By Curt Herron
For the IWCOA
For a quarter of a century, the Illinois Wrestling Coaches and Officials Association Frosh/Soph State Championships has been an excellent training ground for individuals who enjoyed successful seasons but fell a bit short of advancing to the IHSA Individual State Finals.
Eight of the 15 champions and 31 of those who placed eighth or better at the 26th annual IWCOA Frosh/Soph Championships at the Bank of Springfield Center fell one win shy of advancing to the IHSA finals in Champaign. Also, 45 of the place winners had 25 or more wins and 24 of those won 30 or more matches heading into the IWCOA series.
Normal Community had two champions, Caden Correll at 101 and Cole Gentsch at 106. No other team had multiple title winners, although four others had two finalists.
Lincoln-Way Central’s Ameer Alamawi was first at 126 and Caden Harvey took second at 132. Rock Island’s Andrew Marquez won the title at 195 while Daniel McGhee placed second at 120. Rochelle’s Kaiden Morris took first at 220 and Joseph Nadig was second at 113. And Joliet Catholic Academy received second-place finishes from Justus Snapp at 126 and Connor Cumbee at 152.
Other IWCOA Frosh/Soph champions were Elk Grove’s Grant Madl at 113, Granite City’s Caleb Scott at 120, Yorkville’s Ryder Janeczko at 132, West Aurora’s Dominic Serio at 138, Mount Carmel’s Carlos Perez at 145, Stevenson’s Themba Sitshela at 152, Downers Grove South’s Matty Lapacek at 160, Bradley-Bourbonnais’ AJ Mancilla at 170, Barrington’s Ayden Salley at 182 and Lemont’s Alex Pasquale at 285.
Also finishing in second place were Ottawa’s Ivan Munoz at 101, Romeoville’s Brian Farley at 106, Highland Park’s Mark Martinez at 138, Lincoln-Way East’s Domanic Abeja at 145, Wheaton Warrenville South’s Sedeeq Al Obaidi at 160, Libertyville’s Owen McGrory at 170, Moline’s James Soliz at 182, Hersey’s Leo Delgado at 195, Lena-Winslow/Stockton’s Michael Haas at 220 and Lincoln-Way West’s Alexander Poholik at 285.
Here are the stories of the 15 IWCOA Frosh/Soph champions, with additional information on the other place winners at their weight classes.
101 – Caden Correll, Normal Community
All season long, Caden Correll was under 100 pounds, which proved to be a problem since he was in the same weight class as his teammate, Cole Gentsch.
While state-ranked Gentsch would compete at 106, Correll had to bump up to 113 for the IHSA state series, and reached the Class 3A Granite City Sectional, where he finished with a 29-9 record. But being closer to his own weight in the IWCOA series, the freshman showed off his talents. After Correll lost to Ottawa sophomore Ivan Munoz 7-5 in the Normal Community Regional title match, he beat Munoz 11-1 in the Heyworth Sectional title match and then defeated him again 5-2 when the pair met for the third-straight finals in the 101 championship. Correll won 7-3 over Wauconda freshman Gavin Rockey in the quarterfinals and 10-5 over Belleville West freshman Rocky Seibel in the semifinals to advance to the title mat. Gentsch also took first at 106 as the pair became Normal Community’s first champions in the IWCOA Frosh/Soph Tournament and the Ironmen were the only team to have two title winners. Correll opened the tournament with a win by technical fall and then won a major decision.
“Caden was ranked honorable mention most of the year in 3A and had wins over 2A state qualifiers and one 2A placer during the year,” Normal Community coach Trevor Kaufman said. “He weighed in at 96 to 97 pounds all year and for the IHSA regional had to go 113 as Cole Gentsch manned the spot at 106. He still managed to get second at regionals giving up a bunch of weight. He’s a tough kid that will do great things in the sport and will only get better as he gets closer to the weight.”
Munoz, who went 12-5 this season and fell one win shy of qualifying for state at the 2A Sycamore Sectional, claimed a 5-3 decision over Lemont sophomore Carter Mikolajczak in the quarterfinals and a 6-3 victory over DeKalb sophomore Eduardo Castro in the semifinals. He had two falls to kick off his run to the title mat.
Mikolajczak, who won over 20 matches this season, took third place. After falling to Munoz in the quarterfinals, Mikolajczak advanced by forfeit and fall before winning 7-5 over Seibel and then 5-1 over Rockey in the third-place match. He followed a quick fall with a 2-1 decision in his second match. Rockey, who went 15-7 this season and fell one win shy of advancing to state from the 2A Deerfield Sectional, bounced back from his quarterfinals loss to Correll by following a major decision with a 3-2 win over Rochelle sophomore Tommy Tourdot and a 4-1 victory over Castro. Rockey won a pair of decisions to kick off the tournament.
In the fifth-place match, Seibel, a Class 3A Granite City Sectional qualifier who went 18-9, claimed a 5-3 decision over Castro, who was a member of the Barbs’ 23-1 squad that’s coached by IWCOA Hall of Famer Sam Hiatt which lost to Mount Carmel 32-27 in the IHSA Class 3A Dual Team championship. Seibel won 8-7 over Stevenson sophomore Andrew Chamkin in the quarterfinals and then fell 10-5 to Correll in the semifinals while Castro won 3-2 over Joliet Catholic Academy freshman Noah Avina in the quarterfinals before losing to Munoz 6-3.And in the seventh-place match, Tourdot, who went 26-14 and came up one win shy of state at the 2A Sycamore Sectional, won by fall in 1:48 over Downers Grove North freshman Tyler Tiangco, who went 30-13 and fell one win shy of advancing to state from the 3A Hinsdale Central Sectional.
106 – Cole Gentsch, Normal Community
After placing sixth in Greco Roman at Fargo in 2021 and then winning five tournament titles and being ranked in the top 10 this season with a 32-2 record heading into the 3A Granite City Sectional, Cole Gentsch figured to be a potential candidate to be a medalist at the IHSA finals one week later.
But the Normal Community freshman was unable to advance out of the sectional, which featured five others who were also ranked in the top 10 and finished with a 34-4 record. However, Gentsch focused on being an IWCOA Frosh/Soph champion and did just that after winning 3-0 over Romeoville sophomore Brian Farley in the 106 finals to make the Ironmen the only team with two champions and gave them their first two champions in the history of the event, with Caden Correll taking first at 101. Gentsch claimed an 8-0 win over Edwardsville freshman Levi Wilkinson in the quarterfinals and won 5-2 over Oswego freshman Brayden Swanson in the semifinals after getting falls in his first two matches.
“Cole was 32-1 coming into the IHSA regional and was ranked in the top 10 most of the year in 3A,” Ironmen coach Trevor Kaufman said. “He was in the loaded Granite City Sectional where six of the top 10 kids were and was not able to make it out. He had multiple wins over 106- and 113-pounders that ended up placing this year and just happened to be in one of the toughest sectionals in the state. To show the depth of the weight class, five of the top six kids at frosh-soph state at 106 were in the Granite City Sectional.
“Both Caden and Cole became the first Frosh/Soph state champs for our school and are hoping to replicate these results in the IHSA tournament in the future. They push each other on a daily basis which will only continue to get them better. They both plan to compete in Freestyle and Greco through the offseason where Cole is already a Fargo All-American in Greco from last year.”
Farley went 21-6 and also advanced to the 3A Granite City Sectional. He captured an 8-1 win in the quarterfinals over Hersey freshman Daniel Lehman and then claimed a 4-2 semifinals win by sudden victory over Moline freshman Devon Jones. Farley opened with a win by technical fall and captured a 7-0 decision in his second match.
In the third-place match, Swanson was a winner by fall in 1:46 over Jones. Swanson, who went 25-14, won 5-0 in the quarterfinals over Carl Sandburg freshman Madden Parker, then fell to Gentsch in the semifinals and won 10-2 over Lehman. He opened the tournament with a fall and then got a win by technical fall. Jones, who finished 28-15 and was on the Maroons’ first state dual team since 2000, won 11-4 in the quarterfinals over Elgin sophomore Julius Avendano, was edged by Farley in the semifinals and responded with an 8-4 win over Wilkinson. Jones kicked off his tournament with a pair of falls.
For fifth place, Lehman won by fall in 0:50 over Wilkinson. Lehman, who finished 29-18 and fell one win shy of advancing to the Class 3A Barrington Sectional, responded to his quarterfinals loss to Farley with two decisions, including a 6-2 win over Avendano before falling to Swanson. Wilkinson, who went 32-11 and fell one win shy of state at the 3A Granite City Sectional, lost to Gentsch in the quarterfinals, then recorded two wins, with the latter being a 4-3 decision over Parker. Wilkinson was the lone medalist of the eight qualifiers for the Tigers, who are coached by IWCOA Hall of Famer Jon Wagner.
In the seventh-place match, Parker won by fall in 0:46 over Avendano. After both fell in the quarterfinals, they responded with falls to assure themselves of medals for top-eight finishes. Avendano finished 20-2 and fell one win shy of qualifying for the Class 3A Conant Sectional.
113 – Grant Madl, Elk Grove
After falling one win shy of a trip to state at the Class 3A Conant Sectional, it would have been very easy for Grant Madl to move on from wrestling and focus on his third sport of the school year, baseball.
But the Elk Grove sophomore, who also plays football, decided to try to place at the IWCOA Frosh/Soph finals for the second year in a row after taking fourth at 106 last year. He not only placed again but won the title at 113 after capturing a 3-0 victory over Rochelle freshman Joseph Nadig in the championship match. Madl, who finished 28-8 this season with three second-place finishes in tournaments, won 10-8 by sudden victory in the quarterfinals over Lockport freshman Liam Zimmerman and then earned his spot on the 113 title mat with a 4-2 semifinals victory over Hersey freshman Maksim Mukhamedaliyev. Madl opened the tournament with a fall and then captured a 5-0 win in the second round.
“Placing last year and falling short in the blood round at the varsity sectional this year really motivated him to enter these championships and end the season on a high note,” Elk Grove coach Dan Vargas said. “Grant is an extremely hard worker, exceptional teammate and a fearless competitor. He works hard in the classroom and also plays football and baseball. His championship this weekend is a testament to his work ethic during the season because he is only wrestling three-to-four months out of the year unlike many of these year-round wrestlers.”
But Madl’s title was just the frosting on the cake for the Grenadiers, who advanced all seven individuals that they entered in the regional, which was tied for third for the most qualifiers for the competition. And although the finals weren’t scored, Elk Grove ended up with the third-most points with 77, behind only Hersey and Joliet Catholic Academy. The Grenadiers’ coach was very excited that three other three-sport athletes also competed, including one who took fifth, and three athletes fell one victory shy of earning a medal.
“Our 285-pounder, Mikey Milovich, who is also a three-sport athlete, took fifth as a freshman and really only competed half the season this year,” Vargas said. “He made this happen by being aggressive and wanting to make a statement for himself and his teammates and had six pins and went 6-2 at state. Freshman Dylan Berkowitz (195) and sophomores Mo Burt (195) and Benny Schlosser (182) all lost in the blood round and freshman Nicasio Acino (106) went 2-2 and sophomore Anthony Macina (132) went 1-2. As a team we had a great showing. This is a very promising sign for us that we have some competitive underclassmen that are looking to continue and improve upon the positive trajectory at Elk Grove. Maybe adding some emphasis to team scores and giving out plaques for the top teams at this event could help increase participation and competition.”
Nadig, who went 34-13 and qualified for the 2A Sycamore Sectional at 120 won by fall in 2:55 in the quarterfinals over Lincoln-Way East sophomore Zach Miller. Nadig advanced to the 113 title mat with an 8-3 semifinals victory over Deerfield freshman Jordan Rasof. Nadig kicked off his run to the title mat with two falls.
Mukhamedaliyev, who went 31-20 and fell one win shy of advancing at 113 at the 3A Barrington Sectional, captured third place after recording a fall in 1:37 over Zimmerman. He beat Stagg sophomore Anas Ahmed 11-7 in the quarterfinals and then after being edged by Madl in the semifinals, Mukhamedaliyev won 7-4 over Waubonsie Valley freshman Elias Gonzalez. The Hersey freshman opened his tournament with a win by technical fall and a pin. Zimmerman, who went 15-8, didn’t compete in the individual series but wrestled three times at the IHSA Dual Team Finals for the Porters, who placed third in Class 3A. After falling in overtime in the quarterfinals to Madl, Zimmerman responded with a major decision and won 7-5 over Naperville Central sophomore Tyler Martin and 4-1 over Rasof. The Porters freshman opened with a fall and followed with a 7-0 decision. Next season, he’ll have a new head coach since Josh Oster is stepping down after taking seven teams to state and winning four trophies since 2012 at the school he attended.
Rasof won two major decsions before beating Gonzalez 5-1 in the quarterfinals and then lost in the semifinals 8-3 to Nadig. Rasof, who went 30-17 and fell one win shy of advancing from the 2A sectional that his school hosted, lost to Zimnmerman but then won by injury default in 3:33 over Gonzalez to claim fifth place. He also went 1-1 at the IHSA Dual Team finals where his Warriors lost 39-33 to Joliet Catholic Academy in the title meet for the program’s best-ever finish. Gonzalez, who finished 26-15 and fell one win shy of advancing to the 3A Hinsdale Central Sectional, lost to Rasof in the quarterfinals and then won a pair of 5-3 decisions, with the latter being in sudden victory over Miller before he lost to Mukhamedaliyev and then had to default due to injury in his rematch with Rasof. In the seventh-place match, Martin beat Miller by an 8-2 score. Martin, who finished 23-13, was one win shy of qualifying for state at the 3A Hinsdale Central Sectional.
120 – Caleb Scott, Granite City
While almost all of the title winners of the IWCOA Frosh/Soph Championships are looking forward to bigger and better things with their current programs, it’s unclear where Caleb Scott will be competing next season.
Scott, a sophomore who claimed top honors at 120 with a 9-7 win by sudden victory over Rock Island sophomore Daniel McGhee, competed at Granite City in December and improved to 17-1 after winning a title at Springfield’s Joe Bee Memorial. But he didn’t see much more action for the Warriors after that and was no longer with the program in January, even though that’s who he competed for at the IWCOA Finals. After opening with a decision and a fall, Scott won 5-0 over St. Rita of Cascia freshman Nino Protti in the quarterfinals and pulled out a 5-4 win over Libertyville sophomore Luke Berktold in the semifinals to set up his title matchup against McGhee.
McGhee, who finished with a 40-13 record and fell one win shy of qualifying for state at the Class 2A Sycamore Sectional, got a win in team’s 41-34 loss to Deerfield in the quarterfinals of the IHSA Class 2A Dual Team Finals in Bloomington, which was the Rocks’ first state trip to that event in 30 years. McGhee followed up on a major decision and win by injury default by winning 14-7 in the quarterfinals over Lane Tech sophomore Robert James Zavala and earned his trip to the finals with a fall in 3:21 over Carl Sandburg freshman Ryan Hinger. McGhee was one of two qualifiers and finalists for Rock Island with classmate Andrew Marquez capturing top honors at 195.
In the third-place match, Berktold won by fall over Clinton freshman Cayden Poole in 2:57. Berktold, who went 22-14, closed out his IHSA season with a win in the Class 3A Dual Team quarterfinals when the Wildcats, coached by IWCOA Hall of Famer Dale Eggert, fell 46-27 to eventual champion Mount Carmel in their first state trip since 2014. He also fell one win shy of qualifying for a trip to individual state at 126 at the Class 3A Barrington Sectional. Berktold followed a fall and 4-3 decision with a 5-3 win in the quarterfinals over Lincoln-Way West freshman Luke Siwinski before falling 5-4 to Scott in the semifinals. He bounced back with a fall in 1:41 over Wheaton Academy sophomore Will Hupke.
Poole, who finished 34-10 and competed in the Class 1A Olympia Sectional, got a pin in his first match before getting edged 1-0 by Protti. He responded to that with five-straight wins in the consolation bracket, which was capped by a fall over Siwinski, an 11-0 major decision over Protti and a fall over Hinger in 2:29 to advance him to the third-place mat.
Claiming fifth place was Hupke, who won by fall in 4:09 over Hinger to avenge a loss in the quarterfinals. Hupke, who finished 33-6 and fell one win of qualifying from the rugged Class 1A Princeton Sectional. The lone qualifier from his school to take part in the competition, Hupke lost to Hinger by technical fall in the quarterfinals, bounced back with a 9-1 win over Edwardsville’s Blake Mink and then won by fall over Zavala in 4:43 before losing to Berktold. Hinger, who went 28-9 and fell one win shy of advancing from the Class 3A Hinsdale Central Sectional, opened with two falls before beating Hupke by technical fall. After getting pinned by McGhee in 3:21 in the semifinals, he lost to Poole by fall.
And in the seventh-place match, Zavala won 9-2 over Protti. Zavala, who finished 31-9 and competed in the 3A Conant Sectional, opened the tournament with a fall and win by sudden victory before losing 14-7 to McGhee in the quarterfinals. After claiming a 9-7 win over Grant’s Ethan Tarvin, he lost by fall to Hupke. Protti, who was the lone medal winner for the Mustangs, won a pair of decisions to start his tournament and then fell to Scott 5-0 in the quarterfinals. After edging Oak Park and River Forest freshman Joseph Knackstedt 7-6, Protti fell 11-0 to Poole and settled for eighth.
126 – Ameer Alamawi, Lincoln-Way Central
Ameer Alamawi went into the IWCOA Frosh/Soph State Championships with a third-place finish in the IWCOA Coal City Sectional and a second-place showing at the Joliet West Regional after going 15-15 this season and taking fourth place in the regional to miss out on advancing to the Class 3A Granite City Sectional.
That’s why some might have been surprised to see the Lincoln-Way Central sophomore emerge as the champion at 126 after capturing a 3-2 win over Joliet Catholic Academy sophomore Justus Snapp in the title match. Alamawi won 7-1 over Metea Valley sophomore Avery Hogsed in the quarterfinals and 7-3 over Hersey’s Rodrigo Arceo in the semifinals to earn a matchup against Snapp, who he also beat 6-4 in overtime for third place in the IWCOA Coal City Sectional. He also lost 3-1 in the regional finals against his Knights teammate, Ryan Mackowiak. After winning his first match by fall, Alamawi claimed a 3-1 victory over Washington sophomore Eli Gonzalez in the second round.
“Ameer had to overcome quite a bit of adversity this year, especially early in the season, where he sat out a month from a broken hand in football,” Knights coach Tyrone Byrd said. “He also had a very competitive Ryan Mackowiak, who won the sectional last week, nipping at his spot. Ameer dialed in the last month cleaning up several technical errors from the season. Competitively he always is trying to win, and in the last month he did it smarter. He has shown a lot of physical control in the state series. He picked a great time to click.”
Byrd, an IWCOA hall of famer from Clinton who competed at the University of Illinois, was pleased with the showing of his Knights, who advanced five individuals to Frosh/Soph State and all of them won medals, which included a second-place finish from Caden Harvey at 132 and Ryan Mackowiak, was one of three Knights who placed seventh. Both Harvey and Mackowiak won IWCOA sectional titles.
“Lincoln-Way Central had five make it to the IWCOA Fresh/Soph State Tournament and all five placed,” Byrd said. “Ryan Mackowiak, Keston Cohn and Tim Key all placed seventh with Caden Harvey placing second and our champ was Ameer Alamawi at 126 pounds. The tournament as a whole was great for the Knights as all them went made home with hardware. I am excited to see how this translates to future varsity success. It’s a bright future for the Knights.”
Snapp is a sophomore who went 19-8 that didn’t compete in the IHSA individual series, but did collect a win against Antioch in the Class 2A semifinals for the state champion Hilltoppers. Snapp advanced to the title mat with a 4-0 win over Marist freshman Tyrese Johnson in the quarterfinals and a 9-3 victory over Hersey sophomore Jake Hanson in the semifinals. After capturing a 4-3 win in his first match over DeKalb freshman Hudson Ikens, Snapp recorded a fall in 3:42 in the second round.
In the third-place match, Glenbard North freshman Rylan Kradle won 5-0 over Hanson. Kradle won a decision in his first match and lost 7-5 on a tiebreaker to Mackowiak in the second round but then went on to win five-straight matches, which included a win by technical fall over Arceo to advance to the third-place mat, a 3-2 win over Mackowiak to avenge his earlier defeat and a fall in 3:32 over Johnson to assure himself of a medal. Hanson went 21-22 and wasn’t able to advance from the Class 3A Fremd Regional. After getting a decision and fall in his first two matches, Hanson won 7-5 by sudden victory over Mackowiak in the quarterfinals, but then fell to Snapp in the semifinals and beat Naperville Central’s Steven Kaszuba 5-0 to earn his spot on the third-place mat.
Kaszuba took fifth place with a 5-0 victory over Arceo. After getting pinned by Arceo in 1:00 in the quarterfinals, Kaszuba won a 3-0 decision over Gonzalez and beat Hogsed 11-0 before falling to Hanson. After opening with two major decisions, Arceo, who was one of two Hersey medalists at 126, won by fall over Kaszuba but then fell to Alamawi 7-3 in the semifinals and lost by technical fall to Kradle. In the seventh-place match, Mackowiak won 6-3 over Hogsed to also give the Knights two medalists at the weight class.
132 – Ryder Janeczko, Yorkville
After placing second in the Southwest Prairie Conference Tournament to move his record to 22-6, Ryder Janeczko didn’t compete in the IHSA individual series.
But the Yorkville freshman, who got his final win of the season in the IHSA Class 3A St. Laurence Dual Team Sectional when the Foxes fell 39-24 to eventual third-place finisher Lockport to suffer their first loss in 19 dual meets. Janeczko looked to finish on a high note and did that by capturing top honors at 132 in the IWCOA Frosh/Soph Championships when he beat Lincoln-Way Central freshman Caden Harvey 7-5 in sudden victory in the title match. In the quarterfinals, he beat Minooka sophomore Cole Stonitsch 13-4 win and won 14-1 over Highland freshman Tyson Rakers in the semifinals. The champion followed a fall in his opener with a 9-6 win over Belvidere North freshman Dominick Girardin.
“Ryder wrestled well,” Foxes coach Jake Oster said. “He didn’t end his season how he wanted and made it a point to wrestle well that weekend and prove to himself that he is one of the best in the state. He looked really good and went out there looking to score points. In the quarterfinals he wrestled Stonitsch, who had beaten him in the conference finals, and won 13-4.”
Harvey, who finished 19-12 after not being able to advance from the challenging Class 3A Homewood-Flossmoor Regional, was one of five Knights who won medals and one of two who advanced to the title mat, with 126 champion Ameer Alamawi being the other. After winning 5-2 in his first match, Harvey captured three-straight one-point decisions to reach the title mat, winning 6-5 in the quarterfinals over Brother Rice freshman Jack O’Connor, who finished 15-12 after competing in the 2A Dual Team finals in the Crusaders’ first appearance there, and then the Knights freshman won 5-4 over Pekin sophomore Ramez Watson in the semifinals before losing in sudden victory to Janeczko for the title.
In the third-place match, Dakota sophomore Jason Bowers won 3-2 over Watson. Bowers finished 21-7 but couldn’t advance from the rugged Class 1A Dixon Regional because he had to bump up to 152 since he was around the same weight as four of his Indians teammates who were all medal winners, champions Phoenix and Maddux Blakely, runner-up TJ Silva and fifth-place finisher Tyler Simmer. Bowers was able to avenge a second-round 3-1 loss to Watson by winning six-straight matches in the consolation bracket. The first five wins were by six points or more, including a 12-4 victory over Grant sophomore Douglas Zimmerman and a 7-0 triumph over Rakers before meeting Watson again.
Watson, who finished 33-12 with two tournament titles and competed in the 3A Granite City Sectional, won decisions in his first two matches, including a 3-1 victory over Bowers in the second round. He followed that with a fall in 4:38 over Sandwich sophomore Sy Smith in the quarterfinals before falling 5-4 to Harvey in the semifinals. He assured himself of a trip to the third-place mat with an 8-3 victory over Stonitsch but fell 3-2 to Bowers to claim fourth place.
Stonitsch won 3-0 over Rakers to claim fifth place. Stonitsch, who beat Janeczko 7-5 to win the SPC championship and finished 22-15 after being unable to advance from the 3A Granite City Sectional, dropped a 13-4 decision to Janeczko in the quarterfinals after opening the tournament with a decision and a fall. Then Stonitsch captured a 6-3 victory on a tiebreaker over Seneca freshman Robert Nelson, who went 34-11 and fell one win shy of qualifying from the Class 1A Coal City Sectional. After winning 13-8 over Lincoln-Way Central sophomore Keston Cohn, Stonitsch fell to Watson prior to claiming fifth place.
Rakers, who finished 30-16 after being unable to qualify from the Class 2A Mahomet-Seymour Sectional, opened with a fall and a decision before winning 4-1 in the quarterfinals over Morton sophomore Steven Marvin, who finished 31-11 and fell one win shy of advancing from the 2A Sycamore Sectional. After losing to Janeczko in the semifinals, Rakers fell to both Bowers and Stonitsch to take sixth. In the seventh-place match, Cohn won 11-4 over Zimmerman. Cohn dropped his first match to Bowers and followed with four-straight wins before splitting his last two matches and Zimmerman lost his second match and then won three in a row before suffering two defeats.
138 – Dominic Serio, West Aurora
By most standards, Dominic Serio had an outstanding freshman season, posting a 39-9 record, which included a title in the Southwest Prairie Conference and two second-place finishes in other tournaments.
But the West Aurora standout was looking to finish out on a better note after coming up one win shy of qualifying for the IHSA Individual Finals at the Class 3A Hinsdale Central Sectional and made the most of the opportunity to claim top honors at 138 at the IWCOA Frosh/Soph Championships in Springfield when he won 13-3 over Highland Park sophomore Mark Martinez in the title match. Serio was certainly impressive the tournament, recording two falls and two wins by technical fall to advance to the title mat; He won by fall in 1:40 in the quarterfinals over Washington sophomore Timmy Smith and in the semifinals, he won by technical fall over Deerfield freshman Christian Wittkamp.
“After a pair of heart-breaking losses in the IHSA sectional tournament to the eventual third- and fourth-place finishers at the state tournament, Dom continued his training for the next best thing,” Blackhawks coach Andrew Plata said. “Luckily, he found that success that he had been striving for in the Frosh/Soph Tournament. Dom was very dominant in every aspect of his matches.”
Martinez, who finished 17-6 and competed in the Class 3A Barrington Sectional, got falls in his first two matches and then won 7-3 over Metea Valley sophomore Patrick Mullen in the quarterfinals and captured a 6-1 victory over Providence Catholic sophomore Geno Papes in the semifinals.
In the third-place match, Papes defeated Washington sophomore Kaiden Hacker by a 7-3 score. Papes, who went 18-8, opened with a decision and a fall before edging Hacker 5-4 in the quarterfinals before losing 6-1 in the semifinals to Martinez. After beating Naperville Central sophomore Christopher Bern 13-0, Papes defeated Hacker again, this time, 7-3 for third. Hacker, who opened the tournament with two falls, bounced back from his quarterfinals loss to Papes with three-straight wins, including falls over Plainfield East sophomore Nicholas Duggan and Wittkamp before settling for fourth place.
Bern avenged a 13-8 loss to Wittkamp in the second round with a 7-5 win over him in the fifth-place match. Bern won four-straight matches in the consolation bracket before losing to Papes. Wittkamp, who was on the Warriors’ Class 2A dual team squad that finished second at the IHSA finals, opened the Frosh/Soph Finals with three-straight decisions, including an 8-5 win over Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley/Fisher sophomore Carson Maxey in the quarterfinals, after falling to Serio in the semifinals, Wittkamp lost twice.
And Maxey won 3-2 over Duggan for seventh place. Maxey, who went 27-13 and competed in the Class 1A Olympia Sectional, won his first two matches before falling 8-5 to Wittkamp in the quarterfinals and then Bern in the consolation bracket. Duggan, who was 22-16 and competed in the 3A Granite City Sectional. fell to Serio in his first match but then recorded four-straight falls in the wrestlebacks, with the last one over Mullen, before dropping his final two matches.
145 – Carlos Perez, Mount Carmel
Carlos Perez definitely closed his sophomore season on a high note by not only getting the opportunity to be able to wrestle a pair of matches in the IHSA Dual Team finals, where his team won the Class 3A championship but he also was able to win the title at 145 in the IWCOA Frosh/Soph Championships.
Perez, who went 8-10 this season and split his two matches at the Dual Team finals in Bloomington for Class 3A champion Mount Carmel, getting a win against Libertyville in the quarterfinals and loss against DeKalb in the title meet, which the Caravan won 32-27 for the first state title since 1994. Perez won 3-0 over Lincoln-Way East sophomore Domanic Abeja in the Frosh/Soph championship match. After getting a win by technical fall and a decision in his first two matches, Perez defeated Downers Grove South sophomore Connor Kelly by technical fall in the quarterfinals and then recorded a fall in 3:24 in the semifinals over Granite City freshman Braden Kelly.
Abeja, who went 22-12 and was unable to advance from the Class 3A Granite City Sectional. He earned his spot in the finals with a 3-2 quarterfinals victory over Marian Central Catholic sophomore Max Astacio and then won 8-3 in the semifinals over United Township freshman Kayden Marolf. After getting a fall in his opener, Abeja won 9-5 over Stagg freshman Durango Valles. Abeja and his Griffins teammates enjoyed an historic season, finishing ranked sixth in Class 3A and winning their first conference championship.
In the third-place match, Coal City freshman Landin Benson won by fall in 1:54 over Connor Kelly. After losing his first match 8-1 to Wauconda sophomore Cole Porten, Benson claimed wins in all seven of his matches in the consolation bracket, five of which were falls. He closed out his dramatic tournament run with a fall in 2:20 over Valles, an 8-2 victory over Braden Kelly and a fall in 1:54 over Connor Kelly in the third-place match. Connor Kelly, who went 19-14 and was unable to advance from the Class 3A Hinsdale Central Sectional. After he recorded falls in his first two matches, Connor Kelly lost to Perez in the quarterfinals but then responded with three-straight falls to reach the third-place mat, pinning Geneseo sophomore Joshua Hock in 2:49 and then Marolf in 1:40.
Taking fifth place was Braden Kelly, who won by fall in 2:38 over Marolf. Braden Kelly, who went 26-20 and failed to advance to the Class 3A sectional that his school hosted, beat Hock 18-7 in the quarterfinals before getting pinned by Perez in the semifinals. After losing to Benson, he pinned Marolf in the fifth-place match. Braden Kelly opened the tournament with a win by technical fall and then won a decision in his second match. Marolf recorded falls in his first three matches, winning by fall in 2:43 over Washington freshman Braden Baker in the quarterfinals before losing 8-3 to Abeja in the semifinals and falling two more times in the consolation bracket to Connor Kelly and Braden Kelly.
In the seventh-place match, Valles won 4-3 over Hock. Valles, who went 21-11 and fell one win shy of advancing from the Class 3A Hinsdale Central Sectional, lost his second-round match to Abeja and then won three-straight matches, with the last those a fall over Baker in 3:30. After getting pinned by Benson, Valles edged Hock for third place. Hock, who went 33-16 and failed to advance out of the 2A United Township Regional, lost to Braden Kelly in the quarterfinals and then won 6-2 over Prairie Ridge sophomore Xander York, who finished 23-15 and fell one win shy of advancing from the 2A Deerfield Sectional. Hock was pinned by Connor Kelly before being edged by Valles to finish eighth.
152 – Themba Sitshela, Stevenson
Themba Sitshela had the difficult challenge of beating an individual who fell one win shy of advancing to Champaign for the IHSA Individual Tournament one week before being a member of a Class 2A championship squad that is coached by his father at the IHSA Dual Team State Tournament in Bloomington.
But that’s just what the Stevenson sophomore accomplished when he edged Joliet Catholic Academy sophomore Connor Cumbee 5-3 in the 152 title match at the IWCOA Frosh/Soph Championships. Sitshela, who went 27-17 and competed in the Class 3A Barrington Sectional at 160, reached the championship match after winning 11-2 over Mahomet-Seymour sophomore Caleb Hillard in the quarterfinals and recording a fall in 4:48 over St. Charles East’s Anthony Gutierrez to face Cumbee, who entered the title match on a roll after beating all four of his opponents by fall. Sitshela won by technical fall in his opener and 5-4 over Genoa-Kingston sophomore Brady Brewick in round two.
“Themba has an incredible work ethic,” Patriots coach Shane Cook said. “He has been improving exponentially throughout the course of the season. Winning the Frosh/Soph State Tournament is a testament to his hard work and his desire to succeed. We are excited about his future.”
Cumbee went 28-16 after falling one win shy of advancing from the 2A Sycamore Sectional but then came up big for his team in dual team competition as they beat Washington in the sectional in a clash of the state’s top teams before winning all three of their duals at the state finals in Bloomington to give JCA its first state title. Cumbee’s father is Ryan, a three-time medalist and member of three Class AA title teams at Providence Catholic for IWCOA hall of famer Keith Healy, who he later assisted, after attending Northwestern University. Prior to taking over at JCA, he led Marmion Academy to second- and third-place finishes. Cumbee earned his spot in the finals after recording four-consecutive falls, winning in 4:19 over Lane Tech sophomore Fernando Lopez in the quarterfinals and in 4:57 over Lena-Winslow/Stockton sophomore Jared Dvorak in the semifinals.
In the third place match, Dvorak won 5-2 over Gutierrez. Dvorak, who went 38-12 and fell one win shy of advancing to state out of the Class 1A Princeton Sectional, was a member of a team coached by IWCOA Hall of Famer Kevin Milder that was top-ranked for much of the year but fell 34-32 to Sandwich in the Rock Falls dual team Sectional. After opening with a fall and a decision, Dvorak edged Stagg sophomore Luke Barham 3-1 in the quarterfinals before getting pinned by Cumbee in the semifinals. But he bounced back with a 3-1 victory over Jacksonville sophomore James Cotton to earn his spot in the third-place match. Gutierrez opened with three-straight falls, including one in 1:55 over Cotton in the quarterfinals, before getting pinned by Sitshela. But he added another fall over Lopez before getting edged by Dvorak for third.
Cotton claimed fifth place after capturing a 4-2 win over Lopez. Cotton, who went 35-5 and came up one win shy of advancing to state from the Class 2A Mahomet-Seymour Sectional, opened with a major decision and a fall before being pinned by Gutierrez in the quarterfinals but then he won two narrow decisions, including a 5-2 win over Hillard to meet Dvorak to see who would compete for third place. After dropping a 3-1 decision, Cotton won a two-point decision over Lopez to claim third place. Lopez, who went 29-9 and competed in the Class 3A Conant Sectional, opened with two falls before getting pinned in the quarterfinals by Cumbee. But then he recorded falls over Fenwick sophomore Rowan White and Lincoln-Way Central sophomore Tim Key before getting pinned by Gutierrez and losing the close decision to Cotton.
In the seventh-place match, Key won by fall in 2:12 over Hillard. Key, who went 28-19 and qualified for the Class 3A Granite City Sectional, got pinned in his first match and then won four-straight and five of his next six matches to finish seventh. He was one of five medal winners for Lincoln-Way Central. Hillard recorded a fall and won a decision in his first two matches before falling to Sitshela in the quarterfinals and then beat Mount Carmel’s Kevin Kalchbrenner 10-7 to assure his spot on the awards stand.
160 – Matty Lapacek, Downers Grove South
The title matches at the IWCOA Frosh/Soph Championships have frequently involved two competitors who both fell one win shy of advancing to Champaign, but the scenario that Matty Lapacek faced in the 160 finals was a bit different than most of those since his opponent had suffered the same fate as him in the same sectional and weight class.
In his third meeting of the season with Wheaton Warrenville South sophomore Sedeeq Al Obaidi, Downers Grove South sophomore Lapacek jumped out to a 9-1 lead only to see his Tigers opponent rally to get to within 10-9, but Lapacek pulled away again to win 16-9 and claim his second win over Al Obaidi, who he pinned in 3:42 in the quarterfinals of the IHSA Class 3A Hinsdale Central Sectional but dropped a 4-2 decision to in the title match at the IWCOA Naperville Central Sectional. Lapacek, who went 30-12, recorded falls in his other four matches, needing just 0:28 against Dixon sophomore Steven Kitzman in the quarterfinals and winning in 3:23 in the semifinals over Quincy sophomore Owen Uppinghouse to set up the only title matchup of its kind at this year’s competition.
“Matty had a great tournament and Frosh/Soph State Series,” Downers Grove South coach Sean Lovelace said. “He wrestled a kid from Wheaton Warrenville South in the finals and they had split their first two meetings. It was an exciting final where Matty jumped out to a 9-1 lead, then the other kid came storming back and the score was 10-9 for Matty, who then put him on his back again to seal the state championship. Matty is a great kid and a grinder with awesome hips, we were so excited for him and can’t wait to see what the next two years hold for him.”
Beside Lapacek’s title, Lovelace had plenty to be proud of with his Mustangs in the tournament. He had two other medalists in Connor Kelly at 145 and Mack Piehl at 182 while Miguel Castaneda fell one win shy of getting a medal at 106 and Jayden Contreras didn’t place at 285. About the only downside for Downers Grove South was that RJ Samuels suffered an injury in the IWCOA sectional and was unable to compete at 152, and he had a good chance of being another medal winner. All of the qualifiers were sophomores.
“Our team finished in fifth place out of 220 teams in the unofficial team standings, which is probably our highest finish of all time, Lovelace said. “Considering we were missing RJ Samuels, this was a great showing and we were super proud of their efforts on the weekend to cap off their season. Connor had a great tournament, losing to the eventual champ in the quarterfinals and in the third-place match. He’s a pinner and is going to turn some heads next year. Mack placing in this tournament will be great for his confidence moving forward and he just keeps getting better and better.”
Al Obaidi, who went 31-11 this season, won by fall in 2:37 over Joliet Catholic Academy freshman Zach Pomatto in the quarterfinals and claimed a 9-1 major decision over Hononegah freshman Kurt Smith in the semifinals to earn his trip to the title match. He opened his run to the title mat with a win by technical fall and a decision. He was the only Tiger who competed in Springfield.
Uppinghouse won 4-2 over Smith to take third place. After recording falls in his first two matches, In the quarterfinals, Uppinghouse pinned Glenbard East sophomore Blake Salvino in 4:24 in the quarterfinals but then he got pinned in 3:23 by Lapacek in the semifinals. But he bounced back from that loss to capture an 8-0 win over Woodstock North sophomore Kaden Combs to earn his spot on the third-place mat. Smith, who went 14-5 and competed in the Class 3A Barrington Sectional, opened with two falls before getting a 3-1 win in the quarterfinals over O’Fallon freshman Terence Willis, who went 22-11 and competed in the Class 3A Granite City Sectional, and then losing to Al Obaidi in the semifinals. But he responded to that with a 7-2 victory over Kitzman.
In the fifth-place match, Combs won 9-2 over Kitzman. Combs, who went 21-6 this and fell one win shy of advancing to state at the Class 2A Deerfield Sectional at 170, lost in the second round to Al Obaidi but then won four-straight matches and five of the next six as he claimed major decisions over Willis and Pomatto before falling to Uppinghouse to send him to the fifth-place mat. Kitzman, who went 19-9 but was unable to advance out at 170 in the competitive 1A regional that Dixon hosted, won a decision and recorded a fall before getting pinned by Lapacek in the quarterfinals but he responded with a fall in 2:48 over Bartlett’s Ryan Gura and won 5-3 over Salvino before losing to Smith.
And Salvino won by fall in 0:51 over Pomatto to claim seventh place. Salvino, who went 27-15 and competed in the Class 3A Conant Sectional, lost by fall to Uppinghouse in the quarterfinals but then won by fall in 2:17 over Auburn’s Joey Barrow before getting edged by Kitzman. Pomatto’s lone win on varsity came in the Class 2A Dual Team semifinals in JCA’s 64-10 victory over Antioch on the day that the Hilltoppers made history by winning their first state title in the sport. The freshman fell to Al Obaidi in the quarterfinals before getting a fall in 4:51 over Hoopeston Area’s Angel Zamora to assure himself of a medal and then losing to Combs to compete for seventh.
170 – AJ Mancilla, Bradley-Bourbonnais
While AJ Mancilla might be playing baseball this spring, that didn’t prevent him from competing in the IWCOA Frosh/Soph Championships after he went 36-6 and was ranked in Class 3A thanks to two firsts and two seconds in tournaments but he came up one win shy of advancing from the Granite City Sectional to the IHSA Individual Finals.
The Bradley-Bourbonnais sophomore capped off a tournament where he won three major decisions and two decisions to claim top honors at 170 after capturing a 14-2 victory over Libertyville sophomore Owen McGrory in the title match. Mancilla’s closest match was his first, which he won 5-3 over Hersey’s Connor Cambria, then he won a major decision before winning 10-1 over St. Charles East sophomore Brandon Swartz in the quarterfinals and captured an 8-1 victory over Prospect sophomore Michael Matuszak in the semifinals. The Boilermakers had two qualifiers and sophomore Zach Anderson was hoping to place at 152 but he was hampered by injuries and split his four matches.
“AJ outscored his opponents 46-7 and only gave up escapes,” Boilermakers coach Mickey Spiwak said. “He has been going from wrestling workouts straight to baseball for the last three weeks. He had a lot of family show up to watch him and I think that contributed to his success. AJ used to try to win every match 1-0 or 3-2. We challenged him to open up this series, and he clearly stepped up to our challenge. We want our wrestlers to be exciting to the spectators, and putting points on the board is a big part of that.
Zach wrestled really tough and made it to day two, but was fighting through some injuries that caught up to him throughout the tournament. He has a very bright future ahead of him and we are excited for him.”
McGrory didn’t get many matches in this season, but that’s not surprising since he’s at the same weight as third-place finisher Austin Gomez and one weight below Class 3A state champion Josh Knudten, Beside being in a room with some of the state’s best, he’s also fortunate to have one of Illinois’ all-time winningest coaches, IWCOA Hall of Famer, Dale Eggert with 630 victories, as his coach and he also got the opportunity to be a member of the Wildcats state dual team, with the program making its first appearance since 2014. McGrory advanced to the title mat by winning four decisions, including a 6-2 quarterfinals victory over Romeoville sophomore Mason Gougis and a 6-4 win by sudden victory over Quincy sophomore Bryor Newbold in the semifinals.
Newbold, who went 34-15 and competed in the 3A Granite City Sectional at 182, took third place with an 11-3 victory over Neuqua Valley sophomore Silvano Spatafora. Newbold pinned Spatafora in 1:41 in the quarterfinals but then lost 6-4 on a tiebreaker to McGrory in the semifinals. Newbold secured his spot in the third-place match with a 7-4 win over Danville sophomore Dalton Brown. Spatafora, who went 12-14 and qualified for the Class 3A Hinsdale Central Sectional, got a bye and won a decision before being pinned by Newbold in the quarterfinals but responded with a fall, a 6-5 victory over Joliet Catholic Academy freshman Nicholas Ronchetti and a 4-2 win by sudden victory over Matuszak.
In the fifth-place match, Brown won by fall in 2:28 over Matuszak. Brown, who went 25-10 and fell one win shy of qualifying for state from the Class 2A Mahomet-Seymour Sectional, opened with two falls before losing 4-2 to Matuszak in the quarterfinals.Then got a fall and a 10-2 win over Swartz before losing to Newbold and then avenged his earlier loss to Matuszak to finish fifth. Matuszak, who went 11-10 for the Knights, who advanced to the IHSA Class 3A Dual Team Finals for the fourth time since 2015 and won their first trophy in the competition when they finished fourth. After beating Brown 4-2 in the quarterfinals, Matuszak lost to Mancilla and also was edged by Spatafora.
For seventh place, Swartz won 15-3 over Ronchetti. Swartz, who finished 29-11, lost to Mancilla in the quarterfinals and won two of his last three matches while Ronchetti, one of four JCA medalists, went 23-17 and got to compete in all three dual meets for his team at the Class 2A Finals in Bloomington, where the program won its first state title.
182 – Ayden Salley, Barrington
Of all of the champions of this year’s IWCOA Frosh/Soph State Finals, Ayden Salley was the lone one that fell one win shy of earning a trip to the IHSA Individual Finals while competing in a sectional that his school hosted, but he could share the pain with two others from Barrington, which did qualify three individuals from its Class 3A sectional.
But there would no heartbreak for the Broncos sophomore who went 27-8 this season with two tournament titles and one second-place finish when he competed at the Bank of Springfield Center as Salley kicked off his title run with two falls before winning 4-3 in the quarterfinals over Lincoln-Way East freshman Caden O’Rourke, then claiming a 7-0 in the semifinals over Unity freshman Hunter Eastin and capturing the title at 182 with another one-point decision, beating Moline sophomore James Soliz by a 10-9 score.
“Ayden won the Frosh/Soph state tourney and is coming into his own,” Broncos coach David Udchik said. “We always tell him that he’s at a ‘man’s weight class’ and he is really wrestling well. He is an underclassman and all of the team looks up to him. He has improved greatly over the past season and knows how to wrestle hard for ‘The Circle’.”
Soliz, who went 38-15 and fell one win shy of qualifying from the Class 3A Granite City Sectional, was able to take some consolation for his season since he was able to get a pin in the Class 3A Dual Team Finals as the Maroons earned their first trip to that competition since 2000 but fell 35-30 to Prospect in the quarterfinals. The Maroons sophomore opened the Frosh/Soph Tournament with three-straight falls, including one in 0:23 in the quarterfinals over Elk Grove sophomore Benjamin Schlosser and then earned his spot on the title mat opposite of Salley with a 9-2 semifinals victory over Normal West sophomore Gustav Schreiber.
In the third-place match, O’Rourke won 5-2 over Naperville North sophomore Matthew Murphy. The freshman was able to get in a few matches for a Griffins squad which finished ranked sixth in Class 3A and captured its first conference title while giving eventual Class 3A third-place finisher Lockport a run for its money in the Homewood-Flossmoor Regional. After opening with a fall and a decision, O’Rourke lost to Salley 4-3 in the quarterfinals but then responded with four-straight narrow victories to place third, winning 3-1 in sudden victory over Fremd’s Aaron Del Mar, 2-0 over Downers Grove South sophomore Mack Piehl, 4-3 over Schreiber and 5-2 over Murphy.
Murphy, who went 12-9 and fell one win shy of qualifying for the Class 3A Hinsdale Central Sectional, won his first match but got pinned by Providence Catholic sophomore Michael O’Connor in his second match to head to the consolation bracket. He captured five-straight victories, including two major decisions, completing the run with a 10-3 win over Schlosser, a 3-1 victory over Mount Carmel’s Josue Hernandez and a 5-0 win over Eastin before falling to O’Rourke by three points for third place.
Taking fifth place was Schreiber, who won by fall in 2:09 over Eastin. Schreiber won his first three matches by fall, including in 0:49 over O’Connor in the quarterfinals. After falling to Soliz 9-2 in the semifinals, he lost by a point to O’Rourke and beat Eastin by fall. Eastin finished with a 14-3 record for Unity, which finished 33-4 and took third place in Class 1A and didn’t see action in the postseason with runner-up Grant Albaugh at his weight and runner-up Nick Nosler at 195, but being around two of the state’s best no doubt benefited him. After opening with a major decision and then winning a narrow decision, Eastin won by technical fall in the quarterfinals over Belleville West’s Ethan Hofmeister before falling to Salley in the semifinals and then lost to Murphy to go for fifth. In the seventh-place match, Piehl, a 3A Hinsdale Central Sectional qualifier, won 7-1 over Hernandez, who was a member of Mount Carmel’s IHSA Class 3A championship team, which finished with a 19-4 record.
195 – Andrew Marquez, Rock Island
Andrew Marquez and Daniel McGhee were able to wrap up a memorable sophomore season for Rock Island when the pair competed for titles at the IWCOA Frosh/Soph Championships with Marquez taking first and McGhee falling in overtime to place second.
Marquez finished with a 37-14 record and fell one win shy of advancing from the rugged Class 2A Sycamore Sectional. But he was able to pick up a victory in his team’s 41-34 quarterfinals defeat against Deerfield, which was the Rocks’ first trip to the IHSA Dual Team Finals in 30 years. Marquez won the IWCOA Frosh/Soph Championships title at 195 with a fall in 1:17 over Hersey sophomore Leo Delgado. After recording falls in his first two matches, Marquez claimed a 7-6 win over Marist sophomore Michael Maloney in the quarterfinals and then won 14-0 over Seneca sophomore Chris Peura. During the season, Marquez won two tournament titles and took second place three times.
“We had two wrestlers make the finals,” Rocks coach Joel Stockwell said. “Andrew Marquez pinned his opponent to win the title and Daniel McGhee lost in overtime. I am always thankful for the efforts of the IWCOA to host great events for the student athletes trying to strive for greatness. The Frosh/Soph State series is no exception. If you go back and read the list of medalists you will often find many of those wrestlers go on to place at the IHSA State Tournament.”
Delgado was part of a special season for Hersey, which finished 13th in the IWCOA Class 3A rankings and won the Mid-Suburban League title. The Huskies sophomore opened the IWCOA Frosh/Soph Finals with three-straight falls, including one in 3:30 over Centennial sophomore Ettavias Holmen-Anderson in the quarterfinals. Then he earned a spot in the finals opposite Marquez by capturing a 5-0 victory over Loyola Academy freshman Joey Herbert in the semifinals. He had the best finish of the Huskies’ five medal winners.
In the third-place match, Peura won 5-4 over Warren sophomore Jeremija Hixson. Peura, who finished 41-9 and came up one win shy of advancing at the Class 1A Coal City Sectional, After getting falls in his first two matches, Peura won 4-2 in the quarterfinals over Hixson before falling to Marquez in the semifinals. Following an 11-1 win in the wrestlebacks over Mt. Vernon sophomore Mason Randall, Peura defeated Hixson again, this time by one point, to claim third place. Hixson, who went 22-19 this season and qualified for the Class 3A Barrington Sectional, followed a fall before winning 4-2 over Elk Grove freshman Dylan Berkowitz, but then lost by the same score to Peura in the quarterfinals. After getting a fall over Maloney and claiming a 1-0 win over Herbert, Hixson lost to Peura again to place fourth.
Finishing fifth was Herbert, who recorded a fall in 2:43 over Randall. Herbert, who went 14-13 this season and didn’t advance from the Class 3A Glenbrook South Regional, opened with two falls and a 2-1 decision with the second of the two pins coming in 4:11 over Randall in the quarterfinals. After falling to Delgado in the semifinals, Herbert was edged by Hixson and then recorded another fall over Randall to place fifth. Randall, who went 34-11 this season and qualified for the Class 2A Mahomet-Seymour Sectional, recorded two falls before suffering his first loss to Herbert and following a pin and 7-1 win over Naperville Central’s Jacob Smetters, he lost to 11-1 to Peura.
In the seventh-place match, Maloney won 9-1 over Smetters. Maloney, who finished 19-11 and fell one win shy of qualifying from the Class 3A Hinsdale Central Sectional at 285, was edged by Marquez 7-6 in the quarterfinals and then pinned Berkowitz before being pinned by Hixson. Maloney’s RedHawks got the opportunity to compete in the IHSA Dual Team Finals for the first time since 2014 but their 24-3 team that had been top-ranked in Class 3A late in the season lost 34-33 to Lockport in the quarterfinals. Smetters won by fall in his first match, and then was edged by Herbert 2-1 before winning three in a row, including wins over Curie sophomore Anthony Garcia and Holmen-Anderson before losing to Randall. He was one of Naperville Central’s five medalists out of seven qualifiers, capping a successful season where the Redhawks finished ranked ninth in Class 3A.
220 – Kaiden Morris, Rochelle
When a freshman can go 40-8 at 220 and win one tournament and finish in the top-three in three other invites, one would usually expect that such a performance would result in a trip to the IHSA Individual State Tournament, but that didn’t happen for Kaiden Morris, who fell one win shy of advancing out of the rugged Class 2A Sycamore Sectional.
But the Rochelle freshman was able to close out his successful debut on a high note when he captured the 220 championship at the IWCOA Frosh/Soph Tournament after edging Lena-Winslow/Stockton sophomore Michael Haas 3-2 in the title match. Morris kicked off his title run with three-consecutive falls, with the quickest of those coming in 1:24 over Carmel Catholic sophomore Patrick Lucansky in the quarterfinals. His final two matches were not only tight, they were both decided by the same score, 3-2, as he defeated Plainfield North sophomore Leonardo Tovar by one point in the semifinals to earn his spot on the title mat. With Joseph Nadig finishing second at 113, the Hubs joined four other teams as the only ones in the field to have two individuals who reached the title mat.
While Morris was unable to advance out of the sectional, his finals opponent couldn’t qualify at 285 from his regional, but there was no shame in that since the Class 1A Dixon Regional was loaded with several of the top teams in that class competing in the competition. Haas went 36-7 this season for Lena-Winslow/Stockton, which ended the season top-ranked in Class 1A but it fell 34-32 to Sandwich in the Rock Falls Dual Team Sectional. After opening the tournament with a pair of decisions, Haas won by fall in 2:58 over Joliet Central freshman Charles Walker and then got a fall in 5:00 over Naperville Central sophomore Nico Besteiro in the semifinals to earn his trip to the finals to face Morris.
In the third-place match, Warren freshman Anthony Soto won 5-2 over Jacksonville sophomore Oliver Cooley. Soto, who went 21-10 and fell one win shy of advancing from the Class 3A Barrington Sectional, opened with two falls before getting pinned by Tovar in 4:30 in the quarterfinals. He responded with two falls, including one in 2:15 over Glenbard North freshman Tyler Ott before claiming a 5-2 win over Besteiro. Cooley, who finished 26-13 and qualified for the Class 2A Mahomet-Seymour Sectional, lost his second-round match to Crystal Lake Central’s Thomas McNeil but then recorded five-consecutive victories and three-straight falls which was capped by a 3-1 win by sudden victory over Lyons Township sophomore Samuel Costello and a fall in 2:50 over Tovar. The Crimsons had three qualifiers and all of them won medals with Cooley getting the best finish.
Finishing in fifth place was Tovar, who won 4-2 in sudden victory over Besteiro. Tovar, who went 28-15 and fell one win shy of qualifying from the Class 3A Granite City Sectional, followed a decision with two falls, with the latter in 4:30 over Soto in the quarterfinals. After losing 3-2 to Morris in the semifinals, Tovar got pinned by Cooley and then took fifth to become the Tigers’ lone medal winner. Besteiro, who was one of five medal winners for Naperville Central, opened with three-straight decisions, including 4-0 over McNeil in the quarterfinals. After getting pinned by Haas, he lost a 5-2 decision to Soto.
In the seventh-place match, Costello won by fall in 2:12 over Ott. Costello, who went 21-19 and was a Class 3A Hinsdale Central Sectional qualifier at 285 and was the Lions’ lone state qualifier in the Frosh/Soph Tournament, lost to Haas 3-1 in his second match but then won three in a row, with the last win 6-1 over McNeil before losing 3-1 by sudden victory to Cooley. Ott also fell in the recond round to Soto and won three in a row, with the last two being a 7-5 win in sudden victory over Clifton Central sophomore Hunter Hull, who went 25-11 and was a 1A Olympia Sectional qualifier, and then a fall in 1:41 over Lucansky before getting pinned by Soto.
285 – Alex Pasquale, Lemont
Lemont has accomplished a great deal in the sport during the last 25 years but one thing that it hadn’t done was having a champion at the IWCOA Frosh/Soph Championships but Alex Pasquale ended that drought in the 26th annual competition.
The Lemont sophomore won 3-2 over Lincoln-Way West sophomore Alexander Poholik after getting a late reversal to claim top honors at 285. Pasquale went 29-9 this season and fell one win shy of qualifying for state at the rugged IHSA Class 2A Sycamore Sectional. After getting a quick pin in his opener and then edging Maine South freshman Tyler Fortis 6-5 in his next match, Pasquale won by fall in 2:08 over PORTA sophomore Isaac Guinan in the quarterfinals and captured a 7-2 victory over Jacksonville freshman Aiden Surratt to give his program two top-three finishers in the competition among their two qualifiers, with Carter Mikolajczak going 6-1 to claim third place at the lowest weight class, 101, in the competition. It was a great end to the season for Lemont, which finished as the fourth-ranked team in Class 2A according to Rob Sherrill’s final IWCOA rankings.
“Lemont has never had a IWCOA state champion in the previous 25 years until Alex Pasquale captured the championship at 285 pounds,” Lemont coach Erik Murry said. “I was extremely impressed with both sophomore wrestlers; Carter Mikolajczak finished in third place at 101 and went 6-1 while Alex achieved a perfect 5-0 to claim the title. Both guys wrestled the past couple weeks to qualify through regionals at Joliet West and sectionals held at Coal City to qualify for State. I was elated on how these guys repensented Lemont by going 11-1 on the weekend, especially competing in a 32-man bracket. In a couple of matches, our guys had to come from behind, including Alex’s final match. Having to come back in the third period with a key reversal late, then riding out the Lincoln-Way West’s Alexander Poholik to win a 3-2 final decision. Overall, I am happy that these guys continued wrestling after the regular season to get more experience and accolades and I expect them to be key contributors and leaders for Lemont next year. Lemont Wrestling has a lot to be excited about for the next couple seasons.”
Poholik, who did not compete in the IHSA state series for the Warriors, who are coached by 2020 IWCOA Hall of Famer Brian Glynn, followed a pin and a 10-5 victory over Evanston sophomore Destiny Ekwebelan in his first two matches. Then he claimed a 6-4 victory over Hampshire sophomore Joey Ochoa in the quarterfinals and won 3-0 over Plainfield Central freshman Antonio Montoya in the semifinals to earn his trip to the title mat. Lincoln-Way West had six qualifiers but Poholik was its lone medalist as freshman Luke Siwinski fell one victory shy of placing at 120.
In the third place match, Ochoa won 3-1 over Montoya. Ochoa, who did not compete in the IHSA individual series, opened his tournament with a pair of first-period falls before getting edged 6-4 by Poholik in the quarterfinals. But he responded to win his next four matches, closing with falls over Ekwebelan in 2:21 and Surratt in 1:41 before edging Montoya for third place. Ochoa was the lone medalist for the Whip-Purs, who had three qualifiers. Montoya, who finished 18-13 after competing in the Class 3A Granite City Sectional, was the lone qualifier for the Wildcats. After winning his first two matches by fall, he won 6-4 over Normal West sophomore Matt Hanold in the quarterfinals before getting edged by Poholik 3-0 in the semifinals. The freshman secured his spot in the third-place match with a fall in 1:32 over Elk Grove freshman Mike Milovich.
Taking fifth place was Milovich, who won by fall in 0:48 over Surratt. Milovich, who did not compete in the IHSA individual series, was one of seven qualifiers for the Grenadiers, and joined 113 champion Grant Madl as their only medalists while three others fell one win shy of placing. After getting pinned in the second round by South Elgin sophomore Thomas Roath, Milovich won four-straight matches by fall, pinning Guinan in 1:26 and Roath in 2:36 before getting pinned by Montoya. With a fall in his first and last matches, all six of his victories were the result of pins. Surratt, who went 21-12 but failed to qualify from his own Class 2A regional, capped a good tournament for the Crimsons, who got medals from all three of their qualifiers. Surratt followed a one-point decision with a pin and then won by fall in 3:45 over Roath in the quarterfinals before dropping a 7-2 decision to Pasquale in the semifinals and then getting pinned by Ochoa in 1:41 in the consolation semifinals.
In the seventh-place match, Roath won by fall in 1:37 over Ekwebelan. Roath, who finished 12-7 and advanced to the 3A Conant Sectional, was the lone medalist for the Storm. He opened with two falls before being pinned by Surratt in the quarterfinals but then he beat Bloomington sophomore Stephen Carr by fall in 0:34 to assure himself of a medal. Ekwebelan, who didn’t compete in the IHSA state series, was the lone medal winner for the Wildkits, who advanced eight individuals to the event. After falling to Poholik 10-5 in the second round, Ekwebelan won three-straight matches, pinning Clinton freshman Dawson Thayer in 4:07 and Hanold in 2:12 before getting pinned by Ochoa and Roath.