Clovis tops Illini Classic field

By Patrick Z. McGavin

What a way for Adam Tirapelle to return home.

The California native is one of the greatest wrestlers in the history of the University of Illinois. Holding multiple program records, including single-season falls, Tirapelle captured the 149-pound national championship in 2001.

He helped the Illini finish fifth his senior year, their best national place since 1946.

“When I visited Champaign, it felt like home,” Tirapelle said. “I was a California kid, but we’re in the center of the state, in Fresno. 

“Champaign felt very similar, and I enjoyed it.”

On Saturday at Lincoln-Way Central, Tirapelle was the conquering hero.

He brought his California powerhouse program, Clovis, to the Illini Classic. The Cougars showed off their elite high-end depth with eight finalists and three individual champions.

Clovis captured the individual title, dethroning defending tournament and Class 3A team dual state champion St. Charles East

Inviting Clovis was the brainchild of Lincoln-Way Central coach Tyrone Byrd, one of many area coaches with connections to Illinois and its legendary coach, the recently retired Jim Heffernan.

“It was great to see my former teammates, and see their teams,” Tirapelle said. “I’m very proud of our program, and seeing all the guys who come through Illinois.”

Clovis, St. Charles East and Marist each produced three individual champions.

The Cougars amassed 350 points to surpass the runner-up Saints (272) and third-place Redhawks (262). Lincoln-Way East (167) and Carl Sandburg (166) rounded out the top five team finishes.

Clovis scored points in every single weight class, finishing with three champions, five runner-ups, three third-place finishers, a fourth and fifth place.

The Classic featured three defending Illinois state champions with Dom Munaretto and Ben Davino of St. Charles East, and Ben Alvarez of Yorkville.

Davino earned the most outstanding wrestler award, finishing with two falls, a technical fall and the 5-1 decision over nationally-rated Nikade Zinkin of Clovis in the championship match.

Illini Classic champions breakdown:

106 – Rocco Hayes, Carl Sandburg

Carl Sandburg’s Rocco Hayes had the perfect response in posting the second-period fall of Clovis’ Anthony Garza in the championship match at 2:59.

Hayes trailed 2-0 at the start of the period.

“I just stayed calm and focused, and I never panicked,” Hayes said. “My coaches always teach me to keep most composure, and keep trying to score more and more points.”

Hayes (35-1) finished third in Class 3A at 106 pounds last year. He lost to St. Charles East’s Munaretto in the championship final of the Illini Classic last year.

The first period amounted to a classic feeling out period given his unfamiliar opponent.

“Neither one of us knew how the other one liked to wrestle,” Hayes said. “He was a very good defensive wrestler, and he didn’t really let me get into my (offense).”

Hayes began on top during the critical second period, and was able to make the vital first turn for back points.

“A match like this was a good chance to go out there, and try some different things,” he said.

Notre Dame’s Ray Long posted the fall over Stevenson’s Evan Mishels for third place, and Lincoln-Way West’s Brady Glynn earned the 4-3 decision over Lincoln-Way Central’s Eric Hoselton on the fifth-place mat.

113 – Dom Munaretto, St. Charles East

St. Charles East’s Dom Munaretto had to work in the 4-3 decision over Clovis’ Thunder Lewis in the championship match.

Munaretto broke the 3-3 deadlock with a late escape in the second period, then rode out Lewis in the third. 

“During the third, I just knew I was going to have to battle it out,” he said. “The match already wasn’t in a position where I wanted it to be.

“I wasn’t able to get any back points, but I was able to keep my legs in on him, and just keep him in.”

After going undefeated during his freshman season in winning the 106-pound state championship, Munaretto (35-2) has had to work through some adversity.

“It felt great to get the win, but at the same time, I didn’t meet my expectations,” Munaretto said.  “I never wrestled him before. He did a good job of defending against me, and not letting me get into some of my actions.”

Munaretto scored the opening takedown. He led 3-1 early in the second period when Lewis stunned him with the takedown.

“It didn’t have to show in the score, but I wanted to prove I was the better wrestler,” he said.

Tough matches like this one are beneficial for defending his state championship.

“I have to keep working, and keep getting better,” he said.

Marist’s Tommy Fidler posted the first period fall of Notre Dame’s John Sheehy for third place, and Riverside-Brookfield’s Edgar Mosquera won by medical forfeit over Plainfield Norths’ Maddox Garbis in the fifth-place bout.

120 – George Marinopoulos, Marist

Marist’s George Marinopoulos rode a bit of late momentum into an exhilarating 6-4 decision in sudden victory over Sandburg’s Madden Parker in the championship match.

“I just felt like I had the gas tank to finish that overtime match,” he said. “I could knock him out.”

The riveting back and forth match was one of the most competitive of the finals. The first period ended scoreless, with neither wrestler able to get the upper hand.

Marinopoulos (27-5) was one match away from a state place medal at 106 pounds in Class 3A last season. Down 2-0 to start the third period, Parker (33-3) seemingly took control with a takedown and back points for the 4-2 lead.

The match turned at the 5:29 mark when an aggressive action by Parker to close out the match ended with Marinopoulos countering for the reversal.

He nearly put Parker on his back.

At the start of the overtime, Marinopoulos delivered the winning action with the takedown at 6:27.

“I just want to get better and improve every day, and be the person who’s at the top of the podium at state,” Marinopoulos said.

Lyons’ Griff Powell earned the 8-5 decision over Clovis’ Simon Cervantes for third place, and Minooka’s Noah Avina posted the fall of DePaul Prep’s Johnny Cunningham in the fifth-place match.

126 – Michael Esteban, Marist

Marist’s Michael Esteban caught Providence’s Tommy Banas in a cradle for the 3-1 sudden victory in the championship match.

“I had to keep my emotions composed and under control,” Esteban said. “I knew I was going to score there.” 

After a scoreless first period, the two wrestlers exchanged escapes in setting up the dramatic conclusion. Esteban got the jump on Banas in the overtime, creating the up and under action to close out the victory.

The takedown happened at 6:28 of the riveting back and forth match.

“I like to wrestle mostly neutral,” he said. “I like people to wrestle me back, thinking they actually have a chance. I always look to score.”

A state qualifier last year at 120 pounds, Esteban is looking for a more substantial second act.

“I always look at every single match as a measuring point,” he said. “I view it as a state championship. Not to put pressure on me or anything, I want to release myself when I’m in there.”

Lincoln-Way East’s Kaidge Richardson captured the 10-3 decision over Yorkville’s Nathan Craft for third place, and Clovis’ Trysten Rojas earned the 6-2 decision over St. Charles East’s Gavin Woodmancy in the fifth-place match.

132 – Ben Davino, St. Charles East

St. Charles East’s Ben Davino utilized two takedowns for the hard-fought 5-1 victory over Clovis’ Nikade Zinkin in the championship match.

A three-time state champion, Davino (36-0) had to work against the crafty and very defensively-skilled and unorthodox California wrestler.

Zinkin used his superior length and reach to stymie Davino, who was not able to get into his body the way he normally operates.

Davino converted a single-leg carry and trip into the first period takedown. Up 3-1 late in the second period, he finally wore out Zinkin for the late takedown.

He rode out Zinkin in the third period for the victory, his third consecutive tournament championship.

Clovis’s Eli Granada secured the 7-1 decision over Minooka’s Cale Stonisch for third place, and DePaul Prep’s Max Rosen posted the fall over Yorkville’s Dominic Recchia in the fifth-place match.

138 – Tyler Guerra, St. Charles East

St. Charles East’s Tyler Guerra created the early breathing space and held on for the 6-4 decision over Marist’s Donavon Allen in the championship match.

“I wrestle with a loose mindset,” Guerra said. “I love to go out there, and let it fly. I just have to trust my training.”

Guerra is on the upward trajectory. He finished third at 132 pounds as a sophomore, and was the state runner-up last season at 138 pounds.

He created the early momentum with a first period takedown, his only offensive points. An escape and another point for an illegal move provided the 4-0 cushion to withstand the sharp push by Allen, who was also a state qualifier last season.

Allen closed within 5-4 with a takedown to start the third period. Conceding an escape, he tried valiantly over the final 1:35 to force overtime.

Guerra (35-1) proved elusive, and held on for the victory. 

“I felt good today,” Guerra said. “We had a weight allowance of plus four, so that was nice, not having to worry about cutting weight.

“I wrestled well. The finals match was not necessarily the way I wanted to finish it. I’m glad I got the win, but there are definitely some things I need to fix. Some touches I need to do.”

Clovis’ Wyatt Lewis earned the 12-2 major decision over Lincoln-Way West’s Luke Siwinski for third-place, and Lincoln-Way East’s Brayden Mortell defeated Sandburg’s Ryan Hinger by medical forfeit for fifth place.

144 – James Wright, Clovis

Clovis’ James Wright created one of the most stunning outcomes with his second period fall of two-time state champion Jayden Colon of St. Charles East in the championship match.

The first period ended scoreless.

Wright (19-6) began on top for the second period. He trapped Colon (28-5), and turned him for the stunning fall at 3:01.

Lincoln-Way Central’s Ameer Alamawi won the 8-0 major over Marist’s Matthew Cornfield for third place, and Sandburg’s Vince Gutierrez captured the 7-5 decision over Riverside-Brookfield’s Josh Gonzalez on the fifth-place mat.

150 – Will Denny, Marist

Marist’s Will Denny left no doubt with his late third period fall of St. Charles East’s Gavin Connolly in the championship match.

Facing Connolly for the second time in two weeks, Denny methodically and brilliantly broke him down.

“I’m always trying to push the pace, and  keep my offense going,” he said. “We came in for a great competition, and we got it.”

His early takedown put him up 2-1 at the end of the first period.  Leading 4-2 at the start of the third period, Denny used an escape and takedown in setting up the late closing rush for the fall at 5:52. 

Denny (29-3) finished fourth at 144 pounds last year.  He lost to Tyler Guerra in the Illini Classic championship at that weight last year.

“At this point of the season, it’s all about learning how to wrestle different styles,” Denny said. 

“It was a fun match. Now it’s a lot of recovery, and keeping my weight in check. I like to get after it, not creating  too much pressure, but keeping it fun.”

Clovis’ Noah Reynolds earned the 8-4 decision over Yorkville’s Jack Ferguson for third place, and Lincoln-Way West’s Jase Salin earned the 3-1 decision over Sandburg’s Zac Ritter on the fifth-place mat.

157 – Alexander Lizak, Lincoln-Way East

Lincoln-Way East’s Alexander Lizak posted the impressive first period fall of Clovis’ Samuel Chacon in the championship match.

Lizak (28-4) continues to impress after missing his entire sophomore season recovering from a football injury. His aggressive style overpowered Chacon with an early five-point move, a takedown that he quickly converted into back points.

“I’m just trying to develop different things out there,” he said. “Sometimes I don’t want to do the same things all the time.

“I have to be able to try different moves. He was from California, never saw me wrestle before, and he wasn’t used to what I like to do.”

After securing the 8-0 lead, Lizak closed out the match with the fall at 1:44.

“The first move was a takedown, a fireman’s carry, but done with the outside leg, and I was able to get the turn from that,” Lizak said.

“We work on our turns a lot, and it worked out today.”

Yorkville’s Ryder Janeczko earned the fall over Providence’s Geno Papes for third place, and Bishop McNamara’s Tristin Golden earned the forfeit victory over Marist’s Kevin Tompkins for fifth place.

165 – Gunnar Garelli, Lyons Township

Lyons’ Gunnar Garelli mustered just enough strength to secure the 4-3 ultimate tiebreaker over Clovis’ Adrien Reyes in the championship match.

Garelli was awarded the victory after Reyes was issued his second stalling caution in the overtime session.

“It’s a battle every time you go into overtime, or double overtime,” Garelli said. “Double overtime is about grittiness, and we practice that all the time. We do those drills all the time, so it wasn’t something I’m not used to.”

Neither wrestler managed an offensive point.

Garelli (34-0) generated the first escape in the second period. His California counterpart matched him in the third period. Both wrestlers had dramatic final second escapes during the first two overtime periods. Garelli managed to break free in the final second.

“He’s very good defensively, a very strong wrestler,” Garelli said. “My game plan was to try and wear him out defensively. I would have liked to get into more attacks during the regulation piece. I got in on a single leg a couple of times, but wasn’t able to finish.”

Garelli finished fourth at 160 pounds last season.

“Wrestling is my life,” he said. “I live, breathe, eat and sleep wrestling. It’s what I wake up for at 5 am for my workouts. It’s for moments like these. I’ll remember this match.”

Bloomington’s Maddox Kirts earned the medical forfeit victory over St. Charles East’s Anthony Gutierrez for third place, and Stevenson’s Themba Sitshela captured the 8-1 decision over Yorkville’s Caleb Viscogliosi in the fifth-place mat.

175 – Joe Buck, Clovis

Clovis’ Joe Buck posted a takedown in each period for the 7-2 decision over St. Charles East’s Brody Murray in the championship match.

Yorkville’s Luke Zook won by injury default over Marist’s Ricky Ericksen for third place, and Willowbrook’s Noah Brockie won the 6-5 decision over Lincoln-Way East’s Jackson Zaeske in the fifth-place bout.

190 – Mark Marin, Clovis

Clovis’ Mark Marin captured the championship match with the second period fall of Plainfield North’s Leonardo Tovar.

Tovar (30-3), who was third in the state last year at 195 pounds, was able to generate some sharp offensive actions in the first period.

Marin (27-4) withstood the pressure, and posted the only first period points with a takedown. He caught Tovar on his back at 3:09 for the victory. 

Marist’s Conor Phelan won by fall over Sandburg’s Ahmad Jaffal in the third-place bout, and Notre Dame’s Jim Amatore captured the 13-8 decision over Yorkville’s Luke Chrisse for fifth place.

215 – Ben Alvarez, Yorkville

Yorkville’s Ben Alvarez posted the 3-1 decision over Clovis’ Noah Martinez in the championship match.

The defending state champion at 220 pounds last season, Alvarez secured the vital first period takedown.

“I knew I had to score early,” he said. “I never obviously saw him before. I knew if I got the first takedown, and set the tone for the match, it would work really well.

“This tournament definitely helped me grow my confidence. I’m confident in my shots, and things tend to go my way when I finish hard.”

The Harvard football recruit used his size, strength and leverage to hold off Martinez.

Alvarez (30-3) is getting hot at the right time.

“We’re in the home stretch, and this is a good tournament to be at, especially out-of-state competition like this California team that came in,” Alvarez said.

St. Charles East’s Brandon Swartz earned the 6-2 decision over Lincoln-Way East’s Caden O’Rourke for third place, and Lincoln-Way Central’s Colin Welsh captured the 4-1 decision over Lincoln-Way West’s Kenny Strezo in the fifth-place bout.

285 – Nick Kavooras, Lincoln-Way West

Lincoln-Way West’s Nick Kavooras ended the day in grand style with a punishing ultimate tie breaker victory over Notre Dame’s Scott Cook in the championship match.

Kavooras finished sixth at 220 pounds in last year’s tournament.

He secured Saturday’s victory by riding out Cook (27-5) in the third overtime. The match was tied at 1-1 after regulation, and each wrestler earned an escape in the first two overtime sessions.

Bloomington’s Stephen Carr secured the 10-4 decision over Clovis’ Jordan Gonzales for third place, and Lyons’ Sam Costello earned the 3-1 sudden victory over Lincoln-Way Central’s Ethan Toosley on the fifth-place mat.

Top individual statistics:

Most pins, least time – 4 in 4:47 by Sandburg’s Rocco Hayes

Most tech falls, least time – 2 in 6:08 by Providence Catholic’s Tommy Banas

Fastest fall – 0:18 by Clovis’ Elijah Alva

Fastest tech fall – 2:22 by Providence Catholic’s Tommy Banas

Most team points scored – (tie) 34 by Marist’s Will Denny, Sandburg’s Rocco Hayes, and Clovis’ James Wright

Most single-match points scored – (tie) 25 by Lyons’ Gunnar Garelli, St. Charles East’s Ben Davino, and Marist’s Donavon Allen

Most total match points scored – 63 by Marist’s Michael Esteban

Championship match results:

106 – Rocco Hayes (Sandburg) F 2:59 Anthony Garza (Clovis) 

113 – Dom Munaretto (St. Charles East) D 4-3 Thunder Lewis (Clovis) 

120 – George Marinopoulos (Marist) SV-1 6-4 Madden Parker (Sandburg)

126 – Michael Esteban (Marist) SV-1 3-1 Tommy Banas (Providence) 

132 – Ben Davino (St. Charles East) D 5-1 Nikade Zinkin (Clovis)

138 – Tyler Guerra (St. Charles East) D 6-4 Donavan Allen (Marist)

144 – James Wright (Clovis) F 3:01 Jayden Colon (St. Charles East)

150 – Will Denny (Marist) F 5:52 Gavin Connolly (St. Charles East)

157 – Alexander Lizak (Lincoln-Way East) F 1:44 Samuel Chacon (Clovis)

165 – Gunnar Garelli (Lyons) UTB 4-3 Adrien Reyes (Clovis)

175 – Joe Buck (Clovis) D 7-2 Brody Murray (St. Charles East)

190 – Mark Marin (Clovis, Calif.) F 3:09  Leonardo Tovar (Plainfield North) 

215 – Ben Alvarez (Yorkville) D 3-1 Noah Martinez (Clovis)

285 – Nick Kavooras (Lincoln-Way West) UTB 3-2 Scott Cook (Notre Dame)

Third-place matches:

106 – Ray Long (Notre Dame) F 5:17 Evan Mishels (Stevenson)

113 – Tommy Fidler (Marist) F 0:44 John Sheehy (Notre Dame)

120 – Griff Powell (Lyons) D 8-5 Simon Cervantes (Clovis)

126 – Kaidge Richardson (Lincoln-Way East) D 10-3 Nathan Craft (Yorkville)

132 – Eli Granada (Clovis) D 7-1 Cale Stonisch (Minooka)

138 – Wyatt Lewis (Clovis) MD 12-2 Luke Siwinski (Lincoln-Way West) 

144 – Ameer Alamawi (Lincoln-Way Central) MD 8-0 Matthew Cornfield (Marist)

150 – Noah Reynolds (Clovis) F 5:52 Jack Ferguson (Yorkville)

157 – Ryder Janeczko (Yorkville) F 1:55 Geno Papes (Providence Catholic)

165 – Maddox Kirts (Bloomington) ff. Anthony Gutierrez (St. Charles East)

175 – Luke Zook (Yorkville) Inj. 4:51 Ricky Ericksen (Marist)

190 – Conor Phelan (Marist) F 1:35 Ahmad Jaffal (Sandburg)

215 – Brandon Swartz (St. Charles East) D 6-2 Caden O’Rourke (Lincoln-Way East

285 – Stephen Carr (Bloomington) D 10-4 Jordan Gonzalez (Clovis)

Final team scores: 1. Clovis, CA (350) 2. St. Charles East (272) 3. Marist (262) 4. Lincoln-Way East (167) 5. Carl Sandburg (166) 6. Lincoln-Way Wes

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