Lakes’ girls take the title at Dundee-Crown

By Gary Larsen

Girls wrestling programs around Illinois continue to grow, with more schools each year striving incrementally towards filling a complete lineup.

Lakes coach Devin Tortorice is fighting that good fight, as the Lake Villa school of less than 1,300 students works its way toward growing its girls wrestling program.

But for now, the Eagles have a rock-solid core group of girls.

Led by a trio of previous Illinois state medal winners in Ava Babbs, Olivia Heft, and Josie Larson, Lakes can do some damage in even the largest of girls tournaments. They were sixth at Palatine’s 25-team tournament with only six girls participating, third at their own 24-team Sandy Gussarson Invite with only eight girls, and third in Waukegan’s 29-team field.

Saturday at Dundee-Crown, it was Lakes’ turn to snare the brass ring, as eight Eagles won the team title among 16 teams present.

“We’ve placed high in some tournaments but that was our first win. It was fun to come together as a team and get that win,” Babbs said. “When we go to tournaments with teams that have full lineups, it’s especially difficult. So it was nice to be at a tournament against teams more our size.”

Lakes won 135-112 over second-place Zion-Benton, followed by Thornton (98), Thornton-Fractional South (86), and host Dundee-Crown (85) to round out the top five team finishes.

Four of those top five teams had eight girls entered in the tournament; Thornton took third with only six girls entered.

1st place: Lakes (135)

Lakes got individual titles from Babbs (125), Heft (120), Zaryia Mouzon (105) and Haven Sylves (110), seconds from Christina Hasner (135) and Josie Larson (190), and a fourth from Osmairi Medina Alvarado (115).

Babbs was particularly happy for one specific teammate.

“Osmairi did really good. It’s her first year and she was able to place fourth, so seeing her do that was cool,” Babbs said.

“I really like this team. I’ve been on teams that can be a little cliquey but not this one. The coaches and everyone are so nice. (Winning) was really fun and it was big for the whole girls’ program because that was our first time winning a tournament.”

2nd place: Zion-Benton

All six of the Zee Bees wrestlers earned place-medals, as coach Hal Lunsford got individual titles from Naomi Foote (145), Grace Johnson (155), and ILeen Castrejon (190), plus thirds from Emily Ortiz (130), Jay Thompson (135), and Adrianna Ketchum (140) in Carpentersville.

3rd place: Thornton (98)

The Wildcats took third for coach Phillip Rembert with only six wrestlers entered, getting individual titles from Jalah Wilson (130) and Keyhanna Phillips (170), seconds from Gymaria Brown (110) and Sionna Stampley (235), and a third from Paige Martin (190).

Others winning individual titles at Dundee-Crown were the host Chargers’ Iris Torres (100) and Perla Lomeli (140), Grant’s Ayane Jasinski (115), Thornton-Fractional South’s Jermia Moore (135), and Maine West’s Eliana Garrett (235).

Wrestlers reaching the title mat and placing second included Rich Township’s Saryia Maddox (100), Harvard’s Alexa Herrera (105) and Ithandehui Rosas (145), Oregon’s Anna Marquardt (115), Thornton-Fractional South’s Summer Rice (120), Taylor Poole (125) and Quincy Onyiaorah (130), Plainfield North’s Viktoriia Rodnikova (140), and Maine West’s Lillian Garrett (170).

Also placing third were Wauconda’s Lilliana Aly (105), Grant’s Kayden Manis (110) and Cassidy Graham (155), Dundee-Crown’s D’Angel Slater (115) and Daniella Ibanez (145), Glenbard East’s Dakota Rosner (120) and Asia Lacey (170), Thornton-Fractional South’s Caylon Guyton (125), and Elmwood Park’s Sky Vazquez (235).

Other fourth-place wrestlers included Thornton-Fractional South’s Dakota Kelly (105), Dundee-Crown’s Elisa Martin (110), Genoa-Kingston’s Violet Sanders (120), Harvard’s Carolina Hernandez (125) and Jarithsie Mercado (170), Maine West’s Ava Reyes (130) and Ashley Mansell (135), Rich Township’s Nina White (140), Hailey Zamot (145), Cheyenne Haire (155) and Sky Vazquez (235), and Glenbard East’s Nadine Spandiary (190).

Top individual statistics:

Most pins, least time – 5 in 5:43 by Zion-Benton’s ILeen Castrejon

Most tech falls, least time – 1 in 2:00 by Grant’s Ayane Jasinski

Fastest fall – 0:12 by Glenbard East’s Nadine Spandiary

Most team points scored – (tie) 26 by Zion-Benton’s ILeen Castrejon and Naomi Foote

Most single-match points scored – 18 by Grant’s Ayane Jasinski

Most total match points scored – 33 by Zion-Benton’s Adrianna Ketchum

Dundee-Crown Girls Invitational individual champions:

100 – Iris Torres, Dundee-Crown

Host Dundee-Crown junior Iris Torres and Rich Township’s Saryia Maddox were the lone entrants at 100, and Torres (18-9) won the best-of-three showdown with two falls to take the crown.

“Iris has had a tough season so far, bumping between a few weight classes trying to build her confidence, after missing qualifying for state by one match last year,” Dundee-Crown coach Jessica McDowell said. “After traveling down to the state tournament as an alternate last year as a sophomore, she’s hoping her junior year proves to be more victorious.”

105 – Zaryia Mouzon, Lakes

Lakes senior Zaryia Mouzon opened her tournament with a fall at 105 against Stevenson’s Makenna Laarveld (2-2), then gutted out a 4-2 decision in a semifinal match against Wauconda’s Lilliana Aly (3-1).

Mouzon completed her day with a pin on the title mat against Harvard’s Alexa Herrera (21-9). Herrera reached the finals with a fall in the semi’s against Thornton-Fractional South’s Dakota Kelly (7-2). Aly went on to placed third by fall over Kelly.

Mouzon (23-3) is currently ranked as honorable mention at 105 in Illinois and has also won individual tournament titles at Waukegan and Lakes this season.

“Zaryia has been doing a great job overall,” Lakes coach Devin Tortorice said. “I feel confident she has the ability to find herself at the state tournament. Her biggest hurdle no doubt is herself. As long as ‘Z’ is mentally prepared she can do very well.”

110 – Haven Sylves, Lakes

Lakes junior Haven Sylves (18-5) had a trio of pins on the day, but it was her 5-1 decision over Thornton’s Gymaria Brown (7-4) that earned her the title at 110 in Carpentersville.

“I would say Haven has been a fun surprise,” Lakes coach Devin Tortorice said. “She struggled the last couple years but has found herself atop the podium a couple times this year. She is another girl that I believe can be at the state tournament if all goes well.”

Grant’s Kayden Manis won a 10-1 major decision for third place over Dundee-Crown’s Elisa Martin, and Glenbard East’s Andrea Jones placed fifth in the round-robin format at 110.

115 – Ayane Jasinski, Grant

Grant senior Ayane Jasinski (6-0) won a state title at 110 last year, after placing fourth at 100 her sophomore year downstate. Currently ranked No. 3 in Illinois at 115, Jasinski won her second tournament title Saturday to go with a title won recently at Palatine. 

Jasinski posted a pair of pins in the round-robin format at 115 before securing the tournament title via tech fall against Oregon’s Anna Marquardt (9-6).

“Ayane is competing really well,” Grant coach Mark Jolcover said. “It has been exciting to see her come into form. She is a professional in the way she goes about training and competition. It’s exciting to watch her continue to grow as she eyes down a second state title and we are very proud of her.”

Dundee-Crown’s D’Angel Slater placed third by virtue of a fall over fourth-place Grant’s Isabelle Miranda.

120 – Olivia Heft, Lakes

Currently unranked in Illinois, Lakes’ Olivia Heft is an X factor at 120 this year. 

“(Heft) is a little Cinderella story, in my opinion,” Lakes coach Devin Tortorice said. “This young lady is a returning runner-up (at 115) from 2022 and had to sit out an entire year due to shoulder surgery. She’s clawed her way back and is also putting herself back in position to chase a state title.”

Heft has also won individual titles at Palatine and Lakes this season, and the senior improved to 18-1 with a fall on the title mat at 120 on Saturday, against Thornton-Fractional South’s Summer Rice (6-2).

Glenbard East’s Dakota Rosner took third place with a fall against Genoa-Kingston’s Violet Sanders.

125 – Ava Babbs, Lakes

Lakes senior Ava Babbs is currently ranked No. 4 in Illinois at 125 and she added a Dundee-Crown title to titles already won this season at Hampshire and Waukegan .

Babbs improved to 17-0 when she won by fall on the D-C title mat at 125 against Thornton-Fractional South’s Taylor Poole.

“Ava Babbs is currently undefeated, a returning state-placer (3rd at 125) and has a true shot to win a state title,” Lakes coach Devin Tortorice said. “She has been a joy to work with. She puts in constant work in and out of the season.”

Babbs is ready to make another run at the top step of the state finals podium.

“We’re all going out there with the same thing in mind. I’m just excited,” Babbs said. “It’s my senior year so I just want to do my best and have fun.

“I got lucky because the first year I started wrestling was the first year they held girls’ state. It was so cool being part of the first girls state (tournament).”

In only her third year of wrestling and after placing third in state at 125 last year as a junior, Babbs furthered her commitment to the sport.

“My coaches, the exposure that I’ve had — my parents have been willing to take me to tournaments, I did off-season training, freestyle over the summer, I went to Fargo,” Babbs said. “I just wanted to try (wrestling) out and I turned out really liking it.”

Babbs pinned Grant’s Aubrey Hopkins in their semifinal match to reach the finals, and Poole reached the title mat after winning by fall against Harvard’s Carolina Hernandez. Thornton-Fractional South’s Caylon Guyton took third place by fall against Hernandez.

130 – Jalah Wilson, Thornton

Currently ranked second in state at 135, Thornton junior Jalah Wilson (8-0) won a 7-5 sudden victory decision on the title mat over another ranked wrestler in Thornton-Fractional South’s Quincy Onyiaorah (8-1).

The bracket at 130 was loaded with talent at Dundee-Crown.

Onyiaorah is currently ranked as an honorable mention wrestler at 120 pounds. Wilson handed Onyiorah her first loss this season, and Wilson also won a title at Rockford East this year.

“Jalah Wilson is a hard worker and has been with us for three years,” Thornton coach Phillip Rembert said. “She really started excelling last year with one other girl, Destiny Bright. The year before she was an only girl (in the program). She goes through the same training as the boys with no complaints. I see a good future for here in the state series and she also wants to wrestle in college.”

To reach the finals, Wilson won a 5-2 semifinal decision over Dundee-Crown’s Ruby Gavina (25-7), a tough freshman with a Lakes tournament title under her belt this season. Onyiaorah won by fall in her semifinal match against Zion-Benton’s Emily Ortiz (22-4), who won a tournament title at Waukegan and placed second at Niles West this year.

Ortiz went on to win by fall on the third-place mat against Maine West’s Ava Reyes (14-9), who topped Gavina in their consolation semifinal match.

135 – Jermia Moore, Thornton-Fractional South

Thornton-Fractional South coach Andre Richmond sees good things ahead for sophomore Jermia Moore, who is only in her second year in the sport. Moore won all four of her round-robin matches and took the title at 135 by virtue of her win by fall against Lakes’ Christin Hasner (15-8). 

Every young wrestler has an evolution in the sport, and Moore’s is underway.

“At the beginning of the season she was having a rough start making weight and losing matches,” Richmond said. “She went against all the technique she learned from the prior year.

“I told her that she needs to get back to what made her great last year, and what made her win.  Today she proved it, winning all of her matches by going back to her bread and butter.  She needs a lot more work but I’m happy for her today and we will work to be better next week.”

Zion-Benton’s Jay Thompson (22-6) placed third via fall over fourth-place Ashley Mansell of Maine West and Richmond’s Mariyah Lewis placed fifth at 135. 

140 – Perla Lomeli, Dundee-Crown

Dundee-Crown senior Perla Lomeli went 24-11 last year in placing 8th downstate at 140 and she has her sights set on another shot at state glory this season.

“Perla hasn’t seen as much mat time as she did last year but these last few weeks before regionals, she is pushing herself to attain more wins than last season,” Dundee-Crown coach Jessica McDowell said. “She hopes to see the state tournament again this year. She is our team captain and has been the most upbeat, positive role model for our younger wrestlers.”

Lomeli had two pins to start her day and she improved to 16-4 with her title-mat pin Saturday against Plainfield Viktoriia Rodnikova. Zion-Benton’s Adrianna Ketchum (13-11) took third place in a 15-8 decision over Rich Township’s Nina White.

145 – Naomi Foote, Zion-Benton

Zion-Benton’s Naomi Foote kicked off a bevy of three champions for the Zee Bees over the next four weights. Foote (23-5) won by fall over Harvard’s Ithandehui Rosas (23-6) to clinch her title in the round-robin format at 145.

Foote also won an individual title at Palatine this season and is currently unranked in Illinois at 145, but she won by fall at 4:49 over No. 4 Rosas.

Dundee-Crown’s Daniella Ibanez (8-8) took third and Rich Township’s Hailey Zamot placed fourth.

155 – Grace Johnson, Zion-Benton

The Zee Bee’s Grace Johnson won all three of her round-robin matches to take the title and improve to 18-4 on the year. She pinned Dundee-Crown’s second-place Mackenzie Lessner  (15-8) to secure the title.

Grant’s Cassidy Graham (12-11) placed third and Rich Township’s Cheyenne Haire took fourth.

170 – Keyhanna Phillips, Thornton

Thornton’s Keyhanna Phillips has had an unconventional season for coach Phillip Rembert, but the senior 170-pounder is positioned to do some damage once the post-season tournament arrives.

Phillips (3-0) opened her tournament with a fall at 0:40, then won by fall at 0:39 in her semifinal match against Glenbrook East’s Asia Lacey (3-1). Phillips then took on Maine West’s Lillian Garrett (18-4) and again won by fall for the title, at the 2:00 mark.

“Keyhanna was a transfer at the beginning of the year so she had to sit out the first semester,” Thornton coach Phillip Rembert said. “She worked hard on her grades and she worked hard wrestling in practice. She pushes the pace in practice with the upper weights.

“She wrestled one match this week before this competition and I see a great future for her in the state series. She also is looking forward to going to college and wrestling next year.”

Lacey went on to win by fall on the third-place mat against Harvard’s Jarithsie Mercado.

190 – ILeen Castrejon, Zion-Benton

Zion-Benton’s ILeen Castrejon (12-1) finished second at 170 twice in the first two years of the IHSA girls state finals, and is currently ranked No. 6 at 170 in Illinois.

Lakes’ Josie Larson (24-4) is currently ranked No. 2 at 190 and she placed fifth downstate at 190 last season.

Something had to give when two of Illinois’ best squared off yet again this season on Saturday, with a Dundee-Crown tournament title at 190 on the line. And at the 1:29 mark, it was Castrejon who came away with a first-period fall.

“This is the third time they’ve met this year,” Zee Bees coach Hal Lunsford said. “Josie is an amazing wrestler and they have had some great matches this year.” Castrejon won 15-9 and 8-6 in their previous two matches this year.

Castrejon intends to wrestle at 170 once the postseason arrives but has wrestled 190 for most of this season.

“ILeen is wrestling up this year due to an injury at the start of the year,” Lunsford said. “She’s completely healthy right now but was unable to (cut) weight in a timely manner.”

Castejon went 5-0 in the round-robin format at 190, capped by her win over Larson. Thornton’s Paige Martin placed third with a fall against Glenbard East’s Nadine Spandiary, and Rich Township’s Laila Carpenter won by fall for fifth against Maine West’s Jathziry Valencia Carranza.

Castrejon also won an individual title at 190 at Palatine this year.

235 – Eliana Garrett, Maine West 

Maine West senior Eliana Garrett improved to 10-6 this year by going 4-1 at Dundee-Crown, and earning the title at 235 on criteria over second-place Sionna Stampley (9-2) of Thornton.

Garrett, Stampley, and Elmwood Park’s Sky Vazquez took turns beating each other in the round-robin format, and a fast pin by Garret over Vazquez was the deciding factor.

“Eliana had a dominant performance and remains an essential part of our team,” Maine West coach Anthony Lonigro said. “She is having a great season and continues to find success. As our only senior, she stands out and does a great job as a leader on our team, demonstrating great sportsmanship and maintaining a positive attitude.”

Vazquez (7-6) placed third, Rich Township’s Nyla Coleman was fourth, Stevenson’s Kaylee Sanchez took fifth, and Maine West’s Ximena Veraza was sixth.

Dundee-Crown Girls Invitational championship match results:

100 – Iris Torres (Dundee-Crown) F 1:05 Saryia Maddox (Rich Township)

105- Zaryia Mouzon (Lakes) F 5:11 Alexa Herrera (Harvard)

110 – Haven Sylves (Lakes) D 5-1 Gymaria Brown (Thornton)

115 – Ayane Jasinski (Grant) TF Anna Marquardt (Oregon)

120 – Olivia Heft (Lakes) F 0:44 Summer Rice (TF-South)

125 – Ava Babbs (Lakes) F 0:43 Taylor Poole (TF-South)

130 – Jalah Wilson (Thornton) SV-1 7-5 Quincy Onyiaorah (TF-South)

135 -Jermia Moore (TF-South) F 1:14 Christina Hasner (Lakes)

140 – Perla Lomeli (Dundee-Crown) F 0:59 Viktoriia Rodnikova (Plainfield N)

145 – Naomi Foote (Zion-Benton) F 4:49 Ithandehui Rosas (Harvard)

155 – Grace Johnson (Zion-Benton) F 2:59 Mackenzie Lessner (Dundee-Crown)

170 – Keyhanna Phillips (Thornton) F 2:00 Lillian Garrett (Maine West)

190 – ILeen Castrejon (Zion-Benton) F 1:29 Josie Larson (Lakes)

235 – Eliana Garrett (Maine West) D Eliana Sionna Stampley (Thornton)

Third-place match results:

105 – Lilliana Aly (Wauconda) F 0:58 Dakota Kelly (TF-South)

110 – Kayden Manis (Grant). MD 10-1 Elisa Martin (Dundee-Crown)

115 – D’Angel Slater (Dundee-Crown) F 0:19 Osmari Medina (Lakes)

120 – Dakota Rosner (Glenbard E) F 2:24 Violet Sanders (Genoa-Kingston)

125 – Caylon Guyton (TF-South) F 1:34 Carolina Hernandez (Harvard)

130 – Emily Ortiz (Zion-Benton) F 5:57 Ava Reyes (Maine West)

135 – Jay Thompson (Zion-Benton) F 2:32 Ashley Mansell (Maine West)

140 – Adrianna Ketchum (Zion-Benton) D 15-8 Nina White (Rich Township)

145 – Daniella Ibanez (Dundee-Crown) F 1:47 Hailey Zamot (Rich Township)

155 – Cassidy Graham (Grant) F 4:59 Cheyenne Haire (Rich Township)

170 – Asia Lacey (Glenbard E) F 5:07 Jarithsie Mercado (Harvard)

190 – Paige Martin (Thornton) F 2:29 Nadine Spandiary (Glenbard E)

235 – Sky Vazquez (Elmwood Park) F 2:12 Nyla Coleman (Rich Township)

Final team scores: 1. Lakes (135) 2. Zion-Benton (112) 3. Thornton (98) 4. Thornton-Fractional South (86) 5. Dundee-Crown (85) 6. Maine West (63) 7. Harvard (57.5) 8. Grant (48.5) 9. Rich Township (48) 10. Glenbard East (45) 11. Elmwood Park (20) 12. Plainfield North (19) 12. Wauconda (19) 14. Genoa-Kingston (18) 14. Oregon (18) 16. Stevenson (7).

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