Oak Forest wins Hampshire Girls Tournament for third-straight title

By Curt Herron – For the IWCOA

Oak Forest had several noteworthy accomplishments during the first two years of girls wrestling that put the program right up there with the elite in the sport.

It is one of just five programs that had five or more qualifiers at each of the first two IHSA Finals, joining Hoffman Estates, Homewood-Flossmoor, Joliet Central/Township and Richwoods, and one of 11 schools that have sent five individuals to a state finals. Oak Forest also is one of the 23 schools that have had two or more medalists at an IHSA Finals, doing so last season.

But while the Bengals have had success getting individuals to state, they haven’t had much success in winning any tournament titles in 2021-22 and 2022-23. In fact, as best as anyone can recall, they won just one tournament in the first two seasons the sport has been sanctioned.

That makes what it achieved at Saturday’s Hampshire Girls Tournament that much more impressive. Coach John Sebek’s Bengals won their third-consecutive title during the past four weeks, adding to firsts at Westosha Central, WI’s Stateline Scuffle and Larkin’s Royal Rumble with top honors at the 28-team competition with 196 points, which was 69 points better than runner-up Huntley, who had 127 points.

Oak Forest’s tournament streak began on December 2 when it took first place at the 18-team Larkin Girls Royal Rumble with 204 points, finishing ahead of Batavia (185), Joliet Township (182) and District 230 (174). Then on December 9, the Bengals won the title at the 29-team Westosha Central Stateline Scuffle in Salem, Wisconsin with 202 points, which was 72 points ahead of the hosts, who finished second.

Wheeling (108), Lakes Community (99), Dundee-Crown (97), Zion-Benton (94), Burlington Central (82), Lincoln-Way Central (77) and Richmond-Burton (71) were next in line in the event.

The Bengals had four champions and two second-place finishers to lead the way among their nine individuals who received medals for top-five finishes.

Winning titles for Oak Forest were Alexandra Sebek (110), Maya Coreas Funes (145), Ryann Reeves (155) and Jessica Komolafe (235) while Marjorie Rodriguez (115) and Camila O’Leary Salas (125) placed second. It was the third title of the season for Sebek and Reeves and the second for Coreas Funes and Komolafe.

Charlotte Pedroza (120) and Iyobosa Odiase (140) finished fourth, Isabel Peralta (190) took fifth and Adri Bille (170) was sixth. Hanan Abdallah (105), Bryanah Carrera (125) Cyniah Poindexter (130) and Riona Jean Jurik (130) were other competitors for the Bengals. Peralta had won titles in the team’s first three tournaments. Oak Forest took fourth place in its season opener at Lakes Community’s Sandy Gussarson Invitational and hopes to continue its run of titles when it competes in Palatine’s Sally Berman Holiday Classic on Friday.

“They do their thing and it’s just such a good group of girls,” said Sebek, who wrestled at Marist for Mark Gervais, a 1995 IWCOA Hall of Famer and 2015 recipient of a Lifetime Service Award from the National Wrestling Hall of Fame-Illinois Chapter. “They’ve been together for a couple of years now and they’re a very coachable group that do what they’re supposed to do and they make my job very easy. They’re such a good group and they practice well together and they’re always at practice and that’s what helps to form that relationship. In wins and losses, they’re still cheering each other up or on during a match and off of a match, so that’s a good thing to have. 

“There was good representation, especially from up west, teams that we don’t really see. It wasn’t easy getting up this early in the morning to come all the way up here, but it was worth it for the competition. It’s good to see in different areas of the state of Illinois the growth that they’re having. And cheers to Hampshire for putting on a heck of a tournament like this. There were so many close matches today and the quality of them is that they just don’t stop, they keep going and going. There’s more fight in them than I’ve seen from them this year. They’re all hungry and it’s awesome to see that progression over the last three years.”

It’s not that surprising that girls wrestling has been a big hit at the youngest of the four schools in the south suburb’s Bremen High School District 228. Bucky Randolph led Oak Forest to its first IHSA Class 2A Dual Team Finals in 2009 and Shawn Forst, who still leads the program, took the Bengals to state in 2014, 2015, 2017 and 2018, placing third in both 2014 and 2015.

Leading the way for coach Gannon Kosowski’s second-place Huntley Red Raiders were champion Aubrie Rohrbacher (130) and runner-up Sara Willis (235). Addyson Wasielewski (105) took third, Taylor Casey (110) and Jessica Olson (140) finished fifth and Valeria Sanchez (115), Grecia Garcia (145) and Alyssa Aguilar (155) all took sixth place.

Top performers for coach Anthony Piltaver’s third-place Wheeling Wildcats were title winner Jasmine Rene (190) and third-place finishers Valeria Avalos (135) and Madeline Chicas (155). Sherlyn Ruiz (135), Stephanie Solano (155) and Nikol Orendarchuk (170) placed fourth, Isabella Gomez (115) finished fifth and Elise Burkut (130) took sixth.

Burlington Central had three competitors and they all won titles. Taking first place for coach Jeff Richart’s Rockets were Victoria Macias (115), Soraya Walikonis (135) and Ryann Miller (170).

Seven other schools had champions and 15 teams sent individuals to the title mat. Also winning championships were Dundee-Crown’s Diamond Rodriguez (100), Montini Catholic’s Kat Bell (105), Lincoln-Way Central’s Gracie Guarino (120), Lakes Community’s Ava Babbs (125) and Boylan Catholic’s Netavia Wickson (140).

Zion-Benton had three second-place finishers, Jay Thompson (135), Grace Johnson (145) and ILeen Castrejon (190).  Others taking second place were Dundee-Crown’s Ruby Gavina (130) and Helen Ruelas (155), Newman Central Catholic’s Blair Grennan (100), Jacobs’ Aaliyah Guichon (105), Crystal Lake South’s Annalee Aarseth (110), Grayslake Central’s Gianna Arzer (120), Richmond-Burton’s Jasmine McCaskel (140) and Cary-Grove’s Denver Gier (170).

Twelve of the title matches ended by fall. The closest championship match was 135 where Walikonis edged Thompson 4-2. One of the most-anticipated title matches was at 190, where Rene jumped out to an early advantage and captured a 12-7 decision over Castrejon.

Individuals with perfect records at the end of the tournament were Sebek (13-0), Guarino (10-0) and Reeves (12-0) while Rodriguez (17-1), Macias (19-1), Miller (23-1) and Rene (18-1) have one defeat and Wickson (13-2) has lost twice while Babbs’ overall record wasn’t available but this was also her third title of the season. Wickson won the 2023 IHSA title at 135 and is a two-time finalist, Guarino has placed second twice at state and Sebek also took second a year ago.

Babbs and Rohrbacher tied for the most team points with 30 while Macias, Miller, Reeves, Rene and Sebek tied for third with 28 points. Coreas Funes and Wickson both collected 27 points, Guarino, Rodriguez and Walikonis all finished with 26 points and Bell scored 25.5 points.

Others who took third were Richmond-Burton’s Isabella Nelson (110) and Sandra Teren Reyes (170), Lincoln-Way Central’s Monica Alvarez (100), Metea Valley’s Uliana Shevstova (115), Wheaton North’s Ryan Mark (120), Rock Falls’ Ryleigh Eriks (125), Zion-Benton’s Emily Ortiz (130), Dundee-Crown’s Perla Lomeli (140), Buffalo Grove’s Abigail Swanson (145), Lakes Community’s Josephine Larson (190) and Rockford East’s Sophie Bolanos (235).

Also finishing in fourth place were Hampshire’s Madison Minson (130) and Annilease Tavaria (190), Buffalo Grove’s Catalina Videlka (100), Plainfield East’s Angelina Nettey (105), Dundee-Crown’s Iris Torres (110), Lincoln-Way Central’s Liyah Owens (115), Sycamore’s Gretchyn Dunbar (125) and Saint Viator’s Avery Brooks (145).

Additional fifth-place finishers were Lake Community’s Zaryia Mouzon (105), Olivia Heft (120) and Christina Hasner (135), Plainfield East’s Ariella Delapena (100), Lincoln-Way Central’s 

Riley Cooney (125), Kaneland’s Dyani Torres (130), Zion-Benton’s Naomi Foote (145), Sycamore’s Ema Durst (155) and Metea Valley’s Sanskruti Sangalge (170).

The 190 weight class was arguably the toughest in the competition. Rene, who took fourth at 190 last year at state to become Wheeling’s first medalist, won a hard-fought 12-7 decision in the title match over Castrejon, who took third last year and second in 2022 at 170 in the IHSA Finals to become Zion-Benton’s first two-time medal winner. 

In addition, Larson, a two-time qualifier who took fifth at 190 at state last year to become one of Lakes Community’s three medalists, placed third at 190 in the competition, and Peralta, who fell a win shy of a medal at 190 at last year’s IHSA Finals, suffered her first loss in the quarterfinals to Castrejon, dashing her hopes of winning a fourth tournament title thus far this season. 

Durst had the most falls in the least time with four in 3:06 while Babbs, Olson and Rohrbacher also recorded four falls. Shevstova easily scored the most total match points with 60, thanks to two of the day’s three wins by technical fall, ranking her well ahead of Rene, who had 37 points.

With many teams in the field anxious to hit the road early due to the foggy conditions in northern Kane County, Whip-Purs coach Matthew Todd and his tournament team at Hampshire held an excellent competition that ran very smoothly and no doubt will be quite popular in the future.

Here’s a look at the champions and their weight classes at the Hampshire Girls Tournament:

100 – Diamond Rodriguez, Dundee-Crown

After going 24-9 last season but falling one win shy of a state trip at the rugged Schaumburg Sectional. Diamond Rodriguez hopes to take the next step and not only qualify for the IHSA Finals but also to become the first girl from Dundee-Crown to medal there. The Chargers junior is off to a great start after improving to 17-1 following her win by fall in 3:07 over Newman Central Catholic’s Blair Grennan in the 100 finals. One of five medalists, three finalists and the lone champion for coach Tim Hayes’ squad, Rodriguez reached the title mat with a fall in 0:29 over Buffalo Grove’s Catalina Videlka. This was her third tournament title, adding to Westosha Central, WI’s Stateline Scuffle and Lakes Community’s Sandy Gussarson Invitational. 

“I was really nervous,” Rodriguez said. “I’ve been wrestling since last year, my sophomore year. One of my friends convinced me to join along with her and then she ended up leaving it, but I ended up falling in love with it and I hope to continue until my senior year and stick with it. I don’t know if I’ll do it continuously, but I really want to. It will be my main sport. I was involved in soccer but I had to leave it for wrestling. Something just interested me and then I liked it more. I like that it’s really mentally challenging and apart from the physical work that we have to do, it is a mental thing, to say that I’m not giving up and I have to give it my all. Really it’s challenging me and helping me to grow mentally. The coaches really support us and they make us work just as hard as the boys. It motivates me to try to be better, and so do my parents. I always hear them in the back of my head and I’m like, I have to keep going.”

Grennan (18-5), a freshman who was the lone competitor for Newman Central Catholic in the invite, recorded a fall in 0:43 over Lincoln-Way Central’s Monica Alvarez in the semifinals. Alvarez (6-4), a junior, took third place with a 4-3 decision over Videlka. And Plainfield East senior Ariella Delapena took fifth by medical forfeit over Wheaton North junior Isabel Paz.

105 – Kat Bell, Montini Catholic

Kat Bell definitely has earned one of the hard luck awards at the first two IHSA Finals after twice falling one win shy of medals at 100. She won 16 matches both years but lost in the consolation third round. But the Broncos junior, who improved to 10-3, is hopeful that the third time’s the charm and she can place high to become her school’s first medalist. She’s excited about getting guidance from coach Mike Bukovsky, a 2008 IWCOA Hall of Famer who recently received a Lifetime Service Award from the National Wrestling Hall of Fame-Illinois Chapter, who’s again leading the program. Bell won the 105 title with a fall in 1:43 over Jacobs’ Aaliyah Guichon after advancing to the finals with a win by technical fall in 4:17 over Plainfield East’s Angelina Nettey.

“I’m not happy with myself coming so short of my goals,” Bell said. “So definitely this year I’m doing anything that I can to make sure that there are no excuses. (Coach Mike Bukovsky) He’s so supportive so I’m definitely thankful. I’m really excited because now it feels like there’s some real competition. Girls wrestling is really kind of paving its way through Illinois. Even at Montini, it feels nice when you’re able to feel like you’re the first to be able to do something.”

Guichon was the lone medalist of the four Golden Eagles who took part in the tournament. The freshman reached the 105 title mat after winning by fall in 5:56 over Huntley’s Addyson Wasielewski in the semifinals. Wasielewski won by fall in 0:55 over Nettey to claim third place in a matchup of two freshmen. And in the fifth-place match, Lakes Community senior Zaryia 

Mouzon recorded a fall in 0:38 over Dundee-Crown junior Leslie Figueroa.

110 – Alexandra Sebek, Oak Forest

Alexandra Sebek set the tone for the champion Bengals in the finals by becoming their first of their four champions when she captured the 110 title with a fall in 3:40 over Crystal Lake South’s Annalee Aarseth. Sebek (13-0), a sophomore who also won titles at Lakes Community and Westosha Central, WI, earned her spot in the finals with a fall in 1:21 over Richmond-Burton’s Isabella Nelson to become one of six finalists for coach John Sebek’s champion Bengals, who had nine medal winners. A year ago, Sebek made history for Oak Forest at the IHSA Finals when she finished 41-7 after losing 4-0 to Bartlett’s Emma Engels in the 100 title match, joining Sabrina Sifuentez, who was sixth at 140, as her school’s first two medalists. 

“We’ve got a lot of girls back from last year,” Sebek said. “Seeing how many girls are taking their time to come out and try the sport that’s hard for girls in general, it’s super cool to see that because I like seeing other girls do the same thing that I do and they work their butts off. (Coach Shawn) Forst has helped me a lot because he’s the boys coach and I practice with the boys. So he’s always there supporting me and helping me to get better. We’re like a family and we do stuff together. We go out to eat after every single meet together and we’re always on the bus rides together and making each other laugh. So I just love my team because it’s like a family.”

Aarseth, a freshman, was the only medalist of the three Gators who took part in the event. She earned her spot on the 110 title mat after capturing a 7-0 decision over Dundee-Crown’s Iris Torres in the semifinals. Nelson (5-4) took third place when she recorded a fall in 5:15 over Torres (12-8) in a matchup of juniors. And Huntley senior Taylor Casey (9-3) won by fall in 1:14 over Lakes Community junior Haven Sylves to claim fifth place. Casey is the Red Raiders’ lone two-time IHSA Finals qualifier and she posted a 23-9 record last season.

115 – Victoria Macias, Burlington Central

Victoria Macias started something special for Burlington Central on Saturday when she won the title at 115 and then later saw teammates Soraya Walikonis at 135 and Ryann Miller at 170 give coach Jeff Richart’s Rockets three champions for the day, which was a pretty impressive feat considering that they only had three competitors in the event. Macias (19-1), a junior who went 31-9 a year ago and took fifth at 110 at the IHSA Finals and was 23-6 and placed fourth at 110 in 2022, won the 115 title by recording a fall in 1:35 over Oak Forest’s Marjorie Rodriguez. Macias, one of the 31 individuals competing this season who are two-time state placewinners, advanced to the title mat after recording a fall in 2:34 over Lincoln-Way Central’s Liyah Owens.

In recent weeks, Macias also won titles at Maine East and at Morris.

“I’m really excited,” Macias said of the sport. “I was hoping that it would grow, honestly. I started wrestling when I was in sixth grade and I would wrestle mostly boys because there was never another girl at my weight class, so I lost most of the time, and I’m really glad that it’s growing a lot. I like that the girls compared to the boys are so much more friendly with each other and it’s so close. We meet so many new people and it’s like everyone just becomes friends. It’s like,  ‘yeah, we’re opponents on the mat, but we’ll be friends at the end of the day.'”

Rodriguez (11-3), a junior who was one of six finalists and nine medal winners for the champion Bengals, earned her spot in the 115 finals by getting a pin in 2:27 over Metea Valley’s Uliana Shevstova in the semifinals. Shevstova (15-8), a senior who led all competitors with 60 total match points, was the top finisher and one of two medalists for Metea Valley, won by technical fall in 4:25 over junior Owens (7-4) to place third. Wheeling sophomore Isabella Gomez (15-5) took fifth place after winning 8-7 in overtime over Huntley senior Valeria Sanchez (8-5).

120 – Gracie Guarino, Lincoln-Way Central

Usually it’s a badge of honor when you’re one of only three individuals to have done something in the IHSA Finals, but few competitors would be pleased to lose one title match, let alone two. Lincoln-Way Central senior Gracie Guarino lost 2-0 by sudden victory to Grant’s Ayane Jasinski in the 110 finals to conclude a 13-1 season after taking second to Glenbard North’s Gabby Gomez at 105 in 2022. Guarino obviously wants to finish first this season and she’s 10-0 after recording a fall in 1:08 over Grayslake Central’s Gianna Arzer to be the lone champion and one of four medalists for the Knights, who are coached by Tyrone Byrd, a 2020 IWCOA Hall of Famer. Guarino, who opened the season with a first-place finish at Lake Community’s Gussarson Invite, won by fall in 2:50 over Oak Forest’s Charlotte Pedroza in the semifinals.

“It just fuels the fire to keep me going,” Guarino said of losing twice in the state finals. “In my first time at state, my opponent was Gabby Gomez and that gave me a lot of things to look at and to work on since at that time, it was only my third year of wrestling and I was able to see one of the best in the country. (Coach Tyrone Byrd) He really helped to support me and really helped to make the sport click for me. When I entered high school, in my freshman year, he told me that I was going to be on the boys varsity and that only pushed me harder, so I really appreciate his efforts. I love all of the new friends that I’m getting. In my freshman and sophomore years I’d go to tournaments and my other teammate would have so many friends, and I was like, ‘I want that.’ So coming to this tournament, everywhere I look, I’m saying hi to everyone I know and old teammates, and I love it.”

Arzer (17-3), a sophomore who was unable to qualify from the Evanston Township Sectional last year, was the lone competitor for Grayslake Central. She advanced to the title mat following a fall in 0:45 over Wheaton North’s Ryan Mark. In the third place match, senior Mark (6-2) got a pin in 5:18 over senior Pedroza (11-7). Lakes Community senior Olivia Heft, who went 14-1 in 2022 and was a state runner-up at 115 to Glenwood’s Maya Davis, claimed fifth place with a fall in 2:54 over Lincoln-Way Central junior Yasmin Ejaidi. 

125 – Ava Babbs, Lakes Community

On a day where there were 12 falls on the title mat, Ava Babbs spent the least time there when she got a pin in 0:25 over Oak Forest’s Camila O’Leary Salas in the 125 finals. The Lakes Community senior reached the finals with a fall in 0:53  over Sycamore’s Gretchyn Dunbar. She was the lone finalist and one of five medal winners for coach Devin Tortorice’s Eagles. Babbs tied with Huntley’s Aubrie Rohrbacher for the most team points with 30. Last season she went 22-5 and took third place at 125 and joined Josephine Larson as medalists to make them the second and third Eagles to place in the IHSA Finals after Olivia Heft was a state runner-up in the inaugural Finals in 2022, when Babbs fell one win shy of earning a medal at 135. Babbs also won titles this year at Waukegan and Westosha Central, WI’s Stateline Scuffle.

“Having a lot of schools, compared to my first year when we didn’t have a lot of schools, and even to have bigger teams is cool,” Babbs said. “And to have different competition, like last weekend when we went to Wisconsin, which was cool. When I started my sophomore year, I started with a lot of girls around me, and we’ve all been able to see each other grow and get better. So seeing them this year is so fun. We started with five people and we have nine now, and it doesn’t sound like a lot, but having an actual team is fun. I like the community (of the sport) and that everybody is really nice. I think it’s funny that it’s such a physical and aggressive sport, but everybody is so nice to each other. I love that part.”

O’Leary Salas (9-2), a sophomore, was one of six finalists and nine medal winners for coach John Sebek’s champion Bengals, who captured their third-straight team title this season, She earned her spot on the 125 title mat after winning by fall in 1:19 over Rock Falls’ Ryleigh Eriks in the semifinals. Eriks claimed third place over Dunbar by getting a pin in 4:46 in a matchup of sophomores. And Lincoln-Way Central sophomore Riley Cooney (8-4) took fifth place after winning by fall in 5:32 over Montini Catholic sophomore Sofia Flores (8-7).

130 – Aubrie Rohrbacher, Huntley

After going 30-7 as a freshman and falling one win shy of a medal at 125 in last year’s IHSA Finals, Huntley’s Aubrie Rohrbacher is determined to reach the awards stand this season and see how high she can get on it. Rohrbacher improved to 11-3 and was the lone champion, one of two finalists and joined four of her teammates as medal winners for coach Gannon Kosowski’s runner-up Red Raiders. Rohrbacher, who tied Lakes Community’s Ava Babbs for the most team points with 30, won by fall in 0:50 over Dundee-Crown’s Ruby Gavina in the 130 finals, which she advanced to with a pin in 0:54 over Zion-Benton’s Emilty Ortiz. She also recently won a title at Maine East’s Mejoe Hernandez Invite.

“It’s very fun because you get to create a lot of bonds with everybody,” Rohrbacher said. “It’s different girls from different schools but it’s just one big wrestling community and it’s very fun. I think it’s new and it’s growing, and so many girls can relate to each other through a lot of things. Especially with all of the hard work that you put in, how hard it is and how aggressive you 

have to be, that people can relate to each other because of that. My thoughts on this sport is that it makes you better not just as an athlete, but it makes you better as a person. It’s mentally and physically tough and it requires a lot of hard work. I’m very happy (about Huntley), it’s like a big home and a big family.”

Gavina (19-4), a freshman who was one of three finalists and five medalists for the Chargers, advanced to the 130 title mat after recording a fall in 5:48 over Hampshire’s Madison Minson. Ortiz (16-2), a sophomore who won a title at Waukegan, claimed third place after getting a pin in 1:52 over freshman Minson. And in the fifth-place match, Kaneland junior Dyani Torres (16-5) captured a 9-6 decision over Wheeling sophomore Elise Burkut (19-5).

135 – Soraya Walikonis, Burlington Central

Soraya Walikonis and Victoria Macias made history for Burlington Central in 2022 when they both qualified for the inaugural IHSA Finals and Walikonis capped her freshman season with a 16-11 record while Macias claimed her first of two medals. On Saturday at the Hampshire Girls Tournament, Walikonis and Macias were joined by freshman Ryann Miller as champions, which was a big deal for coach Jeff Richart’s Rockets, since the trio were their only entrants in the event. Walikonis (15-5) won her first title of the season after prevailing in the closest title match of the day, taking first place at 135 with a 4-2 decision over Zion-Benton’s Jay Thompson after advancing to the finals with a pin in 1:22 over Wheeling’s Valeria Avalos. 

“The first year I joined was in middle school and I always wrestled guys because there weren’t enough girls,” Walikonis said. “Going into my freshman year, it was the first girls state tournament and it was a big ‘wow, this sport is really growing.’ Honestly, I love all of the new competition and the new girls, even if they are in their first year. And the first-year girls who are doing really well, that’s just pretty amazing to see. At my school, we really try to push girls wrestling. We’re just trying to get the girls out on the mat and show them that, ‘hey, this is a really fun sport. It’s not as bad as you think it is.’ And there’s a great community behind it.”

Thompson (18-3), a senior who fell one victory shy of qualifying at 145 from the Evanston Township Sectional last year, was one of three finalists and five medal winners for coach Hal Lunsford’s Zee-Bees. She reached the 135 title mat after winning a 6-0 decision over Wheeling’s Sherlyn Ruiz. Avalos, a sophomore, captured a wild 23-13 major decision over junior Ruiz to take third place. And Lake Community sophomore Christina Hasner took fifth place after recording a fall in 4:30 over Rock Falls sophomore Ashlyn Fargher.

140 – Netavia Wickson, Boylan Catholic

Just 12 individuals can say that they’ve achieved what Netavia Wickson has accomplished, and only 10 of those can make even more history this season as the girls who have competed in two title matches at the IHSA Finals. Wickson was a runner-up to Homewood-Flossmoor’s Attalia Watson-Castro, an eventual two-time champ, in 2022 at 135 and took first at 135 when she won a 9-1 over Canton’s Kinnley Smith to cap a 19-5 season in 2023. The Boylan Catholic senior, who’s coached by her father, Dathan Wickson, Sr. and brother, Dathan Wickson, Jr., improved to 13-2 by recording a fall in 1:12 over Richmond-Burton’s Jasmine McCaskel in the 140 title match after getting a pin in 2:52 over Oak Forest’s Iyobosa Odiase in the semifinals. She competes for her school’s boys team and took first at Rockford East’s Girls Tournament.

“It’s really amazing,” Wickson said. “I remember when I started wrestling, there were usually four or five girls in one tournament with no girls division and we were wrestling boys. Now to see that we have full tournaments with full brackets and girls that are willing to go out there and wrestle tough in this tough sport is really inspiring. You really see how much you inspire people when you make history. I’ve had a lot of people come up to me and just tell me, ‘you really inspire me and I really admire you’, and that shows the growth. I really think that wrestling has built so much confidence in me and built it to where I’m able to talk to other people and I’m not scared or I don’t doubt myself. I see myself as a strong individual and I can do anything that I put my mind to. So I think it’s really good for girls to feel strong and feel empowered and just have that confidence. Nobody’s really worried about who’s good or who’s not, you’re just worried about growing and getting better, and that’s what I really appreciate.”

McCaskel (10-1), who went 16-3 and placed fourth at 140 in 2023 to become Richmond-Burton’s first IHSA medal winner, was the lone finalist and one of three medalists for coach Tony Nelson’s Rockets. She advanced to the 140 finals with a fall in 3:28 over Dundee-Crown’s Perla Lomeli in the semifinals. Lomeli (10-3), a senior who went 24-11 last year and fell one win shy of a medal at 140 in the IHSA Finals, finished third with a fall in 1:28 over sophomore Odiase (14-5). And Huntley senior Jessica Olson (11-4) took fifth place after getting a pin in 5:03 over Zion-Benton senior Adrianna Ketchum (10-8), who also qualified for the IHSA Finals last season.

145 – Maya Coreas Funes, Oak Forest

Maya Coreas Funes joined Alexandra Sebek, Ryann Reaves and Jessica Komolafe as title winners for coach John Sebek’s Bengals, who claimed top honors by 69 points in the 28-team Hampshire Girls Tournament. Coreas Funes (12-3), a junior who also won a title at Westosha Central, WI, went 23-11 last season and qualified for the IHSA Finals and would no doubt like to join Sebek and the graduated Sabrina Sifuentez as Bengals state medalists. She won the 145 title with a fall in 3:55 over Zion-Benton’s Grace Johnson after winning a 13-4 major decision over Buffalo Grove’s Abigail Swanson in the semifinals. Coreas Funes was one of the six finalists and nine medalists for Oak Forest, which claimed its third-straight tournament title.

“It is actually really exciting and very great to win and it’s by a margin of points,” Coreas Funes said. “Our team puts in a lot of work, especially during practice to correct things that could be better. So we have to get in a better stance, we work on our stance. And we practice the things that we can be caught in very often, like headlocks, so we practice defense for headlocks because that is a move that a lot of girls like to do. Most of us are relatively new with either one to three years of experience, other than Alex. I can see the growth in every girl, it’s amazing. This is my second year wrestling. At first, it was challenging but I made a promise to never give up. So I kept going, and at first it was hard. The thing that I like most about wrestling is that it’s more about your mentality and skill than it is about anything else. It’s your work that gets you to where you want to go.”

Johnson (11-3), a junior who was one of three finalists and five medal winners for coach Hal Lunsford’s Zee-Bees, earned her spot on the 145 title mat with a pin in 0:52 over Saint Viator’s Avery Brooks in the semifinals. Swanson (5-1) claimed third place with a fall in 0:36 over junior Brooks. And Zion-Benton had another medal winner at the weight class as junior Naomi Foote (15-5) captured a 9-0 major decision over Huntley freshman Grecia Garcia to finish fifth.

155 – Ryan Reeves, Oak Forest

Ryan Reeves gave Oak Forest its third title of the day at 155 shortly after Maya Coreas Funes took first at 145 and in between Alexandra Sebek’s win at 110 to start the medal round and Jessica Komolafe’s first at 235 to put the final touches on the Bengal’s third-straight invitational title. Reeves (12-0), added to tournament titles at Larkin and Westosha Central, WI.  An IHSA qualifier in 2023 who finished with a 22-17 record, Reeves won the title at 155 with a fall in 0:50 over Dundee-Crown’s Helen Ruelas, which came after a pin in 3:02 in the semifinals over Wheeling’s Madeline Chicas. Reeves hopes to cap her Bengals career by adding her name to the list of two the program’s first two IHSA medalists in 2023, Sabrina Sifuentez and Sebek.

“It does feel very good,” Reeves said of her team winning three-straight titles. “I see it as an honor to work with my friends and the people that I’ve met on this team have really pushed me. I just started last year. At the beginning, it’s the hardest because you have nothing in your arsenal and you’re just kind of going to your matches blind, hoping for a chance for it to go in your favor. But you grow and stick with it, go through the losses and tough out the pain when you’re continuously losing. But once you build your arsenal, wrestling does evolve and change for you. I think that wrestling is actually more of a mental sport than it is a physical sport and some girls come into the sport and they can’t handle it. I’ve made some life-long friends on this team. I’ve connected with some people that I never considered myself to be friends with, and now I consider them as a sister to me and my best friend.”

Ruelas (6-3), one of three finalists and five medalists for coach Tim Hayes’ Chargers, earned her spot on the 155 title mat by medical forfeit over Wheeling’s Stephanie Solano. Freshman Chicas (13-6) took third as senior Solano (6-2) was unable to compete. And in the fifth-place match, Sycamore freshman Ema Durst (9-8) won by fall in 1:10 over Huntley sophomore Alyssa Aguilar to give her the most falls in the least time among all competitors with four in 3:06. 

170 – Ryann Miller, Burlington Central

Ryann Miller hasn’t attracted very much attention so far, but after the Burlington Central freshman claimed her third tournament title and fourth finals appearance to improve to 23-1 following a dominant performance at the Hampshire Girls Tournament, people should start taking notice. Miller won the 170 title with a fall in 0:38 over Cary-Grove’s Denver Gier, which followed a pin in 1:13 over Wheeling’s Nikol Orendarchuk in the semifinals. Her three falls only required 2:23 as she joined teammates Victoria Macias (115) and Soraya Walikonis (135) as title winners, which was quite a feat for coach Jeff Richart’s Rockets since that trio were their lone entrants in the event. She also has won titles at Lakes Community and at Maine East.

“This is really exciting,” Miller said. “We all work very hard during practice and we all try our absolute hardest. We’re all practice partners, even though there’s different weights. It shows us how to control our strength and shows us different moves that we can hit. I only wrestled guys when I was in middle school. We have a solid support system (at Burlington Central) and we wrestle with the guys and do the same things as the guys and there’s no difference between us, we work just as hard as they do.”

Gier, a junior, was unable to advance out of the rugged Schaumburg Sectional at 190 a year ago but she’s off to an 8-3 start this season after recording two falls in the tournament, including one in 2:24 over Richmond-Burton’s Sandra Teren Reyes in the semifinals to earn her spot in the 170 finals. Teren Reyes (5-2) won by fall in 3:53 over Orendarchuk (11-9) in a matchup of freshmen for third place and Metea Valley senior Sanskruti Sangalge (12-7) took fifth place with a pin in 3:40 over Oak Forest junior Adri Bille.

190 – Jasmine Rene, Wheeling

Jasmine Rene definitely made quite an impression in her freshman season at Wheeling, going 18-10 and taking fourth place in the IHSA Finals to become the first medalist for her program. She’s already won as many as she did in her debut as she improved to 18-1 after capturing a 12-7 decision over Zion-Benton’s ILeen Castrejon in a showdown between two returning state medalists. Rene jumped out to a big lead before Castrejon closed the gap a bit. Rene needed 1:56 to get a fall in the semifinals over Hampshire’s Annilease Tavaria to become the lone finalist and one of seven medal winners for coach Anthony Piltaver’s third-place Wildcats. Two weeks prior to this invite, she took first at the Westosha Central, WI Stateline Scuffle.

“I started in my freshman year, which was last year,” Rene said. “I decided to go to an offseason club at Gomez, especially coach Hector, he pushes you to the best of your abilities. We used to only have six girls on the team and now I think we have 20. I went to Fargo this summer and I got seventh. What I like about the sport is that this is an individual sport so you don’t really have to rely on your team, besides your partners that you train with. I feel like my school doesn’t really do too well in team sports. So I love the fact that you can win and rise with the school. After I became a state qualifier, everyone wanted to join wrestling. And it’s an honor to be the one to bring up the school.”

Castrejon, a senior, went 17-8 last season and took third place at 170 in the IHSA Finals and in 2022, she posted a 14-6 record and took second place at state to Hononegah’s Rose Cassioppi in the 170 finals to become her program’s first finalist and she joined Rachel Williams-Henry as their first medalists. Castrejon earned her spot in the 190 finals with a 15-9 decision over Lakes Community’s Josephine Larson in the semifinals. Larson, a two-time state qualifier, went 15-4 last season and took fifth at 190 in the IHSA Finals to join Ava Babbs as the program’s second and third medalists. She also won titles this season at her own tournament and at Waukegan, where she won 3-1 over Rene in the 190 title match. Larson took third place on Saturday after getting a pin in 0:35 over junior Tavaria. Oak Forest’s Isabel Peralta (18-1), who went 24-13 last season and fell one win shy of a medal at 190 in the IHSA Finals and won titles this year at Lakes, Larkin and Westosha Central, bounced back from her first loss to Castrejon in the quarterfinals by taking fifth place with a fall in 4:40 over Kaneland freshman Sadie Kinsella.

235 – Jessica Komolafe, Oak Forest 

Jessica Komolafe put the finishing touches on Oak Forest’s third-straight tournament title when she won the lone round-robin division in the Hampshire Girl Tournament, at 235, as the result of a win that she had earlier in the day when she recorded a fall over Huntley’s Sara Willis in 0:26. That title gave the champion Bengals their fourth of the invite, and she joined Alexandra Sebek (110), Maya Coreas Funes (145) and Ryann Reeves (155) as first-place finishers and coach John Sebek’s team had two other finalists as well as three others who got medals for taking fifth or better. Komolafe (14-3) also got a pin in 1:04 over Rockford East’s Sophie Bolanos. The senior, who also won a title at Larkin this year, qualified for the first IHSA Finals in 2022 at 235.

“I feel like being in this sport is a good thing for me because I feel like wrestling just makes me more confident about myself,” Komolafe said. “Every single thing I do, I feel confident when I’m wrestling. I understand that it’s a really tough sport but the hard work and everything that I put into it, I’m really grateful to be able to do that and not quit. I come from a background where ladies are not supposed to wrestle. But with me going through with this, I want other people to see that you can wrestle and do what you like. This is such a safe space and I feel so loved by my girls. If I have a problem, I can go to my girls. I feel like it’s family, the connection that’s built because of the hard work, the sweat, the cries. I would never trade that for anything. I’m grateful for every single girl on my team.”

Willis pinned Bolanos in 0:38 to assure herself of second place at 235 in the only non-bracket division in the competition. As a result of her win, she joined 130 champion Aubrie Rohrbacher as one of her team’s two finalists and the Red Raiders finished with five medalists who finished fifth or better as well as three individuals who took sixth to help coach Gannon Kosowski’s team to a second-place showing with 127 points, which was 19 more than third-place Wheeling. 

Championship matches for the Hampshire Girls Tournament

100 – Diamond Rodriguez (Dundee-Crown) F 3:07 Blair Grennan (Newman Central Catholic)

105 – Kat Bell (Montini Catholic) F 1:43 Aaliyah Guichon (Jacobs)

110 – Alexandra Sebek (Oak Forest) F 3:40 Annalee Aarseth (Crystal Lake South)

115 – Victoria Macias (Burlington Central) F 1:35 Marjorie Rodriguez (Oak Forest)

120 – Gracie Guarino (Lincoln-Way Central) F 1:08 Gianna Arzer (Grayslake Central)

125 – Ava Babbs (Lakes Community) F 0:25 Camila O’Leary Salas (Oak Forest)

130 – Aubrie Rohrbacher (Huntley) F 0:50 Ruby Gavina (Dundee-Crown)

135 – Soraya Walikonis (Burlington Central) D 4-2 Jay Thompson (Zion-Benton)

140 – Netavia Wickson (Boylan Catholic) F 1:12 Jasmine McCaskel (Richmond-Burton)

145 – Maya Coreas Funes (Oak Forest) F 3:55 Grace Johnson (Zion-Benton)

155 – Ryann Reeves (Oak Forest) F 0:50 Helen Ruelas (Dundee-Crown)

170 – Ryann Miller (Burlington Central) F 0:38 Denver Gier (Cary-Grove)

190 – Jasmine Rene (Wheeling) D 12-7 ILeen Castrejon (Zion-Benton)

235 – Jessica Komolafe (Oak Forest) F 0:26 Sara Willis (Huntley)Team standings for the Hampshire Girls Tournament

1. Oak Forest (196), 2. Huntley (127), 3. Wheeling (108), 4. Lakes Community (99), 5. Dundee-Crown (97), 6. Zion-Benton (94), 7. Burlington Central (82), 8. Lincoln-Way Central (77), 9. Richmond-Burton (71), 10. Montini Catholic (38.5), 11. Hampshire (38), 12. Metea Valley (35), 12. Rock Falls (35), 14. Buffalo Grove (34), 15. Sycamore (30), 16. Cary-Grove (29), 17. Boylan Catholic (27), 18. Crystal Lake South (26), 19. Plainfield East (25), 20. Wheaton North (24), 21. Grayslake Central (22), 21. Jacobs (22), 21. Newman Central Catholic (22), 24. Kaneland (21), 25. Rockford East (17), 26. Saint Viator (15), 27. Mundelein (13), 28. Crystal Lake Central (0).

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