By Patrick Z. McGavin
Marmion 120-pounder Zach Stewart has an almost preternatural fear about the dual meet format.
“I don’t really like them because I know exactly where I am going to be,” he said.
“I always thought it was kind of nerve wracking going in front of both teams. In a normal tournament, you just have your two coaches who are with you, and maybe your parents are nearby.”
The Flavin is the gold standard of the Illinois dual team format tournaments.
“It’s a lot different than the typical bracket tournament because I feel as though it’s the best of the best in the state of Illinois,” Joliet Catholic 120-pounder Gylon Sims said.
“You’re going to get the top teams in the state, and you’re going to get great individuals. At the end, people always say the cream rises to the top. This is where where we find out who is really on the top.”
The two-day, 32-team dual format is both the ultimate quest and the battle of attrition.
“We scheduled this tournament because we knew we’d be going up against some of the toughest teams in the country, and some of the toughest in the state, regardless of class,” Joliet Catholic coach Ryan Cumbee said.
“It’s a great opportunity to see where we are amongst the best in the state, and the country.”
The precocious and skilled Stewart, a freshman, personified another crucial aspect of the Flavin—a showcase and elite platform for making your name, and staking your right to the elite.
Stewart’s stunning 4-3 victory over Sims, the defending Class 2A state champion at 113 pounds, proved the symbolic knockout in Marmion’s 41-20 victory.
Marmion captured the championship bracket with impressive victories over Joliet Catholic, Prospect and Marist.
Stewart’s second-period takedown of Sims altered the momentum, and carried out his upset.
“I think a lot of it has to do with the training I have,” he said. “I wrestle with Jameson Garcia, and there are also a lot of different coaches in the room helping me.”
Marmion completed the two-day event as the only unbeaten program at 6-0.
(All team and individual rankings refer to those compiled by Rob Sherrill at Illinois Matmen.)
Marmion entered the tournament ranked No. 2 in Class 3A behind St. Charles East.
The Cadets had two striking accomplishments to hang their hat entering the tournament—winning the Donnybrook and beating previously top-ranked Marist 48-16 in an earlier dual.
Teams were slotted into equivalent brackets working off the results of the Thursday preliminaries.
Marmion, Marist, Prospect and Joliet Catholic were the four undefeated teams in the first round.
On Thursday, the Cadets romped to the championship of the Wayne Miller Bracket by defeating Providence 76-6, defending Class 1A state champion Yorkville Christian 48-18, and Yorkville by the score of 55-15.
In an exhilarating field, no other program matched the high level depth and versatility of the Cadets’ lineup.
Jameson Garcia finished the tournament 6-0, with five falls.
His younger brother, freshman Nicolas Garcia, posted three falls and a major in going undefeated over the two days.
Santino Scolaro had three falls, a major and two decisions for the Cadets at 145 pounds.
Collin Carrigan, top-ranked at 152 pounds, registered two falls, a technical fall, a 7-2 decision over Yorkville Christian’s Drew Torza, and a 20-6 major over Joliet Catholic’s ranked Connor Cumbee.
At 182 pounds, Jack Lesher had three falls and three technical falls.
With the exception of his loss against Dillan Johnson, heavyweight Sean Scheck registered five falls.
Marist captured the Terry McCoy Bracket by defeating Glenbard East 71-9, Class 2A power Glenwood by the score of 44-20, and defending Class 3A dual team finalist DeKalb 47-24.
Prospect won top honors in the Rich Harvey Bracket with its 54-15 victory over Glenbard West and 42-27 win over Lockport. The Knights edged Class 2A power Washington 38-35.
The most riveting opening-day dual achieved an intensity, fascination and high-stakes performance of a state championship.
In the showdown of the Dan Cliffe Bracket, Joliet Catholic utilized its superior upper weight performers for the early advantage that neutralized a late charge by St. Charles East for the 36-32 victory.
The dual began at 170 pounds with Joliet Catholic’s top-ranked Mason Alessio posting the second period fall of Anthony Gutierrez.
That created the early template for the Hilltoppers. The teams split their victories with seven apiece.
Joliet Catholic had five falls and two decisions. In the showdown at 285 pounds, defending state champion Dillan Johnson defeated Austin Barrett with a second-period fall.
Johnson was one of the most dominant wrestlers during the tournament. He posted six falls. Barrett, who was ranked No. 4 in 3A, was the only opponent to last beyond the first round.
“Last year we proved we are the best in 2A, and now we get a chance to bump up against these 3A schools, and show we are still one of the best around,” Johnson said.
“I look at the matches in this tournament, even with the different format, the same way. I am going to go out there, and do the best I can.”
Max Hrvatin (195) and Hunter Powell (220) also recorded falls. The Johnson pin expanded the lead to 24-3.
The Saints made their own run behind the prowess of freshman sensation Dom Munaretto and two-time defending state champion Ben Davino.
Sims’ 14-8 decision over AJ Marino created some necessary breathing space.
At 152 pounds, Cumbee edged Gavin Connolly 3-2 in overtime that assured the victory.
The great appeal of the Flavin was how it laid out a series of escalating challenges.
“We’ve been looking forward to the dual ever since we got our schedule at the start of the season,” Sims said.
“We knew we were going to have a run for our money, but we also knew we were good enough to compete with these guys.”
A traditional bracketed tournament offers its own test, of contrasting styles and quick recovery times.
The most accurate description of the Flavin is comparable, with one exception—it’s like one staged on top of another.
“This tournament is a lot different because I feel as though it’s the best of the best,” Sims said. “It’s the best of the best in the state of Illinois.
“You’re going to get the top teams in the state, and you’re going to get great individuals. This is where we find out who is really on the top. People say, in the end, the cream always rises to the top.”
Sims went 5-1 with three falls during the two-day tournament.
The format of The Flavin mirrors and anticipates the gauntlet teams must negotiate to win a state dual championship.
Of the four teams in the championship bracket, Prospect and Marist reached the dual team state round.
“We’re one of the original teams in this tournament, back when it was 16 teams at the old high school,” Prospect coach Dan Keller said.
“The tournament simulates what our state series is like, and that’s where we want to be able to perform our best.”
Unlike a bracketed tournament, coaches have the luxury and flexibility of roster changes and weight class adjustments pending the opponent.
“The kids get into it, and they learn how important dual meets are, getting the bonus points and winning those swing matches,” Keller said.
Joliet Catholic won the 2A team title. Marmion was arguably the third best team in the state last year in 3A.
They lost in the sectional against eventual state champion Mount Carmel, providing the Caravan’s second toughest challenge behind state finalist DeKalb.
“When we get to the state finals, it feels like just another dual meet that we are wrestling,” Sims said.
“We are proving to everybody else that we can compete. It’s just another tournament, honestly, so go wrestle, and do your best. Leave it all out on the mat.”
The second-day format featured a series of round robins among the four-bracketed teams.
Joliet Catholic, Marist and Prospect each finished 1-2 in the championship bracket.
Joliet Catholic defeated Marist, who beat Prospect, who stunned the Hilltoppers.
“This was some of the toughest wrestling we’ve ever had,” Cumbee said. “Our state championship was easier than today.
“I don’t mean that to be disrespectful. We wrestled three really good teams today, and two nationally-rated programs in Marmion and St. Charles East.”
Records matter, but so does context, Cumbee said.
“I knew we were going to take our licks, but it was going to teach us to never be satisfied and keep working, so that the end of the season is our easiest time of the year.”
St. Charles East dominated the Gold Pool bracket by defeating 3A state finalist DeKalb 57-11, state semifinalist Lockport 45-27, and sectional finalist Yorkville 61-9.
Davino closed out his remarkable calendar year by posting six falls. Munaretto was equally impressive, with five falls and a technical fall.
He recorded falls of :16, :22 and 1:00 in going undefeated.
Yorkville Christian flexed its power by capturing the Silver Pool that featured Class 2A powers Washington and Glenwood.
Defending state champion Jackson Gillen improved to 24-0 with four falls and two decisions.
Gillen secured the Mustangs’ 37-32 victory over Washington by defeating Blake Hinrichsen, ranked No. at 182 pounds, 10-4.
Ty Edwards ignited the 39-33 comeback victory over Glenwood with his stunning first period fall of defending state champion Drew Davis at 120 pounds.
“I was just focused on myself, and got myself ready and I was able to get the edge there,” Edwards said.
“What I learned these past couple of days is you get better matches all around, and you get more matches that you’d get at a normal tournament.”
Edwards went 5-1 during the tournament, losing only to Marmion’s Zach Stewart.
Wisconsin power Mukwonago captured the Bronze Pool, beating Stevenson, West Aurora and Naperville Central.
With the score tied 33-33 apiece against West Aurora, Mukwonago won on the first period fall by Hayden Chitwood at 182 pounds.
Trailing by 144 points against Naperville Central, the Wisconsin school ended the match with four consecutive pins from 160 to 195 for the 39-29 victory.
Hinsdale Central captured Pool A, defeating Lemont 39-36, Moline 48-30 and defending Class 2A state finalist Deerfield 42-31.
Top-ranked at 220 pounds, Marko Ivanisevic had three falls for the Red Devils.
Moline’s defending state champion Noah Tapia, top-ranked at 145 pounds, had four falls and a forfeit victory at his certified weight. He also posted a fall wrestling at 152 pounds.
Libertyville captured Pool B with victories over Oswego, Pewaukee (Wis.), and Belvidere North.
Star Austin Gomez was the Wildcats’ top performer, posting six falls, including two inside of a minute, at 182 pounds.
Glenbard West earned the top honors in Pool C with victories of Hillgrove, Sycamore and Minooka.
In Pool D, Willowbrook, York and Glenbard East each finished 2-1.
Willowbrook won the tie-breaker.
The Flavin was a way for individuals and teams to gauge the moment, and prepare for the crucial second half of the season.
“You get to see everybody, and we get test ourselves as a team,” said two-time defending state champion Kannon Webster of Washington.
Jumping up as many as two weight classes at 152 pounds, Webster posted five falls and a technical fall.
Certified at 138 pounds, he mostly wrestled at 145 pounds for the tournament.
“This is a great tournament, and a great way to test yourself against all the best kids in the state,” Webster said.
“We get separated in the state tournament by class, so this was a great way to test yourself against different kids.”
Top performers for Marmion included Nicholas Garcia (6-0 at 106), Donny Pigoni (4-2 at 113), Zach Stewart (6-0 at 120), Jameson Garcia (6-0 at 126), Santino Scolaro (6-0 at 145), Collin Carrigan (6-0 at 152), Connor Thompson (3-1 at 160/170), Jack Lesher (6-0 at 182), Ed Perry (6-0 at 220), Sean Scheck (5-1 at 285).
Top performers for Joliet Catholic were Jason Hampton (5-1 at 113), Gylon Sims (5-1 at 120), Jake Hamiti (4-2 at 138), Mason Alessio (6-0 at 160/170), and Dillan Johnson (6-0 at 285).
Top performers for Marist were Donavon Allen (6-0 at 132/138), Jesse Herrera (4-1 at 145), Ricky Ericksen (5-0 at 160/170), Conor Phelan (5-1 at 182), and Peter Marinopoulos (5-0 at 195).
Prospect’s to performers included Jeremy Huf (5-0 at113/120), Will Baysingar (6-0 at 132/138), Giorgio Difalco (3-0 at 132/138), Damien Puma (4-2 at 152), Connor Munn (4-2 at 160/170), and Jaxon Penovich (5-1 at 195/220).
Top performers for coach Jason Potter’s Saints were Dom Munaretto (6-0 at 106), Ben Davino (6-0 at 126), Ethan Penzato (6-0 at 132), Jayden Colon (5-0 at 145), Devean Shearer (3-0 at 195), AJ Marino (5-1 at 120), Tyler Guerra (5-1 at 138), Lane Robinson (5-1 at 160/170), Brody Murray (5-1 at 170/182), Austin Barrett (5-1 at 285), Anthony Gutierrez (4-1 at 160/170) and Brandon Swartz (2-1 at 195).
After falling to St. Charles East, DeKalb won 45-24 over Yorkville and 38-24 over Lockport. Pacing coach Sam Hiatt’s Barbs were Jacob Luce (6-0 at 152), Kaden Klapprodt (5-1 at 106/113), Lamar Bradley (5-1 at 220/285), Eduardo Castro (4-2 at 106/113), Mekhi Cave (4-2 at 138) and David Stewart (4-2 at 195/220).
Lockport defeated Yorkville 38-26 in a meeting of teams coached by the Oster brothers, Jameson and Jake. Top performers for coach Jameson Oster’s Porters were Brayden Thompson (6-0 at 182/195), Logan Swaw (5-0 at 160), Justin Wardlow (5-1 at 120), Logan Kaminski (5-1 at 145), Isaac Zimmerman (4-1 at 106/113), Durango Valles (4-2 at 152) and Aidan Nolting (4-2 at 170/182).
Leading the way for coach Jake Oster’s Foxes were Jack Ferguson (5-1 at 132), Luke Zook (5-1 at 170), Ryder Janeczko (4-1 at 138), Dominic Recchia (4-2 at 126) and Colten Stevens (4-2 at 182/195).
Yorkville Christian took first in the Silver Pool by winning 37-32 over Washington, 39-33 over Glenwood and 51-20 over Father Ryan, TN. Washington took second with wins of 53-19 over Father Ryan and 41-28 over Glenwood, who won 36-28 over Father Ryan for third place.
Top performers for coach Mike Vester’s Mustangs were Grason Johnson (6-0 at 138/145), Tyler Martinez (6-0 at 160), Jackson Gillen (6-0 at 170), Ty Edwards (5-1 at 120), Noah Dial (5-1 at 132/138), Jeremy Loomis (182/195), Aiden Larsen (4-2 at 106) and Christopher Durbin (4-2 at 182/195).
Leading the way for coach Nick Miller’s Panthers were Wyatt Medlin (6-0 at 126), Peyton Cox (6-0 at 138/145), Kannon Webster (6-0 at 145/152), Justin Hoffer (6-0 at 220/285), Zane Hulet (5-1 at 160/170), Blake Hinrichsen (5-1 at 170/182) and Noah Woods (4-2 at 113/120).
Pacing coach Jerod Bruner’s Titans were Alex Hamrick (6-0 at 220), Drew Davis (5-1 at 120), Thomas Vansacik (5-1 at 126), John Ben Maudena (5-1 at 132), Aden Byal (5-1 at 152/160), Brandon Bray (4-2 at 195) and Mark Helm (4-2 at 285).
Mukwonago, WI won the Bronze pool by claiming wins of 41-25 over Stevenson, 39-33 over West Aurora and 39-29 over Naperville Central. West Aurora won 38-30 over Stevenson and beat Naperville central 33-33 by tiebreaker while Naperville Central beat Stevenson 39-32.
Top performers for West Aurora were Robby Wyland (6-0 at 113), Dominic Serio (6-0 at 145), Jesse Clayton (4-1 at 132), Aiden Massaro (4-2 at 126), Noah Quintana (4-2 at 160) and Tyler Johnston (4-2 at 285).
Leading the way for Naperville Central were Ty Martin (5-1 at 113), Nicolas Besteiro (5-1 at 220) and Christopher Bern (4-2 at 152). And Stevenson was led by Lorenzo Frezza (6-0 at 138) and Themba Sitshela (4-2 at 160).
Hinsdale Central won Pool A while Lemont took second place, Deerfield was third and Moline finished fourth. The Red Devils won 39-36 over Lemont, 48-30 over Moline and 42-31 over Deerfield. Lemont defeated Moline 45-30, Deerfield beat Lemont 42-34 and Moline won 45-34 over Deerfield.
Leading the way for Hinsdale Central were Cody Tavoso (6-0 at 138), Marko Ivanisevic (6-0 at 220), Fernando Chavez (5-1 at 106), Sam Murante (4-2 at 113), Liam Ryan (4-2 at 132), Hunter Hamdan (4-2 at 152) and Zach Kruse (4-2 at 160).
Top performers for Lemont were Alex Pasquale (6-0 at 285), Cory Zator (5-1 at 113), Carter Mikolajczak (5-1 at 120), Johnny O’Connor (5-1 at 145), Noah O’Connor (4-2 at 152), Nathan Wrublik (5-1 at 182) and Daniel Taylor (4-2 at 220).
Deerfield was led by Renzo Morgan (6-0 at 132), Aiden Cohen (6-0 at 170/182), Luke Reddy (5-1 at 120), Jordan Rasof (5-1 at 126) and Garvin Crews (4-2 at 195). And leading Moline were Noah Tapia (6-0 at 145/152), Zander Ealy (6-0 at 160), Dominick Diaz (5-1 at 113) and James Soliz (4-2 at 182/195).
Libertyville won Pool B while Belvidere was second, Oswego took third and Pewaukee, WI was fourth. Libertyville won 48-31 over Oswego, 54-28 over Pewaukee and 48-34 over Belvidere. Belvidere claimed wins of 61-16 over Pewaukee and 46-27 over Oswego, who were 55-15 winners over Pewaukee.
Leading the way for Libertyville were Matt Kubas (6-0 at 170), Austin Gomez (6-0 at 182), Cole Matulenko (5-0 at 195), Bryan Morales (3-0 at 120/126), Luke Berktold (5-1 at 120/126), Caleb Christensen (5-1 at 285), Owen McGrory (4-2 at 220) and Orion Moran (2-1 at 126).
Belvidere was led by Antonio Alvarado (6-0 at 145/152), Colin Young (6-0 at 152/160), Brayden Teunissen (5-1 at 106), Dominick Girardin (5-1 at 138), Bryson Teunissen (4-2 at 113/120) and Jorge Hernandez (4-2 at 160/170).
Top performers for Oswego were Brayden Swanson (6-0 at 126), Jonny Theodor (5-1 at 106), Colin O’Grady (5-1 at 152), Cruz Ibarra (5-1 at 195) and Joey Griffin (4-2 at 160).
Glenbard West went 3-0 to win Pool C while Sycamore was second, Minooka took third and Hillgrove, GA was fourth. The Hilltoppers won 41-36 over Hillgrove, 38-36 over Sycamore and 45-12 over Minooka. Sycamore was a 51-15 victor over Hillgrove and a 49-28 winner over Minooka, who beat Hillgrove 37-21 to take third.
Leading Glenbard West were Ulises Rosas (6-0 at 126), Jacob Lachs (6-0 at 138/145), Carson Prunty (5-1 at 106), Alejandro Aranda (4-2 at 120), Elliot Torres (4-2 at 132), Trevor Skoda (4-2 at 160) and Sasha Boulton (4-2 at 170).
Sycamore was led by Gus Cambier (6-0 at 152), Gable Carrick (6-0 at 195), Tyler Lockhart (5-1 at 113), Zack Crawford (5-1 at 160), Lincoln Cooley (5-1 at 285), Cooper Bode (4-2 at 170) and Tyler Curtis (3-1 at 182).
Top performers for Minooka were Damien Flores (6-0 at 120), Cole Stonisch (5-1 at 145), Aiden Miller (4-2 at 106), Dominic Schiavonne (4-2 at 138), Hunter Coons (4-2 at 195), Jason Duy (3-1 at 160) and Cole Spivey (2-1 at 126).
Willowbrook won Pool D while York was second, Glenbard East took third and Providence Catholic placed fourth.
Top performers for Willowbrook were Isaiah Smith (5-0 at 132), Elijah Smith (5-1 at 138/145), Noah Brockie (4-2 at 145/152) and Elias Samayoa (4-2 at 285).
Leaders for York were Zach Parisi (6-0 at 120), Sean Berger (6-0 at 126), Sean VanSleet (6-0 at 132), Danny Decristofaro (6-0 at 170/182), Austin Bagdasarian (6-0 at 220) and Dominic Begora (2-1 at 285).
Glenbard East was led by Blake Salvino (5-1 at 182), Waleed Binmahfooz (4-2 at 113), Ismael Chaidez (4-2 at 120), Will Schultz (4-2 at 138) and Gus Winkler (4-2 at 195).