Revenge rules at Class 2A individual state finals

By Patrick Z. McGavin for the IWCOA

Thirteen was the operative and magic number for the Class 2A Individual State Championships here at State Farm Arena.

Out of the 28 wrestlers who made up the championship bracket, 13 had the fortune of being there at least once previously. That figure was far from unlucky.

Several were making a double encore.

Winning four consecutive state matches requires a bit of everything—skill, luck, timing, opportunity and momentum. The past is never entirely a prelude. Former results provide a context but never a clear window of how events are going to play out.

With Joliet Catholic moving up to Class 3A, that also opened up the field, especially at heavyweight, where three-time defending state champion Dillan Johnson was no longer a wrecking ball.

In the end, the 14 state championships were divided among 11 schools: Montini and IC Catholic Prep, who will wrestle in the team dual sectional Tuesday, had three finalists and two individual state champions.

Rock Island matched their total with three finalists, and two state champions. Washington, the defending dual state team champions, was the only other program that had multiple finalists with two.

Past success did not always translate. The season is likely to be remembered as the revenge campaign as multiple second-place finishers from a year ago made the leap to the top of the podium.

For a deeper analysis, please read the following.

Here are the Class 2A state champions in the order of the random draw

132 – Ty Edwards, Yorkville Christian

The Mustangs’ senior upended the expected order with a stunning 11-4 decision over previously undefeated and defending state champion Gauge Shipp of Galesburg in the championship match.

He also proved the past is not always an accurate predictor.

In a rematch from the sectional, Edwards knew he could not go down the same path after losing by a 13-4 major decision.

“I never let him come after me, and dictate the pace the way he did last week,” he said.

Edwards (47-3) was a two-time state finalist in Class 1A. Last year he lost a heartbreaking final in sudden victory against Auburn’s three-time state champion Anthony Ruzic in the 120-pound state championship.

From the start Edwards was the quicker, more explosive and dynamic wrestler who posted two first-period takedowns for the crucial 4-1 advantage.

Getting the first takedown made me realize that I was in a great position, and I just had to keep going and keep pushing it and try to break him,” he said.

Down 7-1 at the start of the third period, Shipp (44-1) made one last gasp with a reversal. It proved short-lived as Edwards quickly countered with his own reversal.

“I didn’t really think about it too much,” Edwards said. “I knew I had to keep wrestling my match no matter what. I couldn’t let anything get to my head. I had to keep pushing.”

After winning at 138 pounds last season, Shipp was overwhelmed, and suffered an apparent lower body injury toward the end.

After posting a technical fall and two major decisions in reaching the final, Shipp met his equal.

“It means a lot,” Edwards said. “You train hard, and it brought me a title, and I’m grateful for that.”

In the third-place match, Montini’s Kameron Luif defeated Rockford East’s Donald Cannon 7-2, and IC Catholic Prep’s Omar Samayoa posted the 10-2 major over Antioch’s Edgar Albino for fifth place.

138 – Wyatt Medlin, Washington

The Panthers’ sophomore emerged as the newest star with his convincing 10-3 decision over Mount Vernon’s Dillon White in the championship match.

Medlin (45-4) had a fantastic state series with victories by technical fall, major decision, and a fall in the semifinal round. He finished third at 126 pounds last season.

Medlin had two first-period takedowns against White for the 4-1 advantage. His reversal at the start of the second period pushed his advantage out to 6-1.

White (40-4) never seriously challenged him.

“I wrestled him earlier in the season, and maybe showcased my skills a little better,” Medlin said. “I was glad I could get the job done.”

His burst combined with his physical and dynamic style proved too difficult and demanding.

“I like to wrestle super aggressive, super high paced,” Medlin said. “I like to call it controlled chaos.”

He creates his own havoc and breakdown. White was the final recipient of that punishing style.

“Everyone can say they can handle pressure until there’s about thousands of people sitting up here,” Medlin said. “Pushing the pace throughout the whole match, it makes your mindset feel super confident.”

For third place, IC Catholic Prep’s Bryson Spaulding posted the 2-0 decision over Glenwood’s John Ben Maduena, and Deerfield’s Jordan Rasof posted the fall over Oak Forest’s Austin Perez on the fifth-place mat.

144 – Sean Larkin, St. Rita

The Mustangs’ Sean Larkin trailed 6-1 after one period but pulled off the improbable comeback, with the 9-7 victory over Washington’s Peyton Cox on a takedown with :24 seconds remaining.

“I dreamed of this every day, and I just wanted it,” Larkin (22-2)  said. “The dedication I’ve been going through, going to double practices every day, and always in the wrestling room.”

Cox (26-2) suffered his second consecutive finals defeat after he finished second at 126 pounds last season.

Cox appeared to be in control early with two takedowns and back points for the 6-1 lead. Everything changed during an incident-packed second period with a Larkin escape, takedown and two-point near fall.

“Last year after losing in the blood round, I talked to my coaches, and I said I’d do whatever it takes to get on the podium,” Larkin said.

Tied at 6-6 heading into the third period, Cox was issued an escape at the start.

Larkin’s pressure finally wore him down. He created the final tie in the closing moments after Cox was given his second caution warning.

His comeback mirrored his entire season.

“In the second match of the season, I sprained my MCL in my left knee,” Larkin said. “I was out until about Christmas, and I came back slowly. I lost two of my matches right away because I didn’t have the gas tank. Now I’m back to normal.”

For third place, IC Catholic Prep’s Patrick Mullen captured the decision over Deerfield’s Mark Martinez, and St. Patrick’s Nikolas Karamaniolas had the sudden victory decision over Mattoon’s Korbin Bateman on the fifth-place mat.

150 – David Mayora, Montini

Broncos senior David Mayora stormed through the lower bracket and prevailed over IC Catholic Prep’s Brody Kelly 3-2 in the championship match.

Mayora (38-1) vanquished the bittersweet moments of his 1-0 loss against Aurora Christian’s Taythan Silva in last year’s 152-pound state championship match.

“It means the world to me, not just winning state, but to be able to do it for my family,” Mayora said. 

Mayora scored the only offensive points with a takedown in the first period.

“I felt like if I pushed the pace, nobody would be able to stop me,” he said. “Being able to go out there, and get that first takedown, I knew that nobody was going to be able to stop me or take the match away.”

A transfer from Marmion, Kelly (33-8) took out top-seeded Zachary Montez of Geneseo in the quarterfinal round.

Kelly trailed 3-1 at the start of the third period, and engineered his own escape with 1:12 remaining.

Mayora kept him off his body and out of vulnerable moments to secure the victory. The two are likely to match up again in the team dual sectional.

Mayora’s only loss this season was against Class 3A state champion Will Denny of Marist.

In the third-place match, Montez registered the decision over Highland’s Ryson Rakers, and Lemont’s Noah O’Connor earned the decision over Wauconda’s Cole Porter on the fifth-place mat. 

157 – Bryce Griffin, Civic Memorial

Eagles senior Bryce Griffin enjoyed his moment with the 5-1 victory over Lake Forest’s Seth Digby in the championship match.

“I felt like I had it from the start,” he said.

Griffin (49-2) finished second at 145 pounds last season. Up 2-0 with his first period takedown, he took control with an escape and another takedown during the pivotal second period.

Griffin put together an imposing tournament run with a fall, 9-2 decision, and a major decision during the semifinal.

Despite the loss, Digby (41-3) was superb with two first period falls and a major decision in reaching his first final.

Montini’s Harrison Konder posted the decision over Normal West’s Evan Willock for third place, and Wauconda’s Nicholas Cheshier earned the manor over St. Patrick’s Van Grasser on the fifth-place mat.

165 – Nick Mueller, Dunlap

Eagles senior Nicke Mueller got defensive for his 2-1 victory over Vernon Hills’ Ilia Dvoriannikov in the championship match.

After finishing second at 160 pounds last season, Mueller (43-3) earned his victory lap. He engineered a reversal with 1:44 remaining in the third period for the difference maker.

Mueller rode out the tenacious and skilled Dvoriannikov (32-7) for his crowning achievement.

His 6-4 decision over IC Catholic Prep’s top-seeded Joe Gliatta in the quarterfinal round paved the way for his victory.

Dvoriannikov also pulled out some surprises, knocking out the higher seeded Maddox Kirts of Bloomington in the semifinal round.

For third place, Gliatta posted the decision over Lincoln’s Dawson McConnell, and Washington’s Cael Miller earned the sudden victory over Kirts on the fifth-place mat.

175 – Matty Jens, Grayslake Central

The Rams’ superstar confirmed his standing as a generational talent with his commanding 16-1 technical fall victory over Rock Island’s Amare Overton in the championship match.

Jens (41-1) had three technical falls and a major decision in smashing the opposition. He was also the only Class 2A defending champion to win consecutive titles.

Jens won the 182-pound state championship last season, and finished state runner-up as a sophomore two years ago.

“It’s awesome,” Jens said. “I love it. The atmosphere is the best ever. I was walking in the room today, the last two years I kept my headphones on, and I made a point of taking them off this year. 

“This really is the coolest thing I’ve ever done.”

Up 4-0 to start the second period, Jens utilized a takedown and two separate three-point near falls for the dominating 12-1 lead.

The taller Overton (42-3) had the reach advantage. It hardly mattered.

“I don’t think it was a matter of countering him,” Jens said. “It was more about going out there, and wrestling how I like to wrestle, like pulling and snapping. With that, people can’t really wrestle very long. I wore him out.”

Washington’s Zane Hulet secured the decision over Danville’s Phillip Shaw IV for third place, and Woodstock North’s Kaden Combs had the fall over Brother Rice’s Dan Costello on the fifth-place mat.

190 – Andrew Marquez, Rock Island

Rocks senior Andrew Marquez reached the pinnacle with the 9-2 victory over Crystal Lake Central’s Cayden Parks in the championship match.

Marquez (43-2) finished second at 195 pounds last season.

He took charge with two first period takedowns and expanded his advantage to 7-2 in the second period with a takedown and back points.

“I just knew I had to come at him,” Marquez said. “I knew he was a thrower, and I tried to make sure I kept my elbows in, and stayed attached.”

His training partner, Amare Overton, was the finalist at 175 pounds.

“We train hard every single day, and make sure that we get better. He beats me up some days, and I beat him up some days.”

Parks (41-7) finished fourth at 170 pounds last season.

He defeated the higher-seeded Foley Calcagno of IC Catholic Prep in the quarterfinals.

For third place, Foley Calcagno earned the decision over Washington’s Josh Hoffer, and Glenwood’s Max Wiezorek posted the decision over Notre Dame’s Jim Amatore on the fifth-place mat.

215 – Michael Calcagno, IC Catholic Prep

The Knights’ senior pinned his way to the championship with his dominant victory over Rochelle’s Kaiden Morris in the championship match.

Up 2-0 to start the second period, Calcagno (51-4) reversed Morris and caught him in a cradle for the devastating move at the 2:12 mark.

“I just really like that move,” he said. “I feel like it’s always there. I was looking for it.”

Calcagno was the most dominant wrestler in the class with three first period falls en route to the championship match.

“I don’t know how to describe my style,” he said. “I just think it’s my own style, and I don’t think anybody else does it.”

With two first period falls through the state preliminary rounds, Morris (41-4) was seemingly up the challenge.

But Calcagno was at a different level in earning his second career state championship. He won two years ago before sitting out his entire junior year due to an injury.

“It’s almost as good as the first time,” he said. 

For third place, Jacksonville’s Oliver Cooley had the decision over Prairie Ridge’s John Fallaw, and Sycamore’s Gable Carrick secured the major over Highland’s Ashton Zobrist on the fifth-place mat.

285 – Jack Barnhart, Centennial

Chargers senior Jack Barnhart crowned an undefeated season with the 4-1 victory over previously unbeaten Andy Burburija of Crystal Lake South in the championship match.

After finishing sixth at 220 pounds last year, Barnhart (44-0) secured the victory with a takedown in the closing seconds.

“I try to be more of a mobile heavyweight,” he said. “It was tougher at the beginning because he had some weight on me.

“I knew I had to get him moving, and get him tired. I got a shot on him in the first period, and almost got him.”

An earlier stalling warning swung the tide of the match.

Burburija (35-1) finished fourth at heavyweight last year. He took the second-period 1-0 lead, but late in the period he was issued his second stalling call, tying the match at 1-1.

“I knew he had the earlier stalling, and I just wanted to push the pace,” Barnhart said.

Barnhart took his first lead with his own escape at the 1:52 mark of the third period.

“I knew I could get up from the bottom,” he said. “I didn’t want to waste energy trying to tire him out.”

For third place, Rockford East’s Lee Smith posted the major over East Peoria’s Jose Del Toro, and Lemont’s Alex Pasquale had the fall over Notre Dame’s Scott Cook on the fifth-place mat. 

106 – Allen Woo, Montini

Broncos’ first-year standout Allen Woo took the top honors with his 7-4 decision over Wauconda’s Gavin Rockey in the championship match.

Up 3-1 to start the third period, Woo (21-3) fought off a Rockey reversal with an escape and his second takedown of the match.

“I train working on the single leg everyday, and that’s my go to move,” Woo said. “He was definitely getting tired. I took advantage of that, and I was ready.”

Woo credited his older brother Paul, who wrestles at Ohio University, for his influence.

“He taught me everything,” he said. “He taught me how to wrestle. He got me into the sport.”

Rockey (41-10) suffered his second consecutive state finals lost.

For third place, St. Rita’s Jack Hogan posted the decision over Grayslake Central’s Vince DeMarco, and St. Patrick’s Daniel Goodwin earned the decision over Streator’s Nicholas Pollett on the fifth-place mat.

113 – Truth Vesey, Rock Island

Rock Island senior Truth Vesey earned the Rocks’ second individual state title with the commanding 11-3 major decision over Riverside-Brookfield’s Edgar Mosquera.

After finishing fifth at 113 pounds last year, Vesey went into attack mode with two takedowns and a near fall for the 7-1 first period lead.

“With my style and how I wrestle, I have to give a lot of credit to my coaches,” he said. “This is how we train every single day. The sole formula, this is how we’ve done it. We’ve had past champions do the same thing. I followed that formula.”

Mosquera (41-7) was one of the bright surprises, a relatively unheralded performer who impressed with his ability to stake out tight decisions through the first three rounds.

Vesey finished with a fall, technical fall and a decision en route to the title match. He was also the third of the Rocks’ three state finalists to perform. 

“It’s crazy,” he said. “It just shows that you’re home grown. We all come from the same place, and the same struggles. It just feels awesome.”

Montini’s Mikey Malizzio earned the decision over Notre Dame’s John Sheehy for third place, and Cary-Grove’s Hunter Lenz won by medical forfeit over Yorkville Christian’s Aiden Larsen on the fifth-place mat.

120 – Deven Casey, IC Catholic Prep

Two-time state placer Deven Casey stunned two-time defending state champion Drew Davis of Glenwood 3-0 in the championship match.

A transfer from Aurora Christian who had two third-place state finishes, Casey (34-4) took to heart his previous results against the previously unbeaten Davis (42-1).

“I’ve lost to him three times, so I knew what I was getting myself into,” Casey said. “Those other matches were in the past. I had to go out there, and put everything on the mat.”

After a scoreless opening frame, Casey rode out Davis the entirety of the second period. Casey secured the early third period escape, and closed out the match with a stunning late takedown.

“I train so hard that I know if I’m tired, the other guy I’m going against is even more exhausted,” Casey said. “I had a lot of confidence. I knew I had to keep on pushing.”

Antioch’s Gavin Hanrahan earned the decision over Galesburg’s Rocky Almendarez for third place, and Kaneland’s Kamron Scholl captured the decision over Washignton’s Noah Woods for fifth place.

126 – Colby Crouch, Triad

Three-time finalist Colby Crouch went out in grand style with an exhilarating 5-3 decision over Montini’s Josh Vazquez in the championship.

Crouch (40-1) knew how hard it is to defend a state championship; after winning the 120-pound state championship two years ago, he lost the 126-pound championship last season.

“I’ve been on the other side of the scoreboard coming off an injury and losing in the finals,” he said. “It just put that much more into me to win it this year.”

A transfer from Aurora Christian, Vazquez (42-5) finished second at 120 pounds last year.

The back and forth dance between the two was a thing of beauty. After a scoreless first period, Casey held the 1-0 lead heading into the final frame.

After knotting the score at 1-1, Crouch made his move late in the match with a dazzling four-point takedown and near fall.

“Honestly I was waiting for the clock to go down even further, assuming I was going to take him down, to give him less time,” Crouch said. 

Vazquez pulled off the reversal but ran out of time trying to turn Crouch.

Civic Memorial’s Caleb Scott earned the fall over Rock Island’s Daniel McGhee for third place, and Rochelle’s Xavier Villalobos secured the decision over Providence’s Tommy Banas on the fifth-place mat.

Class 2A Championship matches

2A 106 – Allen Woo (Montini Catholic) 21-3, Fr. over Gavin Rockey (Wauconda) 41-10, Jr. (Dec 7-4)
2A 113 – Truth Vesey (Rock Island) 37-4, Sr. over Edgar Mosquera (Riverside-Brookfield) 41-7, Jr. (MD 11-3)
2A 120 – Deven Casey (IC Catholic Prep) 34-4, Jr. over Drew Davis (Glenwood) 42-1, Sr. (Dec 3-0)
2A 126 – Colby Crouch (Triad) 40-1, Sr. over Josh Vazquez (Montini Catholic) 42-5, Jr. (Dec 5-3)
2A 132  – Ty Edwards (Yorkville Christian) 47-2, Sr. over Gauge Shipp (Galesburg) 44-1, Sr. (Dec 11-4)
2A 138 – Wyatt Medlin (Washington) 45-4, So. over Dillon White (Mt. Vernon) 40-4, Jr. (Dec 10-3)
2A 144 – Sean Larkin (St. Rita) 22-2, Sr. over Peyton Cox (Washington) 26-2, Jr. (Dec 9-7)
2A 150 – David Mayora (Montini Catholic) 38-1, Sr. over Brody Kelly (IC Catholic Prep) 33-8, So. (Dec 3-2)
2A 157 – Bryce Griffin (Civic Memorial) 49-2, Sr. over Seth Digby (Lake Forest) 41-3, Sr. (Dec 5-1)
2A 165 – Nick Mueller (Dunlap) 43-3, Sr. over Ilia Dvoriannikov (Vernon Hills) 32-7, So. (Dec 4-2)
2A 175 – Matty Jens (Grayslake Central) 41-1, Sr. over Amare Overton (Rock Island) 42-3, Sr. (TF 4:17 16-1)
2A 190 – Andrew Marquez (Rock Island) 43-2, Sr. over Cayden Parks (Crystal Lake Central) 41-7, Jr. (Dec 9-2)
2A 215 – Michael Calcagno (IC Catholic Prep) 51-4, Sr. over Kaiden Morris (Rochelle) 41-4, Jr. (Fall 2:12)
2A 285 – Jack Barnhart (Centennial) 44-0, Sr. over Andy Burburija (Crystal Lake South) 35-1, Sr. (Dec 4-1)

Class 2A Third Place matches

2A 106 – Jack Hogan (St. Rita) 38-6, So. over Vince DeMarco (Grayslake Central) 45-9, Fr. (Dec 10-4)
2A 113 – Mikey Malizzio (Montini Catholic) 34-6, Fr. over John Sheehy (Niles Notre Dame) 42-12, Jr. (Dec 4-2)
2A 120 – Gavin Hanrahan (Antioch) 41-8, Jr. over Rocky Almendarez (Galesburg) 42-3, Sr. (Dec 6-2)
2A 126 – Caleb Scott (Civic Memorial) 32-8, Sr. over Daniel McGhee (Rock Island) 43-4, Sr. (Fall 3:33)
2A 132 – Kam Luif (Montini Catholic) 38-8, So. over Donald Cannon (Rockford East) 37-3, Jr. (Dec 7-2)
2A 138 – Bryson Spaulding (IC Catholic Prep) 35-11, Sr. over John Ben Maduena (Glenwood) 34-7, Sr. (Dec 2-0)
2A 144 – Pat Mullen (IC Catholic Prep) 27-9, Sr. over Mark Martinez (Deerfield) 32-5, Sr. (Dec 8-4)
2A 150 – Zachary Montez (Geneseo) 42-3, Jr. over Tyson Rakers (Highland) 44-6, Jr. (Dec 5-3)
2A 157 – Harrison Konder (Montini Catholic) 16-3, Sr. over Evan Willock (Normal West) 39-4, Sr. (Dec 5-0)

2A 165 – Joe Gliatta (IC Catholic Prep) 42-7, Sr. over Dawson McConnell (Lincoln) 44-8, Jr. (Dec 10-3)
2A 175 – Zane Hulet (Washington) 36-8, Sr. over Phillip Shaw IV (Danville) 36-3, Sr. (Dec 12-7)
2A 190 – Foley Calcagno (IC Catholic Prep) 37-7, So. over Josh Hoffer (Washington) 35-12, So. (Dec 3-2)
2A 215 – Oliver Cooley (Jacksonville) 47-5, Sr. over John Fallaw (Prairie Ridge) 31-13, Sr. (Dec 4-1)
2A 285 – Lee Smith (Rockford East) 42-6, Sr. over Jose Del Toro (East Peoria) 30-9, Jr. (MD 11-0)

Class 2A Fifth Place matches

2A 106 – Daniel Goodwin (St. Patrick) 40-11, So. over Nicholas Pollett (Streator Township) 43-7, Sr. (Dec 5-4)
2A 113 – Hunter Lenz (Cary-Grove) 18-6, So. over Aiden Larsen (Yorkville Christian) 38-5, Jr. (M. For.)
2A 120 – Kamron Scholl (Kaneland) 48-3, Sr. over Noah Woods (Washington) 40-16, Jr. (Dec 3-2)
2A 126 – Xavier Villalobos (Rochelle) 43-3, Jr. over Tommy Banas (Providence Catholic) 43-10, Fr. (Dec 6-2)
2A 132 – Omar Samayoa (IC Catholic Prep) 29-17, Sr. over Edgar Albino (Antioch) 40-7, Sr. (MD 10-2)
2A 138 – Jordan Rasof (Deerfield) 40-9, Jr. over Austin Perez (Oak Forest) 41-6, So. (Fall 5:19)
2A 144 – Nikolas Karamaniolas (St. Patrick) 34-7, Sr. over Korbin Bateman (Mattoon) 44-3, Sr. (SV-1 4-2)
2A 150 – Noah O`Connor (Lemont) 44-6, Sr. over Cole Porten (Wauconda) 42-11, Sr. (Dec 4-0)
2A 157 – Nicholas Cheshier (Wauconda) 30-7, Sr. over Van Grasser (St. Patrick) 39-17, So. (MD 11-3)
2A 165 – Cael Miller (Washington) 40-12, Sr. over Maddox Kirts (Bloomington) 38-10, Sr. (SV-1 7-5)
2A 175 – Kaden Combs (Woodstock North) 41-5, Sr. over Dan Costello (Brother Rice) 38-10, Fr. (Fall 3:14)
2A 190 – Max Wiezorek (Glenwood)) 50-6, Jr. over Jim Amatore (Niles Notre Dame) 36-10, Sr. (Dec 9-6)
2A 215 – Gable Carrick (Sycamore) 35-13, Sr. over Ashton Zobrist (Highland) 41-13, Jr. (MD 12-2)
2A 285 – Alex Pasquale (Lemont) 33-5, Sr. over Scott Cook (Niles Notre Dame) 39-11, Jr. (Fall 3:14)

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