By Mike Garofola
Daily Herald Correspondent
What makes one major wrestling tournament more prestigious than another?
How about one that boasts almost 60 of the top ten wrestlers in the state — many of whom will challenge for a state title come February.
The 54th Rex Whitlach Invitation at Hinsdale Central was the place to be Saturday afternoon, and when the dust settled four Daily Herald area wrestlers lifted championship trophies.
Warren’s Joel Vandervere validated his place as the No. 1 rated 138-pounder over the two days when he beat No. 4 Nico Bolivar (Oak Park-River Forest) in his final, while teammate Cameron Domke surely improved upon on his spot at No. 6 following his impressive effort in his championship bout.
Barrington senior Luke Rasmussen continued his perfect ways by pinning his way to the 170-pound title, but it was Downers Grove junior Robert Major who showed he belongs after sending off No. 2 Joe Chapman of Oak Park to win the top prize at 160.
Chapman’s 3-0 defeat at the hands of Major had little effect on the team title, which went to Oak Park-River Forest. The Huskies outscored the 24-team field with 211.5 points, 22 more than runner-up Lemont (189) and third-place Minooka with its 179.5
Barrington came in fifth place with 166 points, 1.5 behind Sandburg, with Lincoln-Way West, Hinsdale Central, Lyons Township, Joliet Catholic and Stevenson rounding out the Top 10 clubs at the longtime classic.
“After falling just short of reaching the state tournament for the second year in a row, today’s win over Chapman is a big step forward for me, and one that I hope to use to get downstate and go after a state title,” said Major, who rode the two-time state medal winner hard for nearly the entire third period to move his overall record to 19-0.
Rasmussen’s fourth pin of the tournament came at 4:40 to dash the hopes of hometown hero Ron Kruse, the first of only two falls recorded in a highly competitive final round of action.
“It felt good to win here at a tournament like this one, but I have still have a lot of work ahead of me to get to a point where I can challenge for a state title,” said Rasmussen (22-0), who came into the weekend rated No. 2 in the state.
“Overall I am very pleased with our effort over the two days. We claimed nine medals and stayed in the race for a top-five finish all throughout the day,” said Broncos coach Dave Udchik, who praised junior Evan Roper (11-2) for his work in order to finish third overall at 220.
The Vandervere-Domke duo were in another stratosphere over the weekend with Vandervere (13-0), a state runner-up a year ago, nearly unstoppable including his superb effort in his final with Bolivar, himself a three-time state qualifier, who will wrestle next season at Indiana University.
“The big difference for me this year is being 100% healthy and if I stay that way there’s no reason why I can’t be a state champion, and the No. 1 guy in the country at the end of the season,” said the Northwestern-bound Vandervere, who is No. 4 in the latest national poll by the InterMat Wrestling site.
Domke (16-0) mashed all four of his opponents starting with a trio of pins to advance into the finals against Ray Hernandez of Lemont, who kept it close through two periods until the Warren star went to work en route to a 9-4 decision.ADVERTISING
“I’m in a great room, with a great teammate to train with (Vandervere) so there’s no reason, if I continue to work hard that I cannot get to state and win it all,” said Domke.
Stevenson freshman Lorenzo Frezza (13-4) was second at 113, while seniors Reese Martin (Neuqua Valley, 17-1) and Justin Brown (14-3) of Grant were second overall, as was Dzhabrail Khurshidov (West Aurora, 20-3) at 195.