IC Catholic Prep dominates 2A Wheeling Regional

By Mike Garofola for the IWCOA

IC Catholic Prep was considered a force in class 2A long before a trio of stars arrived through the transfer portal. But in the minds of those already there, and the new faces in the room, it was clear that coach Danny Alcocer was the missing piece of the Knights’ puzzle.

Alcocer was the head coach of a highly-successful program at 1A power Aurora Christian until the school closed its doors. That closing sent Deven Casey and Pat Mullen from Aurora Christian to the IC campus in Elmhurst. 

Then Brody Kelly made the move from Marmion Academy to give the Knights starting lineup even more of a boost.

“We are all very fortunate to have someone like (Alcocer) here,” senior Michael Calcagno said. “He brings so much knowledge and first-hand experience, and I can tell you the difference in our room from a year ago is amazing.”

Calcagno was one of 11 wrestlers who lifted regional championship trophies to help the Knights win their third regional title in program history. IC Prep overpowered the field in Arlington Heights at the Forest View Educational Center, which hosted this year’s 2A Wheeling Regional.

The Knights amassed 268.5 points – 107 more than second place Deerfield (161.5) followed by Wheeling with 158.5.

Fenton was fourth with 123.5, followed by Vernon Hills, Lake Forest, St. Viator, and Elmwood Park.

“I can tell you first-hand after being around coach Alcocer that we’re all very lucky to have him here at IC,” Casey said. “He will make this program even better than it was.”

IC senior Joe Gliatta agreed.

“We had a good staff here before, but I was really excited with coach (Alcocer) coming here, plus the other three guys who transferred,” Gliatta said. “We’re all working harder than ever before.”

Gliatta,  Foley and Calcagno are also key figures on the Knights football team.

IC Catholic will send 13 into the highly competitive Grayslake Central sectional; Deerfield and Wheeling are next with eight a piece. Fenton (5) and Vernon Hills and Lake Forest each advanced three.

Second-place Deerfield got an individual regional title from Luke Reddy (126), while Lake Forest’s Seth Digby (157) and Fenton’s Thomas Klos (285) were also regional champions.

Here’s a closer look at each weight class:

106- Dominic Pasquale, IC Catholic Prep

IC Catholic Prep was fast out of the blocks when freshman Dominic Pasquale (23-14) won a regional title after his 7-2 decision over Wheeling sophomore David Perez.

Both advance into the Grayslake Central sectional, as will Deerfield freshman Jorey Becker (21-15) who beat Quentin Rodriguez (Elmwood Park) in the third-place bout by a score of 15-9.

Perez would pin his way into the final, while Pasquale recorded a major decision victory to secure his spot in the final, where he won the first major title of his young career.

113- Kannon Judycki, IC Catholic Prep

Kannon Judycki (22-14) would follow Pasquale onto the top of the podium in fine fashion when he registered a pin at 3:50 over Wheeling freshman Frankie Katz in the 113-pound final.

The freshman Judycki, listed in the Honorable Mention section of the most recent state polls,

claimed his first major title after a fourth-place medal won at the CCL conference tournament two weeks ago.

Katz advanced after stunning Saint Viator’s top-seeded Elliot Heckard with a pin midway through the second period.

“I was looking for my duck-under but really worked my overhooks on his left side, so when there was an opening, I went for it,” said Katz, who came into the weekend at 105 pounds.

Charlie Biddle (27-16) from Deerfield beat Anthony Bigham (Fenton) 8-1 in the third place match to advance.

120- Deven Casey, IC Catholic Prep

With the addition of Deven Casey, IC Catholic Prep welcomed an instant state qualifier with a pair of third-place state medals to his name, and a desire to finish on top in his junior year.

“It’s been an easy transition here from (Aurora Christian), and to have our coach from there is great for me, and great for this program,” said Casey, now 27-4 following his pin at 2:22 over Adrian Cohen (33-9) from Deerfield.

The No. 2-rated Casey has his eyes squarely on the reigning state champion and No. 1-ranked Drew Davis of Glenwood  as this post-season moves closer to ending in Champaign.

“Davis beat me 3-2 in my state semifinal two years ago, so I want the chance to see him again at state, hopefully in the final. But I’m not looking past anyone from here on out,” Casey said.

Miguel Lopez (Wheeling) is a first time sectional qualifier thanks to his 12-10 decision over Vernon Hills sophomore Sabir Aliev.

126- Luke Reddy, Deerfield 

Deerfield senior Luke Reddy is one-half of the Warriors’ dynamic duo along with Jordan Rasof, and the No. 4 rated 126-pounder is using his two trips to Champaign to inspire a better result than before.

“(Twice) I’ve lost in the blood round at state. It was hard the first time, but really tough last season,” said Reddy, who lost to Daniel McGhee (Rock Island) 9-8 to dash his hopes for a state medal.

“I am much better on both my top and bottom, and I know with Jordan in the room and our coaching staff pushing me each day, things will be better for me at state,” said Reddy, now 38-2 on the season after his pin at 49 seconds over Max Katz from Wheeling gave him 20 on the season.

Reddy, a two-time regional champion, also won a sectional crown a year ago, ending his season at 34-10. Reddy currently sits with 132 career victories.

Joey Pontrelli will join his IC Catholic Prep teammates at sectionals after his 14-10 victory over Anthony Diaz (Vernon Hills) in the third place match.

132- Omar Samayoa, IC Catholic Prep

It was No. 7 versus No. 8 in the 132-pound final, and when it was over, IC Catholic’s No. 7 Omar Samayoa would further solidify his spot just above Deerfield’s No. 8 Jackson Palzet after his 11-7 victory.

“I’m just taking one match at a time this year, looking forward to sectionals, and not letting how things have gone for me in the past distract me at all,” says Samayoa, 24-14 overall.

“We have a real solid room, team and coaching staff, and even though I’ve made it to state my last three years without coming home with a state medal, it’s all about going out and just doing the best you can,” said Samayoa, who has Elmhurst University, Cornell (Iowa) and Wabash College among those schools he will consider for next year.

Wherever he lands, it will likely have him go the pre-med route with a career as an anesthesiologist.

Palzet, who missed time early on to an injury, is now a sparkling 18-3.

Rene Reyna (Fenton, 18-7) is headed to sectionals following his 11-4 victory over Alex Nesterenko of Wheeling on the third-place mat.

138- Bryson Spaulding, IC Catholic Prep

An early takedown typically sets the tone during an important wrestling match, but for Bryson Spaulding (28-10) it just meant the IC Catholic Prep senior needed to stay focused in order to get himself back on track.

After Deerfield’s No. 2-ranked Jordan Rasof (33-6) had the first takedown of their title match, No. 5-ranked Spaulding halved the lead with an escape, before going on to add points en route to a well-deserved 6-2 victory.

“He (Rasof) obviously was a very good opponent, but this was just another opponent and another wrestling match, and state rankings have never meant anything to me,” said Spaulding.

The Knights senior would endure a marathon semifinal match with Jack McGowean (23-5) that saw the Vernon Hills senior needing several injury time minutes in order to get himself back on the mat. The match ended in a 7-6 decision for Spaulding.

“It wasn’t my best effort of the season,” Spaulding said of his one-point win over McGowean.

“That extra long injury time was a factor for sure, but not an excuse. I hope (McGowean) is okay for sectionals,” added Spaulding, who continues to sort out his college destination while viewing a variety of areas of study from physical therapist to pilot.

A valiant effort from McGowean would later end in a positive way for the 2023 sectional qualifier as he won his third-place match with a pin over Austin Berger from Wheeling.

144- Pat Mullen, IC Catholic Prep

This weight class was top-heavy with talent, so it was no surprise that the No’s. 4- and 7- rated men would face each other in the final.

Both Pat Mullen (19-7) and Mark Martinez (25-2) from Deerfield easily cruised into the title match, but it was Mullen who prevailed in a hard fought 11-6 contest.

“It was an easy call to transfer here to IC for me after Aurora Christian closed, it’s a great small school, and our program staff room are all about keeping things highly competitive to help us stay confident in what we do,” Mullen said. “For me, I’m ready to get after it this season, and get onto the podium.”

His opponent in the final also made a move during the offseason – just over five miles to Deerfield after spending his first three years at nearby Highland Park.

“There is so much quality in our room beginning with our coaching staff, and the type of teammates that will challenge each other every time we come into the room,” said Martinez, 

who was a state qualifier a year ago with a 32-4 overall record.

Josh Dickeson (Fenton) advanced after his pin over Rocco Giuliani (St. Viator) in the third place match.

150- Brody Kelly, IC Catholic Prep

IC Prep sophomore Brody Kelly (27-6) was an easy winner at 150 pounds, using just under three minutes to dispatch a pair of rivals to draw closer to his second straight state appearance.

“It was tough coming over from a great program like Marmion, but we are so much closer to school from my home in Roselle, and I really like the room and our coaching staff here as well,” said Kelly, No. 3 in the state behind David Mayora (Montini) and Zach Montez (Geneseo) both of whom are two-time state qualifiers.

“I learned a lot from my first experience at state last year, and from dual-team state where we finished second behind St. Charles East, so from that and the extra work that I’ve been putting in, the plan is to make a run at a state title this year,” added Kelly.

Charlie Cross (Deerfield, 33-11) moves on after his 5-2 decision in the third place bout with Omar Diaz (22-7) of Fenton.

157- Seth Digby, Lake Forest

For some, two losses to the same opponent in two straight weeks might be enough to shake the very foundation of someone whose dream is to stand atop the podium in Champaign.

Not so for Lake Forest’s Seth Digby (35-2), who in just 80 seconds pinned both of his rivals to cruise to an easy victory at 157 and a well-deserved top four seed at sectionals.

“(Warren’s top-ranked) Aaron Stewart is a great wrestler but in my only two losses of the season – both to him – I learned a lot, and definitely closed the gap against him,” Digby said.

“This will be a very tough weight class at state, but I feel like I’m so much better-prepared than my last two times. The experience of competing in a big arena in front of a big crowd is something I’ll be ready for this time around.”

Digby hopes to major in marketing next year, with West Virginia, and NIU among the colleges he has shown an interest in attending.

Dylan Moncayo (Vernon Hills, 19-8) beat Luca Davila (Deerfield) for third place at 157.

165- Joe Gliatta, IC Catholic Prep

The 165-pound weight class featured a trio of marvelous wrestlers, two of whom moved up a weight class for the state series to join Upstate Eight Conference champion Jovany Zuniga (33-4) of Fenton.

IC Prep senior Joe Gliatta (34-6) proved to be too much for this terrific group when he pinned Zuniga in their semifinal match, then won by fall over Ilia Dvoriannikov (Vernon Hills, 26-5) to win his third major of the season.

“After last year’s disappointing finish at state where I lost in the wrestle-back quarterfinals, I made the commitment to put the extra time in during the offseason, and work on the areas that I needed to improve on,” admitted Gliatta, who is a three-time state qualifier and placed sixth at 145 in 1A two years ago.

Gliatta, who also plays for the Knights football team, was the No. 2 man in the state polls at 157 pounds before bumping up, while the aforementioned Dvoriannikov was fifth overall in the same division.

Zuniga went on to place third against Wheeling’s Miguel Guerrero.

175- Nate Brown, IC Catholic

IC Prep’s Nate Brown would get his feet wet during the two-day, high profile CCL tournament recently by winning his first match of the event before losing and then seeing his time end soon thereafter in the wrestle-backs.

His regional plight followed a different script. The Knights junior gave his club its ninth individual title on the day when he pinned Fenton senior Rulin Palacios (27-9) just twenty seconds before time ran out.

Brown opened with a pin, then sent Deerfield’s top-seeded Chris Mauer (30-15) out of the front draw with a 9-3 decision. Palacios upended No. 2-seeded Jonny Dominguez (16-14) to move into the 175-pound final.

Dominguez topped Mauer via 7-6 decision to earn third place at 175.

190- Foley Calcagno, IC Catholic Prep

Foley Calcagno (29-6) continued to validate his No. 2 state ranking when the IC Prep sophomore pinned his way to the 215-pound title.

Calcagno, sixth at 182 last year in 1A, pinned Phu Truong from St. Viator at 2:19 for the title, after needing just under 90 seconds to secure his place in the final.

“The most important thing that I worked on since the end of last season was my fitness,” Calcagno said. “It wasn’t anywhere near to what it needs to be in order to get myself ready for those tough six minute matches, and it will be the biggest thing for me if I want to be on top of the podium.” Calcagno sits just behind No. 1-ranked Andrew Marquez from Rock Island, the returning state runner-up in 2A at 195 pounds.

Calcagno, who is a fullback and linebacker for the Knights football team, recently finished third overall at the CCL Conference tournament.

Deerfield senior Kevin Sabau will compete at sectionals following his pin of Sebastian Wrobel (Fenton) in the third place match.

215 – Michael Calcagno, IC Catholic Prep

Two-sport star Michael Calcagno has been an immovable force all season long for head coach Danny Alcocer and the high-flying Knights from IC-Catholic Prep.

The No. 1 man at 215 pounds squashed a pair of opponents here on Saturday to win his fourth major tournament of the season. Calcagno (44-4) further solidified his determination to win a state title in Champaign.

“(Alcocer) has pushed us all to succeed,” Calcagno said. “He just drives us to be better, and the type of guys we have in the room will help us all during the state series.”

The 2022 1A state champion at 182 pounds was denied a chance to repeat last season after he suffered an ACL injury just after the fall football season, which saw the Knights win the 3A state football championship.

Calcagno is currently looking at North Carolina, Northwestern, and Penn as his new address in the fall. 

CSL champion Max Drumke (Deerfield, 36-8, 22 pins) earned his first sectional appearance with his 7-3 defeat of Ryan Hutchins (25-16) from St. Viator.

285- Thomas Klos, Fenton

Junior Thomas Klos (19-6) gave Fenton its lone individual title on the day when he needed just 47 seconds to record a pin over Pablo Morales (20-17) from Wheeling.

Klos, who recently finished second at the UE8 conference tournament, used just 60 seconds on the mat to secure his regional crown, and an automatic first-round bye at sectionals.

Jackson Ramos from IC-Catholic Prep made it 13 Knights on their way to the Grayslake Central sectional, following his 5-1 decision over Alexander Berry from Deerfield in the third place match.

Wheeling Regional championship match results:

106- Dominic Pasquale (IC-Catholic) D 7-2 David Perez (Wheeling).

113- Kannon Judycki (IC-Catholic) F 3:50 Frankie Katz (Wheeling).

120- Deven Casey (IC-Catholic) F 2:22 Adrian Cohen (Deerfield).

126- Luke Reddy (Deerfield) F 0:49 Max Katz (Wheeling).

132- Omar Samayoa (IC-Catholic) D 11-7 Jackson Palzet (Deerfield).

138- Bryson Spaulding (IC-Catholic) D 6-2 Jordan Rasof (Deerfield).

144- Pat Mullern (IC-Catholic) D 11-6 Mark Martinez (Deerfield).

150- Brody Kelly (IC-Catholic) F 1:37 Nicholas Montesinos (Wheeling).

157- Seth Digby (Lake Forest) F 0:26 John Scanlon (Wheeling).

165- Joe Gliatta (IC-Catholic) F 4:59 Ilia Dvoriannikov (Vernon Hills).

175- Nate Brown (IC-Catholic) F 5:50 Rulin Palacios (Fenton).

190- Foley Calcagno (IC-Catholic) F 2:19 Phu Truong (St. Viator).

215- Michael Calcagno (IC-Catholic) F 0:15 Yaree Sandifer (Lake Forest).

285- Thomas Klos (Fenton) F 0:47 Pablo Morales (Wheeling).

3rd place results:

106- Jorey Becker (Deerfield) D 15-9 Quentin Rodriguez (Elmwood Park).

113- Charlie Biddle (Lake Forest) D 8-1 Anthony Bigham (Fenton).

120- Miguel Lopez (Wheeling) D 12-10 Sabir Aliev (Vernon Hills).

126- Joey Pontrelli (IC-Catholic) D 14-10 Anthony Diaz (Vernon Hills).

132- Rene Reyna (Fenton) D 11-4 Alex Nesterenko (Wheeling).

138- Jack McGowean (Vernon Hills) F 5:56 Austin Berger (Wheeling).

144- Josh Dickeson (Fenton) F 1:16 Rocco Giuliani (St. Viator).

150- Charlie Cross (Deerfield) D 5-2 Omar Diaz (Fenton).

157- Dylan Moncayo (Vernon Hills) D 10-6 Luca Davila (Deerfield).

165- Jovanny Zuniga (Fenton) F 3:19 Miguel Guerrero (Wheeling).

175- Johnny Dominguez (Wheeling) D 7-6 Chris Mauer (Deerfield).

190- Kevin Sabau (Deerfield) F 1:34 Sebastian Wrobel (Fenton).

215- Max Drumke (Deerfield) D 7-3 Ryan Hutchins (St. Viator).

285- Jackson Ramos (IC-Catholic) D 5-1 Alexander Berry (Deerfield).

Team Results:

IC-Catholic Prep 268.5, Deerfield 161.5, Wheeling 158.5, Fenton 123.5, Vernon Hills 71.5, Lake Forest 54.5, St. Viator 47.0, Elmwood Park 8.0

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