By Curt Herron, For the IWCOA
MACHESNEY PARK – There wasn’t very much separating the top two scoring teams at the 33rd annual Al Dvorak Invitational at Harlem in Machesney Park as Detroit Catholic Central and Mount Carmel battled throughout the two days for who would emerge as champions.
When all was said and done on Sunday, the Caravan had more champions, 3-2, and more finalists, 6-3, but the Shamrocks were able to place at 11 weights while Mount Carmel had nine medalists and that proved to be good enough to help the program that features four returning individual champions which has won eight Michigan Division 1 championships since 2010 to become the first program from their state to win a Dvorak title, prevailing by a 234.5-230 margin.
Coach Mitch Hancock’s championship squad got titles from Dylan Gilcher (138) and Manuel Rojas (182), a second-place effort from Drew Heethuis (120), third-place showings from Simon Dominguez (106) and Darius Marines (152) and a fourth-place finish from Clayton Jones (132).
Mount Carmel continued its success in the Dvorak, finishing second for the third time in six years and it’s placed among the top-four teams in each of the last seven tournaments.
Leading the way for coach Alex Tsirtsis’ Caravan, who are first in 3A in Rob Sherill’s IWCOA rankings, are champions Seth Mendoza (106), Sergio Lemley (126), and Ryan Boersma (285), second-place finishers Eddie Enright (132), Colin Kelly (160) and Elliott Lewis (195) and third-place finisher Damian Resendez (113). Boersma and Lemley also won titles in 2019 and Boersma placed for the third time.
“We’ve had three meat-grinder weeks in a row, we were in Iowa in the beginning of December, the Ironman last week and here this weekend and it’s really good to see growth of the kids,” Tsirtsis said. “Not necessarily our top three guys because they’ve been performing well week in and week out but getting those other guys to really step up and they’ve knocked a lot of rust off and they keep getting better.
“This is going to be our first time of the year that we can have an extended training period, so we’re really looking forward to that for the next few weeks just trying to get better. We did a really good job getting better this week in the room with short time. I’m excited to get in there and have these guys really focus on polishing up things.”
DeKalb, which is second-ranked in 3A, took third place with 167 points. Leading coach Sam Hiatt’s Barbs were champion Tommy Curran (145), runner-up Bradley Gillum (182) and fourth-place finishers Danny Aranda (120) and Damien Lopez (152).
Lockport, which is ranked third in 3A, finished fourth with 150 points. Pacing coach Josh Oster’s Porters were champion Brayden Thompson (170), second-place finishers David Vukobratovich (113) and Andrew Blackburn-Forst (220) and fourth-place finishers Logan Swaw (145) and Paul Kadlec (160).
Amery, Wisconsin took fifth with 138.5 points while Aurora Christian, ranked fifth in 2A, was sixth with 131 points. Top performers for coach Danny Alcocer’s Eagles were champion Braden Stauffenberg (152), second-place finishers Deven Casey (106), Joe Fernau (126) and Taythan Silva (145) and third-place finisher Nate Wemstrom (195).
Marist, which is ranked fifth in 3A, took seventh place with 127.5 points. Leading the way for coach Brendan Heffernan’s RedHawks were champion Peter Marinopoulos (195) and third-place finisher Ghee Rachal (220), who placed in the event for the third time.
Hersey (112.5, eighth), Plainfield North (106, ninth), St. Charles East (105, tenth), Libertyville (98.5, 11th) and Dakota (97, 12th) rounded out the top third of the 36-team event.
Also winning championships were Crystal Lake South’s Josh Glover (113), St. Charles East’s Ben Davino (120), Plainfield North’s Jacob Macatangay (132), McHenry’s Chris Moore (160) and Amery’s Koy Hopke (220).
Other second-place finishers were Moline’s Kole Brower (138), Conant’s Ethan Stiles (152), McHenry’s Brody Hallin (170) and Glenbard North’s Paulie Robertson (285).
Davino was the recipient of the tournament’s Outstanding Wrestler Award while Dakota’s Maddux Blakely had the most falls in the shortest amount of time, which was four.
Fifteen individuals added to the medals that they won in the 2019 tournament and another got to the awards stand for the first time since 2018.
Here’s a breakdown of the champions of the 33rd annual Al Dvorak Invitational along with the placewinners who are in their weight class:
106 – Seth Mendoza, Mount Carmel
Few Illinois high school wrestlers will be able to say that during their first month in the sport that they’ve already won two titles in elite tournaments and also posted a fifth-place showing in one of the nation’s top events. But that’s just what Mount Carmel freshman Seth Mendoza has achieved during his impressive debut after rolling to four decisive victories to capture the 106 pound Dvorak championship, following up on a fifth-place showing at the Walsh Ironman one week earlier and a championship at the Dan Gable Donnybrook in Iowa the previous weekend.
Mendoza, who is off to a 19-2 start and is top-ranked at 106 in Class 3A, recorded falls in his first match and in the quarterfinals against Plainfield North’s Maddox Garbis before claiming a win by technical fall against Jacobs’ Dominic Ducato in the semifinals. He capped off his tournament trifecta with a 9-2 victory in the championship over another freshman who is off to a great start, Aurora Christian’s Deven Casey.
“It makes me feel great,” Mendoza said. “Just going out there and dominating and having fun. I was unsatisfied (at the Ironman) because I know that I could have done a lot better and I’ll get them back later. We’re working hard every day in the room with all of our guys who have been in finals. But even the guys who haven’t been in the finals, they’re still coming out here and placing and doing pretty good. Our team in general has been doing really good so we just need to keep that up.”
Casey has also had a very impressive debut during which time he kicked things off with a title at Barrington’s Moore-Prettyman tournament and then fell just shy of a medal at the Ironman, when he lost to Mendoza in the blood round. He owns a 17-4 record and is ranked second at 106 in 2A after getting a fall in his first match and winning 18-5 over Yorkville’s Raymond Cavey in the quarterfinals. He captured a 3-2 semifinal victory over Belvidere/Belvidere North’s Brayden Tuenissen to reach the finals.
Ducato (16-4), a junior who placed fourth in the IWCOA finals and is ranked fifth in 3A after settling for fourth place following a 3-1 loss to Detroit Catholic Central’s Simon Dominguez (11-3). Three other freshmen also joined Mendoza and Casey on the awards stand. Tuenissen (15-3) claimed an 8-0 victory over Amery’s Brendan Burke (9-4) for fifth-place and for in the seventh-place match, Glenbard North’s Kalani Khiev (11-2), who won a title at Conant, claimed a 9-2 win over Edwardsville’s Levi Wilkinson (17-5).
113 – Josh Glover, Crystal Lake South
There’s no better way to kick off tournament performances than by winning a Dvorak championship in your initial individual competition of the season. That’s what Crystal Lake South senior Josh Glover accomplished in a new setting when he captured an 8-4 victory over Lockport’s David Vukobratovich to claim the 113 pound championship.
Glover, who was third in the IWCOA finals and second in 2019 at state while at Marian Central Catholic, improved to 19-0 and is top-ranked in Class 2A. After getting a fall in his first match, he beat Marist’s Michael Esteban 8-0 in the quarterfinals and followed that with a 13-1 major decision over Plainfield South’s Rudy Silva in the semifinals.
“This is my first year here after transferring to South,” said Glover. “I love it and the team’s a lot of fun. I wanted to put it all on the line and to test myself against these 3A kids to try to scale how I’ll do at the tournament. I’ve expanded my variety of different leg attacks and that was a big part.”
Vukobratovich, a senior who is 9-2 and ranked second in 3A, definitely made a name for himself this week after winning an overtime tiebreaker over an Ironman placer, Homewood-Flossmoor’s Deion Johnson, in a dual meet and then being one of three Porters to reach the title mat. After recording falls in his first two matches, he won by technical fall over Hersey’s Maksim Mukhamedaliyev in the quarterfinals and claimed a 9-6 semifinals victory over Mount Carmel’s Damian Resendez.
Resendez (15-4), a sophomore who is ranked third at 113 in 3A with a third at the Donnybrook and a third at the IWCOA finals to his credit, claimed third place with a win by technical fall over Silva (15-4), a sophomore ranked eighth in 3A who was a finalist at Barrington. Freshman Esteban (14-4) placed fifth with a 13-6 decision over freshman Mukhamedaliyev (15-10) while Round Lake sophomore Alejandro Cordova (15-8) got a fall in 5:14 over Plainfield North sophomore Cayden Amico (18-5) to finish seventh.
120 – Ben Davino, St. Charles East
In order for an individual to win the Outstanding Wrestler Award at the Dvorak Invitational, you’d better leave quite an impression on the coaches and St. Charles East’s Ben Davino has already demonstrated that he’s very good at doing just that. The Saints sophomore received the ultimate recognition in the 36-team competition after wrapping up his two-day performance with a 13-4 major decision in the 120 title match over Detroit Catholic Central’s Drew Heethuis, who was a Michigan Division 1 state champion last season.
Davino, who improved to 15-1 and ranks first in 3A, was one of four Illinois individuals to wrestle for titles at the Ironman, where he lost a 5-2 decision to Blair Academy’s Mark Anthony McGowan in the 120 finals. A champion at 113 in the IWCOA finals in June, he kicked off his Dvorak run with a pair of wins by technical fall, with one coming in the quarterfinals over Aurora Christian’s Josh Vasquez. Davino earned his spot in the title match with a 3-1 victory over Libertyville’s Caelan Riley in the semifinals.
“It was nice, there was a lot of good competition and I had a lot of fun wrestling,” Davino said. “It’s the whole process of getting better throughout it. Taking the losses and using them as fuel and using them to learn. I’m super happy to be with my coaches, they are super helpful and they add a lot of value to my wrestling. They know what they are talking about, and it’s awesome.”
Riley (17-3), a senior who’s ranked fifth in 3A, claimed third place with a 7-0 victory over DeKalb sophomore Danny Aranda (13-4), who is ranked sixth in 3A. Riley took second at Barrington, was sixth at the IWCOA finals and placed third in the 2019 Dvorak. Aranda, who was second at the Gable Donnybrook and took fifth at the IWCOA, also reached the semifinals, where he dropped a 5-2 decision to Heethuis.
Marist freshman Will Denny (15-3) is ranked eighth in 3A after claiming an 11-3 victory over Conant junior Sammy Santangelo (9-3) in the fifth-place match. Vasquez (14-6), a freshman who is ranked sixth in 2A, suffered an injury in a consolation match and defaulted in the seventh-place match against Milton freshman Aiden Slama (16-2).
126 – Sergio Lemley, Mount Carmel
Sergio Lemley won his first Illinois tournament since capturing the IHSA 3A title at 113 as a freshman for the Caravan when he claimed a 5-1 victory in the Dvorak finals at 126 over Aurora Christian’s Joe Fernau, who also won an IHSA 3A title in 2020 at 106 competing for Montini Catholic. Lemley, who improved to 20-1 and is ranked second at 126 at 3A, also was a state champion last season in Indiana competing for Chesterton. Both were finalists in the 2019 Dvorak with Lemley taking first at 113 and Fernau second at 106.
After recording a win by technical fall in his first match, Lemley won a 14-5 major decision over Detroit Catholic Central’s Anthony Walker in the quarterfinals. He advanced to the title mat after getting a fall in 4:39 over Glenbard North’s Paul Woo in the semifinals. This is the second tournament championship of the year for the junior, who also won at the Gable Donnybrook and placed third at the Ironman where he suffered his lone loss, a 3-1 overtime defeat in the semifinals to Homewood-Flossmoor’s Vincent Robinson.
“Right now I’m kind of unsatisfied,” Lemley said. “I still have Vincent ahead of me so that’s what I’m looking forward to and working toward every day. Right now I’m just taking my time and looking forward to Christmas break and it should be fun. Our 60-pounder, Colin Kelly, has been improving every day and these guys have been putting in the work and we’re improving.”
Fernau, a senior who has a 17-4 record and is ranked third in 2A, was a runner-up at Barrington and fell one win shy of placing at the Ironman. He opened with a fall and then claimed a 10-2 major decision over Jacobs’ James Wright in the quarterfinals. In a dramatic semifinal match, Fernau got a third-period escape to capture a 1-0 victory over Providence Catholic senior Billy Meiszner, who’s ranked fifth in 3A and was an IWCOA runner-up.
Dakota junior Phoenix Blakely (14-3), a 2021 IWCOA and 2020 IHSA 1A champion who is top-ranked in 1A, won a 10-0 major decision over Wright (17-4), a junior who is ranked sixth in 3A. Meiszner (9-2) claimed a 5-1 victory in the fifth-place match over Woo (8-4), a senior who’s ranked tenth in 3A and placed fifth in the Dvorak in 2019. And in the seventh-place match, Milton junior Matt Haldiman (16-3) won by fall in 5:02 over Marist junior Jesse Herrera (13-4), who placed fourth at the IWCOA.
132 – Jacob Macatangay, Plainfield North
A lot of competitors would be thrilled to have a perfect record at this point and to also have won a championship at the state’s top in-season tournament, but Jacob Macatangay saw on Sunday that he still has work on some things in order to make a run at another state championship, which he accomplished with an IWCOA 3A title at 126 in June.
The Plainfield North senior, who’s ranked second in 3A and is a two-time state placewinner, improved to 19-0 after winning the title at 132 by a 7-4 score over Mount Carmel sophomore Eddie Enright, who’s 11-6. He led 5-4 heading into the final period and got a late takedown to seal the victory. That came after he had a battle in the semifinals which he won 9-8 over Bolingbrook senior Joe McDermott. After getting a fall in his opener, he claimed a 16-2 victory over Dakota freshman T.J. Silva in the quarterfinals.
“He was just really long and tall so I had to get to my offense, I had to get my angles and set up my moves,” Macatangay said. “It was a close match, a little too close for comfort. It was a tough tournament and I’m just glad that I came up on top. Our team is really a close-knit team and we grew together, we’re all ;pretty old now and have experienced high school wrestling and we’ve just got better from there.”
Enright, who’s ranked fifth in 3A has a fourth-place finish at the Gable Donnybrook and a fourth in the IWCOA to his credit. He recorded a fall in 3:19 over Detroit Catholic Central’s Clayton Jones (10-2) in the semifinals. Enright also won 5-3 by sudden victory over St. Charles East sophomore Tyler Guerra (15-4) in the quarterfinals after opening with a win by fall. Guerra, who’s sixth-ranked in 3A and fell one win shy of earning a medal at the Ironman, captured third place with a 10-1 victory over Jones.
Silva (11-3), who’s ranked fourth in 1A, took fifth place when he recorded a fall in 2:35 against McDermott (10-6). And in the seventh-place match, Glenbard North junior Solomon Gilliam (9-5), who placed second at Conant, claimed a 7-5 victory over Marian Central Catholic freshman Vance Williams (17-8), who’s ranked sixth in Class 1A.
138 – Dylan Gilcher, Detroit Catholic Central
Dylan Gilcher improved to 11-0 and became the first of three competitors from out of state and the first of two from his team to win a Dvorak title when he captured a 3-1 victory in the 138 finals over Moline’s Kole Brower. The Detroit Catholic Central junior, who’s a two-time Michigan Division 1 champion, got a takedown in the first period and led 3-0 going into the third period as he handed Brower his first loss in 18 matches. The Maroons senior, who was an IWCOA champ at 132, is top-ranked in 3A at his weight.
Brower, who won a title last week at Prospect, earned his spot in the finals after capturing a 10-3 semifinals victory over Dakota senior Maddux Blakely, who’s ranked second in Class 1A and placed third at state in both 2021 and 2020. After opening with a fall, Brower won by technical fall over DeKalb junior Austin Martin in the quarterfinals.
Blakely (16-1), who won the award for most falls in the least time with four and took fifth in the Dvorak in 2019, claimed third-place by injury default at 2:57 over Edwardsville senior Dylan Gvillo (19-2), who’s ranked third in 3A. Gvillo, an IWCOA runner-up who placed at the Dvorak in 2018, advanced to the semifinals where he fell 12-3 to Gilcher.
Belvidere/Belvidere North sophomore Colin Young (16-4) captured a 12-3 victory over Martin (13-6) in the fifth-place match and St. Charles East sophomore Gavin Connolly (12-4) won a 2-0 decision over Mount Carmel junior Nam Doan (5-8) in the seventh-place match.
145 – Tommy Curran, DeKalb
When a competitor only needs two minutes to wrap up business in a Dvorak Invitational championship match, they’ll certainly take that result. And that’s just what DeKalb senior Tommy Curran did in the 145 finals when he recorded a fall in 2:00 over Aurora Christian junior Taythan Silva to remain perfect on the season with a 17-0 record.
Curran, who took second in the 2019 Dvorak, is top-ranked and won his second title of the season, with the Gable Donnybrook being the other. The two-time state runner-up and three-time placewinner clearly wants to end up on top of the awards stand in Champaign this season. Curran won 12-1 in the semifinals over Dakota’s Tyler Simmer after claiming a 3-1 quarterfinal win over Lockport’s Logan Swaw and recording a win by technical fall before that.
“It was a really good tournament that was really well run,” Curran said. “We came here as a team to compete and I feel like we did that. We’re still improving as a team and I definitely think that we can be team state champs at the end of the year, and that’s our goal as a team. I was state runner-up twice and I was a Dvorak runner-up two years ago. So it feels really good to get on top of the podium and I want to keep working hard and continue on with the season. It’s going to be a fun one, we’re really looking forward to it.”
Silva, a junior who’s 18-3 and top-ranked in 2A with a Barrington title to his credit, followed up on a major decision in his opener with a 4-3 quarterfinal win over Moline junior Noah Tapia, the IWCOA 3A champion at 138 who is second-ranked in 3A and won a title at Prospect last weekend and was unbeaten and is now 18-1. Silva earned his spot in the finals when he claimed a 6-2 semifinals victory over Belvidere/Belvidere North junior Antonio Alvarado, who’s ranked eighth in 3A.
Tapia, who placed sixth in the 2019 Dvorak, bounced back from his quarterfinals setback to claim third place with a fall in 1:18 against Swaw (12-3), a junior who is ranked sixth in 3A. In the fifth-place match, Alvarado (10-3) won 8-2 over Dakota senior Simmer (14-3), who’s ranked second in 1A. The seventh-place match featured two out-of-state competitors going at it with Milton’s Royce Nilo (13-3) claiming an 8-0 major decision over Detroit Catholic Central’s Steven Shellenberger (8-4).
152 – Braden Stauffenberg, Aurora Christian
When you can pull out a dramatic win against an individual who won a state title in June and is a two-time placer, it’s definitely something to get pumped up about. And based on some of the other quality performances that Aurora Christian’s Braden Stauffenberg has already had this season, the senior should continue to be a contender in any event.
Stauffenberg improved to 23-2 after getting a late takedown and nearfall to record a 7-3 victory over Conant’s Ethan Stiles in the 152 championship match. Ranked second in 2A after finishing fifth at the Ironman and winning a title at Barrington, the senior is hopeful that he can greatly improve upon his sixth-place finish in 2020 while competing for Montini Catholic, where he was a teammate with Stiles. Stauffenberg, who took seventh in the 2019 Dvorak, advanced to the finals with a 3-0 semifinals win over DeKalb’s Damien Lopez after winning 3-2 against Detroit Catholic Central’s Darius Marines, a 2021 Michigan Division 1 state champ, in the quarterfinals that followed a major decision.
“It feels good coming in my senior year at Aurora Christian and my last year at the Dvorak, so ending up with a ‘W’ feels great,” Stauffenberg said. “We all as a team have one goal and that’s to win the team state and individual state. Overall, our goal is to come out and perform our hardest and win these types of matches in hard-fought tournaments. I did not have my junior year, which is one of the biggest seasons for a wrestler. So we’re ready to grind and ready to win.”
Stiles, a junior who won the IWCOA 3A 145 title and took third place in 2020, suffered his first defeat in 11 matches. After opening the Dvorak with a fall, Stiles won by technical fall over St. Charles East’s Lane Robinson in the quarterfinals and won a 13-6 decision in the semifinals over Crystal Lake Central’s Dillon Carlson, who’s ranked fourth in 2A.
In the third-place match, Lopez (13-3), a senior who’s ranked third in 3A with a third-place showing at the Donnybrook to go with his sixth-place IHSA showing in 2020 and second at the Dvorak in 2019, dropped an 8-6 decision to Marines. Carlson (17-3), a runner-up at Barrington, won the fifth-place match by injury default over Milton’s Michael Schliem (15-5). And Edwardsville senior Jorden Johnson (19-2), who’s ranked tenth in 3A, claimed seventh place with a 7-4 victory over Amery’s Wyatt Ingham (7-4).
160 – Chris Moore, McHenry
The 160 Dvorak championship match featured a clash of the top two rated individuals in Class 3A, McHenry junior Chris Moore and Mount Carmel sophomore Colin Kelly, and Moore captured a 3-1 victory to improve to 21-0 on the season while Kelly fell to 16-4.
Moore, an IHSA 2A champ at 113 in 2020 for Aurora Christian and an IWCOA 2A runner-up at 138 at Marian Central Catholic, added to a title win at Prospect by going 4-0 with two decisions following a pair of wins by technical fall, which included a quarterfinals win over Conant’s CJ Gilbert. In the semifinals, he defeated Marist’s Tommy Boland 14-7.
“I feel real good,” Moore said. “I felt like I had a good tournament and scored a lot of points and was moving a lot better than I have been. We wrestled a little bit over the offseason in a couple of tournaments but it mainly was just training hard and getting prepared for this year. There’s a little bit that we have to work on to get better and now it’s just getting prepared for the state series.”
Kelly, a third-place finisher in the IWCOA finals who was third at the Gable Donnybrook, followed up on a tech fall with a 6-2 quarterfinals win over Hersey senior Billy Spassov, who’s ranked fourth in 3A and has a Joliet Central title and third at Prospect to his credit, before winning 11-2 over Detroit Catholic Central’s Tatum Bunn in the semifinals.
Spassov (16-2) captured a 4-0 victory in the third-place match over Lockport senior Paul Kadlec (10-5), who’s ranked ninth in 3A and placed sixth at the IWCOA. Boland (14-2), who’s ranked fifth in 3A and was fifth at the IWCOA and in the 2019 Dvorak, won by injury default over Bunn (3-3) for fifth place. And Gilbert (12-4), who’s a senior, took seventh place by injury default over Plainfield North senior Jared Gumila (20-3), who’s ranked seventh in 3A and was fourth in the IHSA in 2020.
170 – Brayden Thompson, Lockport
Two unbeatens met up in the 170 championship match with Lockport junior Brayden Thompson claiming a 2-0 decision over McHenry senior Brody Hallin. Thompson, who’s 12-0 and top-ranked in 3A, advanced to the finals with an 8-5 victory over Milton’s Aeoden Sinclair while Hallin, who’s 20-1 and ranked third in 3A, prevailed 3-2 in his semifinals match against Amery’s Eddie Simes.
Thompson, who was a champion at the Dan Gable Donnybrook, took third in the IHSA in 2020 at Montini Catholic and placed fifth in the Dvorak in 2019, got a fall in his first match followed by a win by technical fall in the quarterfinals over Libertyville junior Austin Gomez, who’s ranked fifth with a second at Prospect and a third at Barrington.
“They have a good room with good coaches right now, so it’s awesome,” Thompson said. “Making weight and doing everything that we do as a team is awesome to be able to do that again this year. We’re coming man and we’re gunning for that state title, for sure, 100 percent. Jameson and Josh Oster have a lot of knowledge behind what they do and they’ve been there and done it. My goal is not to just win state, it’s to be the number one kid in the country.”
Hallin, a three-time state qualifier and fourth-place finisher in the IWCOA finals who won a title at Prospect, got a fall in his first match and then captured a 5-1 quarterfinals victory over Detroit Central Catholic’s Cameron Adams.
In an all-Wisconsin clash for third, Sinclair (17-1) won 5-3 over Simes (9-2). Gomez (17-6) claimed fifth place by injury default over DeKalb senior Lukes Schmerbach (15-4), who’s ranked sixth with a fifth in 3A. And for seventh place, Adams (9-3) was a 4-1 winner over Crystal Lake Central junior Ben Butler (15-9), who’s ranked ninth in 2A..
182 – Manuel Rojas, Detroit Catholic Central
DeKalb senior Bradley Gillum, who won an IWCOA 3A title at 170 and was second in the IHSA in 3A at 160 in 2020, hoped to capture a Dvorak title at 182 against Detroit Catholic Central senior Manuel Rojas, a two-time Michigan Division 1 state champ, but his hopes were dashed due to an injury, which forced him to default in 2:22.
Gillum, who is 16-2, is top-ranked in 3A after opening with a win by technical fall and then recording a fall in 1:36 over Marist’s Conor Phelan in the quarterfinals and capturing a 3-2 semifinal victory over Crystal Lake South’s Shane Moran, who’s top-ranked in 2A. Gillum, a three-time state qualifier, also took second place at the Gable Donnybrook.
For third place, Libertyville senior Josh Knudten (18-2) captured a 7-5 decision over Moran. Knudten is ranked third with a title at Prospect and a second at Barrington and also placed fifth at the IWCOA. Moran (18-2) is a two-time state placewinner, finishing fourth at the IWCOA and sixth at the IHSA in 2020.
In the fifth place match, Amery’s Grant Cook (11-2) was a 5-0 winner over Mount Carmel sophomore Rylan Breen (12-8), who’s ranked ninth in 3A. And for seventh place, St. Charles East sophomore Brandon Swartz (13-4) claimed a 5-2 decision over Belvidere/Belvidere North junior A.J. Piloni (11-4).
195 – Peter Marinopoulos, Marist
As a freshman, Peter Marinopoulos was a team manager for Marist. Two years later as a junior, he’s one of the 14 champions in the Dvorak Invitational following a 7-3 win over Mount Carmel senior Elliott Lewis in the 195 finals. And even though he qualified for the IWCOA Class 3A finals in June, Marinopoulos, who owns a 16-0 record, had an injury default in his first match and a medical forfeit in the next due to an injury that occurred in the sectional.
Marinopoulos, who’s ranked second in 3A, got a pin in his first match, claimed a 9-8 win over Aurora Christian’s Nate Wemstrom in the quarterfinals and won 4-2 over Avery’s Kale Hopke, a Wisconsin Division 2 state champion, in the semifinals. Lewis, who’s 11-5 and ranked third in 3A and took fifth in the Dvorak in 2019, won his first match by fall and beat Dakota’s Noah Wenzel on an ultimate tiebreaker. He won 6-3 over Conant’s Henry Chang in the quarterfinals and 7-3 over DeKalb’s Bryson Buhk in the semifinals.
“This is my first year coming here,” Marinopoulos said. “In my freshman year, I was a manager and watching all of my teammates wrestle. So now coming here and competing, it was actually really nice that I won. I was really excited to start wrestling with all of the good guys to get me better, so I’m just glad to be here. I was really excited to get back in the room and start wrestling again with all of my teammates to start getting better. It’s really exciting and it’s helping with the recruiting process, so it’s great.”
In the third-place match, Wemstrom defeated Wenzel by a 9-1 score. Wemstrom (19-3), a senior who is ranked third in 2A, won a title at Barrington and was fourth in the 2019 Dvorak. Wenzel (16-2), a sophomore who is ranked second in 1A, claimed fourth place at the IWCOA finals.
For fifth place, Hopke (9-2) captured a 5-4 victory over Buhk (12-6), a senior who’s ranked fourth in 3A and placed fifth in the IWCOA finals. And in the seventh-place match, Detroit Catholic Central freshman Connor Bercume (11-2) won 8-3 over Libertyville junior Cole Matulenko (17-5). who won a title at Prospect.
220 – Koy Hopke, Amery
Lockport ‘s Andrew Blackburn-Forst isn’t likely going to find himself trailing 6-0 in the first period of many matches this season, but that’s just where the IWCOA champ and two-time placewinner who’s top-ranked in 3A was against Amery sophomore Koy Hopke in the 220 finals. After the Porter senior closed the gap to 7-4, Hopke claimed a 10-4 win.
Blackburn-Forst (4-1) had praise for his opponent, who won a Wisconsin Division 2 state title last season, but also admits that he hasn’t had much time to get into top shape after turning in an all-state season as a defensive lineman and helping Lockport to win the IHSA Class 8A football championship. Blackburn-Forst reached the finals with three first-period falls, pinning Hersey’s Manny Mejia in 0:39 in the quarterfinals and Plainfield South’s John Pacewic in 1:50 in the semifinals. Hopke (10-0), whose team won the Division 2 dual team championship, advanced with three falls, needing just 0:24 in the first two before requiring 2:19 in the semifinals against Marist’s Ghee Rachal.
Rachal (13-2), a senior who’s ranked second in 3A, recorded a fall in 4:58 over Pacewic (12-2), who’s fifth in 3A, to claim third-place. Both also placed in the 2019 Dvorak with Rachal taking third and Pacewic eighth. Rachal, who took fourth at the IWCOA finals, also placed at the Dvorak in his freshman year, making him one of two in the field to be a three-time medalist while Pacewic also has a Barrington title to his credit this season.
Providence Catholic senior Liam McDermott (18-2), who’s ranked sixth with a title at Antioch to his credit, won 3-1 over Detroit Catholic Central senior Sean Field (8-4) for fifth. And Yorkville sophomore Ben Alvarez (18-3), who’s ranked seventh and was third at Barrington, claimed a 13-6 win over Grant junior Cameron Lattimore (10-9) for seventh. .
285 – Ryan Boersma, Mount Carmel
Repeating as a Dvorak champion and being a three-time medalist at the Invitational is always an impressive accomplishment, but that’s especially the case when an athlete pulls off that performance in just three visits to the event, which is just what Mount Carmel senior Ryan Boersma achieved when he claimed a 4-1 victory over previously-unbeaten Glenbard North senior Paulie Robertson in the event’s final championship at 285. He placed third as a freshman and won a title as a sophomore at Providence Catholic.
Boersma (19-2), who’s top-ranked at 285 with a first in the Gable Donnybrook and a fifth at the Ironman to his credit, opened with two major decisions, including a 9-1 quarterfinals victory over Plainfield North’s Kaden McCombs, who’s ranked ninth in 3A. The Mount Carmel senior, who’s a three-time state qualifier who won the IWCOA title in June and was fifth at 285 in the IHSA in 2020, earned his spot in the finals with a fall in 3:25 over Crystal Lake South sophomore Andy Burburijia, who’s ranked eighth in 2A.
“It’s obviously not the result that I wanted there, but it’s good to know what I need to work on,” Boersma said of the Ironman. “That’s the whole purpose of going there early in the year so we know what to work on. I’m building toward state, and team state, especially. The official IHSA title, that’s what we’re in the hunt for. We had a really good tournament here and I think we’ll continue to improve. Coach Tsirtsis is awesome and we’re going to keep getting better and hopefully show that at both individual and team state.”
Robertson, who’s 11-1 and ranked second in 3A with a title at Conant and a third-place finish at the IWCOA to his credit, followed a fall with a 6-0 quarterfinal win over Hersey junior Oleg Simakov and won 3-1 in sudden victory over Amery senior Robert Beese. Beese (10-1) recorded a fall in 4:29 over Simakov (19-6) to claim third place, McCombs (18-6) captured a 5-0 decision over Burburijia (16-5) for fifth place and Crystal Lake Central junior Leo Diaz (17-5), who’s ranked ninth in 2A, got a pin in 1:34 against Bolingbrook senior Frank Oliveira (4-3) in the seventh-place match.