By Curt Herron
PALOS HILLS – Things were looking good for defending Class 1A champion Yorkville Christian after the first day of the Tom Lahey Tournament at Amos Alonzo Stagg in Palos Hills with coach Mike Vester’s second-ranked team in Class 1A leading second-place Lockport Township, which is ranked eighth in Class 3A, by a 90.5-76.5 margin.
But coach Jameson Oster’s Porters stepped up in a big way on the second day by turning in strong performances in both the semifinals as well as in the subsequent consolation round to establish control and went on to capture top honors of the 19-team tournament that features the programs from the SouthWest Suburban Conference with 199 points, which was 39.5 points better than runner-up Yorkville Christian. Lockport Township also won the title last season.
In a tournament that featured eight ranked teams, five of which were in Class 3A, two of the top teams were from smaller classes. Glenwood, ranked fifth in Class 2A, took third place with 140 points, which was 1.5 points ahead of Lincoln-Way East, which is ranked tenth in Class 3A.
Homewood-Flossmoor, honorable mention in 3A, took fifth with 137.5 points, which was three points better than Mahomet-Seymour, which is fifth-ranked in Class 2A. Carl Sandburg was next with 121 points while Andrew edged No. 11 Lincoln-Way West 115-114 for eighth place. No. 24 Hinsdale Central (102) took tenth and Bradley-Bourbonnais (100.5) finished ahead of No. 19 Lincoln-Way Central (94.5).
In a sign of the balance among the top four teams, they only had two champions, one apiece for Lockport Township and Yorkville Christian. Homewood-Flossmoor had three title winners while Mahomet-Seymour, Carl Sandburg and Hinsdale Central each had two champions.
Leading the way for the champion Porters were title winner Logan Swaw (160), runners-up Justin Wardlow (120) and Carlos Munoz-Flores (132) and third-place finishers Isaac Zimmerman (106), Logan Kaminski (138), Durango Valles (152), Payton Roberson (182) and Wojciech Chrobak (285). Jad Alwawi (126) finished fourth while Chris Miller (145) was sixth.
Lockport Township alumni Jameson Oster took over this season for his brother Josh, who had led the program since 2011. That’s when he succeeded his coach, who he also worked for as an assistant, Joe Williams, who was honored for laying the foundation of one of the state’s top programs during his 21-year career with induction in the IWCOA Hall of Fame in 2015.
In Josh’s 11 seasons, the Porters went 220-48 and made seven appearances in the IHSA dual team finals, with six of those coming during the last seven years that the tournament has been held. They captured four trophies, including three in a row from 2015 through 2017 and took third place a year ago, with the highlight being their Class 3A championship in 2017.
“The semifinal round is always a big round at these tournaments,” Oster said. “In that round and the blood round, we ended up winning 10 out of 11 matches. We brought 13 guys and placed 10 of them in the top six. This tournament is getting better and it’s good to have full brackets. And it’s good to see the guys wrestling well going into our last competition before regionals.
“They’re coming together and are behind each other and wrestling as a team. It’s a good team to be a part of and now we just need to get a little healthier and we have these two weeks to get ready for the end. They’re all competitors and they go out there and compete and they’re always looking to score points and that’s the most important thing in wrestling.
“This program has been built up to one of the best in the state, so we’re just kind of staying the course. I bring in my little different changes but in the end, it’s doing a lot of the same things and the kids know that what we do works and they believe in it, and the results show.”
Top performers for the runner-up Mustangs were champion Jackson Gillen (170), runner-up Tyler Martinez (160) and third-place finishers Ty Edwards (120) and Jeremy Loomis (195). Aiden Larsen (106) placed fourth while Noah Dial (132) and Drew Torza (152) both took fifth.
Other Lahey Tournament champions were Homewood-Flossmoor’s Deion Johnson (113), Jaydon Robinson (145) and Jermaine Butler (152), Carl Sandburg’s Rocco Hayes (106) and Ryan Hinger (132), Hinsdale Central’s Cody Tavoso (138) and Marko Ivanisevic (220), Mahomet-Seymour’s Brennan Houser (182) and Mateo Casillas (195), Andrew’s Trevor Silzer (120), Bolingbrook’s Aaron Camacho (126) and Belleville East’s Jonathan Rulo (285).
Also claiming second-place finishes were Andrew’s Nadeem Haleem (106) and Max Siegel (113), Bradley-Bourbonnais’ Levi Greenlee (138) and AJ Mancilla (182), Lincoln-Way East’s Connor Koehler (145) and Ari Zaeske (170), Glenwood’s Aden Byal (152) and Alex Hamrick (220), Lincoln-Way Central’s Nathan Knowlton (126), Lincoln-Way West’s Anthony Sherman (195) and Mahomet-Seymour’s Camden Harms (285).
In some of the closest title matches, Silzer edged Wardlow 2-1 in a tiebreaker, Camacho got past Knowlton 7-5 at 126, Swaw was a 3-1 winner over Martinez at 160, Rulo prevailed over Harms 6-4 at 285, Johnson beat Siegel 7-4 at 113, Houser claimed a 5-2 victory over Mancilla at 1882, Butler won 7-1 over Byal at 152, Ivanisevic beat Hamrick 7-1 at 220 and Hinger was a 7-2 winner over Munoz-Flores at 132. Winning titles by fall were Tavoso (138) and Robinson (145) while claiming major decisions for titles were Hayes (106) and Gillen (170).
Top records of individuals reaching title matches are Casillas (39-1, .975), Swaw (37-1, .974), Ivanisevic (35-1, .972), Rulo (24-1, .960), Houser (39-2, .951), Tavoso (36-2, .947), Silzer (34-12, .944), Mancilla (36-3, .923), Zaeske (33-3, .917), Siegel (31-3, .912), Byal (29-3, .906), Hamrick (27-3, .900). Harms (36-4, .900), Martinez (33-4, .892) and Gillen (32-4, .889).
Tavoso led all competitors with 30 team points while Gillen and Robinson tied for second with 29 points and Hayes had 28.5 team points. Casillas recorded 27.5 points, Hinger and Houser each had 26.5 points and Camacho, Johnson, Rulo and Swaw all had 26 team points.
Repeating as champions in the Lahey Tournament were Johnson, Silzer and Swaw. Butler, Robinson and Tavoso won titles after taking second last season. And Hamrick, Mancilla and Sherman were runners-up after also taking second place last year.
The tournament is named in honor of longtime Andrew coach Tom Lahey, who got his start in the sport while a student at Stagg. When inducted into the IWCOA Hall of Fame in 2001, he had won 270 dual meets, seven SICA titles and six regionals. He had coached five state champions, including Joey Gilbert, who was the IHSA’s first four-time Class AA title winner. He served in every leadership position in the SICA Wrestling Coaches Association and also was an official.
Championship matches of the Tom Lahey Tournament held at Stagg
106 – Rocco Hayes (Carl Sandburg) MD 20-7 Nadeem Haleem (Andrew)
113 – Deion Johnson (Homewood-Flossmoor) D 7-4 Max Siegel (Andrew)
120 – Trevor Silzer (Andrew) TB 2-1 Justin Wardlow (Lockport Township)
126 – Aaron Camacho (Bolingbrook) D 7-5 Nathan Knowlton (Lincoln-Way Central)
132 – Ryan Hinger (Carl Sandburg) D 7-2 Carlos Munoz-Flores (Lockport Township)
138 – Cody Tavoso (Hinsdale Central) F 5:34 Levi Greenlee (Bradley-Bourbonnais)
145 – Jaydon Robinson (Homewood-Flossmoor) F 4:17 Connor Koehler (Lincoln-Way East)
152 – Jermaine Butler (Homewood-Flossmoor) D 7-1 Aden Byal (Glenwood)
160 – Logan Swaw (Lockport Township) D 3-1 Tyler Martinez (Yorkville Christian)
170 – Jackson Gillen (Yorkville Christian) MD 11-2 Ari Zaeske (Lincoln-Way East)
182 – Brennan Houser (Mahomet-Seymour) D 5-2 AJ Mancilla (Bradley-Bourbonnais)
195 – Mateo Casillas (Mahomet-Seymour) MD 8-0 Anthony Sherman (Lincoln-Way West)
220 – Marko Ivanisevic (Hinsdale Central) D 7-1 Alex Hamrick (Glenwood)
285 – Jonathan Rulo (Belleville East) D 6-4 Camden Harms (Mahomet-Seymour)
Here’s a breakdown of the Lahey Tournament champions and their weight classes:106 – Rocco Hayes, Carl Sandburg
When you have a brother who was a state runner-up and three-time All-Stater who’s now at the University of Illinois and an older brother who was a two-time finalist and IHSA champion and an All-American at the University of Virginia, it’s easy to be motivated to accomplish big things. And that certainly is the case for Carl Sandburg sophomore Rocco Hayes, who hopes to follow in the footsteps of his brothers, Sammie and Louie. Add to that competing for one of the state’s most successful programs, Carl Sandburg, and for the Polz family, and you certainly have a great formula for success.
Hayes (32-5), a state qualifier last year who’s ranked third in 3A, added to firsts at Conant and Hinsdale Central when he captured a 20-7 victory over Andrew freshman Nadeem Haleem in the 106 title match. After opening with two falls, Hayes won by technical fall in the semifinals over Lockport Township’s Isaac Zimmerman, who’s ranked tenth in 3A.
“Just getting on top of the podium gives me motivation for February and hopefully I can wrestle for a title,” Hayes said. “I’m very grateful for my coaches at Sandburg since they help me every single day by training really well. And I’m very thankful for the Polz family, especially, because I wouldn’t be where I’m at without them.
“And I’ve always wanted to follow in my brothers’ footsteps. I’m very thankful for both of them also, because without them, I also wouldn’t be here. With them training with me, it just gets me a lot better every single day. They’re awesome and I don’t think that I could have any brothers who are better than that.”
Haleem (31-5) followed a pair of wins by technical fall with an 8-6 decision over Yorkville Christian’s Aiden Larsen, who’s ranked second in Class 1A and was a fifth-place state medalist last season, in the semifinals.
Zimmerman (28-11), who’s a freshman, beat Larsen (9-6) to claim third place. Glenwood sophomore Tyler Clarke (22-14) took fifth place after winning by fall in 3:56 over Lincoln-Way West freshman Carter Dibenedetto (26-14).
113 – Deion Johnson, Homewood-Flossmoor
Despite being unbeaten against Illinois competitors, Deion Johnson knew that winning a Lahey Tournament title at 113 would be difficult considering that there were three other ranked individuals at the weight class, including a defending state champion, and that trio had each won at least two tournament titles this season.
But the Homewood-Flossmoor senior, who’s ranked second in 3A and took third at state a year ago, has been motivated by those losses to quality competition and looked to add to title wins at Joliet Central and Crown Point and did just that by capturing a 7-4 decision over Andrew junior Max Siegel in the 113 finals. Johnson (25-6) set the table for becoming the first of three champs for coach Jim Sokoloski’s Vikings when he followed two pins with a 4-3 victory in the semifinals over Bradley-Bourbonnais senior Ethan Spacht.
“I was in a little slump back then and was taking a lot of L’s at the national tournaments and it hurt me because I knew what I could do against them,” Johnson said. “But that definitely got me prepared for this and it’s fired me up to win a state title. I’ve come back stronger because I have a little chip on my shoulder. I was making a lot of mistakes, but we fixed that in practice.
“(His teammates) They fire me up when I see them performing, and that just makes me want to perform better. I want to see how well all of us are going to perform this year, we have a lot to show and that’s why we’re going to shake a lot of heads at state.”
Siegel (31-3), ranked third in Class 3A and a state qualifier last year who won titles at Granite City and Batavia, followed a pin and major decision with a 4-2 victory in the semifinals over Glenwood junior Drew Davis.
Davis (29-2), a 2A state champion at 106 last season who had title wins at Conant, Glenwood and Mahomet-Seymour to his credit, settled for third place with a 6-0 decision over Spacht (30-4), who took fifth at state last year and was hoping to add to title wins at Reed-Custer and Mahomet-Seymour. In the fifth-place match, Carl Sandburg sophomore Madden Parker (31-8) won by fall in 3:00 over Stagg junior Jamie Corral (25-8).
120 – Trevor Silzer, Andrew
After seeing two of his teammates settle for second place in the first two Lahey Tournament title matches, Trevor Silzer was determined that he would not suffer that same fate, but that certainly proved to be a lot easier said than done.
That’s because the Andrew senior had a battle on his hands in the 120 finals against Lockport Township freshman Justin Wardlow. But Silzer (34-2), ranked sixth in 3A and a fourth-place medalist last season who has only lost to one competitor from Iowa, was able to add to title wins at Granite City and Batavia by claiming a 2-1 victory on a tiebreaker. Silzer followed a fall with a 3-1 semifinals win over Yorkville Christian’s Ty Edwards.
“We’ve been in the finals for the past three tourneys,” Silzer said of his team’s success at the lower weights. “It’s really good to see this team coming together and supporting each other, and especially seeing three guys in the finals was awesome. We’re hoping to get down to Champaign and hopefully win some medals there, too.
“Coach K (Andrew coach Peter Kowalczuk) is not only pushing us, the coaches are pushing everybody in practice and in school. They also want us to be better people outside of wrestling. We’re all super close and we’re all like family. We like hanging out and having a good time at these tournaments. It’s business, but it’s also good times with the guys.”
Wardlow (32-12) became the first of three individuals for the champion Porters to reach the title mat after recording three-consecutive falls, with the last of those coming in 4:00 in the semifinals over Belleville East senior Nick Fetters.
Edwards (33-6), a junior ranked second in 1A who was a state runner-up in the IWCOA finals in 2021, captured third place with a 4-2 decision over Fetters (27-13). And in the fifth-place match, Lincoln-Way East freshman Kaidge Richardson (29-8) won by forfeit over Lincoln-Way West freshman Jakob Siwinski (25-15).
126 – Aaron Camacho, Bolingbrook
Despite being a bit of an unknown in the rankings heading into the Lahey Tournament, it’s safe to say that Aaron Camacho is no longer a mystery man after capturing the title at 126, a weight class that featured two individuals ranked in the top-10 in 3A and another in the top 10 in 2A.
The Bolingbrook freshman, who has experienced success in folkstyle and freestyle at both the state and national levels, improved to 22-4 and added to title wins at Neuqua Valley and J. Sterling Morton after beating Lincoln-Way Central senior Nathan Knowlton, who’s ranked eighth in 3A, by a 7-5 score in the championship match. Camacho followed a fall with a 13-6 decision in the semifinals over Lincoln-Way West’s Jase Salin. And getting a title from a freshman against quality competition is a big boost for new Raiders coach AJ Knoll and his staff.
“This feels good coming out here as a freshman,” Camacho said. “My brother, Gonzalo, is my biggest supporter and he always helps me and pushes me. This year we have a pretty loaded team that’s full of freshmen and sophomores and the coaches are great, since they always push us and they’re so supportive. It’s a really good program and you can see some progress.
“This is way different than IKWF since you see a lot of kids with more skill and there’s better challenges. But it’s been a good journey so far and I look forward to wrestling these next four years with my new coaches. My biggest accomplishment right now is being a freshman and competing against these older guys and doing good against them.”
Knowlton (31-6), a 2021 IWCOA qualifier who is four-time tournament finalist this season with a title in his initial competition at Joliet Central, earned his spot on the title mat with a pin and then decisions over two ranked individuals who also are two-time state qualifiers, Glenwood’s John Ben Maduena in the quarterfinals and Lockport’s Jad Alwawi by a 10-4 score in the semifinals.
Junior Maduena (28-4), who’s ranked seventh in Class 2A, captured a 6-0 decision over senior Alwawi (19-11), who’s ninth in 3A, to claim third place honors. And in the fifth-place match, Homewood-Flossmoor freshman Robye Williams (15-11) claimed a 19-11 major decision over Salin (26-10), a junior who qualified for state last year.
132 – Ryan Hinger, Carl Sandburg
It took a few calls by the announcer to get Ryan Hinger to the awards stand to complete the handing out of medals at 132, but after showing off his first bracket board of the season, the Carl Sandburg sophomore intends to be in that position many more times in the future.
Hinger (29-6), who’s ranked sixth in Class 3A, joined teammate Rocco Hayes as a Lahey Tournament champion after capturing a 7-2 decision over Lockport Township senior Carlos Munoz-Flores in the finals. After opening with a quick fall, he captured a major decision in the quarterfinals and won by technical fall in 3:03 in the semifinals over Willowbrook’s Isaiah Smith.
“It’s finally nice to get a bracket board,” Hinger said. “I kind of wanted to relax a little bit until the state series and just go out there and wrestle smart and compete hard. It was about not getting scared and freaking out in those scrambles and just keep wrestling through all positions.
“Definitely having coaches like Clinton and Mike Polz helps a lot in getting me prepared for the state series. Rocco Hayes is probably one of the toughest kids in our room right now and me and him have recently kind of started drilling a little, even though I’m a little bit bigger. I’m looking forward to the state series and see how I’ll do. Last year, unfortunately, I didn’t make iit but this year, I’m hoping that I’ll do well.”
Munoz-Flores (8-3), who’s ranked eighth in 3A, was the second of three finalists for the Porters. After getting a pin in his opener, he won a 4-3 decision in the quarterfinals over Lincoln-Way West’s Karter Guzman before winning 5-1 over Yorkville Christian’s Noah Dial in the semifinals.
Guzman (31-7), a senior, claimed third place with a 2-0 decision over Lincoln-Way Central freshman Jalen Byrd (33-11), who’s the son of Knights head coach Tyrone Byrd, who’s a 2020 IWCOA Hall of Fame inductee for his career at Clinton and the University of Illinois. In the fifth-place match, Dial (26-7), a senior who’s ranked fourth in 1A and is a two-time state qualifier, won by fall in 3:18 over Smith (22-10), who’s also a senior.
138 – Cody Tavoso, Hinsdale Central
A lot of competitors would be thrilled to have one third-place finish as well as two six-place showings during their career and Cody Tavoso is proud to have accomplished that feat through his junior season. Understandably, the Hinsdale Central senior aspires to move up on the awards stand in a fourth-state appearance, but knows that will be challenging considering the quality competitors who he expects to meet up with in Champaign.
Thus far, Tavoso has been taking care of business, improving to 36-2 after recording a fall in 5:34 over Bradley-Bourbonnais’ Levi Greenlee in the 138 title match, his second first-place finish of the season to go along with a title at his school’s Whitlatch. He recorded three falls to reach the title mat, getting a pin in 1:45 over Belleville East’s Warren Zeisset in the semifinals. Thanks to his four falls, Tavoso recorded the most team points of anyone in the field with 30. The Red Devils were one of four teams that had two or more champions as his teammate Marko Ivanisevic, another individual with hopes of being a state champion, also won a title.
“I want that state championship and it’s been my goal ever since I got to high school, ” said Tavoso, who will continue his career and education at Princeton University. “I had some cousins who won a state title in New Jersey, so I have to live up to those expectations. The Allen brothers have been the only ones with state titles at our school and they’ve given me their words of wisdom.
“I’m happy for my season so far and it’s great having Marko with me. We’re the two captains on the team and we feed off of each others’ energy and push each other. We’re fighting for our first conference championship in school history (which they won on Thursday with a 35-31 victory over Glenbard West). I’ve put a lot of time in along with coach (Jason) Hayes, to make sure that the whole team was getting better and it starts from the kids’ club up.”
Greenlee (30-10), who joined teammate AJ Mancilla as one of two Boilermakers to reach the title mat, opened with a fall before capturing a 4-2 decision over Mahomet-Seymour’s Donovan Lewis in the quarterfinals and then advanced to the finals when Bolingbrook’s Tom McDermott had to injury default in the semifinals.
Lockport Township senior Logan Kaminski (28-18) took third place after capturing a 10-1 major decision over Homewood-Flossmoor senior Jaylen Augustave (19-9). And for fifth place, Zeisset (33-7), a senior, won by injury default over freshman McDermott (22-9).
145 – Jaydon Robinson, Homewood-Flossmoor
While obviously motivated about getting a third-place finish at 145 in the IHSA finals a year ago for his first state medal, when Jaydon Robinson claimed a third-place medal at a tournament in Crown Point, Indiana earlier this season, it definitely lit a fire under him for different reasons.
The Homewood-Flossmoor junior has certainly been on a roll since that disappointment as is evidenced by a championship at the Powerade and a fourth-place finish at the Doc Buchanan Invite, which were both among the best showings for the Illinois athletes at those rugged events. Ranked second in 3A, Robinson improved to 33-5 and won his third title of the season with a fall in 4:17 over Lincoln-Way East’s Connor Koehler in the 145 title match. He followed two pins with a 15-4 major decision over Belleville East’s Braden Kelly in the semifinals.
“I talked to a reporter at Crown Point after I got third and I told him that I’m going to go home and put back on my shoes, and that’s what I did and I’m more determined now,” said Robinson, whose brother Vincent didn’t compete in the tournament. “As soon as I did that, I went to the Powerade and won it and then went to the Doc B and lost two matches but still placed fourth.
“My brother really helps me through all of my journeys. (The Vikings) We’ve been working hard and even though practice is two hours, I stay for another 30 minutes or an hour. Now wrestling is the talk of the school, and it wasn’t this big when I got there.”
Koehler (25-6), a senior who along with classmate Ari Zaeske were the Griffins’ representatives on the title mat, earned a spot in the finals with three-consecutive falls, pinning Bolingbrook’s Marcus Poe in 1:03 in the semifinals to advance to his second tournament finals this season.
Granite City senior Dylan Boyd (32-9), a two-time state qualifier who won two tournament titles this season, took third-place with a fall in 0:37 over Poe (20-11), who’s a sophomore. In the fifth-place match, sophomore Kelly (27-12) captured a 6-5 win over Lockport freshman Chris Miller.
152 – Jermaine Butler, Homewood-Flossmoor
With teammates Deion Johnson and Jaydon Robinson claiming their third invite titles of the season, Jermaine Butler hoped to give Homewood-Flossmoor a 3-0 day on the title mat, and that’s just what he did to collect his first championship of the season when he captured a 7-1 decision over Glenwood’s Aden Byal in the 152 finals.
Butler (27-8), a senior whose previous-best tournament showing was a third-place finish early in the season at Joliet Central, followed a decision with a fall in the quarterfinals and then won a 5-2 decision in the semifinals over Yorkville Christian’s Drew Torza. After being unable to compete late in the postseason last year due to an injury in the regional, Butler hopes that he can join some of teammates in Champaign this season.
“We have good partners in the room,” Butler said. “(H-F’s schedule) “It gets you ready for the big tournaments. Being in the room with big tournament champions it’s motivating. We all come in as a team, watch each others’ matches and we support each other, win or lose.”
Byal (29-3), a senior who’s a two-time state qualifier, was hoping to win his third title of the season. He joined teammate Alex Hamrick as one of two finalists for the Titans, who are ranked fifth in 2A, after getting a fall and then winning two major decisions, with the last of those being by a 15-4 score over Bradley-Bourbonnais’ Tyler Starr in the semifinals.
Lockport Township sophomore Durango Valles (31-13) took third after winning a 6-5 decision over Starr (33-7), a senior who was a state qualifier last year. In the fifth-place match, Torza (28-12), a senior who’s a two-time state qualifier who took fourth in 2021 IWCOA finals and is ranked sixth in Class 1A. won 15-3 over Mahomet-Seymour junior Gage Decker (20-10).
160 – Logan Swaw, Lockport Township
After seeing his team open the second day of competition with a great semifinals round and then the subsequent consolation round to put them in the lead for the team title for good, Logan Swaw got the opportunity to have some fun in the finals when he became Lockport Township’s lone champion in the Lahey Tournament.
That’s where the Porters senior got the chance to match up with a longtime friend, Yorkville Christian’s Tyler Martinez. In a meeting where both sides knew what to expect, Swaw (37-1), who’s ranked second in Class 3A and was sixth at 152 last season, won a 3-1 decision for his third invite title, adding to firsts at the Dan Gable Donnybrook and the Cheesehead. After opening with two first-period falls, Swaw captured a 3-0 victory over Lincoln-Way East’s Zach LaMonto in the semifinals. Swaw’s one loss is to Conant’s Ethan Stiles, a three-time state medalist who won a title at 152 last and at the IWCOA in 2021 and is top-ranked at 160.
“I’ve been friends with Tyler for six or eight years,” Swaw said. “I think it’s awesome, it’s a great experience, because at the end of the day, we’re still friends. There’s six minutes where we’re wrestling and we’re not friends on the mat, but when we come off, we’re friends again, and I feel like that’s true friendship.
“As a team, I feel like we haven’t reached our full potential yet. We’ll see how we turn out at state but I think we haven’t shown everything that we have, so I’m excited. We’ve had a lot of stuff going on. But our coaches are all very calm and they know how to handle the situation, so it’s great. We handled Brayden (Thompson) leaving very well. We kind of just stick together.”
Martinez (33-4), a senior who’s placed the last two years and is ranked second in Class 1A was hoping to add to titles that he had won at Antioch and Plano. He earned his spot in the finals with three first-period falls, with the last of those coming in 1:46 in the semifinals over Hinsdale Central’s Zach Kruse.
LaMonto (30-5), a senior who is ranked tenth in 3A, won a 12-6 decision over sophomore Kruse (27-12) to claim third place. And in the fifth-place match, Carl Sandburg junior Moe Askar (14-13) claimed a 7-3 decision over Lincoln-Way Central senior Max Becker (16-11).170 – Jackson Gillen, Yorkville Christian
Yorkville Christian showed that it could hang with the big boys after grabbing the lead after the first day of the Lahey Tournament and then claiming second place behind Lockport in an event that featured eight ranked teams with five in 3A and the Mustangs the lone 1A team in the field.
The defending Class 1A champions, who are ranked second, had seven individuals who placed fifth or better, which included two finalists, one of whom was a champion, Jackson Gillen. The senior improved to 32-4 and is unbeaten against Illinois competition. He won the 1A title at 170 last year and is top-ranked at that weight after winning his third title this season by recording an 11-2 major decision over Lincoln-Way East’s Ari Zaeske in the 170 finals. He also had three first-period falls, including one in 1:47 over Lincoln-Way Central’s Tim Key in the semifinals.
“After our Coal City match, we kind of turned it up,” Gillen said. “We said, ‘oh man, we’re not the best any more, we have to step it up and become the best.’ Losing is winning some times. And I know by the end of the year that we’ll all be ready. We know that we can hang with almost any team in the state.
“In the room, we don’t care about weight or anything, we just go out and try to make each other better by wrestling different styles and finding each others’ flaws and strengths. We believe in them (his coaches), and they believe in us. We all just want to win and have fun together. You can see us on the bench when we’re laughing and joking around.”
Zaeske (33-3), a senior who’s ranked sixth in 3A and a state qualifier a year ago, was looking to add to a title that he won at Wheaton Warrenville South. After opening with a win by technical fall, Zaeske had two falls, with one in 2:16 in the semifinals over Homewood-Flossmoor’s Jon Fulgencio. He was one of two individuals that advanced to the mat for the Griffins, who are ranked tenth in Class 3A and took fourth in the tournament, 1.5 points behind Glenwood.
Key (34-10), a junior, claimed a 1-0 decision over Fulgencio (22-11), a senior, for third place. And Hinsdale Central senior Taylor Riggi (24-14) was a 6-1 winner over Carl Sandburg junior Noah Cruz in the fifth-place match.
182 – Brennan Houser, Mahomet-Seymour
Mahomet-Seymour came to the Lahey Tournament with impressive credentials, ranked third in Class 2A, and coach Rob Ledin’s squad claimed sixth place, finishing ahead of ranked Class 3A teams such as Lincoln-Way West, Hinsdale Central and Lincoln-Way Central. The Bulldogs were one of four teams in the field that had multiple champions, with Brennan Houser taking first at 182 and Mateo Casillas following with a title at 195.
Houser (39-2), a senior who’s ranked second, won his fourth title of the season, adding to firsts at Neuqua Valley, Granite City and at his school’s tournament after capturing a 5-2 decision over Bradley-Bourbonnais’ AJ Mancilla in the 182 title match. Houser placed sixth at 170 a year ago and took fifth at 182 in 2021 at the IWCOA finals. He won his first three matches by technical fall, going 3:23 to win his semifinals match with Lincoln-Way West’s Nate Elstner.
“Me and Mateo push each other every day,” Houser said. “And Camden (Harms) is with Colton Crowley, our 220, every day pushing each other. We’ve always kind of had a culture of going downstate and doing well. We kind of got robbed Covid year because we had a solid team. And in our junior year, we got third. And this year I think we’re going to do big things again. We just have a lot of winners in the room.
“My favorite part about the team is the kind of bond that we have. After wrestling tournaments, probably five or six of us hang out, we’re just kind of a family. That’s why we’re successful.”
Mancilla (36-3), a junior who’s ranked sixth in 3A, had title wins at Barrington and Reed-Custer to his credit. After recording a pair of first-period falls, he prevailed 3-1 in sudden victory over Lincoln-Way Central’s Evan Welsh in the semifinals to earn his spot opposite of Houser.
Two sophomores battled for third place as Lockport Township’s Payton Roberson (8-1) was a winner by technical fall in 5:16 over Glenwood’s Maximus Wiezorek (24-10). In the fifth-place match, sophomore Elstner (26-14) captured a 7-5 decision over senior Welsh (27-13).
195 – Mateo Casillas, Mahomet-Seymour
When you’ve been in a state title match and come close to being in another, the desire to finish on top of the awards is magnified, especially for a senior. That’s how Mateo Casillas sees things as he is top-ranked at 195 and hopes to add to a resume that features third place at 195 a year ago and second place in the IWCOA at the same weight in 2021.
Casillas (39-1) joined Brennan Houser as one of two champions for Mahomet-Seymour, giving it the same number of title winners as the first four teams in the standings combined. An 8-0 major decision over Lincoln-Way West’s Anthony Sherman in the 195 finals gave him his fourth title of the season, adding to firsts at Neuqua Valley, Granite City and his own school’s invite, The Bulldogs senior, who’s unbeaten against Illinois competitors, opened with a fall and a major decision and beat Yorkville Christian’s Jeremy Loomis by technical fall in 4:20 in the semifinals.
“Our upperweights are definitely stepping it up and we have some underclassmen and freshmen in the lighter weights so it’s definitely huge and it needs to happen that the upper weights step up,” Casilas said. “They call us the Four or Five Horsemen, so we have to put things in line and set things right.
“Mahomet has always had a winning culture so to just continue that culture is definitely a blessing. It’s a gift to be able to wear the Mahomet singlet and continue that history. I’ve been performing pretty well and it definitely helps having a great practice partner like Brennan Houser and we definitely push each other. I know that these tournaments and winning them is just one more step in winning a state title, which is where I want to be.”
Sherman (29-8), who’s ranked tenth in 3A and was the lone finalist for his team, reached the title mat with a 5-2 decision in the semifinals over Lincoln-Way East’s Caden O’Rourke, which came after he opened with a fall and then won a major decision. This was the third-straight tournament finals that he’s appeared in.
Loomis (27-9), a senior, won a 10-5 decision over sophomore O’Rourke (23-6) to claim third place. In the fifth-place match, Glenwood senior Brandon Bray (22-13) won an 8-0 major decision over Bradley-Bourbonnais senior Cayden Ghere (20-17).
220 – Marko Ivanisevic, Hinsdale Central
Marko Ivanisevic has numerous examples of what it takes to earn a spot on the state title mat. The Hinsdale Central junior’s brother Niko was a state runner-up at 285 in 2017. Then there’s Red Devils assistant coach Conrad Polz, who won three-straight titles while competing at Carl Sandburg. And there’s the legacy of the Allen brothers, Jack, Brian and Matt, who combined for seven state finals appearances and each won a title to make them the school’s only champions.
Top-ranked at 220 in 3A and a fifth-place finisher at that weight a year ago at state, Ivanisevic looked to bounce back from his first loss of the season at Batavia’s Arlis Invite when he faced Glenwood’s Alex Hamrick, who also suffered his first defeats at Batavia, in the Lahey Tournament’s 220 finals. Ivanisevic (35-1) went on to capture a 7-1 decision over Hamrick to add to title wins at Barrrington and his school’s Whitlatch. He also won decisions in his first two matches, earning a 3-1 victory over Mahomet-Seymour’s Colton Crowley in the semifinals.
“I had a really tough tournament at Batavia and didn’t wrestle my best in the finals,” Ivanisevic said. “I came in here today saying to myself, ‘just wrestle’. I look forward to this all year and it’s my favorite time of the year wrestling. I wrestled a lot of good kids here and I’m excited to keep the pace going.
“And I’ve got to give a lot of thanks to my coaches, Conrad Polz, Ernest Battaglia and Jason Hayes. I really appreciate Matt (Allen) coming into the room because he wrestles at that high level, he wrestles at the level that I want to get to one of these days.”
Hamrick (27-3), a senior ranked fourth in Class 2A who took fifth at 285 a year ago and third in 2021 in the IWCOA, earned his trip to the title mat with a major decision, a decision in the quarterfinals and a fall in 1:46 in the semifinals over Lincoln-Way West’s Nick Kavaroos.
Crowley (31-9), a senior ranked fifth in 2A and an IWCOA qualifier in 2021, bounced back from his close semifinals loss with a fall in 3:20 over Lincoln-Way East junior David Wuske (17-9) in the third-place match. And Carl Sandburg senior Mike Rydell (26-15) claimed fifth place with a pin in 1:50 over junior Kavaroos (21-15).
285 – Jonathan Rulo, Belleville East
Jonathan Rulo is ranked down the list of 3A competitors at 285 at ninth, but that’s okay with the Belleville East freshman, who knows what he’s been accomplishing thus far in his debut season with tournament titles at Mascoutah and Granite City and his only loss in 25 matches came against Joliet Catholic Academy’s Dillan Johnson at Geneseo.
Rulo (24-1) denied Mahomet-Seymour of closing out the finals with titles at the last three weights when he captured a 6-4 decision over Camden Harms. After opening the tournament with a pair of first-period falls, Rulo advanced to the title mat following a hard-fought 10-7 decision over Andrew’s Mike McDonough in the semifinals.
“It’s good to get possibilities like this where I get to wrestle better kids,” Rulo said. “It’s definitely helped a lot with me being able to show how capable I am and what putting in the work does when I go against older kids and kids with more technique than me.
“The coaches do a lot to help us practice. They really go through it step by step of what to do and show us moves that will help us. It gives me a lot of humbleness to be able to show how I can wrestle with these kids and say that I’m on the same level with them.”
Harms (36-4), who has lost twice to Rulo, advanced to a tournament finals for the fourth time and was seeking his second title. The Bulldogs senior opened with two first-period falls before recording a pin in 3:09 over Lockport Township’s Wojciech Chrobak in the semifinals.
In the third-place match, junior Chrobak (23-15) recorded a fall in 1:25 over sophomore McDonough (20-12). And Bolingbrook junior Isaac Amoah (9-3) was a winner by fall in 5:03 over Hinsdale Central junior Brady Koshik (21-10) in the fifth-place match.