By Curt Herron
HARVEY – The Thornton Township Sectional typified the other seven sectionals that the IWCOA held in order to assemble its field for its Freshman Sophomore State Championships, which take place on Saturday and Sunday at the Bank of Springfield Center in Springfield.
There was a mixture of individuals who fell a bit short in the sectionals of advancing to the IHSA Individual Finals in Champaign, some who didn’t get to compete much since they were on a state-ranked teams and a few who had health reasons for not seeing much action.
But whatever the reasons, getting the opportunity to enjoy one more weekend of success has definitely been a winning formula for many competitors throughout the years, and they can thank the IWCOA, which is conducting its 27th-annual tournament this weekend.
There’s a long list of athletes who just missed out on getting to state one year and then were on the awards stand the next year, thanks in part to getting valuable tournament experience at the IWCOA Finals.
While many of their teammates have turned in the singlets for the season, 480 will compete in Springfield for the chance to get to the awards stand one final time this season or just conclude a campaign where they hoped to accomplish a little more than they did.
Lincoln-Way East and Lincoln-Way West led the way for individuals qualifying for the State Finals with seven apiece while Lockport Township was next with five qualifiers and Bolingbrook, Coal City and Plainfield Central all advanced four individuals to Bloomington.
Teams that had three qualifiers were Joliet Catholic Academy, Joliet West, Minooka and Morris while Bradley-Bourbonnais, Plainfield North, Plainfield South and Seneca all advanced two to state.
Lincoln-Way East had the most champions with four while Lincoln-Way West had three title winners and Plainfield Central had two champions. Andrew, Bolingbrook, JCA, Lockport , Morris and Plainfield North also each had one individual who won a title.
Sectional champions were Lincoln-Way East’s Kaidge Richardson (120), Brayden Mortell (132), Declan Dircks (152) and Jackson Zaeske (160), Lincoln-Way West’s Jakob Siwinski (126), Nathan Elstner (182) and Brandon Bavirsha (220), Plainfield Central’s Aiden Rudman (138) and Antonio Montoya (285), Morris’ Owen Sater (101), Lockport Township’s Isaac Zimmerman (106), Bolingbrook’s Jared Craig (113), Plainfield North’s Jack Tota (145), Joliet Catholic Academy’s Maximus Vela (170) and Andrew’s Joe Zimmer (195).
Finishing in second place were Bolingbrook’s Angel Godinez (101), Isaac Harris (106) and Marcus Poe (152), Lincoln-Way West’s Jack Strezo (113) and Jimmy Talley (170), Lockport Township’s Anthony Diorio (126) and Malik Salah (220), Morris’ Carter Skoff (120), Homewood-Flossmoor’s Robye Williams (132), Bishop McNamara’s Ethan Pfeiffer (145), Plainfield South’s Colin Bickett (160), Coal City’s Cade Poyner (182) and Bradley-Bourbonnais’ Mark Argyelan (195).
Taking third place were Joliet West’s Adrian Hernandez (126), Tai’Vaughn Johnson (182) and Andre De Leon (220), Minooka’s
Anthony Frescura (132) and Ben Cyrkiel (145), Rich Township’s Davion Henry (101), Coal City’s Luke Munsterman (106), Morris’ Brandon Anderson (113), Joliet Catholic Academy’s Aurelio Munoz (120), Plainfield Central’s Matthias Hautzinger (138), Plainfield South’s Chase Pierceall (152), Lockport Township’s Durango Valles (160), Lincoln-Way West’s Chris Yirsa (170), Kankakee’s Jacob Vinardi (195) and Romeoville’s Jamir Thomas (285).
And finishing fourth were Coal City’s Rey Gonzalez (120) and Mason Garner (138), Seneca’s Landen Venecia (182) and Sullivan Feldt (195), Lincoln-Way West’s Max Munn (101), Lincoln-Way East’s Noah Ciolkosz (106), Bradley-Bourbonnais’ Cameron Borneman (113), Minooka’s Cole Spivey (126), Plainfield Central’s Jack Bowen (132), Clifton Central’s Giona Panozzo (145), Plainfield North’s Raphael Tovar (152), Lincoln-Way Central’s Aiden Hennings (160), Wilmington’s Logan Van Duyne (170), Joliet Catholic Academy’s Elijah Watt (220) and Lockport Township’s Jake Kratz (285).
Coach Kevin Rockett’s Lincoln-Way East team enjoyed another successful season by being ranked in the top-10 and giving Lockport a run for its money in the Class 3A Lockport Regional, but the Griffins fell short of the title by a 224-214 margin to the Porters. Lockport claimed a third-place finish in Bloomington, just as it did a year ago after Lincoln-Way East beat it to win its first conference title and but then the Porters defeated the Griffins to win the regional title.
Frosh/Soph sectional champions for the Griffins were Kaidge Richardson (120), Brayden Mortell (132), Declan Dircks (152) and Jackson Zaeske (160) while Rory Moran (138) and Ryan Stingily (285) took second and Noah Ciolkosz (106) placed fourth.
Richardson won a 10-1 major decision over Morris’ Carter Skoff at 120 and Mortell claimed the title at 132 by injury default after Homewood-Flossmoor’s Robye Williams didn’t compete in the finals. Dircks won 2-0 in sudden victory over Bolingbrook’s Marcus Poe in the 152 title match while Zaeske captured a 4-2 decision over Plainfield South’s Colin Bickett in the 160 finals.
Coach Brian Glynn’s Lincoln-Way West program was ranked high all season and won a regional title but fell to Lockport in the sectionals to be denied of a third trip to state, which it last qualified for in 2017.
The Warriors’ sectional champions at Thornton Township were Jakob Siwinski (126), Nathan Elstner (182) and Brandon Bavirsha (220). Lincoln-Way West also got second-place finishes from Jack Strezo (113) and Jimmy Talley (170), a third-place showing from Chris Yirsa (170) and a fourth-place effort from Max Munn (101).
“My season got cut short,” Siwinski said. “I was cutting 14 pounds a week and at regionals, I didn’t wrestle in it because I couldn’t get my weight down any more. My brother Luke wanted me to make it, too, so that we both would make it state together. And my dad, Larry, has always been there for me, so I’m happy about that.”
Lockport Township’s lone Frosh/Soph sectional champion was Isaac Zimmerman (106) while Anthony Diorio (126) and Malik Salah (220) placed second. Durango Valles (160) claimed third place and Jake Kratz (285) finished fourth.
“The thing about this is like redemption for me,” Zimmerman said. “I was winning 6-0 in the blood round (at the Normal Community Sectional) going into the third period and I got cradled and pinned. I should be able to win since I enjoyed seeing everybody on the team do well. And that was a good experience, not only just watching them perform but also to be there with them.”
The Porters took third place in Class 3A for the second straight year and for the third time overall. The program has now won five trophies since 2015 with the highlight coming in 2017 when they won the Class 3A title. Jameson Oster made an excellent debut as head coach, stepping in for his brother Josh, who led the program to its other trophies. In the Dual Team finals in Bloomington, Lockport beat Jake Oster-led Yorkville 45-16 in the first-ever meeting of two brothers in the state finals in the history of the tournament.
Plainfield Central had two champions and two other qualifiers. Aiden Rudman won a 6-2 decision over Moran at 138 and Antonio Montoya took top honors at 285 with a fall in 4:34 over Stingily, Also at 138, Matthias Hautzinger took third while Jack Bowen was fourth at 132.
“This means a lot,” Montoya said. “I just came back from almost a year off due to an injury after I broke my arm, so this was my first tournament back. I was very bummed. I’m a sophomore and I’ve been wrestling since sixth grade. It was very exciting, but I was nervous, as well. But it turned out good since I won. I’m excited about IWCOA state, and then after that, we have the offseason, and I’m going to work a lot during that time and get back to it.”
That highlighted a good debut season for coach Terry Kubski, a Wildcat alumni who’s in the school’s athletics hall of fame for being a member of its best dual team. He was in the corner when Alicia Tucker recently made history by winning the IHSA title at 155, joining Ryan Prater and Chris Traversa as the school’s only state champions.
Coal City had four qualifiers but no champions with Cade Poyner taking second place to Elstner at 182. Others who advanced for the Coalers were Luke Munsterman (106), who placed third, and Rey Gonzalez (120) and Mason Garner (138), who both took fourth.
The Coalers won their first state championship in the sport and third in any sport in school history after beating defending champion Yorkville Christian 32-31 for the Class 1A title in Bloomington. Coach Mark Masters’ Coalers, who were top-ranked all season, have won six trophies for the 2022 IWCOA Hall of Fame inductee since 2015.
Bolingbrook also had one champion and four qualifiers for first-year coach AJ Knoll, who also had a successful debut season. Winning a title for the Raiders was Jared Craig, who won a 7-3 decision over Strezo at 113. Angel Godinez (101) and Isaac Harris (106) took second prior to Craig’s title and Marcus Poe (152) also was second.
Joliet Catholic Academy had three qualifiers with Maximus Vela winning the title at 170 over Talley with an 11-1 major decision. Also for the Hilltoppers, Aurelio Munoz (120) took third place and Elijah Watt (220) finished fourth.
“I definitely enjoy competing wherever it is,” Vela said. “Every competition is just to make me better. My teammates, like state champ Mason Alessio and state finalist Nico Ronchetti are always there, pushing me to make me better. We had 11 underclassmen this year, so we’re just getting better from here.”
It was another great season for coach Ryan Cumbee’s Hilltoppers, who were the defending champions and top-ranked in Class 2A for most of the season but they lost a 28-27 heartbreaker to Washington in the state championship dual in a clash of the 2A’s top two teams.
Morris also had a champion and two other qualifiers as coach Lenny Tryner’s squad got a title win from Owen Sater at 101, when he recorded a fall in 2:35 over Godinez. Carter Skoff (120) took second to Richardson and Brandon Anderson (113) finished in third place.
Also having three qualifiers were coach Chuck Rumpf’s Joliet West team that advanced Adrian Hernandez (126), Tai’Vaughn Johnson (182) and Andre De Leon (220), who all took third. Coach Mike Kimberlin’s Minooka squad had third-place finishers Anthony Frescura (132), Ben Cyrkiel (145) and Cole Spivey (126) took fourth.
The other sectional champion was Andrew’s Joe Zimmer (195), who won with a fall in 1:23 over Bradley-Bourbonnais’ Mark Argyelan.
Thornton Township Sectional championship matches
101 – Owen Sater (Morris) F 2:35 Angel Godinez (Bolingbrook)
106 – Isaac Zimmerman (Lockport Township) D 10-4 Isaac Harris (Bolingbrook)
113 – Jared Craig (Bolingbrook) D 7-3 Jack Strezo (Lincoln-Way West)
120 – Kaidge Richardson (Lincoln-Way East) MD 10-1 Carter Skoff (Morris)
126 – Jakob Siwinski (Lincoln-Way West) F 1:52 Anthony Diorio (Lockport Township)
132 – Brayden Mortell (Lincoln-Way East) Inj. Robye Williams (Homewood-Flossmoor)
138 – Aiden Rudman (Plainfield Central) D 6-2 Rory Moran (Lincoln-Way East)
145 – Jack Tota (Plainfield North) D 4-2 Ethan Pfeiffer (Bishop McNamara)
152 – Declan Dircks (Lincoln-Way East) SV 2-0 Marcus Poe (Bolingbrook)
160 – Jackson Zaeske (Lincoln-Way East) D 4-2 Colin Bickett (Plainfield South)
170 – Maximus Vela (Joliet Catholic Academy) MD 11-1 Jimmy Talley (Lincoln-Way West)
182 – Nathan Elstner (Lincoln-Way West) F 1:40 Cade Poyner (Coal City)
195 – Joe Zimmer (Andrew) F 1:23 Marl Argyelan (Bradley-Bourbonnais)
220- Brandon Bavirsha (Lincoln-Way West) F 2:34 Malik Salah (Lockport Township)
285 – Antonio Montoya (Plainfield Central) F 4:34 Ryan Stingily (Lincoln-Way East)