By Chris Walker For the IWCOA
Lincoln-Way East won five individual titles and had five additional wrestlers either lose in the title match or win on the third-place mat as the Griffins reigned supreme on the 16-team field during Thursday’s 47th annual Ed Ewoldt Wrestling Invitational at Wheaton Warrenville South.
Kaidge Richardson (126), Tyson Zvonar (132), Brayden Morrell (138), Domanic Abeja (150) and Caden O’Rourke (215) returned to Frankfort as champions in their respective weight classes for the Griffins.
JT Theis (113) and Alex Lizak (157) lost by decision in their title bouts while Kevin Byrne (144), Jackson Zaeske (175) and Isaiah Williams (190) all prevailed in third-place matches.
“This is a good tournament for us,” Griffins coach Kevin Rockett said. “We do a lot of two-day tournaments so this is good one for us, a single day after the holiday. It’s a nice one for us in the middle of the year with solid competition and to just get in here after the holidays and to get some good wrestling in.”
The Griffins finished with 280.5 points while runner-up Downers Grove North scored 194.50 despite having only one wrestler advance to the finals as Jaden Lewis prevailed at 190 for the Trojans.
Lyons was third with 189, Dixon was fourth with 163 and West Chicago was fifth with 142 to round out the top five teams. The host Tigers were seventh with 122.
“Out of the 13 guys we brought here, most of our guys were in some sort of placing match,” Rockett said. “It’s the middle of the season and we’re about to turn it up a little bit. We just got back from the Dvorak so this is a nice solid tournament for us. We’re trying to clean some things up, and up and down our lineup guys are working on different things, and some guys who maybe have struggled a bit or taken some bumps and bruises, it’s a good tournament to get some wins under our belt going into the last couple weeks here. The Illini Classic is a real tough, two-day (tournament) and then we roll into the conference tournament and then already we’re in the state series.”
106 – Jack Ragan, Dixon
Ragan doesn’t like to waste time. After getting a pin in the opening minute in his victory in the semis, the 10th-ranked 106-pounder in 2A won by fall against West Chicago’s Emanuel Rangel in 2:50.
“I try to make quick work for my people so I tried to pin him right away,” Ragan said. “I definitely like to be aggressive out there, to be strong right away and put some fear into them.”
Wheeling’s Frankie Katz had a 5-0 decision over Lyons’ Ignacio Rodriguez for third place, and Downers Grove North’s Logan Loftus earned a 12-0 major decision over Hoffman Estates’ Mann Patel on the fifth-place mat.
113 – Riley Parades, Dixon
Parades, who is just a freshman, scored a pair of victories by fall to advance to the championship where he edged Lincoln-Way East freshman JT Theis, 2-1.
Downers Grove North’s Tyler Tiangco won an 8-2 decision over T.F. South’s Jayden Scott for third place, and West Chicago’s Jonathan Antonio earned a 13-9 decision over Willowbrook’s Miteku Branch on the fifth-place mat.
120 – Griff Powell, Lyons
Powell kept his poise during his championship match against Plainfield East’s Aidan Villar, prevailing 3-1 in overtime.
“He wrestled an interesting style, he likes to keep his matches close,” Powell said about Villar. “He didn’t shoot one shot so it was ten shots to one. It was a little tough coming in three days after Christmas, but I got down to weight and performed what I needed to do.”
West Chicago’s Ryan Alvarado earned a 10-5 win over Downers Grove North’s Cory MongellMongoliao on the third-place mat, and Lincoln-Way East’s Zach Miller edged Homewood-Flossmoor’s Robert Williams by a 9-8 decision for fifth place.
126 – Kaidge Richardson Lincoln-Way East
A year ago, Richardson remembered seeing a lot of his fellow teammates warming up for the finals. He experienced a similar thing on Thursday.
“I came in here knowing after last year that it’s just one of those good tournaments that you want to wrestle your best,” he said, “I felt like I met my expectations.”
Richardson recorded a pair of pins before his opponent in the title bout at 126, Evanston’s Marco Terrizzi, went down with an injury.
“I don’t know who he was so I was a little nervous,” Richardson said. “But once I got out there I got away from that.”
The sophomore continues to progress.
“This season has been going pretty good so far,” he said. “I’ve just been slowly progressing over time and at the end of the day it’s a slow progression toward the end of the season. It’s all a build up to there so I just want to improve every day and constantly get better.”
He’s definitely enjoying wrestling for Lincoln-Way East, which sent wrestlers to seven of the 14 championship bouts.
“This is a good team to be a part of,” he said. “Like most tournaments we go to, it’s definitely a challenge, but at the end of the day it’s fun to be a part of this team and being with your team and winning.”
Lyons’ Roger Martinez won by a 4-3 decision against Wheeling’s Max Katz for third place, and Oak Lawn’s Ammar Elayyan took fifth place by forfeit against West Chicago Pedro Arroyo.
132 – Tyson Zvonar, Lincoln-Way East
8th-ranked Zvonar pinned all three of his opponents to capture the 132 title for the Griffins.
“I felt like I wrestled through positions well and I thought it was a good overall tournament for our team obviously and then individually it worked out well,” he said. “I mean, it’s just another opponent that you got to face every time you go out there and it’s fun to go out there and compete and wrestle six minutes hard.”
Evanston’s Erne Atac was Zvonar’s opponent in the championship round and while the senior stuck around for a bit, Zvonar finally finished him by fall at 5:49.
“It’s awesome to go out there and see what you can do,” Zvonar said. “These kind of tournaments are good for competition and then good for seeing what comes February. It’s just good for us overall to get back into the groove. It’s just a good tournament overall for us to compete and try new things.”
Amongst the hectic schedule of holidays, being out of school, the impending New Year and countless spreads of food during seasonal parties, wrestlers are facing tough opponents and distractions away from the mats as well as on them.
“At the end of the day you’ve got to keep your mind on what’s important and do what you really want to do,” Zvonar said. “We all had a two-pound allowance which definitely helps to eat some stuff, but at the end of the day it’s about keeping your goal six inches in front of your face and knowing what you want come February. I think we’ve done a pretty good job of that so far, and think we’ll be ready come February.”
138 – Brayden Morrell, Lincoln-Way East
Morrell’s road to a title was one of the toughest among all of the wrestling that took place in Wheaton at this year’s event.
After opening with a win by fall over Plainfield East’s Daniel Nevarez, Morrell edged Evanston’s Bryan Lemos by a 7-6 decision. Morrell then needed overtime to defeat West Chicago’s Donovan Avila before sneaking past Wheaton Warrenville South’s Cooper Hollis by a 2-0 decision in the finals.
Avila bounced back to win third place with a 9-2 decision against Downers Grove North’s Caden Chiarelli. Dixon’s James Simpson defeated Hoffman Estates’ David Ogunofowokan on the fifth-place mat by fall.
144 – Ethan Wojtowich, Waubonsie Valley
Third time’s a charm!
Wrestling in his third and final Ewoldt, Wojtowich walked away with a title there for the first time on Thursday.
“Going into this I just thought to myself I just wanted to get this win,” he said. “It’s big to me. It’s my last tournament of the (2023) year before the DVC and all that stuff so I thought I just might as well win it.”
Wojtowich said he’d placed third and fourth in his prior appearances at Ewoldt. This time he pinned Dixon junior Jayden Weidman in 2:57 for the title.
“As soon as the buzzer rang, he shot,” Wojtowich explained. ‘I knew he was aggressive and I knew my best thing is my offense so I knew I had to push my pace on him rather than him setting the tone on me. At first he started out strong and he shot on me, but then I was able to defend him and stuff. I started putting my pressure onto him, my shots. I wanted to dictate how the match went and go my pace for the match.”
Wojtowich improved to 24-2 on the season.
“I was able to come in here knowing it’s my last year and there are no other guys older or more experienced,” he said. “So I’m just going to put pressure on him. I know what I’m capable of now.”
The power of positively is big with Wojtowich.
“I just tell myself I can do it,” he said. “I try to get myself into the right mindset. I try to warm up as early as possible to try to get in the right mindset. It’s not just getting my body warm, it’s getting myself mentally ready before my matches so I just tell myself I can do it and I just see who I’m versus and kind of see what he’s doing a little bit and then focus on myself mostly. I’m mostly getting myself ready.”
While the Warriors haven’t seen much success as a team this winter, Wojtowich is proud be a part of their commitment to getting better while celebrating this great sport.
“It’s been great wrestling with the guys because we have a good bunch of guys,” he said. “We have team spirit in there. Everyone is trying to encourage each other. We’re always there whenever someone has a match. The whole team is watching. Right now we have a small varsity team. We have a lot of people – 88 in total – but a small team because we want our best wrestlers that are varsity-qualify to wrestle. We have a good bond with the small amount of people we have.”
Lincoln-Way East’s Kevin Byrne scored a major decision win against Downers Grove North’s Antonio Manzo for third place, and West Chicago’s took fifth place over Evanston’s Manny Holloway by forfeit.
150 – Domanic Abeja, Lincoln-Way East
Abeja followed up a pair of victories by fall with a 12-0 major decision against Dixon’s Cade Hey in the 150 final.
Abeja proved to be one of five champions for the Griffins as his dominant effort helped the team win the title as well.
Wheeling’s Nicholas Montesinos won by a 7-0 decision against Downers Grove North’s Liam O’Sullivan to take third place, and Lyons’ Finn Forsythe win by fall against West Chicago’s Brian Correa on the fifth-place mat.
157 – Niko Duggan, Plainfield East
Duggan continues to dig into his opponents.
The Bengals’ senior recently captured the 157 title at the Mickey Marchese Memorial Tournament at Hoffman Estates, pinning a pair of opponents and winning another two matches by decisions. At the Ewoldt, the 7th-ranked wrestler in Illinois at 157pinned a couple of opponents from Downers Grove North and Dixon before winning an 8-4 decision against Lincoln-Way East’s Alex Lizak in the 157 final.
Evanston’s Rodrigo Salinas earned a 6-2 decision against Lyons’ Mickey Ahrens to capture third place, and Downers Grove North’s Mike Schaefer won by fall over Dixon’s Konner Koehler on the fifth-place mat.
165 – Gunnar Garelli, Lyons
Gunnar Garelli is gunning for even more this season after finishing in fourth place at 160 during the IHSA Class 3A state finals a season ago.
Ranked third in 3A at 165, Garelli appears to be on the same course of excellence. He put forth a dominant performance in Wheaton, pinning his three opponents, including Evanston’s Xavier Stark at 4:00 in the 165 final.
On the third-place mat, Plainfield East’s Jerry Nino won by a 9-4 decision against Oak Lawn’s Isaac Barber while in the battle for fifth place, Dixon’s Jayce Kastner earned a 6-0 decision over Lincoln-Way East’s Christian Darnell.
175 – Sedeeq Al Obaidi, Wheaton Warrenville South
Al Obaidi could not have scripted it any better.
Competing in his final Ewoldt, in his senior season, while at home, Al Obaidi won his 100th match, earned the lone title for the Tigers and was recognized as this year’s Most Outstanding Wrestler of the tournament.
Al Obaidi is currently ranked 5th in Illinois at 175, and what an unforgettable day it proved to be for him.
“I just trusted the process and kept going,” he said. “Getting to 100 career wins at home at my own tournament and being a champ here as well was pretty nice.”
After making his wrestling debut in the sixth grade, Al Obaidi quickly recognized that this sport was right for him.
“I became a state qualifier in eighth grade but it got canceled because of COVID,” he said. “But after that I knew I just wanted to put in the work and keep going and keep reaching the next level.”
While he was the only Tiger to become an Ewoldt champion this season, Wheaton Warrenville South and Dixon each had four wrestlers advance to the finals which was the most among any of the 16 teams other than Lincoln-Way East.
“Teammates did pretty well and we ended up having four finalists,” he said. “Everyone fell short a little bit, but it was really good wrestling today. I’ve seen a lot of improvements from my teammates.”
Jackson Zaeske defeated Dixon’s Steven Kitzman by fall to take third place. Zaeske had battled Al Obaidi in a semifinal before bowing out, 5-2. Such a battle also may have given Al Obaidi a confidence boost heading into the final.
“Having that match go three periods like that and knowing you’ve already done it once in this tournament, I knew I could do it again,” Al Obaidi said, “That was a close match in the semis. It was a tough match with pretty good wrestling. So going into my last match I knew I could go into the third period and do it again so I wasn’t nervous or anything, I knew I could do it.”
Plainfield East’s Robert Vogel won by forfeit against Downers Grove North’s Cam Menzione for fifth place.
190 – Jaden Lewis, Downers Grove North
Lewis earned a pair of wins by fall before defeating Elvis Muja on his home turf at Wheaton Warrenville South by a 5-1 decision. With the three wins, Lewis improved to 13-8 on the year.
Lincoln-Way East’s Isaiah Williams won by fall against Lyons’ Matt Turek to win the third-place match at 190. Meanwhile, West Chicago’s Daniel Guzman won by fall against Larkin’s Imanol Pantoya on the fifth-place mat.
215 – Caden O’Rourke, Lincoln-Way East
O’Rourke pinned Waubonsie Valley’s Josh Housour for the 215 title in 1:51. The junior for the Griffins also won by fall in 1:00 and 1:14 in his matches leading up to his title victory.
Abdulhamid Olowu was the top finisher for Hoffman Estates, earning third place after he won by fall against Wheaton Warrenville South’s Mason Monce at 215. On the fifth-place mat, Lyons’ Nick Arquilla earned a 9-6 decision over T.F. South’s Emon Arnold.
285 – Sam Costello, Lyons
After getting past Lincoln-Way East’s Ryan Stingily, 2-0, and then edging Evanston’s Jeremy Marshall, 1-0, Lyons senior Sam Costello scored a 10-0 major decision against Wheaton Warrenville South’s Ashton Kibbe to win the 285 title and improve to 17-7 overall this year.
Waubonsie Valley’s Leo Hobson won by fall against Marshall to take third place, and Homewood-Flossmoor’s Bryce Pollard won by forfeit over West Chicago’s Omar Sarmiento for fifth place.
Here’s a look at the champions and weight classes at the 47th annual Ed Ewoldt Wrestling Invitational:
106 – Jack Ragan (Dixon) F 2:50 Emanuel Rangel (West Chicago)
113 – Riley Parades (Dixon) D 2-1 JT Theis (Lincoln-Way East)
120 – Griff Powell (Lyons) D 3-1 OT Aidan Villar (Plainfield East)
126 – Kaidge Richardson (Lincoln-Way East) D INJ Marco Terrizzi (Evanston)
132 – Tyson Zvonar (Lincoln-Way East) F 5:39 Eren Atac (Evanston)
138 – Brayden Morrell (Lincoln-Way East) D 2-0 Cooper Hollis (Wheaton Warrenville South)
144 – Ethan Wojtowich (Waubonsie Valley) F 2:57 Jayden Weidman (Dixon)
150 – Domanic Abeja (Lincoln-Way East) MAJ 12-0 Cade Hey (Dixon)
157 – Niko Duggan (Plainfield East) D 8-4 Alex Lizak (Lincoln-Way East)
165 – Gunner Garelli (Lyons) TF 4:00 Xavier Starks (Evanston)
175 – Seder Al Obaidi (Wheaton Warrenville South) MAJ 16-5 Noah Brockie (Willowbrook)
190 – Jaden Lewis (Downers Grove North) D 5-1 Elvis Muja (Wheaton Warrenville South)
215 – Caden O’Rourke (Lincoln-Way East) F 1:51 Josh Housour (Waubonsie Valley)
285 – Sam Costello (Lyons) MAJ 10-0 Ashton Kibbe (Wheaton Warrenville South)