in the quarterfinals, Grimm won his final four matches in the consolation bracket, claiming a 12-3 win over Oregon junior Lane Halverson (31-11) and following that with a fall in 5:54 over Yorkville Christian junior Noah Dial (37-10), who was ranked sixth. After edging Pacot 1-0 in his next match, he won 8-6 over Williams in his final match.

“I didn’t get what I wanted, since I wanted to get first,” Grimm said. “I got a tough draw, but no excuses, and I came back and got third like I wanted to. Last year I lost in the semis and I was heartbroken and I never fixed myself. So this year after I lost, I knew that I wanted to get third, I was not going to get sixth. It’s great to have this program and we have a lot of guys coming back. It’s great to have all of the guys in the room because it just makes everyone better.”

Williams (39-12) followed an 11-0 major decision with a 5-3 win by sudden victory over Dial in the quarterfinals and then was edged by Smith in the semifinals. After winning 4-2 over Bishop to advance to the third-place match he fell by two points to Grimm to settle for fourth. 

Pacot (42-6), who placed fourth in the IWCOA and was sixth in 2020, won two major decisions, including 17-4 over Anna-Jonesboro junior TJ Macy (27-9) in the quarterfinals. After falling to Silva, he lost by a point to Grimm and closed with an 8-0 victory over Bishop to finish fifth. Bishop (34-6) got 6-1 and 5-1 wins in the consolation bracket, with the latter being against Lewis to assure himself of a medal but he dropped his next two matches to claim sixth place. Bishop was the Tigers’ sixth medalist and their first since 2012.

138 – Maddux Blakely, Dakota

In a fitting ending to the individual finals, Maddux Blakely capped his a successful career where he qualified as a freshman, placed third as a sophomore in the IHSA and third in the IWCOA as a junior by capturing top honors at 138 with a 10-6 victory over Dwight senior Dillon Sarff, another four-time qualifier who turned in his best tournament finish.

Blakely (41-2), who was top-ranked at the weight, recorded a fall in 1:37 over Phoenix Military Academy senior Rafael Soto (27-7) in his opener before prevailing 7-6 in the quarterfinals over Murphysboro senior Arojae Hart, who was ranked fourth. Then he captured a 4-3 victory on a tiebreaker in the semifinals over Illini Bluffs junior Paul Ishikawa, who was ranked third. On the championship mat, he took control midway through the match to join his brother Phoenix (126) and Noah Wensel (195) as Dakota champions and TJ Silva (132) as one of his team’s four finalists.

The weight class was definitely one of the most challenging since it featured two IWCOA champions, Newman Central Catholic senior Will Rude and Ishikawa, and three others who placed in that competition with most of the top individuals competing at state for either the third or fourth time. That provided plenty of motivation for Blakely, who obviously was also inspired by titles won by Wenzel and his brother and the close call involving Silva.

“I’ve been waiting four years, just working my butt off, just trying to get to this,” Blakely said. “It was exciting when I won. When I stepped off the mat, I hugged my coaches and started crying and then I got up to my parents and started crying again. I’m just happy and it feels great. When he (Phoenix) won, it just built momentum for me. And Noah’s was crazy match, too. All of those matches just built the momentum up for me and just helped me out. I feel that I wanted it more than anybody here.”

Sarff (31-6), was ranked fifth and took fourth place last year in the IWCOA and was a state qualifier in both 2020 and 2019. His run to the title match featured three decisions, which included a 3-0 quarterfinals victory over Peotone junior Marco Spinazzola, who was ranked seventh, and a 7-1 win over Rude, who was ranked second. His second-place finish tied the school’s previous-best showing, which was a runner-up effort by James Nakashima in 2007 and he was the second Trojan to win two medals, equalling Anthony Bauer’s achievement from 2013 and 2014.

Rude (23-1), who was the IWCOA’s 138 champion last year, also qualified for state in 2019. He recorded a fall in his first match and then won 3-0 in the semifinals over Vandalia senior Cutter Prater, who was ranked ninth. After seeing his title dreams dashed in the semifinals by Sarff, Rude bounced back with an 8-4 victory over Hart and then claimed third place with a 3-1 win by sudden victory over Ishikawa.

“It’s not what I wanted, obviously I wanted another championship,” Rude said. “But third place isn’t that bad and I’m happy that I went out and gave it my all. I do plan to continue wrestling in college, so there’s more to look forward for me.”

Ishikawa (38-3), an IWCOA champion at 126 and 2020 qualifier who had four title wins to go with a runner-finish this season, followed a fall with a 3-1 victory over Sandwich senior Evan Reilly in the quarterfinals. But Ishikawa’s title hopes were dashed when he lost to Blakely on a tiebreaker in the semifinals and following a one-point win over Spinazzola, he wound up losing the third-place match to Rude in sudden victory.

Hart (38-3), who took second in the IWCOA and was a qualifier in 2019, had four tournament titles to go along with a second-place finish this season. He opened with a win by technical fall before losing 7-6 to Blakely in the quarterfinals. He responded with two consolation wins, with the latter being 9-3 over Reilly. Hart claptured fifth place when he won 3-1 in sudden victory in his final match. He’s the program’s first medal winner since 2018. Spinazzola (42-5), a three-time qualifier who earned his first medal, responded to a 3-0 loss to Sarff in the quarterfinals with a pair of decisions, including one over Prater (47-6), another three-time qualifier, before settling for sixth place.

145 – Garrett Luke, Lena-Winslow/Stockton

Due to a draw to determine the start of the IHSA finals, 145 was chosen as the weight to kick things off and that was good news for Garrett Luke so that he didn’t have to sit around for a while and instead got to compete right away in his quest to win his first title for his third-consecutive medal.

And that’s just what the Lena-Winslow/Stockton junior did as he improved upon a third-place finish in 2020 and a runner-up showing at the IWCOA to become the first of his team’s two title winners when he ended a dramatic showdown against a three-time finalist, Unity senior Tavius Hosley with a fall in 5:57 in the Class 1A finals at 145.

Luke (47-3), who was ranked third and had won four titles this season, opened with a win by technical fall over Dwight senior Emmett Emmons, and then in the same fashion in the quarterfinals over IC Catholic Prep sophomore Joseph Gliatta. His semifinal match was another matter, however, as had a fight on his hands and wound up capturing a 1-0 decision over Erie/Prophetstown junior Jase Grunder, who came into the event ranked ninth, to get the opportunity to compete in his first title match, where he took control in the third period and put an exclamation point on his championship by getting the late fall.

“First period takedown right at the end and I got two,” Luke said. “Coaches wanted me to go down but I told them to defer and then I got out and he locked his hands and I got one and then I reversed him and it was 5-0 at that point and I felt good. Having Marey Roby and my twin brother, Griffin (in the finals) just means a lot. I’ve been working toward being a state champion since I was little. In middle school, I could never pull it off, but finally today I did. This feels great. The second they stopped the match for that pin there was just a rush of energy and happiness.”

Hosley (50-2), who was ranked second with four tournament titles and one second-place finish, placed second for the third time, with the others coming in 2019 and 2020. He won decisively in his first three matches, beginning with a win by technical fall and then got a fall in 3:18 in the quarterfinals over Dakota senior Tyler Simmer, who was ranked fifth. He won by fall in 4:39 in the semifinals over Harvard senior Ivan Rosas, who was ranked sixth. Hosley was one of three Rockets who hoped to become their program’s fifth champion and first since 1991, but all took second. But he did become Unity’s second three-time placewinner, equalling Dustinn Brown’s accomplishment from 2006-2008. And he and his program advanced to Dual Team State after beating Anna-Jonesboro in their own sectional and assured themselves of a trophy with a 41-30 victory over Vandalia.

Rosas (36-8), who was sixth at the IWCOA meet, captured four close decisions to help him claim third-place honors. After winning his opener 4-2 over El Paso-Gridley junior Dax Gentes (47-5), who was ranked seventh, he claimed a 7-5 quarterfinals victory over Peotone senior Kevin Hogan (38-12), who was a three-time state qualifier. After getting pinned by Hosley in the semifinals, he won 9-5 over Gliatta to advance to the third-place mat, where he was a 6-2 winner over Grunder. He and his teammates advanced to Dual Team finals in Bloomington after they beat Newman Central Catholic in Tuesday’s Rock Falls Sectional and assured themselves of a trophy with a 41-31 win over Sandwich.

“It feels pretty good,” Rosas said. “I had to go against number-one in the semis and I was keeping it close to the end and I got caught. Everyone was expecting Grunder to walk through me, but I went out there ready to wrestle and I knew what I was doing and I outworked him.It’s one of the strongest weight classes so to come out here and finish top three is a good feeling.”

Grunder (29-9), who was a state qualifier in 2020, won 6-2 in his initial match and then claimed an 8-2 quarterfinals victory over Seneca senior Owen Feiner (45-8), who placed fifth in the IWCOA finals, to earn a spot in the semifinals, where he suffered the 1-0 loss to eventual champion Luke. He responded to that tough defeat with his biggest victory, a 12-2 major decision over Simmer to send him to the third-place match, where he lost to Rosas.

Simmer (35-11) capped his Dakota career by being one of the team’s five placewinners after finishing fifth. He was a two-time placewinner with a second-place finish at last year’s IWCOA finals. After beating Illini West senior Lance Belshaw (32-9) in his first match, he was pinned by Hosley in the quarterfinals. In the consolation bracket, he won 6-4 in sudden victory over Carlinville junior Jake Schwartz (46-5) and claimed a 3-0 win over Canton senior Andrew Hedges (20-4) before falling to Grunder. That sent him to the fifth-place match, where he won 4-2 over Gliatta (24-9), a 2021 IWCOA qualifier, who beat Reed-Custer junior Landon Markle (34-12) and Gentes in the consolation bracket.

152 – Collin Altensey, Riverdale 

Winning any state championship is obviously very impressive, but doing it without losing a match along the way is really very special and Collin Altensey can say that he was one of 11 individuals from Illinois who did just that on Saturday in Champaign.

The Riverdale junior completed a 47-0 season when he captured a 6-1 victory over Stillman Valley junior Jack Seacrist in the Class 1A title match at 152. Others in 1A who were unbeaten were Alleman junior Charles Jagusah (41-0 at 285), Auburn sophomore Anthony Ruzic (26-0 at 113) and Carlyle freshman Tyson Waughtel (52-0 at 106). He also became the third individual from his school to be an unbeaten champion, joining Todd Hamilton (34-0 in 1982) and Tyler Hurry (36-0 in 1995). And he has another noteworthy accomplishment since he and classmate Brock Smith, who took first at 132, provided the school with two or more champions for the third time, with 1979 and 1976 the others.

Altensey, who was ranked second and placed fifth in 2020 as a freshman, captured titles in all five tournaments through the sectional. He kicked off his title run with a fall in 3:40 over Chicago Hope Academy senior Franky Saez (30-7) and then got a win by technical fall in 3:13 over Clinton senior Trevor Willis (32-12). He won by technical fall over Johnsburg senior Logan Kirk in the semifinals to join Smith for the opportunity to follow up on Bryan Caves’ championship at 220 in 2020. In a rematch of the Princeton Sectional title match, Altensey took an early lead and was up 5-0 with one period to go and went on to join Smith as the program’s fourth and fifth state champions in the past 26 seasons.

“It’s pretty special,” Altensey said. “I came into this weekend pretty nervous, but I knew I could do it if I just wrestled my matches. I wasn’t really worried about my record. Zero losses does mean something, but not when you get down here. Everyone’s trying to get that title so you just need to come into this tournament thinking you’re 0-0 and just each match at a time, and that’s what I did, and it worked out. I couldn’t do it without them. We sharpen each other in the room and that’s why we’re here. It’s pretty awesome and I’m just going to work even harder this summer and hopefully do it again next year.”

Seacrist (37-4), who was ranked fourth, had the rare distinction heading into the finals and having all of his losses against unbeaten fellow finalists, with one to Altensey and the others to McHenry’s Chris Moore and Shepard’s Damari Reed, but the latter two saw their perfect seasons spoiled in dramatic fashion on the title mat. Seacrist’s first trip to state began with a 6-0 win over Yorkville Christian junior Drew Torza (37-16) and then he had a 13-6 quarterfinals victory over Vandalia junior Eric McKinney (45-7). He earned his spot on the championship mat with a 12-2 semifinals win over Sandwich senior Aidan Linden. He was the Cardinals’ first finalist since Jared Van Vleet won a state title in 2018. 

“This is something that you don’t get to be in every day,” Seacrist said. “It’s not the same as IKWF, it’s that times 10 since you face every kid possible. I’m proud of myself for the season, I fought tough. I just have to improve on my feet and just come back next year and coming out firing. You’re going to see me next year in the finals, for sure.”

Linden (47-6), who was ranked fifth, won 9-3 in his first match over Coal City senior Zach Finch, who was ranked third, and then recorded a fall in 0:42 in the quarterfinals over Tremont senior Levi Leitner (33-7), who was ranked seventh. After Seacrist sent him to the  consolation bracket following a semifinals defeat, Linden beat Finch again, this time by a 4-3 score, and then won the third-place match by a 6-4 score over Bishop McNamara junior Luke Christie to claim his team’s best finish among their two medalists.

“When I lost that semifinal match, I went up to my dad and said I can’t just be happy with being here, I have to get my mindset ready,” Linden said. “That was a very hard loss. I kind of got smoked since I didn’t wrestle like myself. We’ve had a very good season and have a really good group and hopefully the eighth graders pick up where we left off.”

Christie (29-4), who entered the postseason top-ranked at the weight, appeared at state for the third-straight year and picked up his first medal by placing fourth. The Fightin’ Irish junior saw his hopes for a title dashed in his first match when he fell 10-7 to Kirk but then he rattled off four-straight wins in the consolation bracket, beating Effingham senior Jon Perry (39-9), McKinney and Saez with three decisions before avenging his earlier setback to Kirk by recording a fall in 4:33.

Finch (39-8), who also competed at state in 2020, suffered the same fate as Christie by falling in his first match to Linden and then having to work his way to a place match through the wrestlebacks. He recorded a pin and won a major decision to meet up with Torza for the chance to medal and advanced with a 3-1 win by sudden victory. After Linden edged him in the next match, he took fifth by injury default over Kirk (30-9), who capped his career by collecting his first state medal with the sixth-place finish.

160- Marey Roby, Lena-Winslow/Stockton

Few athletes at the IHSA finals can point to the accomplishments that Marey Roby has achieved thus far during the 2021-22 school year on the football field in the fall and on the mat during the winter.

The Lena-Winslow/Stockton senior improved to 36-6 after winning the Class 1A championship at 160 with an 8-2 victory over Oakwood/Salt Fork senior Joe Lashuay, claiming his second medal to go with his fourth from 2020. He was one of two champions and three finalists for the PantherHawks, with Garrett Luke taking first at 145 while Griffin Luke lost in overtime right after him to place second at 170. The top-ranked team’s season ended earlier than anticipated when they fell 34-32 to Sandwich at the Rock Falls Sectional.

Roby, who was ranked third and won three tournaments and was second in two others heading to Champaign, recorded a fall in 1:25 over St. Laurence junior Henry Coughlin and then won by technical fall over Deer Creek-Mackinaw junior Gabe Sweckard (38-3) before earning his spot in the title match by a 7-6 score in the semifinals over Peoria Notre Dame senior Joey Mushinsky, who was ranked fifth. That set the table for his matchup with Lashauy, who entered the postseason top-ranked at the weight. The two met in the finals at Litchfield with Lashuay claiming a 10-7 win. But Roby took control in the rematch by grabbing a 5-1 advantage after two periods to help him capture top honors.

“I have the best practice room, the best partners, the best coaches and they work me hard,” Roby said. “It’s a surreal feeling and you work hard for this moment and it pays off. It’s a dream come true. I had a spot in my room waiting open for this bracket board..”

Lashuay (36-6), who was the 160 champion at the IWCOA and also a state qualifier in 2020, won all four of his tournaments heading to state. He opened with a 16-3 win over Mt. Zion senior Lawrence Trimble (32-13) and then claimed a 5-4 victory over Manteno sophomore Carter Watkins (31-9) in the quarterfinals. His semifinals match was also tight, as he won 3-1 in sudden victory over Riverdale junior Alex Watson, who was ranked second. Although Lashuay fell short of becoming his program’s first two-time champion, he is their initial two-time finalist and joins 2020 champion at 113, Gage Reed, and teammate Reef Pacot, who was fifth at 132, as the Comets’ only two-time medal winners.

Yorkville Christian junior Tyler Martinez (41-11), who was ranked fourth, equaled his third-place finish at the IWCOA by placing third after avenging an earlier defeat. After winning 3-0 in his first match over Stillman Valley junior Aiden Livingston (25-5), who was ranked sixth, Martinez lost 8-4 in the quarterfinals to Mushinsky. He responded with four decisions in the wrestlebacks, winning 3-2 over Coal City junior Derek Carlson (31-8), 6-1 over Harvard senior Bailey Livdahl (38-11), 4-3 over Watson and 3-2 over Mushinsky to finish third. An eighth-place finisher at Fargo in Greco-Roman, he joins teammate Michael Esquivel, who was third at 285, as the program’s first two-time medalists.

“It feels great,” Martinez said. “I lost that match earlier in the tournament, so I was dying to get it back. In this tournament you could be as good as a wrestler as you want, but it just comes down to who wants it more and today I just wanted it more than these guys. We put together a super tough schedule just so we’d be prepared for this. We’re battle-tested and ready for the best of the best and we proved that by sending a couple of guys to the finals and placing three other guys for the first time in school history. We’re just building the momentum for team state.”

Mushinsky (40-4), who also was a state qualifier in 2020, won his first eight tournaments this season. After beating Unity senior Nat Nosler (31-8) 4-2 in his opener, he defeated Martinez 8-4 in the quarterfinals. But his title dreams were dashed by a one-point defeat to eventual champion Roby in the semifinals and then Mushinsky recorded a fall in 3:55 over Murphysboro junior Dayton Hoffman, who was ranked eighth, to advance to the third-place match, where Martinez avenged his quarterfinals defeat with a 3-2 victory. 

Watson (46-4), who won four titles and was a runner-up in two others, had a successful state debut, falling in a close semifinals match before taking fifth to be one of three medalists for Riverdale, along with champions Brock Smith and Collin Altensey. After winning 7-0 over Carlson in his first match, he claimed a 3-2 win in sudden victory over Hoffman but fell 3-1 in sudden victory to Lashuay in the semifinals. After getting edged 4-3 by Martinez, he once again beat Hoffman, this time 9-0 to finish fifth, Hoffman (39-7), an IWCOA qualifier last year, responded to his quarterfinal loss with a fall over Nosler and a 5-1 win over Vandalia senior Ryan Kaiser (43-9), who was a three-time qualifier. 

170 – Jackson Gillen, Yorkville Christian

Any time that a program captures its first state championship, it’s a truly memorable occasion. But in the way that Jackson Gillen won his school’s first state title and who he won it against and how it highlighted a memorable day for his team during a special season makes this title one that will definitely be remembered for a long time.

Following an exciting six minutes of action, the Yorkville Christian junior and Lena-Winslow/Stockton junior Griffin Luke headed into overtime in the Class 1A 170 title match. Then 47 seconds later, Gillen recorded a fall to give the fourth-year program their first individual championship in the sport. Although Gillen was ranked fourth and Luke third at the weight, the PantherHawks seemed to have all of the momentum going their after Griffin’s brother Garrett won with a late fall in the finals’ first title match at 145 and Marey Roby had just walked off the mat at 160 with a second championship for a program that was top-ranked heading into the postseason, one spot in front of the upstart Mustangs. 

A bit later, senior Isaac Bourge joined Gillen as Yorkville Christian’s second finalist and with junior Tyler Martinez and senior Michael Esquivel adding thirds and freshman Aiden Larsen contributing a fifth, it was a great evening for the program. Gillen started his title quest with a fall in 0:58 over Pittsfield senior Mason Davis (30-9) and then he followed that with a fall in 1:18 over Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley/Fisher senior Braylen Kean (21-7) in the quarterfinals before edging Canton senior Joseph North 5-3 in the semifinals. The Mustangs not only made their initial appearance in the dual team state finals but assured themselves of a trophy with a 63-12 win over Ridgeview/Lexington in the quarterfinals.

“I was just worried about myself and focused on what I could do to win it,” Gillen said. “When you get this feeling, you just know. I knew that I could do it but I needed to believe in myself and once I did and got on the mat I knew that it was my fight. I was just trying to be the best possible that I could be. I didn’t want to be a part of the bracket, I wanted to be at the top of the bracket.”

Luke (47-4), who took fourth at the IWCOA finals and had four tournament titles, won his first match by fall in 3:21 over LeRoy/Tri-Valley junior Tyson Brent, who was ranked fifth, and then recorded a fall in the quarterfinals in 2:42 over Cumberland senior Iysten Syfert (42-9), who was a four-time state qualifier that was ranked ninth. There was a little more drama in Luke’s semifinals match, where he captured a 3-0 victory over Tremont senior Lucas Wendling, who was ranked second.

The third-place match at 170 was a rematch of the Olympia Sectional finals when Wendling (40-4) handed Norton (40-2) his first loss of the season by a 5-2 score. In the latest meeting, the Little Giants junior got the upper hand when he claimed a 4-2 over Wendling after both fell in the semifinals. Norton, who took third in the IWCOA and was top-ranked heading into the postseason, won 9-6 over Fulton junior Zane Pannell in his first match at state and followed that with a fall in 0:48 over Unity junior Kyus Root (42-9). After falling to Gillen in the  semifinals, Norton won 17-15 over Pannell and then took third place again to become the third individual in his program to win two state medals.

“We had three who came down and two got beat so I was the one left and had to do it for my team, everything was on the line,” Norton said. “Next year, I’m bringing home first. 

Wendling, who placed fifth at the IWCOA and was ranked second when the postseason began, won 6-2 over Sherrard senior Ryder Roelf (40-9) in his first match and then won by technical fall in 3:44 over St. Laurence senior Mike Gentile (29-9). After falling to Luke in the semifinals the senior won another match by technical fall, this time over Brent in 5:21, before Norton avenged his sectional championship loss in the third-place match. But Wendling and the seventh-ranked Turks have assured themselves of a trophy at the dual team finals after beating IC Catholic Prep 39-34 in the quarterfinals.

Pannell (42-10) claimed fifth place in his state debut when he recorded a fall in 4:20 over Brent. After Pannell lost his close match in the opener, he rattled off three-straight falls over Manteno senior Wyatt Young (22-11), Syfert and Gentile before Norton prevailed in the 32-point match which sent the Steamers junior to the fifth-place match. Brent, who was an IWCOA qualifier who won his first five tournaments this season, responded to his first-round fall to Luke by winning 7-3 over IC Catholic Prep senior Brandon Navarro (19-8), who was a three-time state qualifier, and then recording falls over both Root and Roelf before falling to Wendling and wrapping things up in the fifth-place match.

182 – Michael Calcagno, IC Catholic Prep

Like a lot of other wrestlers in 2021, freshman Michael Calcagno hoped to get a chance to compete at state, but for quite some time that didn’t look like it would happen. However, once the IWCOA committed to a state final, hundreds of individuals got the opportunity to experience competing at a state meet, even if it didn’t say IHSA on it.

The IC Catholic Prep sophomore is one of the many success stories where individuals who placed in the IWCOA finals also earned medals in the IHSA finals, including nearly 40 in Class 1A. Calcagno went from being a sixth-place finisher to a state champion after capturing a 9-0 victory over Unity senior Grant Albaugh in the 182 title match. One school that definitely demonstrates just how important the IWCOA finals is Calcagno’s Knights. Of their nine qualifiers, seven also competed in the finals in Springfield and of those, three captured titles, one took second place and another was sixth. IC Catholic Prep headed to the IHSA finals with seven medals in its brief history and now has 12.

Calcagno (21-1), who won four-straight titles through the sectional, opened his title run with a fall in 1:33 over Stillman Valley junior Andrew Forcier (31-13) in his first match and then captured a 7-1 quarterfinals victory over Westville senior Rylee Edwards, who was ranked eighth. He advanced to the finals after being on the mat for just two minutes in the semifinals against Hoopeston Area senior Abel Colunga, who got injured and was unable to compete after that. In the title match, Calcagno met Albaugh, who was ranked ninth but was coming off wins over two of the top-three at 182. The ICCP sophomore took an early 5-0 lead to help him become the first of his team’s three champions.

“It feels amazing,” Calcagno said. “In the football season, I fractured my femur, so I was out for a little bit of the wrestling season. And then I just started up from there. I just did a ton of exercises, and went and got treatment on my leg and just recovered as best as I could. The energy here is crazy, it’s amazing. I have good partners and good teammates, just everything. The energy through the team helps everybody out. We’re all really close to each other, it’s basically like a brotherhood.”. 

Albaugh (33-5), a 2020 state qualifier who was one of three individuals from his school to advance the title mat, opened his tournament run with a fall in 1:35 and then captured a 5-1 victory in the quarterfinals over Winnebago senior Mannix Faworski, who was ranked third. In the semifinals, he won another close match, this time by a 3-1 score over Sandwich senior Alex Alfaro, who was top-ranked at 182.He was one of three second-place finishers for the Tolono school, joining Tavius Hosley (145) and  Nick Nosler (195). The Rockets advanced to the IHSA Dual Team finals, where they assured themselves of a state trophy after defeating Vandalia 41-30 in Friday’s quarterfinals.

“Truthfully it is a blessing to be here,” Albaugh said. “It’s all made possible by my excellent teammates and my excellent practice room. All of the blessings have been showered upon me from God above, including my wonderful family that’s here to support me. It’s definitely not the ending that I hoped for but better than I could have imagined.”

Faworski (40-3), who was fourth at the IWCOA and was Winnebago’s only qualifier, took third place following a 7-3 victory over Edwards. After winning 4-1 over Coal City junior Braiden Young (34-10) in his opening match, Faworski lost 5-1 to Albaugh in the quarterfinals. Then he went 4-0 in the wrestlebacks, recording a fall in 3:59 over Sacred Heart-Griffin junior Cory West (42-5), who was ranked second and took fifth at the IWCOA and then won 4-2 over Macomb junior Max Ryner (46-7), who also qualified for the IWCOA meet. He advanced to the third-place match by default over Colunga and won there 7-3 over Edwards. His brother Bryce won a state title at 160 for the Indians in 2020. In a great example of being committed to the sport while focused on academics, Faworski will complete his associates degree in college just as he graduates from high school.

“I didn’t come here to place third, but things happen,” Faworski said. “I’m grateful for everything and the hardships and I love the sport. I didn’t get frustrated when I lost and everything happens for a reason. I just stayed composed and finished. I’m a senior but I’m doing college courses at Rock Valley College and I’ll be getting my associates’ degree in May, along with my high school diploma. It’s tough going from school to wrestling every day, but I managed to do it.”

In his first match, Edwards (37-4) pinned Rantoul senior Keddrick Terhune (23-7), who was ranked seventh and took sixth in the IWCOA. After falling to Calcagno in the quarterfinals, he got a win by technical fall before getting a fall in 1:27 over Morrison senior Kayden White (35-5) in 1:27, who was ranked fifth and an IWCOA qualifier. He won 11-5 over Alfaro to reach the third-place match and took fourth but still became the seventh individual from his program to win a state medal.

Alfaro (44-4) opened the tournament with a 9-2 win over Peotone senior Oscar Villalobos (37-16) and then beat Ryner 9-3 in the quarterfinals. After falling to Albaugh 3-1 in the semifinals, Alfaro fell to Edwards and took fifth by default. Colunga (36-7), a four-time state qualifier who was ranked sixth, seemed to be on his way to big things after pinning West in his opener and then claiming a 4-2 win over White. But he got hurt in his semifinals match with eventual champion Calcagno and was unable to compete after that. 

195 – Noah Wenzel, Dakota

Beside being a part of a program that has collected around 50 individual titles throughout the years, Noah Wenzel had a very good idea about what it would take to become a state champion and he followed that path at the IHSA Class 1A Finals to accomplish that feat.

The Dakota sophomore followed in the footsteps of his brother Andrew, who took top honors in 2019 and now competes at the Air Force Academy, to join brothers Phoenix and Maddux Blakely with visits to top of the awards stand at the State Farm Center after he got a takedown in overtime to capture an exciting 8-6 win in sudden victory over Unity junior Nick Nosler in the 195 title match. That capped a 41-4 campaign for Wenzel, who placed fourth in last year’s IWCOA finals and prevented Unity from receiving a championship from any of its three individuals who competed on the title mat.

Wenzel opened his tournament with a pair of falls over Lisle junior Joe Raineri (26-14) in the first round and then another in 5:01 in the quarterfinals over Prairie Central junior Connor Steidinger, who was ranked eighth. He earned his spot on the championship mat with a 3-1 decision in the semifinals over Coal City senior Ashton Harvey, who was ranked seventh, to set up his rematch with Nosler, who was ranked second and had beaten Wenzel 1-0 for the championship at the Oak Park and River Forest Invite.

“The fans are really what got me through that match,” Wenzel said. “It feels really weird because I grew up sitting in the stands right there and seeing these wrestlers and now I’m one of them and I’m here. Whenever I saw someone win state I thought there’s no way they’re really celebrating like that, like they planned that, but it just happens. I really have to thank some of the coaches that we had working with me for the past couple of weeks and throughout the entire season.”

Nosler (47-3), who took sixth last year in Fargo in Greco-Roman, had won four of the five tournaments that he competed in heading into his trip to Champaign. He got a fall in 2:00 in his opener against The High School of Saint Thomas More sophomore Brody Cuppernell and then claimed a 3-0 quarterfinals victory over Lena-Winslow/Stockton senior Drew Mensendike, who was ranked fifth. Nosler earned his spot on the title mat with a 4-2 win by sudden victory over Tremont senior Cooper Wendling, who entered the postseason as the top-ranked individual in the weight class.

Harvey (13-2), who was competing at state for the third time, successfully wrapped up a shortened season that was the result of a football injury to claim third place. After recording a fall in 0:57 in his opener over Dixon senior Mitchell White (20-9), who was ranked sixth, Harvey captured a 6-0 quarterfinals victory over Cumberland senior Colby Ryan (42-8), who was an IWCOA qualifier last year. After falling 3-1 to Wenzel in the semifinals, he captured a 7-6 victory over Wendling in the third-place match.

“It feels great to come back,” Harvey said. “I had about a month to prepare, so this is obviously outstanding and I’m glad that I came back and wrestled this year with my team. I knew that I had to go back to try to help the team out. You have to keep fighting and I kept pushing. Everybody down here is solid so I just went out there and pushed as  hard as I could and came away with third.” 

Wendling (33-5), an IWCOA champion and three-time qualifier who was top-ranked after winning titles in his first three tournaments, recorded a win by technical fall in his first match and then captured a 7-0 quarterfinals win over Harvard senior Nathan Rosas (41-6), who was ranked fourth and had placed fifth in both 2021 and 2020. After losing by sudden victory to Nosler in the semifinals, Wendling recorded a fall in 0:37 over Steidinger to advance him to the third-place match, where he was edged by one point to settle for fourth, the same finish that his brother Lucas had at 170, making them the Turks’ only placewinners

Mensendike (46-6) earned his first medal as he claimed fifth place after recording a fall in 3:03 over Steidinger in his final match at state. He opened the tournament with a fall in 2:47 over Westmont senior Jaylan Lacy (38-5), who was an IWCOA qualifier but fell 3-0 to Nosler in the quarterfinals. He pinned Macomb junior Ethan Ladd, who was ranked ninth and an IWCOA qualifier, and then beat Rosas 3-0 to end his hopes of a third medal. He lost by major decision to Harvey to advance to the fifth-place match. Steidinger (37-7), an IWCOA qualifier, opened with a pin before being pinned by Wenzel. He followed with two more falls before being pinned in his final two matches.

220 – Jadon Mims, IC Catholic Prep

After falling one win shy of a state medal as a sophomore and then taking third place at the IWCOA last season, Jadon Mims seemed to be a likely candidate to finish his senior year as a state champion and that’s just what he accomplished by capturing the Class 1A 220 title.

Mims (26-3), who was ranked second, became the second of three IC Catholic Prep champions, following Michael Calcagno (182) and preceding Nick Renteria (120), when he won 5-4 thriller in the 220 title match over Nazareth Academy freshman Gabe Kaminski, who was ranked fifth, when he countered a takedown by Kaminski with 30 seconds remaining by getting a reversal with nine seconds left to clinch the dramatic victory.

He opened the tournament with a win by technical fall over East Alton-Wood River freshman Drake Champlin (32-16) and then captured a 14-10 decision in the quarterfinals over Dixon senior Justin Dallas (24-7). Mims became one of four individuals from his team to reach the title mat when he won 16-6 in the semifinals over Sherrard junior Walker Anderson. Mims and his teammates took part in the IHSA Dual Team Finals in Bloomington but fell 39-34 to Tremont in Friday’s quarterfinals.

“I wrestled him before and he’s a pretty good kid and I have much respect for him,” Mims said. “Michael Calcagno, the 182 state champ, I wrestle with him and my heavyweight was in the finals (Isaiah Gonzalez). We work with each other and we push each other. We go toe-to-toe and make sure we’re fixing the little things, We’re not good teammates, we’re great teammates. This team is very supportive and I will always remember this team. I feel that since I have a positive team they make sure that I’m doing great.”

Kaminski (33-5) just missed out on joining Carlyle’s unbeaten Tyson Waughtel, who took first at 106, as a Class 1A freshman state champion. But he did turn in the second-best showing for an individual at his school with his second-place effort, which ranks behind only Malcolm Watson’s title at the same weight 10 year ago and he’s just the sixth medal winner for the Roadrunners. He claimed a 14-5 win in his opener over Unity senior Oran Varela (35-7), a 2020 qualifier who was ranked fourth, and then won by disqualification to Dwight senior Samuel Edwards (19-2), who was ranked sixth. In the semifinals, he captured a 4-3 win over Reed-Custer junior Kody Marschner, who was ranked third.

“It’s tough that I didn’t get it, but I still have three more years to take care of business,” Kaminski said. “My brother, Jacob, was a state champ his sophomore year and freshman year, he took fourth at Fenwick. Hopefully, I’ll be back.” 

Marschner (40-2), an IWCOA runner-up and three-time state qualifier who won his first four tournaments of the season, got a fall in his opening match and then won 10-3 over Richmond-Burton senior Brock Wood, who was top-ranked, in the quarterfinals. Kaminski ended Marschner’s title hopes with the one-point semifinals defeat but he responded with a 3-1 victory over Hillsboro senior Magnus Wells, who was ranked ninth and an IWCOA qualifier and then defeated Wood by injury default in 3:20 in the third-place match.

Wood (18-2),  an IWCOA champion in 2021 and three-time qualifier who entered the postseason with a number-one ranking in a season that was shortened due to a football injury, recorded a fall in his opener over LeRoy/Tri-Valley senior Andrew Moore (25-13) and then lost to Marschner in the quarterfinals. in his first match in the wrestlebacks, he won 11-5 over Ridgeview/Lexington senior Evan Antonio (39-6), who was ranked seventh and placed fifth in the IWCOA and also was a three-time qualifier. After recording a fall in 4:52 over Hoopeston Area junior Hunter Cannon (35-10), Wood won 5-2 over Anderson to reach the third-place match, where he had to default due to injury at 3:20.

Anderson (40-6) got a fall in his opener and then won 8-0 in the quarterfinals over Wells. After falling to Mims in the semifinals, he lost to Wood but closed out his season with a 6-0 victory over Wells in the fifth-place match. Wells (37-4) opened with a fall over Coal City senior Dylan Cronk (22-15) but then lost to Anderson in the quarterfinals. After losing a close match to Marschner, Wells fell one more time to Anderson to finish sixth.

285 – Charles Jagusah, Alleman

In a season full of dominating performances, it should come as no great surprise that Charles Jagusah closed out his final and most important tournament in impressive fashion to capture his first Class 1A title at 285 and become one of just 11 individuals in Illinois who went unbeaten in 2021-22.

The Alleman junior capped a 41-0 campaign by recording three first-minute falls to reach the title match, where he got a pin in 4:55 over IC Catholic Prep senior Isaiah Gonzalez, who placed second at the weight for the season year in a row. Jagusah, who was top-ranked throughout the season and won five tournaments, won his second medal, adding to his fourth in 2020. He joined Carlyle’s Tyson Waughtel (52-0 at 106), Auburn’s Anthony Ruzic (26-0 at 113) and Riverdale’s Collin Altensey (47-0) as unbeaten 1A champions 

Jagusah needed 32 seconds to record a fall over PORTA junior Isaac Espnschied (24-16) in his opener and got a pin in 53 seconds in the quarterfinals over Auburn junior Cole Edie (39-9), an IWCOA qualifier who was ranked sixth. In the semifinals, he got a fall in 0:52 over Yorkville Christian senior Michael Esquivel, who was ranked fourth.  He’s the third Pioneer to win a state championship. Topher Carton was the last to do it and was an unbeaten champion in 2009 and 2010 while Jerome Reyes won the first title in 1991.

“It’s definitely big just to win here,” Jagusah said. “Not everybody gets to do this and it’s a big accomplishment, but I’m ready for next year. There’s stuff that I need to work on and I’m excited. I knew that this was a tough kid, a more defensive wrestler, so you just kind of have to work. It wasn’t the cleanest match, but I got it done. It’s not really about the undefeated record, it’s more, can I wrestle my best every match and can I improve on the stuff that I need to work on. It’s about peaking out in the finals. Everything’s building up to this match. It wasn’t my best match, but it was a good match and a smart match and I got it done.”

Gonzalez (30-2), who was ranked second and is a 2001 IWCOA runner-up and three-time qualifier who won four titles this season, captured a 4-1 win over Carmi-White County senior Titus Wood in his opener and then beat Polo senior Daniel Engel 8-0 in the quarterfinals before capturing a 6-2 semifinals victory over Mooseheart senior Joshua Gaye to earn another spot in the finals. Gonzalez was one of five placewinners and four finalists for the Knights, who lost to Tremont 39-34 on Friday at the IHSA dual team finals.

“It was a great experience, but I wish it would have ended in a different way,” Gonzalez said. “Moving forward, we want to get as far as possible in that team state tournament.” 

Esquivel (36-14), who placed fifth at the IWCOA last season, recorded a fall in 4:21 in his first match over Cumberland junior Noah Carl (44-8), an IWCOA qualifier who was ranked ninth. In the quarterfinals, he claimed a 4-2 victory over University High School senior Hunter Otto, who was ranked third. After getting pinned by Jagusah in the semifinals, Esquivel won 7-2 over Engel  and then won 6-4 in sudden victory over Gaye to claim third place and also claim the 100th win of his career. He was one of five placewinners for the Mustangs, who made their first appearance in the IHSA Dual Team Finals and advanced to the semifinals with a 63-12 win over Ridgeview/Lexington.

“One hundred right there,” Esquivel said. “My game plan was that I knew that he was going to shoot since he’s a smaller heavyweight. My dad and my coach have been saying to down block hard and circle. I hate going big man, but I had to go big man there, just to get that third place. Even though, it’s 100, I’m not done. We want to add three more.”

Gaye (10-3) made history when he became the first individual to be a state placewinner for Mooseheart. He got a fall in 2:30 in his first match over Tremont senior Luke Sauder and then captured a 10-7 win in the quarterfinals over Unity senior Karson Richardson (47-5), who was ranked eighth. After falling 6-2 to Gonzalez in the semifinals, Gaye defeated Otto 8-5 to advance to the third-place match, where he fell 6-4 in sudden victory to Esquivel.

Otto (32-3), who won five tournaments this season, placed third in the IWCOA last year. He won 5-2 in his opener over Erie/Prophetstown senior Elijah Friedrichsen (44-8), who was ranked seventh and was an IWCOA qualifier. Otto lost to Esquivel 4-2 in the quarterfinals and recorded a fall in 3:15 over Phoenix Military Academy sophomore Brendyn Shields before capturing a 5-2 victory over Wood. After falling to Gaye 8-5, Otto recorded a fall in 5:23 over Engel to take fifth place and become the Pioneers’ lone medalist. Engel (26-6) got a fall in his first match and added two pins in the wrestlebacks before losing to Esquivel and Otto to take sixth place to be one of two Marcos’ medal winners.

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