Naperville Central gets back to state, Mount Carmel-JCA matchup set 

By Curt Herron – for the IWCOA

Normally when three of the top teams in the state are involved in a competition or six ranked teams are competing against each other, there should be some amount of drama taking place

But there was no late suspense in the Class 3A Downers Grove South Dual Team Sectional where Mount Carmel and Marmion Academy met up in one dual and Naperville Central faced Downers Grove South in the other. And as a bonus, Joliet Catholic Academy and Lincoln-Way East came in from another sectional to compete on a third mat. And all three of the dual meets were already pretty much settled about midway through the competition.

Third-ranked Mount Carmel only lost one match to fifth-ranked Marmion Academy and led 60-0 with three matches left before capturing a 70-5 victory. Second-ranked Joliet Catholic Academy trailed Lincoln-Way East 9-3 in the early going but then rattled off 30-straight points to claim a 46-18 win and No. 15 Naperville Central built up a 24-6 advantage through the first eight matches over the No. 25 host Mustangs as it secured a 40-21 triumph.

All three winners advance to Friday’s quarterfinals of the IHSA Class 3A Dual Team Finals, which take place at Grossinger Motors Arena in Bloomington. 

In an interesting twist, the Caravan and Hilltoppers got an early preview of each other since they were on adjacent mats. The two will meet up at 5 p.m. in one of the quarterfinals while Hononegah and St. Charles East also will be competing at that time.

Naperville Central faces Yorkville in a 7 p.m. quarterfinal meet while Libertyville goes up against Oak Park and River Forest in the other quarterfinals dual meet. Semifinals are Saturday at 9 a.m. for the first quarterfinal winners and at 11 a.m. for the latter quarterfinal winners. The state championship and third-place duals meets are set for 6 p.m.

Naperville Central is back at state for the first time since 2012, when coach Rob Porter’s team lost to Barrington in the quarterfinals. That was the school’s second trip in four years with the program making its first state dual team appearance in 2009. That team was also led by Porter, who was on hand on Tuesday to assist RedHawks coach Noah Fitzenreider, who was a Naperville Central assistant coach on the 2012 state team.

“That was right when I first got to Central,” Fitzenreider said. “Rob was the head coach and that’s when we got a team to state, so it’s nice to be able to do it again, especially with him around here, too. What we talked about this year is the last two times we won, we faced Mount Carmel and we wrestled them as tough as we could. And I said that one day we were going to get another opportunity and it happened quicker than we thought, so I said that we have to take advantage of this one.

“We qualified four but all of the other guys worked really hard last week and they kept working and kept putting a lot of time in. They’ve been focused and dedicated, DG South is a great program so it was nice to be able to come here and compete with them. We have a very close-knit team and these guys are best friends and they stick together. And my coaching staff has been awesome by putting in extra time for those guys. It was a full-program effort. We had kids that aren’t here that still came to practice, so that was nice.” 

On Tuesday, the RedHawks received falls from William Erbeck (285), CJ Bierman (138) and Hagan Taylor (144), a win by technical fall from Ty Martin (120), major decisions from Mitchell Kaszuba (126) and Christopher Bern (157) and narrow decisions from Henry Rydwelski (175), Nicolas Besteiro (215) and Jake Moore (106). Besteiro claimed sixth place at 215 at state to earn all-state honors while Bern, Erbeck and Taylor were other state qualifiers.

“It feels great,” Taylor said. “We worked really hard as a team just to get here. Throughout the years I’ve seen our team grow and it’s all paying off now. It’s always tough for us, but if you get a good team and get people together and if they all work hard, then we could make it. After our first dual, I saw how hard everyone was working and how much effort and passion was in everybody, so that’s how I could tell that everyone was going to do great this year. We had a great state-qualifying team this year.”

“We’re really improving every single year and it’s been just a straight line forward ever since I was a freshman,” Kaszuba said. “I’m really proud of how much our team has grown this year. We have really good chemistry with our coaches. Coach Porter has seen us grow all these years and Fitz has built us up the entire time. We were shooting for state and that has been our main goal and Fitz has been great at keeping us on that path, no matter what happened during the individual state series. We have a really well-rounded team and are pretty good at every weight class. We have a good lineup all across the board and I think that’s what helped us to get downstate.”

Coach Sean Lovelace’s Downers Grove South Mustangs, who won their third-straight regional title this season, were seeking their first trip to dual team state. The Mustangs got falls from TJ Johnson (150) and Connor Kelly (165) and decisions from Matt Lapacek (190), Miguel Castaneda (113) and Drew Woolsey (132). Lapacek earned all-state honors this year by placing fourth at 190 and RJ Samuels also was a state qualifier.

Mount Carmel is making its fourth-straight state appearance and its 15th trip to state overall. Coach Alex Tsirtsis’ Caravan beat DeKalb to take first place in 2022 after placing second to Montini Catholic in 2020. They lost 32-30 to St. Charles East a year ago in the quarterfinals.

The program hopes to win a trophy for the tenth time and also capture its fifth championship, with the other three titles won under Hall of Fame coach Bill Weick from 1992-1994.

“It’s a quick turnaround from the individual tournament so we want to make sure that everyones’ weight is under control and make sure they’re healthy and the kids did a pretty good job of doing that,” Tsirtsis said. “It kept our team together down in Champaign and their conditioning and weight under control so they’d be dialed in for this week.”

Collecting falls for the Caravan were Colin Kelly (175), Rylan Breen (190), Alex Poholik (285), Justin Williamson (113), Jaxon Jorgensen (120), Seth Mendoza (126) and Edmund Enright (157) while Jairo Acuna (144) got a win by technical fall.

“It feels awesome and it’s important to enjoy this victory but also it’s important for us to get back to work because the job is not finished,” Colin Kelly said. “The hard work has been put in so now it’s time to lock in and finish off the season strong. I like the coaches, good teammates and the school. And everybody’s energy toward the sport.”

Kavel Moore (106) and Kevin Kalchbrenner (165) captured major decisions, Damian Resendez (138) won a decision and William Jacobson (215) and Evan Stanley (132) got wins by forfeit. 

Mendoza captured his third IHSA championship, Kelly won his second IHSA title and is a three-time finalist, Enright claimed second place at state for the second time, three-time placewinner Breen took third, Stanley finished fourth and three-time medalist Resendez took sixth, as did Willamson. Other Caravan state qualifiers were Acuna, Jacobson, Kalchbrenner, Liam Kelly, Moore and Poholik.

“It’s pretty good to have everyone on my team compete at a high level,” Williamson said. “I took sixth at state and there are just so many better kids that are out there.”

The lone victor for the Cadets was Ashton Hobson (150), who placed sixth at state at 144 and got a win by technical fall in the dual. State qualifiers who suffered losses were Logan Conover (106), Donny Pigoni (126) and Mateusz Nycz (285). IHSA champions Nicholas Garcia (113) and Zach Stewart (138) and state runner-up Joseph Favia (215) did not compete in the dual meet.

In many of the other sectionals in the state, the Cadets, who finished second to St. Charles East in Class 3A last season and are coached by Nathan Fitzenreider and Anthony Cirrincione, would have likely qualified again for the state finals, but the same could be said about some of the other quality teams that didn’t win regional titles who also competed in this tough sectional.

Joliet Catholic Academy is back at the state finals for the third year in a row. Coach Ryan Cumbee’s Hilltoppers beat Deerfield to win the Class 2A title in 2022 and took second place in Class 2A to Washington a year ago. Before Cumbee arrived in 2020, the program hadn’t even won a regional championship.

“We needed to perform well in order to get the job done and I felt like we did that,” Cumbee said. “But it’s going to take a little more on Friday against Mount Carmel, though. So tonight, we’re going to go home and turn the page to Mount Carmel.”

The Hilltoppers received falls from Nico Ronchetti (190), Dillan Johnson (285), Lukas Foster (106), Max Cumbee (113) and Jason Hampton (120), a major decision from Max Corral (165) and decisions from Adante Washington (126), Damien Flores (132), Connor Cumbee (150) and Luke Hamiti (157). 

“It’s been a lot of fun, especially with the new transfers,” Ronchetti said. “We’re a family. We all love each other, even the guys that came in. And that’s mainly due to the coaches.”

Johnson is a four-time state champion, two-time medalist Hampton took second at state, Max Cumbee and Luke Hamiti placed fifth and Corral and two-time medalist Ronchetti finished sixth. Other JCA state qualifiers were 2023 medalist Connor Cumbee, Flores, Foster, Elias Gonzalez and Washington.

“Usually I was done after last weekend, but this is a great opportunity to have another weekend to wrestle, especially with this being my senior year,” Corral said. “It’s nice to have good drill partners, too, helping you out every day.”

Lincoln-Way East, who’s coached by Kevin Rockett, got pins from Caden O`Rourke (215) and Kevin Byrne (144) and decisions from Jackson Zaeske (175) and Brayden Mortell (138).  State qualifiers for the Griffins were Domanic Abeja, Rory Moran, Kaidge Richardson and Tyson Zvonar.

Class 3A Downers Grove South Dual Team Sectional matches

Naperville Central 40, Downers Grove South 21

175 – Henry Rydwelski (Naperville Central) over RJ Samuels (Downers Grove South) Dec 3-2
190 – Matt Lapacek (Downers Grove South) over Jacob Smetters (Naperville Central) Dec 8-4
215 – Nicolas Besteiro (Naperville Central) over Mack Piehl (Downers Grove South) Dec 7-5
285 – William Erbeck (Naperville Central) over Jacobi Spraggins (Downers Grove South) Fall 2:57
106 – Jake Moore (Naperville Central) over Trevor Dinaso (Downers Grove South) Dec 2-0
113 – Miguel Castaneda (Downers Grove South) over Jacob Cochran (Naperville Central) Dec 10-6
120 – Ty Martin (Naperville Central) over Harris Kelliher (Downers Grove South) TF 19-3
126 – Mitchell Kaszuba (Naperville Central) over Jadon Dinwiddie (Downers Grove South) Maj 9-0
132 – Drew Woolsey (Downers Grove South) over Vince Bern (Naperville Central) Dec 11-4
138 – CJ Bierman (Naperville Central) over Jordan Christin-Holley (Downers Grove South) Fall 3:12
144 – Hagan Taylor (Naperville Central) over Nick Spirek (Downers Grove South) Fall 1:45
150 – TJ Johnson (Downers Grove South) over Yusuf Sikander (Naperville Central) Fall 1:13
157 – Christopher Bern (Naperville Central) over Hugo Contreras-Lozano (Downers Grove (South) Maj 15-6
165 – Connor Kelly (Downers Grove South) over Nicolas Olvera (Naperville Central) Fall 1:08

Mount Carmel 70, Marmion Academy 5

175 – Colin Kelly (Mount Carmel) over Vincenzo Testa (Marmion Academy) Fall 3:42
190 – Rylan Breen (Mount Carmel) over Luke Boersma (Marmion Academy) Fall 4:32
215 – William Jacobson (Mount Carmel) over Unknown (Unattached) FFT
285 – Alex Poholik (Mount Carmel) over Mateusz Nycz (Marmion Academy) Fall 5:17
106 – Kavel Moore (Mount Carmel) over Colton Wyller (Marmion Academy) Maj 11-3
113 – Justin Williamson (Mount Carmel) over Preston Morrison (Marmion Academy) Fall 3:56
120 – Jaxon Jorgensen (Mount Carmel) over Logan Conover (Marmion Academy) Fall 1:24
126 – Seth Mendoza (Mount Carmel) over Adam Kopcio (Marmion Academy) Fall 1:56
132 – Evan Stanley (Mount Carmel) over Unknown (Unattached) FFT
138 – Damian Resendez (Mount Carmel) over Donny Pigoni (Marmion Academy) Dec 6-2
144 – Jairo Acuna (Mount Carmel) over Grayson Garcia (Marmion Academy) TF 20-5
150 – Ashton Hobson (Marmion Academy) over Daniel Lynch (Mount Carmel) TF 17-1
157 – Edmund Enright (Mount Carmel) over Christian Favia (Marmion Academy) Fall 0:51
165 – Kevin Kalchbrenner (Mount Carmel) over Anthony Haddad (Marmion Academy) Maj 12-2

Class 3A TBA Dual Team Sectional matches held at Downers Grove South

Joliet Catholic Academy 46, Lincoln-Way East 18

175 – Jackson Zaeske (Lincoln-Way East) over Issac Clauson (Joliet Catholic Academy) Dec 5-2
190 – Nico Ronchetti (Joliet Catholic Academy) over Isaiah Williams (Lincoln-Way East) Fall 3:10
215 – Caden O`Rourke (Lincoln-Way East) over Max Hrvatin (Joliet Catholic Academy) Fall 2:00
285 – Dillan Johnson (Joliet Catholic Academy) over Gage LaDere (Lincoln-Way East) Fall 1:44
106 – Lukas Foster (Joliet Catholic Academy) over Gabe Matariyeh (Lincoln-Way East) Fall 1:33
113 – Max Cumbee (Joliet Catholic Academy) over JT Theis (Lincoln-Way East) Fall 3:41
120 – Jason Hampton (Joliet Catholic Academy) over Zach Miller (Lincoln-Way East) Fall 4:48
126 – Adante Washington (Joliet Catholic Academy) over Kaidge Richardson (Lincoln-Way East) Dec 6-4
132 – Damien Flores (Joliet Catholic Academy) over Tyson Zvonar (Lincoln-Way East) Dec 6-3
138 – Brayden Mortell (Lincoln-Way East) over Elias Gonzalez (Joliet Catholic Academy) Dec 7-3
144 – Kevin Byrne (Lincoln-Way East) over Aurelio Munoz (Joliet Catholic Academy) Fall 1:24
150 – Connor Cumbee (Joliet Catholic Academy) over Domanic Abeja (Lincoln-Way East) Dec 3-2
157 – Luke Hamiti (Joliet Catholic Academy) over Alexander Lizak (Lincoln-Way East) Dec 12-8
165 – Max Corral (Joliet Catholic Academy) over Rory Moran (Lincoln-Way East) Maj 17-7

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