Wauconda snares Tom Dubois title at Richmond-Burton

By Bobby Narang for the IWCOA

The 2023 Tom Dubois varsity wrestling meet was a must-see event on Saturday at Richmond-Burton High School.

Tucked away in the northern portion of the state, just a few miles away from hoops haven Hebron and a 10-minute drive to the Wisconsin border, this year’s version of the Tom Dubois featured some of the top wrestlers from area high schools all aiming to make a memorable mark early in December.

One team, in particular, had Dec. 9 circled as a key testing ground: Wauconda.

The Class 2A school had not won the prestigious meet in several years, according to Wauconda coach Trevor Jauch.

The Bulldogs came into the season with high expectations, mainly due to a strong group of returnees along with some promising newcomers. That potential showed on Saturday.

The Bulldogs cruised to the team title, compiling 210 points to blow past second-place Hampshire (166.5), Crystal Lake South (147), Jacobs (142) and host Richmond-Burton (136). Wheaton Academy just missed the top-five cut, finishing with 120 points for sixth place. Johnsburg placed seventh (79), Lake Forest took eighth (71), while Grayslake North (65) and Marengo (58) rounded out the top 10 teams in the 18-team field.

The Bulldogs placed third last season.

“I can’t remember the last time we won (this meet),” Jauch said, smiling. “Our team is starting to come together. We had a good showing at the Barrington tournament, where we took fifth, the highest Class 2A team. We are starting to wrestle finally how we want to wrestle. We didn’t hold onto leads and try to put on more points. Our guys are starting to buy into scoring points.

“Gavin Rockey had a great tournament, so did Nate Randall. Both put a lot of points up on the board. They both got the job done. Nick Cheshier lost his finals match, but he wrestled a good tournament. Cole Porten also wrestled well. We had several strong performances up and down the lineup. Freshman Brian Hart took third at 132 but he could’ve easily been at the top of the podium. At 190, Mike Merevick is starting to turn some heads as well. He’s starting to put things together.”

Hampshire coach Matthew Todd also had reason to smile, but due to some other factors. While Todd was being interviewed following Saturday’s meet, several of his wrestlers had some fun trying to distract him.
“We had some consistency from our wrestlers,” Todd said. “They all showed up and did the work they needed to do and were aggressive. That’s been our mantra all year, just being aggressive and going after it. At 285, Joey Ochoa did very well for us. At 138, Logan Campbell did very well in his first tournament of the year. Our freshman at 190, Carter Hintz, stepped up and showed he could do very well. He’s a big freshman. It was another great tournament. We’re excited about what the next one holds for us.”
Richmond-Burton’s Emmett Nelson earned the Outstanding Wrestler Award for the lower weights by winning the 144-pound weight class, while Crystal Lake South’s Andy Burburija claimed the award at the upper weights.

Tom Dubois championship match breakdowns:

106 – Gavin Rockey, Wauconda

Wauconda’s Gavin Rockey (11-1) had to work for his title, ending a long and arduous match with a 15-2 major-decision victory over Jacobs’ Kristian Declercq in the title match.
“I just pushed the pace a lot today,” Rockey said. “I was trying to push the pace after the Barrington tournament. It was a lot slower out there at Barrington. I just realized I had to open up and push the pace. My coach talked about going out there strong.”
Rockey, a junior, said he’s aiming to top last season’s run, when he finished in second place at the Class 2A meet at 106. Rockey finished with a 29-6 record last season, losing to Grayslake Central’s Anthony Alanis in the state championship match.
“I feel pretty good right now,” Rockey said. “I definitely want to win state this year.”
Crystal Lake South’s Christopher Talbert won by fall in the third-place mat against Wheaton Academy’s Buckley Kazmierczak.

113 – Eric Bush, Johnsburg

Eric Bush was part of a strong wave of freshmen wrestlers who shined at Richmond-Burton. After a strong showing in junior high school, Bush continues to showcase his vast potential early in his career. He recorded a workmanlike 6-0 decision over Lake Forest’s Charlie Biddle to win the title at 113 pounds.

“I feel good about today,” Bush said. “I had to work hard in the finals. He was a tough kid. I felt strong and pretty good in the match. I worked hard from last year, but I know I still have to put in extra work to get better.”

In the third-place match, Hampshire sophomore Lou Jensen posted a 13-5 major-decision victory over Jacobs’ Anthony Martinez.

120 – Nate Randle, Wauconda

Sophomore Nate Randle played a big part in helping the Bulldogs pick up some early momentum with his 18-6 major-decision conquest over Jacobs’ Ben Arbotante in the title mat.

“The key for me was practicing my attacks,” Randle said. “Lately, I’ve been scared in my matches. My second match was my best match. I got through most of my attacks. I know if I get through most of my attacks, I can win now.”

Randle said he was happy to play a major role in his team capturing the title, especially since he missed last season’s Tom Dubois meet due to an injury. Randle is coming off a big first season wrestling, when he placed second at 113 pounds in Class 2A. He recorded a 31-9 record last season, losing a close 3-2 decision to Chatham Glenwood’s Drew Davis in the title match.

Randle said he’s slowly rounding himself into top form.

“It feels great,” Randle said. “I was out only a week and a half last year, but it was during this time. I kept thinking I could’ve won this tournament and help our team win it, so this feels great.”
Richmond-Burton’s Clay Madula knocked off Hampshire’s Andrew Salmeiri via a pin in the first period to take third place.

126 – Lincoln Hoger, Wheaton Academy

Lincoln Hoger gained a major confidence builder with a tough victory over Wauconda’s Lucas Galdine in the title match.

“I kept pushing through in the hard moments and didn’t give up when I was down,” Hoger said, a sophomore.

Also a lacrosse player, Hoger (12-3) said he didn’t have a highlight match but was happy with his consistency throughout Saturday’s difficult meet.

“I started the season a little bit slow, but it’s been picking up every day in practice and it keeps getting better,” Hoger said.

North Boone junior Gavin Ekberg pinned Richmond-Burton’s Kyan Gunderson for the third-place medal.

132 – Will Hupke, Wheaton Academy

Senior Will Hupke pinned Jacobs senior Antuan Barfield for the championship at 132 to improve his record on the season to 7-2. Hupke had a big cut under his left eye, but said the injury occurred on Tuesday.

“My eye didn’t bother me,” Hupke said, cracking a smile.

Hupke said he’s healthy and primed for a big push in the next few months.“I felt I wrestled really well on top and worked my stuff and worked my angles,” Hupke said. “I feel excited since we’re nearing the middle of the season. I’m excited for the rest of the season.”Freshman Brian Hart, of Wauconda, defeated Crystal Lake South’s Devyn Carrillo for third place.

138 – Cooper Daun, Wauconda

Wauconda senior Cooper Daun cruised to a 13-6 win over Hampshire’s Logan Campbell to win the championship at 138 pounds.

Daun said he’s a perfect 3-for-3 in picking up titles at the Dubois.

“It feels good to win,” Daun said. “I just tried to score as many points as possible. Everybody on the team wanted to just put on a show. My first match felt good, so that started me going. It was a good day. I need to finish my takedowns more and just be more aggressive.”

Crystal Lake South’s Brockton Miller, a sophomore, earned an 8-1 decision over Wheaton Academy’s Oscar Smith.

144 – Emmett Nelson, Richmond-Burton

Richmond-Burton junior Emmett Nelson received a big round of applause for his showing at the medal stand, helping the home team pick up some key points. Nelson pinned Wauconda senior Logan Andrews to win the 144-pound title.

Nelson made a splash on the mat – and off the mat. He donned a big wig on the podium to celebrate his big day.

“I had to get it, and now wear it to every meet,” he said. “I got a good pace going today. I don’t like low scoring matches. It’s boring to watch, so I try and score as many points as I can. I really wanted to see what I could do in my finals match and see how many points I could score. I have to keep my conditioning and confidence up. It’s huge to win here.”

Wheaton Academy sophomore Tyler Jones won by fall over Johnsburg senior Erik Bate for third place.

150 – Cole Porten, Wauconda

Wauconda senior Cole Porten (13-2) rolled to the title in his weight class, ending with a 9-1 major-decision over Wheaton Academy junior Chasen Kazmierczak in the title match. Porten was so focused on his matches that he joked that he couldn’t remember the reasons for his success, especially so soon after his finals victory.

“I felt really good about today,” Porten said. “I don’t know yet what I’m happy about. I’m still figuring that out. I’m just going to keep watching film.”

Richmond-Burton senior Isaac Jones claimed an 8-4 win over Rockford Auburn junior Arshoun Island on the third-place mat.

157 – Seth Digby, Lake Forest

One of the best and most anticipated matches took place at 157 pounds. Lake Forest senior Seth Digby and Wauconda senior Nick Cheshier hooked up for a must-see match on Mat 1. Digby (11-0) kept his record spotless with a 7-5 decision over Cheshier (11-2).

But Digby had a small bloody gash over his left eye.

“That just keeps coming back,” Digby said of the blood mark over his eye.
Digby was intense in his title match, even keeping a determined attitude following the victory.
“I felt good in that title match,” Digby said. “I put in a lot of work in the offseason, preseason and in the season. I feel all that hard work is starting to pay off. I just tried to remind myself that I’m working harder than all my opponents.

“I have to keep working hard, and maybe work on some top. Overall, I feel great. The weight cut hasn’t been too bad. I’ve been able to manage it well.”

Grayslake North junior Jacob Ronsman won by fall over Jacobs senior Casey Lechuga on the third-place mat.

165 – Brady Brewick, Genoa-Kingston

A few minutes after Digby won his weight class, Genoa-Kingston senior Brady Brewick took a different approach to his title win at 165. He celebrated with a his family, taking in a few hugs and smiles from his teammates to cherish the milestone.

Brewick, a senior who also plays football, pinned Hampshire’s Michael Brannigan to claim the title at 165.
“I felt good out there in the last match,” he said. “I felt I was dominating the whole match even though it was low scoring in the first period. I knew once I controlled my ties and took over that I was going to win my match. I’m feeling great so far. I took a rough loss in my first meet of the season. I’ve been working hard since that. It pushed me hard. I knew I was better than that.

Brewick, who said he rarely leaves the field in football, is excited about his senior wrestling season after missing most of last season with an injury.

“I worked really hard in the offseason,” he said. “I had a couple of weeks before the start of wrestling after football ended. My goal this year is to win a state championship. I lost in the blood round in sectionals last year, so I’m motivated. I was out about five weeks last year but came back a week before regionals. It feels great to be healthy. I feel at the top of my game, seeing some good progress with some more stuff to improve on.”

Johnsburg freshman Duke Mays snared an 8-4 win over Jacobs’ Daniel Mendez in the third-place bout.

175 – Kaden Combs, Woodstock North

Woodstock North senior Kaden Combs cruised to a 7-2 win over Crystal Lake South senior Caden Casimino in the 175-pound title match. Combs (15-1) is off to solid start, ending his day with a momentum-building win.

Hampshire junior Aidan Rowells won by a 7-2 major decision against Jacobs sophomore Johnny Strauss in the third-place match.

190 – Carter Hintz, Hampshire

Hampshire freshman Carter Hintz is living up to his potential. A tall and strong wrestler, Hintz pinned Richmond-Burton senior Alex Reyna for the 190-pound title. Hintz (12-3) said he didn’t have any projections for Saturday’s last match, taking a see-how-it-goes approach.

“I just tried hard and wrestled hard,” Hintz said. “The last match was probably my best one. I kind of went in doubting myself, so I kind of surprised myself. I don’t even know why (I doubted myself). I knew he was a tough wrestler.”

Wauconda junior Mike Merevick won by fall in the third-place mat against Rockford Auburn’s Joshua Nabors.

215 – Dominic Ariola, Crystal Lake South

Crystal Lake South senior Dominic Ariola remained somewhat shocked by his performance on Saturday, even after receiving his first-place medal at 215 pounds. Ariola celebrated his pin victory over Rockford Jefferson’s Karlondo Dubois with a memorable celebration.

“I just kept working hard and pushed through and mentally stayed focused the whole time,” Ariola said. “This feels great. I’ve come a long way. I’ve put in a lot of hard work. I’m glad it paid off.”

Ariola (9-2) admitted he was shocked by his stellar day.

“I had a good first-round matchup and had a solid match in my first match to go up,” Ariola said. “I didn’t have any expectations for today, so it felt great to place number one. Now, I’m trying to get down to sectionals and state.”

At third place, Lake Forest sophomore Yaree Sandifer (13-5) won via pin over Richmond-Burton freshman Breckin Campbell.

285 – Andy Burburija, Crystal Lake South

Crystal Lake South senior Andy Burburija wrapped up a long day and a solid day – for himself – by pinning Hampshire senior Joey Ochoa in the 285 final. Burburija (9-0), who plays on the offensive and defensive lines in football, said he was happy to end his day with a title.

“He was good on his feet, but it was finals, so I just took my time and see if my shot was there,” Burburija said. “I felt pretty good in all of my matches today. I can’t believe it’s almost the middle of December so far. It’s gone so fast.”

Durand senior Domani Orto (9-1) closed out his day by pinning Grayslake North freshman Anthony Metzel in the third-place bout.

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Tom Dubois championship match results:

106 – Gavin Rockey (Wauconda) 15-2 MD Kristian Declercq (Jacobs)

113 – Eric Bush (Johnsburg) D 6-0 Charlie Biddle (Lake Forest)

120 – Nate Randle (Wauconda) 18-6 MD Ben Arbotante (Jacobs)

126 – Lincoln Hoger (Wheaton Academy) SV-1 7-5 Lucas Galdine (Wauconda)

132 – Will Hupke (Wheaton Academy) F 0:45 Antuan Barfield (Jacobs)

138 – Cooper Daun (Wauconda) D 13-6 Logan Campbell (Hampshire)

144 – Emmett Nelson (Richmond-Burton) F 3:31 Logan Andrews (Wauconda)

150 – Cole Porten (Wauconda) MD 9-1 Chasen Kazmierczak (Wheaton Academy)

157 – Seth Digby (Lake Forest) D 7-5 Nick Cheshier (Wauconda)

165 – Brady Brewick (Genoa-Kingston) F 3:07 Michael Brannigan (Hampshire)

175 – Kaden Combs (Woodstock North), D 7-2 Caden Casimino (Crystal Lake South)

190 – Carter Hintz (Hampshire) F 1:47 Alex Reyna (Richmond-Burton)

215 – Dominic Ariola (Crystal Lake South) F 5:08 Karlondo Dubois (Rockford Jefferson)

285 – Andy Burburija (Crystal Lake South) F. 3:55 Joey Ochoa (Hampshire)

Final team scores: 1. Wauconda (210) 2. Hampshire (166.5) 3. Crystal Lake South (147) 4. Jacobs (142) 5. Richmond-Burton (136) 6. Wheaton Academy (120) 7. Johnsburg (79) 8. Lake Forest (71) 9. Grayslake North (65) 10. Marengo (58) 11. Genoa-Kingston (49) 12. Auburn (47) 13. Jefferson (42) 14. Woodstock (39) 15. Durand (34.5) 16. North Boone (33) 17. Woodstock North (29.5) 18. Winnebago (14).

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