Perry, Diduch, Gomez, Cassioppi win third-straight IHSA titles, Lakes Community first IHSA team champion

By Curt Herron – for the IWCOA 

Angelina Cassioppi, Cadence Diduch, Sydney Perry, Gabby Gomez.

In that order, history was made at the third IHSA Girls Individual State Finals at Grossinger Motors Arena in Bloomington as those four became the first-ever three-time IHSA champions.

While Batavia senior Sydney Perry closed out a perfect 41-0 season with a win by technical fall in 5:00 over Goreville senior Alivia Ming in the 145 finals two matches after Freeport senior Cadence Diduch concluded an unbeaten 29-0 campaign with a 10-1 major decision over Cumberland sophomore Natalie Beaumont at 135, there was much more suspense in both the first state championship match as well as in the last one.

Perry had a tournament-high three wins by technical fall for the second year in a row. She also recorded three falls, one major decision, won a medical forfeit and claimed one decision in her other six matches at state in the past three years. Diduch’s 12 wins in the IHSA Finals were also impressive since she had five pins, two tech falls and five major decisions with no decisions.

Because there wasn’t an IHSA Finals when they were freshmen, Diduch and Perry competed in the IWCOA State Finals and they each won titles, thus making them four-time state champions. The IWCOA Girls Championships began in 2017 and there was no tournament in 2020, so this is the first class of girls that could have been four-time state champions in the two state series.

Hononegah junior Angelina Cassioppi finished 17-1 after winning a 4-3 decision over Hoffman Estates junior Sophia Ball at 120 in the first title match to begin the finals and Glenbard North junior Gabby Gomez capped a perfect 38-0 season with a 4-3 decision over Loyola Academy junior Harlee Hiller at 115, which was the final championship match.

In between the dramatic historic title wins by Cassioppi and Gomez, there were a lot of great story lines. The first of those was another historic first for the three-year old competition, and that was awarding trophies to the three teams who finished with the most points.

Lakes Community led the way with 61 points to make coach Devin Tortorice’s Eagles not only the first IHSA girls team champion but it also was that school’s first state title in any sport. The team had three medalists who all placed at the IHSA Finals for the second time. They were junior Josephine Larson, who was second at 190, senior Ava Babbs, who took third place at 125 and senior Olivia Heft, who placed fifth at 120. The team’s other two state qualifiers were senior Zaryia Mouzon at 105, who fell one win shy of a medal, and junior Haven Sylves at 110.

Tortorice has been the Eagles head coach for the past two seasons and has been involved with the program for five years. He wrestled at Wauconda, where he took third place at 132 in Class 2A in 2013. He feels fortunate to have three of the school’s previous head coaches assisting him as the program became Lakes Community’s first IHSA champion in any sport.

“It’s surreal, it’s unique,” said Tortorice. “We knew that we had a special group of girls and they have just been so incredibly committed all year long. They train year-around and just bought in together and it’s a family. I have coaches who’ve been coaching 30-plus years and they said this was very unique and it may never happen again, so I’m going to really enjoy it. My three assistants, Curt Onstad, Mark Stave and Jack Troesch, were all the previous head coaches. I’m extremely lucky. To be able to have them all year-around training with me has built a relationship that’s going to last a lifetime.

“Yeah, this season for Lakes wrestling is literally one for the history books. We were fortunate enough to walk away with the first-ever State Title. Lakes walked in with five qualifiers and left with three state placers, and all of them are multiple-time placers. They are Olivia Heft (fourth in 2021 IWCOA/second in 2022/fifth in 2024); Ava Babbs (third in 2023/third in 2024) and Josephine Larson (fifth in 2023/second in 2024). Zaryia Mouzon went 2-2 and Haven Sylves also competed.”

Lockport Township, coached by Nathaniel Roth, took second place after finishing three points out of first with 58 points while Batavia, coached by Scott Bayer, claimed third place with 46.5 points, which was 3.5 points better than the 43 points that both Hoffman Estates, coached by Leo Clark, and Schaumburg, coached by Matt Gruszka, scored to tie for fourth place.

The runner-up Porters were the only team in the competition that had two state champions. Sophomore Claudia Heeney edged Collinsville junior Taylor Dawson 4-2 in the 130 title match in a matchup of past state finalists. Heeney, a runner-up a year ago who finished with a 21-1 record, and 2022 runner-up and 2023 third-place finisher Dawson, who went 47-1 this season. 

Also winning a title for the Porters was sophomore Morgan Turner, who made history last season at Bremen when she became the first girl to place at the IHSA Boys Individual Finals with a third-place finish. Turner, who competed with the boys team during a regular season which was limited due to an injury, capped an 11-0 run by winning the 110 title with a fall in 2:40 over Joliet Township senior Eliana Paramo, who was a three-time medalist who took second place for the second year in a row.

Junior Averi Colella at 105 and freshman Rebekah Ramirez at 235 were Lockport Township’s other qualifiers. Batavia claimed third place with just two qualifiers, three-time IHSA champion and four-time state title winner senior Sydney Perry, who posted a 96-0 record the past three seasons, and sophomore Lily Enos, who took third  place at 100.

“We’re a really young team and hopefully we’ll keep dominating for the next couple of years,” Roth said. “I give all of the credit to the girls. They’re passionate about it and it shows. They work hard in the room and the camaraderie that they have, they’re all friends. And that helps them push each other and get better. Three years ago we didn’t get a whole lot of competition in our area. They may have had 20 matches and this year, as long as they were healthy, they had 40-some matches, and that’s huge. We’re a young team, so we lost a lot. In the moment, it’s disappointing, but that’s where you get better. With all of the tough teams around our area, that’s why we got better, because we wrestled them.”

The other three-time finalist in the tournament, Boylan Catholic senior Netavia Wickson, repeated as a state champion after taking first place at 140 with a 19-5 major decision over Schaumburg junior Madeline Zerafa-Lazarevic to cap a 23-2 season.

In the third-straight postseason tournament title match to see who would be the champion at 170, Peotone senior Kiernan Farmer won the biggest prize with a 9-6 decision over Plainfield Central junior Alicia Tucker, who was a defending state champion. Farmer finished 21-1 while Tucker went 36-2 with all of their losses to each other.

Moline senior Maryam Ndiaye capped a perfect 31-0 season when she won the 155 title, thanks to a 14-5 major decision over Richwoods senior Jaida Johnson, who was also a state runner-up in the first IHSA Finals in 2022. 

Vandalia junior Sophie Bowers got the rare opportunity to be a part of a trophy team in the Dual Team Finals, which was also taking place in Bloomington, and being an individual champion after she won a 6-0 decision for the 125 championship over Canton junior Kinnley Smith, who also took second place a year ago. Bowers, who finished 27-7, and her Vandals teammates took fourth place in Class 1A.

Glenbard West senior Alycia Perez concluded her career on a high note by finishing with a perfect 35-0 record and claiming her first state medal by winning a 1-0 decision over West Aurora junior Kameyah Young in the 100 title match to become the Hilltoppers’ first champion.

Zion-Benton senior ILeen Castrejon, who was a runner-up in 2022 and took third a year ago, concluded her career with a 2-1 decision over Lakes Community junior Josephine Larson in the 190 title match to cap a 25-1 season and become her program’s first state champion as well as being one of of perhaps two girls at the school to win a state title in any sport.  

In the longest title match, Prairie Central junior Chloe Hoselton joined her brothers Brandon, who won titles in 2018 and 2019, and Drew, who also won a title in 2018, as IHSA champions after winning 2-1 in an ultimate tiebreaker to win the 235 championship over Unity sophomore Phoenix Molina to cap a 19-3 season.

In a tournament that featured seniors and juniors winning 11 of the titles, there was one freshman who took top honors, Kaneland’s Angelina Gochis, who claimed an 8-2 decision over Huntley sophomore Janiah Slaughter in the 105 championship match to cap a 47-5 season and become her school’s first IHSA champion.

Ten individuals who competed in title matches are three-time medalists. They are three-time champions Cassioppi, Diduch, Gomez and Perry and the only other three-time finalist, Wickson, who joins Belleville East’s Kiara Ganey and Homewood-Flossmoor’s Attalia Watson-Castro, who were 2022 and 2023 champions, as the only two-time title winners thus far.

Two-time finalists and three-time medal winners who also advanced to title matches at the third finals were Castrejon, Dawson, Hiller, Ming and Paramo.

Ten other individuals who did not advance to title matches also won medals in each of the first three IHSA Finals. They are Yorkville senior Yamilet Aguirre (fourth at 125), Oak Park and River Forest senior Sarah Epshtein (fourth at 235), Curie Metropolitan senior Aaliyah Grandberry (third at 235), Lincoln-Way Central senior Gracie Guarino (third at 115), El Paso-Gridley junior Savannah Hamilton (fourth at 155), West Chicago senior Jayden Huesca-Rodriguez (fifth at 190), Grant senior Ayane Jasinski (third at 110), Burlington Central junior Victoria Macias (fifth at 115), Schaumburg senior Valeria Rodriguez (fifth at 155) and Highland junior August Rottmann (sixth at 170). 

Huesca-Rodriguez won a title in 2022 and took second place last season while Jasinski and Rottmann won championships a year ago. Grandberry, Guarino and Hamilton were runners-up in both 2022 and 2023 and Aguirre finished second last year.

Bartlett junior Emma Engels won a title in 2023 but took sixth place at 110. And Anna-Jonesboro junior Zoee Sadler took second last season and finished fourth at 105.

Medalists in 2022 and 2023 who fell short of placing again this year were East Peoria senior Bailey Lusch, Round Lake junior Ireland McCain, Morris senior Ella McDonnell, Stevenson senior Sajra Sulejmani and Oak Park and River Forest senior Trinity White.

Just as in previous years, a majority of the state champions were nationally-ranked. In the February National Girls High School Rankings by the National Wrestling Hall of Fame Museum, USA Wrestling and FloWrestling, eight individuals who were in the top 30 at their weights won titles. Turner was top-ranked at 105, Perry was third at 145, Diduch ranked fourth at 135, Gomez was fifth at 115, Wickson ranked sixth at 140, Cassioppi was 17th at 120, Heeney ranked 27th at 130 and Farmer was 29th at 170. 

Nationally-ranked individuals who finished second were Hiller (11th at 115) and Dawson (15th at 130) while Wheeling’s Jasmine Rene (28th at 190) and Grandberry (ninth at 235) placed third and Rottmann (24th at 170) finished sixth after forfeiting her last two matches due to injury. 

In the inaugural IHSA Finals in 2022, 11 of the champions were nationally-ranked as were two of the second-place finishers. Last season, nine title winners were in the top-30 nationally, as were three runners-up.

Edwardsville and Richwoods now have had five different individuals who have placed at state in the first three IHSA Finals while Homewood-Flossmoor, J. Sterling Morton co-op and West Aurora each have had four different all-staters in the past three years of the IHSA state series.

“Congratulations to all the girls and coaches who have stuck, continued to improve and helped pioneer this sport of wrestling for future girls,” Edwardsville coach Jon Wagner said. “The state tournament is definitely getting stronger. Thanks to the IHSA and the IWCOA for making it the event it is. Let’s keep improving.”

With Lakes Community winning the first IHSA team championship and Batavia finishing third to go along with fourth-place finishes from Hoffman Estates and Schaumburg, the north, western and northwest suburbs are clearly producing some of the top talent in the fast-growing sport, as is evidenced by having four state champions who combined to win 139 of 140 matches. The quality of competition from those areas was on display at the rugged Schaumburg Sectional, which was clearly the most-competitive sectional in the sport’s brief history.”Overall, the state tournament keeps on getting tougher and tougher,” Schaumburg coach Matt Gruszka said. “The quality has really increased and the growth of girls in the IKWF is also going to increase the talent level on the IHSA level. It already has this year with some of those tough freshmen winning it and placing.”

The south and southwest suburbs continue to be one of the state’s most competitive regions in the first three years of IHSA competition. And having Lockport Township get a trophy for second place in addition to two nationally-ranked state champions will only add more fuel to the fire.

“The growth of girls wrestling over the past few years has been nothing short of remarkable,” Joliet Township coach Liz Short said. “What was once considered a male-dominated sport has now evolved into a thriving community of female athletes. A key factor contributing to the growth of girls wrestling is the increased support and investment from governing bodies like the IHSA and IWCOA. The state tournament this year was a true testament to the increased visibility and growth of the sport of girls wrestling.”

A key to the sport’s continued explosive growth is how well it will be accepted by smaller schools. With Kaneland, Peotone, Prairie Central and Vandalia all having state champions this year, a clear signal has bet set that quality performers can come from any setting as long as girls are willing to put in the extra effort that comes with having fewer athletes to work with in a sport that has been dominated thus far by a lot of much bigger programs.
“I am excited to see the growth of the IHSA State Girls Finals,” Clifton Central coach Travis Williams said. “To see where it has developed in depth and talent in just three years of existence is inspiring. 

The growth of girls wrestling has freshened up the wrestling community.  It brings many coaches who have been involved in the sport for decades a new perspective and opportunity to build again.”

And when fans of the sport reflect back at its early days to see an area that enjoyed some of the most success, Rockford will definitely be one of the first communities that comes to mind, considering that two of the first four three-time champions and three of the initial five three-time finalists were from that region and combined for eight state championships in three seasons. And another area that has a great deal of passion for the sport, the Quad Cities region, claimed its first state champion.

Here’s a summary of the third IHSA Girls Individual State Finals, with stories of the 14 title winners and all of the other all-state athletes who helped to make the competition one that will no doubt be remembered for a long time because of all of the history that took place there.

120 – Angelina Cassioppi, Hononegah

The third IHSA Individual State Finals couldn’t have gotten off to a more dramatic start than what unfolded in the 120 championship match between a pair of juniors who entered with a combined 43-1 record, Honongah’s Angelina Cassioppi (17-1) and Hoffman Estates’ Sophia Ball (27-1). Cassioppi trailed 3-1 going into the third period but was able to get a takedown in the final seconds to pull out a 4-3 victory over Ball and thus become the first three-time IHSA champion. She was later joined in that historic club by Freeport senior Cadence Diduch at 135, Batavia senior Sydney Perry at 145 and Glenbard North junior Gabby Gomez at 115. Cassioppi had her most-challenging title run yet as evidenced by her capturing three decisions and a win by technical fall. In her first two championship runs, she had three pins, two wins by technical fall and three decisions. She claimed a 5-1 win in the semifinals over Edwardsville’s Norah Swaim and followed a win by technical fall over Belleville West’s Brooklyn Zeller in her opener with a 6-2 decision over Glenbrook North’s Ariella Dobin in the quarterfinals. Cassioppi was 17th at 120 in the February national rankings by the National Wrestling Hall of Fame, USA Wrestling and FloWrestling. The lone qualifier for coach Tyler DeMoss’ Indians, Cassioppi went 27-6 last season and defeated Yorkville’s Yamilet Aguirre in the 120 finals and in 2022, she capped a 23-6 season by finishing first at 100 with a title win over TF South’s Dutchess King. In 2022, her sister Rose joined her as one of the first IHSA champions when she took first place at 170. Her freshmen brothers won Class 3A medals at the Boys Individual Finals as Rocco took second at 106 and Bruno finished third at 113 and they were also competing in Bloomington with their team, who lost to St. Charles East in the quarterfinals of the IHSA Class 3A Dual Team Finals.

“I’m just excited for next year to make it four,” Cassioppi said. “I’m just really grateful for the 

opportunity. She was very strong and aggressive and I think I just need to go out there next time and be a little less stressed and more relaxed and not worry about what’s going to happen. I don’t even know, I can’t remember (the winning move) but I know there were two seconds to go. It’s crazy how much it’s progressed from the first year. I’m so excited to see what comes of it and how much more it grows in the future. It’s definitely gotten more competitive in past years. They did really good (her freshman brothers, Rocco and Bruno) and I’m glad that they’re in the room to push me every single day.”

Hoffman Estates junior Sophia Ball (27-1), who finished fifth at 120 last season to become her program’s first medal winners, was one of four qualifiers and two medalists, with Anjali Gonzalez (fifth at 235) the other for coach Leo Clark’s Hawks, who tied Schaumburg for fourth place in the team standings with 43 points. She advanced to the finals by getting a pin in 1:44 over Lakes Community’s Olivia Heft in the semifinals. Ball opened with a fall in 0:40 over Phoenix Military Academy’s Marisol Castro and then captured a 9-7 decision over Jacksonville’s Alexis Seymour in the quarterfinals. 

“I had a fun match,” Ball said. “I was working all summer with Gomez (Wrestling) and also my Hoffman coaches, and just the grind. It was a lot more fun than last year.”

“Sophia is a tough wrestler and it showed in the finals,” Hoffman Estates coach Leo Clark said. “It is her third year in the sport and she continues to improve year after year. Her first year she was a state qualifier and was happy to be there. Her second year she wanted to be a placer and she took fifth. This year she wanted to be in the finals and we all saw the match. Credit to Cassioppi for never giving up and pushing all the way through to the end. Sophia is now more motivated and eager to rise to another level and be a state champion next year. She has the best blast double in the state and looks forward to showing it off at Fargo this year.”

Edwardsville senior Norah Swaim (21-2) claimed her first state medal after placing third by winning a 6-5 decision over Glenbrook North freshman Ariella Dobin (33-5), who became her school’s first all-stater. For fifth place, Lakes Community senior Olivia Heft (33-4) recorded a fall in 4:32 over Jacksonville junior Alexis Seymour (30-6). Heft, her school’s first medal winner, was an IHSA runner-up to Glenwood’s Maya Davis at 115 in 2022 and placed fourth at 113 in the IWCOA Finals in 2021 while Seymour took fourth place at 120 in 2023. Falling one win shy of earning all-state honors were Grayslake Central sophomore Gianna Arzer (37-11) and Joliet Catholic Academy junior Grace Laird (22-9), who were both seeking their first medals.

125 – Sophie Bowers, Vandalia

It’s not often that someone can be a member of a boys team that advances to the state finals while also competing in a girls individual state finals on the same weekend. But that’s just what Vandalia junior Sophie Bowers did when she took part in the IHSA Girls Individual Finals while her teammates were also competing in the IHSA Dual Team Finals at Grossinger Motors Arena in Bloomington. And on the same day that coach Jason Clay’s Vandals earned another Class 1A trophy for fourth place in their 22nd state appearance, Bowers became her school’s first champion and second medalist in her IHSA Finals debut, following Lauren Dothager, who took fourth in both 2022 and 2023, by winning the title at 125 with a 6-0 decision over Canton’s Kinnley Smith, who advanced to the title mat for the second year in a row. Bowers (27-7), the lone qualifier for the Vandals, edged Lakes Community’s Ava Babbs 5-2 in the semifinals, handing the senior her only loss of the season. She opened with a win by technical fall over J. Sterling Morton’s Nayeli Rodriguez and won a 6-2 decision in the quarterfinals over Yorkville’s Yamilet Aguirre, a state runner-up in 2023 who also is a three-time IHSA medal winner.

“It feels amazing,” Bowers said. “I had two surgeries and I had to overcome them, and I did just that. And here I am, I’ve worked so hard and I’m state champ now. I felt very confident and I knew if I just stuck to how I wrestle and if I wrestled my game, that I’d do good. Once I got the reversal in the third, I knew that I was doing pretty good. My boys on my team have fought hard and they’re going for third. And they came here and cheered for me, they’re the best teammates that I could ever ask for. Next year we’re going to come back and win it all as a team.”

Canton junior Kinnley Smith (27-4), who was one of two qualifiers and medalists for coach Zach Crawford’s Little Giants, with Katelyn Marvel (fourth at 145) the other, took second at state last year at 135 to Boylan Catholic’s Netavia Wickson. Smith earned her spot on the title mat with a 10-0 major decision over Bartlett’s Lilly White in the semifinals. She opened with a win by fall over Riverside-Brookfield’s Eleanor Aphay and then edged Edwardsville’s Holly Zugmaier 1-0 in the quarterfinals. She was Canton’s first all-stater and is now its initial two-time medal winner.

“I’m just so thankful for my teammates and just having someone to also understand what I’m talking about,” Smith said. “Me and my partners just kind of boost each other up. The boys are great and we have great coaches, for sure. During the summer time in June or July, we take a team down to Disney duals. We take girls from all around us and our conference, and we’ll have girls from schools like East Peoria, Pekin and Peoria Notre Dame. We’ve had the team for a couple of years and it’s been really growing. In the first year we probably had four or five girls, and that was it. And now we have a whole roster that’s missing just a few weights. It’s great because you get a different feel for partners and really intense practices. And it definitely keeps you in shape in the summer. time.  When I was a little girl, I’d go to a tournament and see one older girl, and my dad was like, ‘this is going to be you, and I was like, ‘this is so cool.’ It’s exciting to see all of the girls who have put in the work to get to this spot.”

Lakes Community senior Ava Babbs (32-1) bounced back from her first loss of the season to Bowers in the semifinals to claim third place with a fall in 1:51 over Yorkville senior Yamilet Aguirre. Babbs, who also placed third last year at 125, was one of three medalists and five qualifiers who helped coach Devin Tortorice’s Eagles to become the first IHSA team champions after they beat out Lockport Township 61-58 for top honors. Aguirre (28-3), who only lost once prior to the state finals, was the runner-up at 120 to Hononegah’s Angelina Cassioppi last season and also took fourth place at 115 in 2022. 

“Yamilet Aguirre is the first three-time all-state wrestler in Yorkville history,” Foxes coach Kevin Roth said. “The growth of the sport in the state of Illinois has had a direct correlation on her development as a wrestler and person. As the quality of competition at the state tournament continues to rise, so does the caliber of athlete. Yamilet has proven herself to be one of the state’s best year in and year out, and it is thanks to the girls wrestling community. These girls push each other to be better and the camaraderie in girls wrestling is like nothing I’ve seen before. Yamilet, like many of the girls at this time, have built the foundation of what girls wrestling in the state of Illinois will look like for years to come. The records these multi-time state medalist have set will continue to raise the bar for girls following in their footsteps.”

For fifth place, Bartlett sophomore Lilly White (31-5) won by medical forfeit over Edwardsville junior Holly Zugmaier (34-8). White joined 2023 100 champion and this year’s sixth-place finisher at 110, junior Emma Engels, as her school’s second medal winner while Zugmaier and Norah Swaim (third at 120) became the fourth and fifth medalists for IWCOA Hall of Fame coach Jon Wagner’s Tigers. Falling one win shy of medals were Kaneland junior Brooklyn Sheaffer (16-5), who took sixth at 120 in 2023 to become her school’s first medalist, and Schaumburg junior Madyson Meyer (38-8), who hoped to join Madeline Zerafa-Lazarevic (second at 140) and Valeria Rodriguez (fifth at 155) as medalists for coach Matt Gruszka’s 

Saxons, who tied Hoffman Estates for fourth place with 43 points, which was just 3.5 points behind Batavia, who claimed the third-place trophy.

130 – Claudia Heeney, Lockport Township

The memory of suffering her lone defeat in 43 matches last season in the 125 championship match at the IHSA Individual Finals to Freeport’s Cadence Diduch pushed Lockport Township’s Claudia Heeney to not take anything for granted this season. The last test that the Porters sophomore had to get past in order to achieve her goal of being a champion was Collinsville junior Taylor Dawson, who had the double disappointment of finishing second in the 2022 IHSA Finals and placing third last season. According to the February national rankings at 130 by the National Wrestling Hall of Fame, USA Wrestling and FloWrestling, Dawson was 15th and Heeney was 27th. In one of the nine championship matchups that were settled by decision and the lone finals match that was decided by two points, Heeney (21-1) got a reversal with 1:10 left to give her a 4-2 victory as she became the first champion for her school and was later joined by Morgan Turner at 110 as Lockport Township not only was the only team to have two title winners but that also helped coach Nathaniel Roth’s team to become the first-ever IHSA runner-up, after scoring 58 points, which was three points behind champion Lakes Community, who had 61 points. Heeney, who is 63-2 in two seasons, advanced to the title mat for the second year in a row thanks to a fall in 2:57 over Seneca’s Sammie Greisen. She opened her title run with a fall in 5:33 over Tinley Park’s Simone Standifer and then recorded a pin in 4:38 over Camp Point Central’s Amber Louderback in the quarterfinals. Heeney tied the two champions that followed her Freeport’s Cadence Diduch (135) and Boylan Catholic’s Netavia Wickson (140) for third place in team points with 28, which was one point behind the leaders in that category, her Porters teammate Morgan Turner (110) and Moline’s Maryam Ndiaye (155).

“It was a moment of relief and a moment of happiness and excitement,” Heeney said. “I couldn’t believe it and I still can’t believe it. There’s so many emotions. I didn’t take my loss that hard last year, just shed a few tears and moved on because we had bigger things to take care of. I didn’t realize how much it really meant to me until just now. I was saying to myself warming up, ‘I’m going to be a state champ, I’m going to be a state champ.’ I knew that I could do it, and I did it. I’ve been practicing cradle defense for the past six weeks knowing that it might come down to that. She might want to cradle me, since I’m a long wrestler, and I get that often, so I’ve been working on that. And it was a big moment of relief to be able to get out of bottom twice, not just once, and to defend the cradle the whole time. (The Porters taking second place) It’s super exciting. We have a hard-working room and everyone is there to push each other to get better. Every year, the girls are getting better and better. This year, I had a bunch of close matches and lots of tough competitors. It’s amazing to see that everyone is getting better together.”

“Claudia is not very emotional, she’s very in the zone and when she wins, she’s like, ‘okay, cool I won, but I usually win,” Porters coach Nathaniel Roth said. “So to see her so happy was just amazing and all of us as coaches were so happy. It was phenomenally cool, working as hard as she does non-stop, and to have that finally come true. I couldn’t be happier for her and I’m so proud of her. It was a very great experience.”

Collinsville junior Taylor Dawson (47-1) suffered her only defeat on the 130 title mat. In the first IHSA Finals in 2022, she lost the championship at 125 to Yorkville’s Natasha Markoutsis. One of two qualifiers for coach Jordan May’s Kahoks and her school’s only medalist, Dawson earned her second trip in three years to the title mat by recording a fall in 1:02 over Minooka’s Addison Cailteux. She got pins in her first two matches, in 2:56 over Erie/Prophetstown’s Michelle Naftzger in her opener and in 0:32 over Prospect’s Viola Pianetto in the quarterfinals. 

Huntley sophomore Aubrie Rohrbacher (45-5), took third place when she won a 12-0 major decision over Cailteux. She became Huntley’s second medalist with teammate Janiah Slaughter earning all-state honors for the second-straight year after placing second at 105. Minooka sophomore Addison Cailteux (27-6) was her team’s lone medal winner and became the second individual from her school to place at state. Camp Point Central sophomore Amber Louderback (23-11) took fifth to become a two-time medalist after placing fourth at 125 a year ago, In the fifth-place match, she won by fall in 5:40 over Seneca sophomore Sammie Greisen (31-11), who became her school’s all-stater. Missing medals by one win were Thornton Fractional South junior Quincy Onyiaorah (25-6) and Prospect junior Viola Pianetto (24-6), with the latter hoping to be her school’s first all-stater.

135 – Cadence Diduch, Freeport

Cadence Diduch assured her position as one of the most significant early leaders for her sport when she became the second three-time champion in the IHSA Individual State Finals and a four-time state champion in her career, along with Batavia’s Sydney Perry, as the result of winning the IWCOA title in 2021, after capturing a 10-1 major decision over Cumberland’s Natalie Beaumont in the 135 title match. That capped a perfect 29-0 season for the Freeport senior, who followed Hononegah’s Angelina Cassioppi (120) and preceded Batavia’s Sydney Perry (145) and Glenbard North’s Gabby Gomez (115) as the only individuals to win a title in the each of the first three IHSA Finals. Last season, she went 11-0 and won a 12-2 major decision over Lockport Township’s Claudia Heeney in the 125 title match and in the first IHSA Finals in 2022, she took top honors at 120 with an 11-0 major decision over Edwardsville’s Mackenzie Pratt to conclude a 22-3 season. In addition in 2021, she took first place at 113 at the IWCOA’s Girls State Finals with a 5-2 decision over Batavia’s Taylin Long. In her 12 matches that she competed in at the IHSA Finals, she had no decisions. She had five pins, two wins by technical fall and five major decisions. Diduch was fourth at 135 in the February national rankings by the National Wrestling Hall of Fame, USA Wrestling and FloWrestling. The lone qualifier for coach Nathan Arendt’s Pretzels as well as the only medalist that her school has had, Diduch advanced to the IHSA title mat for the third time with a 13-2 major decision over Glenwood’s Jenna Tuxhorn in the semifinals. Diduch, who went 62-3 during her three-year run of success in the IHSA state series and was a perfect 40-0 during her final two seasons, recorded falls in her first two matches, winning in 1:58 over Collinsville’s Leann Cory in her opener and then claiming a victory in the quarterfinals with a pin in 1:11 over Mother McAuley’s Maggie Zuber. She tied for third in most team points with 28 along with Lockport Township’s Claudia Heeney (130) and Boylan Catholic’s Netavia Wickson (140), which was one less point less than the two leaders in that category, Lockport Township’s Morgan Turner (110) and Moline’s Maryam Ndiaye (115) finished with. Diduch will continue her education and career at the University of Iowa.

“It’s pretty exciting for my school, I’ll be the first girl to win a state title of some sort all through my years of high school,” Diduch said. “Even when I was little, I’d go to tournaments and I would see a girl every once in a while. And now I go to tournaments and they’re just girls tournaments. So it’s really exciting seeing how it’s growing and the numbers keep on going up. And you also have more colleges that are getting the sport, so it’s growing everywhere. Now I’m hoping that those girls that come up behind me that they can win the IHSA four years in a row and there’s more records that they can be breaking, so that’s pretty exciting.”

Cumberland sophomore Natalie Beaumont (19-3) made history by becoming the first medalist for her school, which is located in Toledo, in Cumberland County. She was one of two qualifiers for coach Ash Edmonds’ Lady Pirates. She earned her spot in the Grand March after capturing a 5-4 decision over Bolingbrook’s Katie Ramirez-Quintero in the semifinals. Beaumont followed a fall in 5:59 over Minooka’s Eva Beck in her opener with a pin in 2:55 over Thornton Fractional South’s Jermia Moore in the quarterfinals. 

For third-place, Bolingbrook senior Katie Ramirez-Quintero (34-4) captured an 8-1 decision over Glenwood sophomore Jenna Tuxhorn (23-4). Ramirez-Quintero, the lone qualifier and first and only all-stater for her school, claimed her second medal, adding to a sixth-place effort at 130 in the 2022 Finals. Tuxhorn joined the 2022 IHSA champion at 115, Maya Davis, as just the second medal winner for the school in Chatham that’s coached by Jerod Bruner, whose Titans boys won their first state trophy when they took third place in Class 2A at the IHSA Dual Team Finals, which also took place at Grossinger Motors Arena in Bloomington. And in the fifth place match, Olympia senior Jordan Bicknell (16-4) prevailed 15-11 over Elmwood Park senior Rose Craig (19-6) in a clash between individuals who were their school’s first state medal winners. Falling one win shy of a medal were Sherrard junior Nadia Anderson (14-8) and Phoenix Military Academy junior Ariel Foreman (17-6).

140 – Netavia Wickson, Boylan Catholic

In future years when people ask what region of the state and the conference that had the most significant impact in the early years of girls wrestling, seasoned observers will be able to reflect back and say emphatically that the Rockford-area and NIC-10 Conference were the clear leaders after producing two of the first four three-time IHSA champions in Hononegah’s Angelina Cassioppi and Freeport’s Cadence Diduch, as well as one of the initial three-time IHSA finalists who also won two-straight titles after placing second, Boylan Catholic senior Netavia Wickson, who completed her stellar career in impressive style by winning a 19-5 major decision over Schaumburg’s Madeline Zerafa-Lazarevic in the 140 championship. Wickson (23-2), who competed primarily against boys throughout her four seasons, went 19-5 and took first place at 135 in 2023 with a 9-1 major decision over Canton’s Kinnley Smith, and was the runner-up at 135 to one of the six initial IHSA two-time champions, Homewood-Flossmoor’s Attalia Watson-Castro, in the inaugural 2022 Finals to cap a 14-12 season. In addition, she also took second at 120 in the 2021 IWCOA Finals to Glenwood’s Maya Davis, who won the IHSA 115 title in 2022. She was sixth at 140 in the February national rankings by the National Wrestling Hall of Fame, USA Wrestling and FloWrestling. Wickson, the lone qualifier and the only all-stater for the Rockford school that’s coached by her father, Dathan, opened her quest for her second championship with a fall in 4:35 over Urbana’s Rickasia Ivy and then got a pin in 0:50 over Richmond-Burton’s Jasmine McCaskel in the quarterfinals. She assured herself of a fourth trip overall and third-straight appearance on the IHSA title mat with a 10-0 major decision over Richwoods’ Kaila Williams. Wickson tied for Lockport Township’s Claudia Heeney (130) and Freeport’s Cadence Diduch (135) for the third-most team points with 28, which was one point behind Lockport Township’s Morgan Turner (110) and Moline’s Maryam Ndiaye (115). 

“I’m grateful to be here,” Wickson said. “I put in a lot of work in the offseason and after practice, just putting the extra hours in to be where I’m at right now. It feels amazing. I remember taking second my freshman and sophomore years and I knew that I didn’t want to be in that place ever again. So I just made sure that I was working so hard these past two years to not be there again and show off what I’m really capable of and how powerful I am on the mat. I’m really blessed to be able to be the person to help and show other people at my school  that you can do things that you never thought that you could do and just go over and above to be excellent and to be powerful and to be different and to show people who you really are. I’ve been the only girl wrestler these four years (at Boylan), so being able to be that person to do this feels amazing.”

Schaumburg junior Madeline Zerafa-Lazarevic (37-3), one of three qualifiers and two medal winners for coach Matt Gruszka’s Saxons, who tied for fourth with Hoffman Estates with 43 points, 3.5 points behind final trophy winner Batavia, took fifth last season at 125. She earned her first trip to the state title mat after rallying for a 12-11 win in the semifinals over McHenry’s Natalie Corona. Zerafa-Lazarevic opened with a fall in 3:22 over Oak Forest’s Iyobosa Odiase and then got a pin in 5:02 over Oakwood/Salt Fork’s Taylor Owens in the quarterfinals. “I think Madeline Zerafa-Lazarevic had a really good tournament,” Schaumburg coach Matt Gruszka said. “To be down 9-1 in the semis and come back and win 12-11 proves she is never really out of a match. We knew Netavia Wickson would be a tough one in the finals and we were right.” 

In the third-place match, Richwoods senior Kaila Williams (27-2) won a 7-2 decision over Richmond-Burton senior Jasmine McCaskel (23-5). Williams, one of three qualifiers and two medalists for coach Rob Penney’s Lady Knights, won her first state medal and joined four others who’ve placed at state while McCaskel, the lone qualifier for her school, was also its first all-stater last season when she took fourth place at 140. For fifth place, McHenry sophomore Natalie Corona (24-5) won by fall in 0:38 over Galesburg junior Annalisa Gibbons (22-7). Corona, the lone qualifier for McHenry, became her school’s second medal winner while Gibbons made history for coach Greg Leibach’s Silver Streaks, who had their first two all-staters, with senior Hannah Almendarez (23-5) placing fifth at 100. Falling one win shy of medals at 140 were New Trier junior Jillian Giller (33-6) and Saint Ignatius College Prep freshman GG Garduno (25-4).

145 – Sydney Perry, Batavia

It’s going to take quite a performance to top the one that was turned in by Sydney Perry as she concluded her historic career at Batavia. The third of four individuals who became the first three-time IHSA champions won three of her four matches by technical fall and captured a major decision in the other, wrapping up her title at 145 with a win by technical fall in 5:00 over Goreville’s Alivia Ming. In addition, she joined Freeport’s Cadence Diduch as a four-time state champion since they both captured IWCOA titles in 2021. The title victory over Ming capped a perfect 41-0 senior season for Perry, who went 34-0 last season and defeated El Paso-Gridley’s Valerie Hamilton 7-4 in a memorable 145 title match and also was the first IHSA champion in 2022 when she won by fall in 5:20 over West Aurora’s Dyani Rivera to conclude a 21-0 season. She went 96-0 during the past three seasons and joins Glenbard North’s Gabby Gomez, who went 83-0 during the past three seasons, as the only undefeated three-time champions. In 2001 as a freshman, she took first in the IWCOA Finals at 132 after winning by fall in 3:03 over Yorkville’s Natasha Markoutsis. During her three-year title run in the IHSA Finals, she had six wins by technical fall, three pins, one major decision, one win by medical forfeit and the decision over Hamilton a year ago. She was third at 145 in the February national rankings by the National Wrestling Hall of Fame, USA Wrestling and FloWrestling. Perry earned her spot in her fourth title match and third in the IHSA Finals as she just missed out on another win by technical fall when she captured a 19-6 major decision over Phoenix Military Academy’s AJ Grant. She opened with a win by technical fall in 4:42 over Stevenson’s Sajra Sulejmani (11-8) and then got a win by technical fall in 3:45 over Macomb’s Kelly Ladd in the quarterfinals. With her and Lily Enos (third at 100), supplying all of their scoring, coach Scott Bayer’s Bulldogs became the first team to receive a third-place trophy after finishing with 46.5 points, which was 3.5 points ahead of fourth-place finishers Hoffman Estates and Schaumburg. Lakes Community was the first IHSA team champion with 61 points while Lockport Township was the initial runner-up after collecting 58 points. Perry was the only individual in the tournament who had three wins by technical falls while 105 champion Angelina Gochis and 110 title winner Morgan Turner both recorded two tech falls. Only six others were able to win once by technical fall. Not surprisingly, she had 91 total match points which was 28 more than Turner, who ranked second in that category. The 91 match points beat the old record of 78 points, set by Gomez last season.

“It was a great experience to be a part of,” Perry said. “It was cool being able to win it all four years. These are my people and I’ve had a lot of important relationships. It’s really great after going up and wrestling guys at IKWF tournaments and now being here where I see a whole gym full of girls. The numbers are going up every year, especially in Fargo, and that’s nice to see. It’s important for the sport and it’s important for girls in general. With Morgan coming here and Cadence, who committed to Iowa, she’s here. It’s making the sport more serious and it brings a lot more recognition for the girls. I still get the same amount of joy (of winning a title), but it’s not for the same reason. My first reason was mainly just to win it and be noticed. And now it’s kind of turned into for the sport and to make myself known and just having people that are looking up to me. I think it’s cool since I was the first girl to win state a few years ago when it first became sanctioned, so I’m already kind of part of history, so now it’s just trying to make more of a name for myself. It just means a lot to me to be a part of the sport and to be a part of the history-making and trailblazing.”

Goreville senior Alivia Ming (37-1) suffered her first loss in the 145 title match as she fell to Perry in a meeting of two unbeaten competitors, which was the only championship match where both competitors entered with perfect records. Ming also took second place last year at 140 when she lost to Edwardsville’s Mackenzie Pratt on the title mat. A three-time medal winner for coach Bart Pulliam’s Blackcats, Ming was her school’s first of two all-staters when she finished fourth at 135 in 2022. She advanced to the 145 title match after claiming a 5-0 decision over Canton’s Katelyn Marvel in the semifinals. Ming opened with a fall in 1:58 over Rochelle’s Dempsey Atkinson and then recorded a pin in 3:44 over Harvard’s Ithandehui Rosas in the quarterfinals. 

In the third-place match, Phoenix Military Academy sophomore AJ Grant (29-2) won by fall in 1:47 over Canton junior Katelyn Marvel (27-6). Grant was the first all-stater for her program. Marvel won her first medal and joined junior Kinnley Smith, who took second at 125 to Vandalia’s Sophie Bowers to finish as a runner-up for the second-straight year, to help coach Zach Crawford’s Little Giants have two all-staters for the first time. For fifth place, Rochelle junior Dempsey Atkinson (21-7) won with a fall in 1:10 over Zion-Benton junior Naomi Foote (39-11). Atkinson became the first state medalist for the Lady Hubs while Foote joined 190 champion ILeen Castrejon as all-staters for coach Hal Lunsford’s Zee-Bees, the second time in three years that Zion-Benton has had two state medalists. Falling one win shy of medals were Stevenson senior Sajra Sulejmani (11-8) and Rock Island senior Sanaa Hampton (13-4). Sulejmani, who was fourth last year at 145 and fifth at 145 in 2022 to become her school’s lone all-stater, was looking to cap her career with a fourth medal, since she took fifth at 145 at the IWCOA in 2021. Hampton hoped to become her school’s second all-stater.

155 – Maryam Ndiaye, Moline

After dropping a 3-1 decision to Plainfield Central’s Alicia Tucker last season in the 155 title match at the IHSA Individual Finals to conclude a successful 19-5 junior season, Maryam Ndiaye was on a mission to cap her career at Moline by becoming a state champion and that’s just what the senior did. She certainly turned in an impressive finish, recording three falls and then winning a major decision in the finals. Ndiaye (31-0) completed a perfect season with a 14-5 major decision over Richwoods’ Jaida Johnson in the 155 title match. The lone qualifier for coach Jacob Ruettiger’s Maroons, she has set a high standard for athletes from the Quad Cities schools by becoming the first title winner, two-time finalist and two-time medalist from those communities. She recorded three falls to reach the title mat for the second time, getting a pin in 2:54 over Clifton Central’s Payton Temple in the semifinals. Ndiaye opened with a fall in 0:48 over New Trier’s Nina Aceves and got a pin in 3:09 over Alton Senior’s Elanna Hickman in the quarterfinals. Ndiaye tied the 110 champion, Lockport Township’s Morgan Turner, for the most team points with 29, which was one more than Freeport’s Cadence Diduch (135), Lockport Township’s Claudia Heeney (130) and Boylan Catholic’s Netavia Wickson (140) collected.

“It feels real good because I’ve worked very hard for this moment,” Ndiaye said. “I’m very proud of myself and I’m proud of everyone that has coached and supported me. And I’m very happy to represent Moline. Ever since I lost that match last year, I was like I’m going to do whatever I can to get number one because I didn’t want that to happen again. I’m very happy with how this sport is growing. And I’m happy that it grew because it gives me a chance to show my stuff and a lot of other girls chances to show what they can do also.”

Richwoods, which had three qualifiers and two medal winners, has been one of the state’s top programs for some time under coach Rob Penney and senior Jaida Johnson now has the distinction of being its first two-time all-stater as well as a two-time finalist among its five individuals who have placed at the IHSA Finals, and the program’s first three-time medalist thanks to her third-place finish at 170 at the IWCOA Finals in 2021. She lost 10-8 to Unity’s Lexi Ritchie in the 155 title match at the first IHSA Finals to cap a 17-4 sophomore season. A year ago, she broke her arm but still qualified for state but lost in the quarterfinals to conclude a 26-4 season, suffering three of those losses in the sectional and at state. “Being a four-time state qualifier and three-time placer is not an easy thing to accomplish,” Richwoods coach Rob Penney said. “The unfortunate thing is that Jaida was 26-0 last season and broke her arm at the Batavia Tournament. Jaida was not ready to stop and she continued conditioning only until she was released by her doctor to compete three days before the sectional, where she took second to advance to state. The broken arm on January 12, just four weeks before sectionals and six weeks before the state tournament, had created a cautious and guarded wrestler. She wasn’t the same, unfortunately, but did make it to the blood round at the state tournament before her junior season ended.  
“As Jaida said in a news interview, ‘Last year was a minor setback before a major comeback.’  Jaida is an example of a true warrior with the never-stop attitude and the internal motivation to push herself to be the best she can be. Finishing her senior year as a runner-up for the second time in her four-year high school career doesn’t sit well with Jaida. She plans to learn from her losses, take those experiences to the next level and continue wrestling in college where I know she will continue to thrill the crowds and her future coaches. Thank you, Jaida, it’s been a wonderful experience and I wish you great success.”

In the third-place match, Alton Senior senior Elanna Hickman (33-6) won an 8-2 decision over El Paso-Gridley junior Savannah Hamilton (14-4), who won her third medal in the IHSA Finals. Hickman became the Redbirds’ second all-stater, joining 2022 champion at 140 and two-time placer Antonia Phillips in that company. Hamilton took second at 130 a year ago after losing 9-3 to Homewood-Flossmoor’s two-time champion Attalia Watson-Castro and placed second at 140 in 2022 after dropping a 6-2 decision to Phillips. For fifth place, Schaumburg senior Valeria Rodriguez (40-3) won by fall in 0:14 over Clifton Central freshman Payton Temple (8-7). Rodriguez, who was one of three qualifiers and two medalists for the fourth-place Saxons, capped an historic career by becoming her school’s first three-time IHSA medalist, taking third place at 140 a year ago and also third at 155 in 2022. She also won a medal as a freshman in the IWCOA Finals when she finished sixth at 160. Temple and senior Karmen Cody (sixth at 190) were the lone qualifiers for coach Travis Williams’ Lady Comets and they became their program’s first IHSA medalists. Coming up one victory shy of all-state honors were Plainfield South junior Teagan Aurich (26-7) and Hinsdale South sophomore Callie Carr (27-5).

“Valeria Rodriguez became a three-time state placer by placing fifth at 155, which was short of her goal, but overall, she has left a mark on girls wrestling in Illinois,” Schaumburg coach Matt Gruszka said.

170 – Kiernan Farmer, Peotone

After taking sixth place last season at 155 to become Peotone’s first IHSA medalist, Kiernan Farmer decided that she needed to work much harder if she hoped to challenge for a state title in her senior season. If that meant travelling long distances in order to improve, then that’s what she was going to have to do. And that strategy paid off in a big way as she defeated last year’s IHSA champion at 155, Plainfield Central’s Alicia Tucker, by capturing a 9-6 decision in the 170 title match. It was her second win in the postseason over Tucker, who was unbeaten heading into the Geneseo Sectional, where Farmer (21-1) won a 9-0 major decision over the Plainfield 

Central junior in the title match. Two weeks before that in the finals of the Minooka Regional, Tucker (36-2) won an 11-5 decision over Farmer. The pair also met up last year at the IHSA Finals with Tucker getting a fall in 5:42 over Farmer in the semifinals. The lone qualifier for coach Josh Kreske’s Blue Devils, as well as her school’s first and only state medal winner, Farmer was 29th at 170 in the February national rankings by the National Wrestling Hall of Fame. USA Wrestling and FloWrestling. She advanced to the championship match with an 8-4 decision in the semifinals over Peoria Notre Dame’s Autumne Williams. She opened up her run with a win by technical fall over District 230’s (Andrew/Carl Sandburg/Stagg) Janae Vargas (28-11) and then won a 5-0 decision over Auburn’s Heaven Workman (15-8) in the quarterfinals.

“There’s been a lot of sleepless nights and a lot of travelling,” Farmer said. “I’d go from my high school practice all the way to a practice an hour and a half away at The Compound. I’d get home around 10 or 11 o’clock at night and when I’d wake up, I’d just be so sore. Literally, diet, gym and two practices a day can make this all happen for anybody. Even if I didn’t win a state championship, I loved showing up and competing for everything that I got last year. But this year obviously I made a lot of improvement, so I’m happy about that.”

Plainfield Central junior Alicia Tucker, who went 34-2 last season and won a 3-1 decision over Moline’s Maryan Mdiaye in the 155 title match to become not only her school’s initial medalist but also their first state champion. The lone qualifier for coach Terry Kubski’s Wildcats, she opened with a 13-1 major decision over Proviso East’s Haley Arechiga and then Tucker got a fall in 1:58 over Thornton Township’s Keyhanna Phillips in the quarterfinals and captured a 7-4 decision over Highland’s August Rottmann, the 170 defending champion, in the semifinals. 

“Alicia Tucker finished her junior campaign with a record of 36-2 bumping up to 170 pounds from 155 pounds the previous year,” Plainfield Central coach Terry Kubski said. “Of her 36 wins, 30 of those were bonus wins and 29 via pins.  Alicia’s two losses came in the sectional and state finals to Farmer, who Alicia defeated in the regionals finals. Alicia had a good season capped with a good state tournament. In the semis, Alicia was paired up with the 170 pound returning state champion (Highland’s August Rottmann) in a marquee matchup in which Alicia won 7-4 setting up the rematch with Farmer, who came out on top in a great finals match, 9-6.”  

In the third-place match, Peoria Notre Dame junior Autumne Williams (23-5) won by fall in 0:22 over Downers Grove North senior Kayleigh Loo (25-2), and both individuals were the first medal winners for their programs. And for fifth place, Burlington Central freshman Ryann Miller (36-5) won by medical forfeit over Highland junior August Rottmann (28-5). Miller became her school’s second medal winner, with Victoria Macias the other, placing in both 2023 and 2022. Rottmann won by fall in 5:10 over Joliet Township’s Nydia Martinez in last year’s 170 title match to cap a 21-1 season after taking third place at 170 as a freshman. Rottmann was 24th at 170 in the February national rankings by the National Wrestling Hall of Fame, USA Wrestling and FloWrestling, but a late-season injury affected her hopes of repeating as a champion and after losing to Tucker 7-4 in the semifinals, she tried to compete again but ultimately had to forfeit due to injury in her final two matches. And falling one victory shy of medals were Thornton Township senior Keyhanna Phillips (14-2) and Maine West junior Lillian Garrett (28-7).

“This year we had a returning state champion in August Rottmann at 170,” Highland coach Nick Bellamy said. “The first day of competition (at state), we got two wins, and were well on our way to another state championship at 170. The next day when we started the semifinal match, she was once again plagued by injury that had occurred right before regionals where she rolled her ankle really bad. When the match started, she was taken down and I could see it right away the pain in her face. Just trying to apply pressure to get out was extremely painful and we ended up finishing that match but losing. We went to the trainer and taped it up and tried to continue in the next match but shortly after the beginning of the match, we had to medically forfeit due to the pain from the injury to our ankle, and medically forfeit the fifth-place match. 

“This was very hard and disappointing for her to succumb to injury because she is a fierce competitor, and there’s no doubt in my mind, if she was healthy, she would have been a two- time state champion at the 170 weight class. Now that state is done, focusing on healing and preparing for offseason tournaments, like Fargo, where she placed fourth last year. This year she was ranked 14th in the nation at 170, Next year, as a senior, August Rottmann will reclaim her state championship title.”

190 – ILeen Castrejon, Zion-Benton

ILeen Castrejon positioned herself well to be a state champion when she took second place to Hononegah’s Rose Cassioppi in the title match at 170 in the first IHSA Finals in 2022. But a year ago, she lost in the semifinals to the eventual runner-up, Joliet Township’s Nydia Martinez, and wound up taking third place. With one last chance to finish on top of the awards stand in Bloomington, the Zion-Benton senior made the most of the opportunity and captured the 190 title after claiming a 2-1 decision over Lakes Community junior Josephine Larson. As a result, Castrejon not only became the Zee-Bees’ first IHSA champion but also is one of the few girls to win an individual title in any sport at the school. One of four qualifiers and two medalists for coach Hal Lunford’s Zee-Bees, she earned her second trip to the title mat in three years when she recorded a fall in 1:04 over Clifton Central’s Karmen Cody in the semifinals. Castrejon opened with a 9-3 decision over Putnam County’s Bailey Herr and then captured a 5-2 decision over Oak Park and River Forest’s Trinity White in the quarterfinals. 

“There’s been a few close matches, and a few not so close, but this one was definitely close,” Castrejon said. “It kind of hurts sometimes coming so close and not being there. It’s kind of cool seeing it grow. In my first year, we only had two girls come down and this year we had four. And a lot of more girls are coming in, so it’s just fun to watch how it grows. And it was definitely more competitive this year.””Wow, what an amazing career for this young woman,” Zion-Benton coach Hal Lunsford said. “She has been working so hard for this huge accomplishment and she did it. I am so proud of her and can’t wait to see what the future holds for her. I will be extremely sad to see her graduate, but forever grateful to be her coach. ILeen will always be a part of the Zee-Bee wrestling family.”

While Lakes Community junior Josephine Larson (32-8) just missed out on becoming the first champion for her school, she was thrilled afterward since he had helped the Eagles to become the first IHSA team champions in the competition. Lakes Community scored 61 points, which was three more than runner-up Lockport Township had with 58 points. She was one of three medalists and five qualifiers who helped coach Devin Tortorice’s Eagles to become the first team from the Lake Villa school to win a state championship. Larson, who took fifth at 190 last season, joined teammates Ava Babbs (third at 125) and Olivia Heft (fifth at 120) as two-time medalists and is the second Eagle to reach the title match, something that Heft did in 2022 when she lost to Glenwood’s Maya Davis in the 115 IHSA Finals. Larson won by fall in 1:56 over West Chicago’s Jayden Huesca-Rodriguez in the semifinals. She opened with a pin in 4:26 over Morris’ Morgan Congo and followed that with a 6-3 decision over Wheeling’s Jasmine Rene.

“I didn’t even think that we could do that,” said Larson of her team winning the team title. “It’s just amazing. Our coaching staff is phenomenal and coach Devin Tortorice and coach (Mark) Stave are both really good. The coaching staff is very supportive and very understanding. They know what certain people need and what our styles are. And then we just have amazing talent. It’s just amazing and I’m so happy. I’m so happy that it’s growing so much. My coach said that this is the first-ever team state champion that Lakes has had.” 

In the third-place match, Wheeling sophomore Jasmine Rene (38-2) won 7-6 in a tiebreaker over District 230 (Andrew/Carl Sandburg/Stagg) junior Emma Akpan (34-8). Rene was her program’s first medalist last season when she took fourth at 190, while Akpan, who was sixth at 235 in 2023, became her district co-op program’s first two-time all-stater. Rene was 28th at 190 in the February national rankings by the National Wrestling Hall of Fame, USA Wrestling and FloWrestling. For fifth, West Chicago senior Jayden Huesca-Rodriguez (21-6) won by fall in 0:29 over Clifton Central senior Karmen Cody (15-5). Huesca-Rodriguez, who beat J. Sterling Morton’s Diana Rodriguez by technical fall to win the IHSA title at 190 in 2022 and took second to Homewood-Flossmoor’s Ini Odumosu at 190 last season, is a three-time medalist and the only one from her school to reach the awards stand. Cody joins teammate freshman Payton Temple, who finished sixth at 155, as the first medalists for Clifton Central.
“I had a wrestler in Karmen Cody who went from just clinging to the team she enjoyed being a part of as a freshman with no IHSA-sponsored event to becoming a sectional champion and state place winner,” Clifton Central coach Travis Williams said. “

Her journey is countered by our freshman Payton Temple, who is driven to be a four-time place winner and eventual state champion.” 

235 – Chloe Hoselton, Prairie Central

Trying to follow in her brothers’ footsteps prompted Chloe Hoselton to compete in the IHSA series as a junior and her hopes to do what her two brothers accomplished, being an IHSA champions for Prairie Central, were rewarded after she opened with two decisive victories before pulling off two suspenseful wins to capture the 235 title with a 2-1 win by ultimate tiebreaker over Unity’s Phoenix Molina. Her brothers Brandon and Drew both won IHSA 1A titles in 2018 and Brandon also was a champion in 2019 and a three-time finalist while Drew was a two-time finalist. Hoselton captured another dramatic win in the semifinals, when she won a 3-1 decision over Curie Metropolitan’s Aaliyah Grandberry, who was the 235 runner-up in both 2023 and 2022 to Belleville East’s Kiara Ganey, and it was the first loss of the season for the senior who ended up placing third. The lone qualifier for coach Scott Ziller’s Hawks became her school’s first medalist and champion, Hoselton opened with a 13-0 major decision over Lockport Township’s Rebekah Ramirez and then won by fall in 0:42 over Robinson’s Rylee Hammond.

“It’s unreal to finally be here and to finally have this moment,” Hoselton said. “It was a long season with a lot of practices and a lot of conditioning. I just really wanted it and I’m so happy to be the one to have it. I knew that I could do it, and I’m so glad that I got to push through it. She’s a tough opponent and we’re going to have those tough matches all of the time. Everyone can (win a title), you just have to put in the work, have the heart, and believe in yourself and just know that you can do it. If you can, go to a practice, go try it and have fun. It’s not all supposed to be serious, you can bond with every single person on your team, and that’s what I’ve done and I’m happy to have them by my side. My parents and my family (supported me). My brothers, Drew and Brandon were state champs, so I had to live up to that moment and my cousin Andy was a state champ. They knew I could do it, they’ve been practicing with me and they pushed me. I was glad to have them here to support me. I’m happy to be the first girl in the family to win a championship.”

Unity sophomore Phoenix Molina (28-6) was her school’s second medalist, with the other being Lexie Ritchie, the  2022 champion and 2023 fourth-place finisher at 155. She used three-straight close decisions to reach the title mat. She won 2-1 by sudden victory over Homewood-Flossmoor’s Jocelyn Williams in her opener, edged Ottawa Township’s Juliana Thrush 4-2 in the quarterfinals and won 3-2 over Oak Park and River Forest’s Sarah Epshtein in the semifinals to reach the title mat. A year ago, Molina went 17-5 after losing in the quarterfinals to Grandberry. 

For third place, Curie Metropolitan senior Aaliyah Grandberry (24-1) won by fall in 1:41 over Oak Park and River Forest senior Sarah Epshtein (27-5) in a matchup of three-time medalists. Grandberry, the first athlete from a Chicago Public School to be a three-time all-stater, took second place at 235 in 2023 and 2022, both times to Belleville East’s Kiara Ganey, who handed her the only loss of each season. Grandberry was ninth at 235 in the National Wrestling Hall of Fame, USA Wrestling and FloWrestling February national rankings. Epshtein, who took fourth last year and fifth in 2022 at 235 became the first three-time all-stater for the Huskies. 
“Aaliyah Grandberry’s determination and talent have led her to become a two-time finalist and three-time medalist, making history for our school and the CPS district.” Curie coach Yahya Muhammad said. “Starting as a team manager during the COVID year, Aaliyah’s journey from support role to star wrestler is truly inspiring. Despite challenges, she persevered and achieved remarkable results, finishing second in 2022 and 2023 and third in 2024. 

Through her resilience, talent, and unwavering dedication, Aaliyah Grandberry had not only made a name for herself in the world of wrestling but had also paved the way for future generations of athletes in her school and community. Her story was one of triumph, perseverance and the power of believing in oneself against all odds.”

And for fifth place, Hoffman Estates junior Anjali Gonzalez (32-7) got a pin in 3:34 over Ottawa Township sophomore Juliana Thrush (30-6) as both became all-staters for the first time. Falling one win shy of a state medal were Homewood-Flossmoor senior Jocelyn Williams (20-5) and Minooka senior Peyton Kueltzo (34-13). Williams took fourth at 235 in the first IHSA Finals, making her H-F’s third two-time IHSA all-stater, with 2023 and 2022 champion Attalia Watson-Castro and 2023 title winner Ini Odumosu the others.

“Anjali Gonzalez was the 235 fifth-place medalist,” Hoffman Estates coach Leo Clark said. “She is a dangerous wrestler and we saw it downstate. You don’t want to see her on your side of the bracket. She is incredibly strong and it showed. When she gets on top the match is over. She is a two-time qualifier and was upset with how her season ended last year. She is excited for the postseason and trying to qualify for Fargo.” 

100 – Alycia Perez, Glenbard West

After falling in the consolation semifinals at the sectional in both 2023 and 2022, Alycia Perez was determined to not fall short of a trip to state in her third attempt as she concluded her career at Glenbard West. Not only did the Hilltoppers senior assure herself of a first appearance in the IHSA Individual Finals, there was no drama this time as she concluded an unbeaten regular season with Shepard Regional and Schaumburg Sectional championships and carried that momentum to four more wins in her state debut, capping a 35-0 season with the title at 100 after edging West Aurora’s Kameyah Young 1-0 in the title match. As a result, she became Glenbard West’s first champion and its second medalist, with Khatija Ahmed taking sixth at 130 last season. Perez earned her spot on the 100 title mat with a fall in 5:03 over Montini Catholic’s Kat Bell. Perez, one of two qualifiers and the lone medalist for the Hilltoppers, opened with a win by technical fall over Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley/Fisher’s Justice Milligan before capturing a 7-0 decision over Rickover Naval Academy’s Mia Vazquez in the quarterfinals.

“It was a really hard loss for me last year,” Perez said. “I lost in the blood round at the sectional. So I just went back to the room and I trained as hard as I could. Every day I’d go back and just train and try to get better and work on things and rewatch my videos and just learn from my mistakes so I could get here. I could have been sad about it and not come back this year. But I just had to take that and use it as motivation to get to where I am. I’m definitely going to continue to wrestle.”

West Aurora junior Kameyah Young (32-4), who took fourth place last season at 100 while competing for East Aurora, was hoping to become the first state champion for her new school. Instead she ties Dyani Rivera, who took second place to Batavia’s Sydney Perry at 145 in 2022, for the best finish among the four all-staters that the program has had. Young advanced to the title mat after capturing a 4-2 decision over Batavia’s Lily Enos. She opened with a fall in 2:20 over Roxana’s Madelyn Murphy and won a 15-2 major decision over Newman Central Catholic’s Blair Grennan in the quarterfinals. 

In the third-place match, Batavia sophomore Lily Enos (42-11) won by fall in 3:24 over Newman Central Catholic freshman Blair Grennan (17-3). Enos improved on a fifth-place finish at 100 a year ago to become a two-time all-stater while Grennan is the first medalist for her school. And for fifth place, Galesburg senior Hannah Almendarez (23-5) won by injury forfeit over Montini Catholic junior Kat Bell (25-9), who also became the first all-stater for the Broncos after falling one win shy of medals at 100 in both 2023 and 2022. Almendarez joined Annalisa Gibbons (sixth at 140) as the first medalists for coach Greg Leibach’s Silver Streaks. Falling one win short of winning a state medal were Rickover Naval Academy junior Mia Vazquez (33-6) and Glenwood freshman Kadi Wilbern (23-2).

“The State Tournament atmosphere is electric because it is where season-long goals are made reality,” Greg Leibach said. “The third round wrestlebacks (blood round) were exciting matches for us, knowing that the podium was just beyond. I am proud of Hannah and Annalisa for their composure and clarity that allowed them to execute in that pressure moment. These are the first girls medals for the Galesburg program, so there is a sense of history to the moment. For Hannah, it is an awesome way to cap her high school career. For Annalisa, it is evidence of her constant progression and should give her deserved confidence for her senior season.”

105 – Angelina Gochis, Kaneland

On a day where 22 of the 28 IHSA finalists were juniors or seniors, having a title matchup between a freshman and a sophomore didn’t appear to be too likely, but that certainly wasn’t the way that freshman Angelina Gochis and sophomore Janiah Slaughter viewed their paths through in the 105 weight class. Kaneland’s Gochis and Huntley’s Slaughter met in the lone title match where an underclassman was assured of being the champion, and even the the Red Raiders sophomore might have looked to be the favorite after placing third at 100 last season, it was Knights freshman Gochis who made the day for all of the first-year performers in the competition when she won an 8-2 decision that not only made her the lone freshman state champion but also the first title winner for the Maple Park school and its second medalist, following up on Brooklyn Sheaffer’s sixth-place finish at 120 last season. One of two qualifiers for coach Josh West’s Knights, with Sheaffer the other, Gochis (47-5) earned her spot on the title mat with a 9-3 decision over Glenbard East’s Nadiia Shymkiv in the semifinals. The freshman champion kicked off her title run with a win by technical fall over Romeoville’s Josefina Orozco and followed with another win by technical fall over Pekin’s Tessa Donaldson in the quarterfinals. She tied Lockport Township’s Morgan Turner for second for wins by technical fall with two while Batavia’s Sydney Perry led all competitors with three wins by technical fall. Gochis also collected the most victories of any of the champions with 47.

“It was crazy, I was just so happy,” Gochis said. “I feel really good doing this for all of my friends, family and all of my coaches. I was thinking that I was going to do pretty good, knowing all of the hard work that I’ve put into it. I was just trying to keep moving, go to my offense and do what I do. I Iike the hard work, to keep going and doing what you need to do. We’ve been doing good, there’s a lot of good coaching and my teammates work hard.”

“I couldn’t be more proud of Angelina and what she accomplished during her freshman year,” Kaneland coach Josh West said. “She works hard, moves well and is always open to criticism and feedback.  She is extremely coachable and makes others better in our room. But what’s best about Angelina, is how she carries herself off the mat.  She is funny, kind and humble.  She doesn’t boast and is always cheering on other girls in the sport. It has been an honor being a part of her journey this year.”

Huntley sophomore Janiah Slaughter (29-3) was joined by teammate Aubrie Rohrbacher (45-5), who took third at 130, as all-staters for coach Gannon Kosowski’s Red Raiders, who only had Slaughter’s third-place at 100 from a year ago before adding two to its total over the weekend. Slaughter became the first girl from her school to reach the title mat when she won a 7-2 decision over Anna-Jonesboro’s Zoee Sadler in the semifinals. She opened with a 4-2 decision over Lincoln-Way West’s Zoe Dempsey and then won a 22-12 major decision over Lakes Community’s Zaryia Mouzon in the quarterfinals. 

In the third-place match, Glenbard East sophomore Nadiia Shymkiv (22-1) bounced back from her lone loss to Gochis to record a fall in 3:14 over Anna-Jonesboro junior Zoee Sadler (39-12). Shymkiv placed fourth at 105 last season while competing for Glenbard North while Sadler became her school’s first medalist last season after finishing second to Loyola Academy’s Harlee Hiller at 105. For fifth place, Lincoln-Way West sophomore Zoe Dempsey (20-7) captured an 8-6 decision over DeKalb sophomore Alex Gregorio-Perez (33-9). Dempsey became the first all-stater for coach Brian Glynn’s Warriors while Gregorio-Perez joined junior Reese Zimmer (sixth at 115) as the first medal winners for coach Conor Infelise’s Barbs. 

Coming up one win shy of medals were East Peoria senior Bailey Lusch (16-6) and Lakes Community senior Zaryia Mouzon (35-6). Lusch, who placed sixth at 105 last year and fifth at 105 in 2022, was hoping to become a three-time medalist. While Mouzon missed joining teammates and two-time medalists Josephine Larson (second at 190), Ava Babbs (third at 125) and Olivia Heft (fifth at 120) as all-staters for coach Devin Tortorice’s program, she can take plenty of consolation that her efforts helped the Eagles become the first IHSA champion in the sport and for her school in any sport after Lakes Community scored 61 points to edge out Lockport Township (58) for the state championship while Batavia (46.5) claimed third place.

110 – Morgan Turner, Lockport Township

A year ago, Morgan Turner made history by becoming the first girl to place at the IHSA Boys Individual Finals when she capped her freshman season by finishing in third place at 106 in Class 2A to finish with a 35-3 record while competing for Bremen. One year later, sophomore Turner, who was ranked third pound-for-pound and first nationally at 105 in the National Wrestling Hall of Fame, USA Wrestling and FloWrestling February national rankings, made more history by not only winning her first state championship at 110 by recording a fall in 2:40 over Joliet Township’s Eliana Paramo in her debut in the girls tournament but also helping Lockport Township to win one of the first trophies that were handed out in the sport to the top-three scoring teams at its third Individual Finals. Coach Nathaniel Roth’s Porters scored 58 points, which was three points behind champion Lakes Community, who had 61 points, while Batavia took third place with 46.5 points. Lockport Township was the only team in the field that had two champions as another talented sophomore, Claudia Heeney (21-1), advanced to the title mat for the second year in a row and claimed the 130 title with a 4-2 decision over Collinsville’s Taylor Dawson. It was a special day for the Porters wrestling program as two of its graduates, Roth and Yorkville’s Jake Oster, both led teams to second-place finishes, with Oster’s Foxes taking second place in Class 3A to Mount Carmel. 

Turner (11-0), who competed with the Porters boys team during the regular season, advanced to her first title match with a win by technical fall over Sandwich’s Ashlyn Strenz. She opened her title run with a fall in 2:24 over Lakes Community’s Haven Sylves and then claimed another win by technical fall, this time over Morris’ Ella McDonnell. Turner and the 105 champion, Kaneland’s Angelina Gochis, both won two matches by technical fall while Batavia’s three-time IHSA champion, Sydney Perry, who took first at 145, capped her historic career with three wins by technical fall. Turner tied Moline’s Maryam Ndiaye, the champion at 155, with the most team points with 29 while Heeney tied Freeport’s Cadence Diduch (135), a three-time IHSA champion, and Boylan Catholic’s Netavia Wickson (140), a three-time IHSA finalist and two-time champion, with 28 team points. Turner also ranked second in total match points with 63 while Perry set a new record with 91 total points. Junior Averi Colella (40-13 at 105) and freshman Rebekah Ramirez (36-14 at 235) were the other two qualifiers for the IHSA runner-up Porters.

“It feels good,” Turner said of the state title. “It’s what I came down here to do. My shoulder is still sore, but I am grateful the doctor cleared me to wrestle against girls. Wrestling against boys helped me in this tournament. The boys are stronger. I felt like my first match was a little tough. But I feel like if I run the score up I have a gap just in case. So I try to build up a cushion.”

“Morgan is a very talented wrestler,” Porters coach Nathaniel Roth said. “She demonstrated that and helped us to a state runner-up finish.”

Joliet Township senior Eliana Paramo (37-4) capped an historic career for coach Liz Short’s Steelwomen after claiming second place for the second-straight year for the co-op team featuring athletes from Joliet Central and Joliet West. Paramo lost to Glenbard North’s Gabby Gomez 12-3 in the 115 title match a year ago and Gomez joined Hononegah’s Angelina Cassioppi, Diduch and Perry as the first three-time IHSA champions when she took top honors at 115, which was the last contested weight class of the finals. A fifth-place finisher at 115 in 2022 while competing for Joliet West, Paramo is one of three JT all-staters and its first three-time medalist. She advanced to the title mat for the second-straight year after recording a fall in 5:11 in the semifinals over Bartlett’s Emma Engels, who was the IHSA 100 champion last season. Paramo opened with a fall in 2:42 over Glenbard West’s Valentina Fantoni and then recorded a pin in 3:20 over Crystal Lake South’s Annalee Aarseth in the quarterfinals. 

“I’m just really grateful that I have the opportunity to even compete on this level,” Paramo said. “I just think that’s incredible that I got to do this and to represent Joliet. I think it’s truly incredible that it’s (the IHSA Finals) gotten to this size. I remember that I came downstate in 2022, it was a completely different atmosphere than it was today. It’s so competitive now that the athletes that are competing here, it’s at another level. It’s really amazing and I’m so excited about the future generations for women’s wrestling.”

“Eliana is a three-time state placer and two-time state runner-up and has been an integral part of the success of the Joliet Township Girls wrestling team these past two years” Joliet Township coach Liz Short said. “Eliana has worked extremely hard this summer traveling to offseason tournaments and participating on the Team Illinois National Dual Team in Tulsa, Oklahoma and Junior National Championships in Fargo, North Dakota. Beyond her individual accomplishments, she has been a tremendous leader and role model for her teammates.  Her work ethic, positive attitude and willingness to support and encourage others have helped foster a culture of excellence within our team.  She has led by example, showing her teammates what it means to be a true competitor and a loyal teammate. It has been an absolute privilege to witness her growth and development as an athlete and individual. She has overcome adversity with grace and determination, never backing down from a challenge and always striving to be the best version of herself.”

In the third-place match, Grant senior Ayane Jasinski (22-4) concluded a memorable career by capturing a 13-7 decision over Litchfield freshman Rilynn Younker (29-11). Jasinski, one of two medalists for Grant in the past three years and its first three-time all-stater, beat Lincoln-Way Central’s Gracie Guarino 2-0 in sudden victory to win the 110 title last season after placing fourth at 100 in 2022 while Younker is the first medalist for the Lady Panthers. For fifth place, Sandwich senior Ashlyn Strenz (18-6) claimed a 4-1 decision over Bartlett junior Emma Engels (32-16). Strenz became Sandwich’s first medal winner a year ago when she took fourth place at 115. Engels, Barlett’s only medalist, was the 100 champion a year ago when she won a 4-0 decision over Oak Forest’s Alexandra Sebek. Falling one win shy of medals were Morris senior Ella McDonnell (33-5) and Crystal Lake South freshman Annalee Aarseth (34-6). McDonnell placed fourth at 110 last season and fourth at 105 in 2022 and is her program’s only all-stater while Aarseth was hoping to become the first individual from her school to win a state medal.”Ayane Jasinski placed third at the IHSA Girls State Tournament to become a three-time all-state wrestler for the Bulldogs,” Grant coach Mark Jolcover said. “She entered the tournament as the returning state champion, but we knew the task was tall to repeat. Ayane dropped a heartbreaking bout in overtime to a returning state place winner. The conversation quickly shifted to getting the ‘next best thing’ which is exactly what she did battling back for third, defeating a returning place winner in the blood round and a returning state champ in the consolation semis to eventually win four-straight matches and finish third. We are incredibly proud of her as a program, and she has been someone who has raised the standard and expectation as far as preparation, investment and dedication. She is a true professional on and off the mat. We will be forever grateful for her impact on our program and community and look forward to watching her at the next level.”
Editor’s note: Many thanks to longtime Chicago area reporter Randy Whalen for comments that he provided which were from Lockport Township’s Morgan Turner and Nathaniel Roth.

115 – Gabby Gomez, Glenbard North

Just as the Individual Finals started with drama with an individual looking to become a three-time champion, in Angelina Cassioppi’s 4-3 decision over Sophia Ball in the 120 title match, the competition ended in a similar fashion when Gabby Gomez looked to follow what Hononegah’s Cassioppi, Freeport’s Cadence Diduch and Batavia’s Sydney Perry achieved by becoming the first three-time IHSA champions, when she met Loyola Academy’s Harlee Hiller in the 115 championship match. It was the only matchup on the title mat between 2023 state champions and not surprisingly, it was another dramatic match that was decided again with a 4-3 decision as Gomez got a last-minute takedown and then held off determined efforts by Hiller to make a late comeback as the Glenbard North junior capped a 38-0 season. In the February national rankings at 115 by the National Wrestling Hall of Fame, USA Wrestling and FloWrestling, Gomez was fifth and Hiller was 11th. Last year, Gomez won a 12-3 major decision over Joliet Township’s Eliana Paramo for the 115 title to wrap up a 33-0 campaign. And as a freshman in 2022, Gomez captured a 5-3 decision over Lincoln-Way Central’s Gracie Guarino to win the 105 title and conclude a 12-0 season. Through the first three seasons of the sport with an IHSA series, Gomez is one of two individuals with a perfect record, which is 83-0, while Perry is the other. The lone individual for coach Chris Edwards’ Panthers that was able to qualify for state, she earned her spot on the title mat for the third-straight year by winning a 6-1 decision over Guarino, who also took second place last season. Gomez began her run for her third-straight title with a fall in 2:45 over University High’s Allison Kroesch and followed that up with another pin, this one in 2:16 over Springfield High’s Ella Miloncus. As the result of the four two-time champions all winning a third title, they move past the other two individuals who won IHSA titles as juniors and seniors who graduated in 2023, Homewood-Flossmoor’s Attalia Watson-Castro and Belleville East’s Kiara Ganey, who are now joined as two-time champs by Boylan Catholic’s Netavia Wickson, who like the four three-time champions i one of only five individuals who have competed for titles each year. With Diduch, Perry and Wickson closing out their historic careers in Bloomington, Gomez and Cassioppi can now set their sights on becoming the sports’ initial four-time finalists and more importantly, the first-ever four-time IHSA champs.

“It was a pretty crazy match,” Gomez said. “I think every year it’s just going to get better because we’re seeing a lot of different girls competing at different levels. You see these girls that are seniors who are graduating and they’re leaving a legacy that no one will ever touch. A big sign of how the sport is growing is seeing different levels of girls being able to win a state title, that’s a big thing because it’s a confidence boost for them and Illinois girls wrestling. I still have one more year but I’ve seen a lot of my friends graduate this year, and that’s sad. Seeing Sydney go off to college and Cadence, it’s really something special because we all grew up together and we all wrestled each other and went back and forth when we were younger. And seeing us with three state titles and two state titles that Netavia has. We all first started as just normal little girls who wanted to try a sport and it led to us all having state championships together. I think soon enough the girls Illinois wrestling will be one day bigger than the boys, and that’s a goal for us. The boys are doing great this year, but I think the girls set a standard this year that not a lot of people are going to beat so it’s going to take the 2025 class to really step it up. We need to show our talents and show that we’re a force to be reckoned with and when it comes to national tournaments, we’re not going to mess around. 

“I think that they ran a real good tournament this year and it was better than the years before, but next year we need to separate the top teams a little bit. They’re really helping us grow. I think having team trophies is a big thing because it shows that next year that team is going to want to defend their title. It’s not just about where our state tournament is, girls wrestling is still growing so you’re not going to see stands packed. We’re not at the point where we need a bigger place. But I think us having a week on and a week off and a week on and a week off shouldn’t be. We saw at state that a lot of girls didn’t make weight because they had that week off. They would never do that for the guys. I’m having a lot of fun and I really do like high school season, but it is also kind of sad that we can’t wrestle outside of our high school during high school season because some of us girls that are higher-ranked side like Sydney Perry, we also need to be able to get more competition out of the series. Since Midlands is only 25 minutes away from my house, I should be able to go wrestle in it and see where I stand with those college girls. For my Freestyle season, those are the girls that I’m going to be wrestling.”

Loyola Academy junior Harlee Hiller (24-9) came very close to upsetting the party for one of the four two-time champions who were seeking a third-straight title when she took Gabby Gomez down to the wire before dropping a 4-3 decision. Last season, Hiller beat Anna-Jonesboro’s Zoee Sadler 8-1 in the 105 title match to cap a 32-5 season and in 2022, she took third place at 105 behind Gomez and Guarino to wrap up a 22-5 debut campaign. The lone qualifier for coach Matt Collum’s Ramblers and also her program’s only all-stater, she assured herself of a second-straight trip to the title mat with a fall in 2:36 over Mt. Zion’s Sydney Cannon. Hiller opened with a fall in 1:22 over Mahomet-Seymour’s Kalista Granadino and then got a pin in 5:00 over Burlington Central’s Victoria Macias in the quarterfinals. 

For third place, Lincoln-Way Central senior Gracie Guarino (27-1) bounced back from her only loss of the season to Gomez in the semifinals by winning with a fall in 0:51 over Mt. Zion sophomore Sydney Cannon (24-5). Guarino established a high bar for coach Tyrone Byrd’s Knights by becoming her school’s first all-stater, a two-time finalist and three-time medalist in IHSA competition. And in 2021, she finished in third place at 106 in the IWCOA Tournament. Cannon, who claimed third place at 110 a year ago, is her school’s only medal winner. 

“I knew that my semifinals obviously would be a really hard match,” Guarino said. “I went 115 just to try again. She’s (Gomez) been my teammate in the offseason. I knew that it would be a hard match and that one of us was going to end up third and one of us was going to end up first. I’m happy that I ended my career on a win.”

In the fifth-place match, Burlington Central junior Victoria Macias (36-6) won by fall in 3:30 over DeKalb junior Reese Zimmer (35-13). Macias, her school’s first all-stater, is now a three-time placewinner after also finishing fifth at 110 a year ago and fourth at 110 in 2022. And the good news for coach Jeff Richart’s Rockets is that they added their second medal winner this  season, freshman Ryann Miller, who took fifth place at 170. And coach Conor Infelise’s DeKalb Barbs enjoyed an historic state tournament as they got their first two medal winners as Zimmer claimed sixth place at 115 while sophomore Alex Gregorio-Perez also finished in sixth place at 105. Falling one win shy of a medal at 115 were Wheaton Warrenville South senior Star Duncan (27-9) and District 230 (Andrew/Carl Sandburg/Stagg) junior Sophia Figueroa (28-4). Duncan was hoping to become Wheaton Warrenville South’s first medalist while Figueroa was seeking to become the fourth individual from her school district’s co-op team to medal at state.

Girls Wrestling Honor Roll for 2024 IHSA Individual State Finals

Individual Honors

First Three-Time State Champions

Angelina Cassioppi, Hononegah; Cadence Diduch, Freeport; Gabby Gomez, Glenbard North; Sydney Perry, Batavia

First Three-Time State Finalists

Angelina Cassioppi, Hononegah; Cadence Diduch, Freeport; Gabby Gomez, Glenbard North; Sydney Perry, Batavia; Netavia Wickson, Boylan Catholic

First Three-Time State Medalists

Yamilet Aguirre, Yorkville; Angelina Cassioppi, Hononegah; ILeen Castrejon, Zion-Benton; Taylor Dawson, Collinsville; Cadence Diduch, Freeport; Sarah Epshtein, Oak Park and River Forest; Gabby Gomez, Glenbard North; Aaliyah Grandberry, Curie Metropolitan; Gracie Guarino, Lincoln-Way Central; Savannah Hamilton, El Paso-Gridley; Harlee Hiller, Loyola Academy; Jayden Huesca-Rodriguez, West Chicago; Ayane Jasinski, Grant; Victoria Macias, Burlington Central; Alivia Ming, Goreville; Sydney Perry, Batavia; Eliana Paramo, Joliet Township; Valeria Rodriguez, Schaumburg; August Rottmann, Highland; Netavia Wickson, Boylan Catholic

Team Honors

First State Champion

Lakes Community, coach Devin Tortorice

First Second-Place Finisher

Lockport Township, coach Nathaniel Roth

First Third-Place Finisher

Batavia, coach Scott Bayer

Career Records for Class of 2024 (includes 2021 IWCOA Finals)

Four-time State Champions

Cadence Diduch, Freeport; Sydney Perry, Batavia

Four-time State Finalists

Cadence Diduch, Freeport; Sydney Perry, Batavia; Netavia Wickson, Boylan Catholic

Four-time State Medalists

Cadence Diduch, Freeport; Gracie Guarino, Lincoln-Way Central; Sydney Perry, Batavia; Valeria Rodriguez, Schaumburg; Netavia Wickson, Boylan Catholic

Championship Matches

100 – Alycia Perez (Glenbard West) 35-0, Sr. over Kameyah Young (West Aurora) 32-4, Jr. (Dec 1-0)
105 – Angelina Gochis (Kaneland) 47-5, Fr. over Janiah Slaughter (Huntley) 29-3, So. (Dec 8-2)
110 – Morgan Turner (Lockport Township) 11-0, So. over Eliana Paramo (Joliet Township) 37-4, Sr. (Fall 2:40)
115 – Gabby Gomez (Glenbard North) 38-0, Jr. over Harlee Hiller (Loyola Academy) 24-9, Jr. (Dec 4-3)
120 – Angelina Cassioppi (Hononegah) 17-1, Jr. over Sophia Ball (Hoffman Estates) 27-1, Jr. (Dec 4-3)
125 – Sophie Bowers (Vandalia) 27-7, Jr. over Kinnley Smith (Canton) 27-4, Jr. (Dec 6-0)
130 – Claudia Heeney (Lockport Township) 21-1, So. over Taylor Dawson (Collinsville) 47-1, Jr. (Dec 4-2)
135 – Cadence Diduch (Freeport) 29-0, Sr. over Natalie Beaumont (Cumberland) 19-3, So. (MD 10-1)
140 – Netavia Wickson (Boylan Catholic) 23-2, Sr. over Madeline Zerafa-Lazarevic (Schaumburg) 37-3, Jr. (MD 19-5)
145 – Sydney Perry (Batavia) 41-0, Sr. over Alivia Ming (Goreville) 37-1, Sr. (TF-1.5 5:00 24-9
155 – Maryam Ndiaye (Moline) 31-0, Sr. over Jaida Johnson (Richwoods) 25-4, Sr. (MD 14-5)
170 – Kiernan Farmer (Peotone) 21-1, Sr. over Alicia Tucker (Plainfield Central) 36-2, Jr. (Dec 9-6)
190 – ILeen Castrejon (Zion-Benton) 25-1, Sr. over Josephine Larson (Lakes Community) 32-8, Jr. (Dec 2-1)
235 – Chloe Hoselton (Prairie Central) 19-3, Jr. over Phoenix Molina (Unity) 28-6, So. (UTB 2-1)

Third-Place Matches
100 – Lily Enos (Batavia) 42-11, So. over Blair Grennan (Newman Central Catholic) 17-3, Fr. (Fall 3:24)
105 – Nadiia Shymkiv (Glenbard East) 22-1, So. over Zoee Sadler (Anna-Jonesboro) 39-12, Jr. (Fall 3:14)
110 – Ayane Jasinski (Grant) 22-4, Sr. over Rilynn Younker (Litchfield) 29-11, Fr. (Dec 13-7)
115 – Gracie Guarino (New Lenox (Lincoln-Way Central)) 27-1, Sr. over Sydney Cannon (Mt. Zion) 24-5, So. (Fall 0:51)
120 – Norah Swaim (Edwardsville) 21-2, Sr. over Ariella Dobin (Glenbrook North) 33-5, Fr. (Dec 6-5)
125 – Ava Babbs (Lakes Community) 32-1, Sr. over Yamilet Aguirre (Yorkville) 28-3, Sr. (Fall 1:51)
130 – Aubrie Rohrbacher (Huntley) 45-5, So. over Addison Cailteux (Minooka) 27-6, So. (MD 12-0)
135 – Katie Ramirez-Quintero (Bolingbrook) 34-4, Sr. over Jenna Tuxhorn (Glenwood) 23-4, So. (Dec 8-1)
140 – Kaila Williams (Richwoods) 27-2, Sr. over Jasmine McCaskel (Richmond-Burton) 23-5, Sr. (Dec 7-4)
145 – AJ Grant (Phoenix Military Academy) 29-2, So. over Katelyn Marvel (Canton) 27-6, Jr. (Fall 1:47)
155 – Elanna Hickman (Alton) 33-6, Sr. over Savannah Hamilton (El Paso-Gridley) 14-4, Jr. (Dec 8-2)
170 – Autumne Williams (Peoria Notre Dame) 23-5, Jr. over Kayleigh Loo (Downers Grove North) 25-2, Sr. (Fall 0:22)
190 – Jasmine Rene (Wheeling) 38-2, So. over Emma Akpan (District 230) 34-8, Jr. (TB-1 7-6)
235 – Aaliyah Grandberry (Curie Metropolitan) 24-1, Sr. over Sarah Epshtein (Oak Park and River Forest) 27-5, Sr. (Fall 1:41)

Fifth-place Matches
100 – Hannah Almendarez (Galesburg) 23-5, Sr. over Kat Bell (Montini Catholic) 25-9, Jr. (Inj. 0:00)
105 – Zoe Dempsey (Lincoln-Way West) 20-7, So. over Alex Gregorio-Perez (DeKalb) 33-9, So. (Dec 8-6)
110 – Ashlyn Strenz (Sandwich) 18-6, Sr. over Emma Engels (Bartlett) 32-16, Jr. (Dec 4-1)
115 – Victoria Macias (Burlington Central) 36-6, Jr. over Reese Zimmer (DeKalb) 35-13, Jr. (Fall 3:30)
120 – Olivia Heft (Lakes Community) 33-4, Sr. over Alexis Seymour (Jacksonville) 30-6, Jr. (Fall 4:32)
125 – Lilly White (Bartlett) 31-5, So. over Holly Zugmaier (Edwardsville) 34-8, Jr. (M. For.)
130 – Amber Louderback (Camp Point Central) 23-11, So. over Sammie Greisen (Seneca) 31-11, So. (Fall 5:40)
135 – Jordan Bicknell (Olympia) 16-4, Sr. over Rose Craig (Elmwood Park) 19-6, Sr. (Dec 15-11)
140 – Natalie Corona (McHenry) 24-5, So. over Annalisa Gibbons (Galesburg) 22-7, Jr. (Fall 0:38)
145 – Dempsey Atkinson (Rochelle) 21-7, Jr. over Naomi Foote (Zion-Benton) 39-11, Jr. (Fall 1:10)
155 – Valeria Rodriguez (Schaumburg) 40-3, Sr. over Payton Temple (Clifton Central) 8-7, Fr. (Fall 0:14)
170 – Ryann Miller (Burlington Central) 36-5, Fr. over August Rottmann (Highland) 28-5, Jr. (M. For.)
190 – Jayden Huesca-Rodriguez (West Chicago) 21-6, Sr. over Karmen Cody (Clifton Central) 15-5, Sr. (Fall 0:29)
235 – Anjali Gonzalez (Hoffman Estates) 32-7, Jr. over Juliana Thrush (Ottawa Township) 30-6, So. (Fall 3:34)

Final Team Standings

1. Lakes Community 61, 2. Lockport Township 58, 3. Batavia 46.5, 4. Hoffman Estates 43, 4. Schaumburg 43, 6. Huntley 39, 7. Richwoods 38, 8. Burlington Central 34, 9. Canton 33, 9. Zion-Benton 33, 11. Edwardsville 32, 12. Kaneland 31, 13. District 230 (Andrew, Carl Sandburg/Stagg) 30, 14. Galesburg 29, 14. Moline 29, 14. Phoenix Military Academy 29, 17. Boylan Catholic 28, 17. Freeport 28, 19. Glenbard North 26, 20. Glenbard West 25.5, 21. Prairie Central 25, 22. Collinsville 24, 22. Cumberland 24, 22. Goreville 24, 22. Joliet Township 24, 22. Loyola Academy 24, 27. Hononegah 23.5, 27. Peotone 23.5, 27. Vandalia 23.5, 30. DeKalb 23, 31. Clifton Central 22, 31. West Aurora 22, 33. Bartlett 21, 33. Downers Grove North 21, 33. Peoria Notre Dame 21, 33. Plainfield Central 21, 37. Curie Metropolitan 20, 37. El Paso-Gridley 20, 37. Glenwood 20, 37. Lincoln-Way Central 20, 37. Newman Central Catholic 20, 37. Yorkville 20, 43. Bolingbrook 19, 43. Minooka 19, 43. Oak Park and River Forest 19, 46. Glenbrook North 18, 46. Mt. Zion 18, 46. Unity 18, 49. Alton Senior 17, 49. Glenbard East 17, 51. Grant 16, 51. Richmond-Burton 16, 51. Rochelle 16, 51. Wheeling 16, 55. Olympia 15, 55. West Chicago 15, 57. Anna-Jonesboro 14, 57. Lincoln-Way West 14, 59. Camp Point Central 13, 59. Jacksonville 13, 59. Ottawa Township 13.

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