West Aurora wins title at Minooka Thanksgiving Throwdown

By Curt Herron – For the IWCOA

MINOOKA – After being involved in several historic moments for West Aurora girls wrestling, Brittney Moran and Ionicca Rivera are hoping that the program’s third season proves to be the charm, and based on their team’s debut on Wednesday, the 2023-24 campaign could be very memorable.

The Blackhawks opened the season for both girls and boys wrestlers on Wednesday by easily capturing top honors at the inaugural Minooka Thanksgiving Throwdown, a tournament that featured 21 varsity teams in addition to 23 junior-varsity teams.

West Aurora won the championship in the varsity competition by a 194-114 margin over the hosts. Huntley took third place with 111.5 points while Hoffman Estates edged Geneseo 102-99 for fourth. Yorkville (91), Lockport Township (89), the District 230 co-op of Andrew, Carl Sandburg and Stagg (85), Plainfield Central (68), Morris (59), Ottawa Township (57), Curie (51) and Larkin (51), East Aurora (46), Glenbard North (46), Macomb (46) and Bolingbrook (45) were next.

The Blackhawks received titles from Kameyah Young (110) and Moran (190) and second-place showings from Janelly Gutierrez (100), Laolonie Molina (120) and Aiyanah Sylvester (125). Taking third place were Michelle Obasa (155) and Rivera (170) while Allina Williams (130) finished fourth and Giselle Marin-Carrasco (140) and Kymber Hall (145) both took sixth place. Luciana Dominguez (115) also competed in the varsity tournament for the champions. 

It was quite an improvement for the program, which placed eighth in two late-season invitationals last season, finishing 81 points behind East Aurora at Batavia and 151 points in back of Minooka at Oak Park and River Forest. 

Moran and Rivera have the distinction of reaching the title matches at the inaugural Illinois girls tournament at Normal Community in 2021 and later that season, Moran took sixth at 190 in the IHSA Finals while Rivera fell one win shy of placing at 170. But Rivera had some consolation since her sister, Dyani, reached the championship mat at 145 and placed second. And both took sixth at the 2023 finals, in the same weight classes that they competed in the first tournament. Young is a new addition, having competed at crosstown rival East Aurora for the past two seasons and she placed fourth at state at 100 in 2023.

In Blackhawks coach Charlie Graves’ view, the pair as well as other returnees, are largely responsible for increasing the program’s size from the three state qualifiers in 2022 to the 30 individuals who competed at both levels in Wednesday’s competition.

“We have 30-plus girls on the team, and I owe a lot to the girls who were returning, who did the recruiting for the team,” Graves said. “I think they enjoyed themselves last year and they really came together. It’s not about wins and losses, it’s about coming together and learning some mental and physical discipline and really having fun by learning how to win and learning how to lose.

“A lot of them are beginners, but if they come to practice ready to go, they can be pretty successful. Today was the first time that I saw so much support for one another. And it wasn’t just our team, it was everybody, and it’s very refreshing to see. It shows a lot of the sportsmanship that these girls have and they’re best friends, whether they get beat by pin or win by one. 

“I just want to make sure that they know how to win and how to lose and do it respectively. And also make sure that they appreciate the referees and the coaches that put in the time, and I think that that’s important.”

Hoffman Estates and Lockport Township also had two champions with Emmylina O’Brien (135) and Abby Ji (140) winning consecutive titles for the Hawks while the Porters received first-place finishes from Liz Ramirez (120) and Claudia Heeney (130).

Glenbard North’s Gabby Gomez (115), a two-time defending IHSA champion, and Plainfield Central’s Alicia Tucker (170), a 2023 IHSA title winner, were two of the other eight first-place finishers, who all received hats looking like turkeys for their accomplishment.

Beside Heeney, two others who have placed second at state, Curie’s Aaliyah Grandberry (235), a two-time IHSA runner-up at 235, and Yorkville’s Yamilet Aguirre (125), a 2023 IHSA finalist at 120, also captured titles. 

Huntley’s Janiah Slaughter (105), who took third at 100 in the 2023 IHSA Finals, and District 230’s Alyssa Keane (145), who placed third at 135 at last year’s IHSA Finals, also claimed first-place finishes. The other two champions were Geneseo’s Molly Snyder (100) and Minooka’s Abbey Boersma (155).

Leading the way in team points with 30 were Heeney, Ramirez and Tucker while Aguirre, Boersma, Gomez, Keane, Moran and O’Brien all had 28 points, Young had 27, Slaughter had 26.5 and Ji and Snyder each scored 26 team points.

Huntley had three second-place finishers, Taylor Casey (110), Aubrie Rohrbacher (130) and Jessica Olson (140). Taking second for Ottawa Township were Ava Weatherford (135) and Juliana Thrush (235) while Macomb got second-place finishes from Kelly Ladd (145) and Sifa Feruzi (170).

Others who took second place were Romeoville’s Josefina Orozco (105), Plainfield Central’s Courtni Chuway (115), East Aurora’s Jordan Smith (155) and District 230’s Janae Vargas (190).

Morris had three third-place finishers, Ella McDonnell (115), Ellie Evans (120) and Morgan Congo (190) while Minooka had two individuals who took third, Beth Castro (140) and Bella Cyrkiel (145).

Others who took third place were Curie’s Evelin Martinez (100), Romeoville’s Daniela Santander (105), Metea Valley’s Ashley Basmajian (110), Lockport Township’s Lucy Madrigal (125), Glenbard North’s Keagan Edwards (130), Seneca’s Sammie Griesen (135) and District 230’s Emma Akpan (235).

Here’s a breakdown of the champions and the weight classes

100 – Molly Snyder, Geneseo

Although Molly Snyder may be fairly new to wrestling, she has a good knowledge of the sport after watching her brother Jack compete for successful Geneseo teams and now is determined to see what she can accomplish.

The Maple Leafs freshman, who is in her second season of competition, claimed the title at 100 by recording a fall in 1:12 over West Aurora’s Janelly Gutierrez in the finals. She won all three of her matches with first-period falls and each of her wins was quicker than the previous one. She was the lone individual from coach Carley Rusk’s team to reach the title mat.

“It feels really good, being a freshman and in my second year of wrestling,” Snyder said. “I’ve learned a lot from all of my coaches. And we had over 20 girls so it’s growing a lot. I’m really excited for this year with all of the girls and I hope that some of us can go to state this year. My brother (Jack) wrestled all of his life and I’ve always watched him wrestling, and then I heard that they were starting a girls team. After wrestling for one year, it’s my favorite sport already. It feels great to step on the mat and to win.”

Gutierrez had first-minute falls in her first two matches before getting pinned in the finals. The third- and fifth-place matches also ended in the first period as Curie’s Evelin Martinez defeated Hoffman Estates’ Amari Gibson for third and Yorkville’s Kayleigh Shannon beat Minooka’s Kiley Adelmann for fifth place.

105 – Janiah Slaughter, Huntley

After enjoying a successful freshman season where she went 27-5 and took third place at 100 in the IHSA Finals to become Huntley’s first state medalist, Janiah Slaughter has a much bigger goal on her mind for 2023-24 and that’s becoming a state champion.

On a day when coach Gannon Kosowski’s Red Raiders advanced four individuals to the title mat, she was their lone champion. And Slaughter, who also plays football, took top honors at 105 in impressive fashion, capturing wins by technical fall in all three of her matches, collecting 80 match points and capping the event with a 26-9 victory over Romeoville’s Josefina Orozco.

“Last year I didn’t come for bronze, I came for gold and I fell short of my goal,” Slaughter said. “This year, I’m coming back after training all season and been doing two sports at once and I’ve been trying to reach my goal of being a state champ at 105. The family, the environment and the group that we have and the support that you get is unbelievable and it’s one of the reasons why I’m doing so good.”

Orozco, who was the lone finalist for coach John Arlis’ Spartans, won her first three matches by fall to reach the title mat. She was joined on the 105 awards stand by teammate Daniela Santander, who took third place with a pin over Yorkville’s Danielle Turner. Morris’ Maggie Gordon claimed fifth place with a 10-6 decision over Curie’s Giselle Arambula.

110 – Kameyah Young, West Aurora

Following a successful two years at East Aurora where she qualified for the first two IHSA finals and finished 32-4 after falling to Huntley’s Janiah Slaughter in the third-place match at 100 in 2023, Kameyah Young decided to compete for the Tomcats’ rival, West Aurora.

In her debut with the Blackhawks, the junior helped coach Charlie Graves’ team to top honors by 80 points over the hosts after becoming the first of her squad’s two champions, with Brittany Moran the other at 190. Following a win by major decision in her opener, she recorded two falls before rallying with two three-point near falls in the final period to win the 110 title 13-9 over Huntley’s Taylor Casey.

“I knew that I had to come back and that I had to step up my game,” Young said. “I feel like I’m working hard, especially with my cousin (Aiyanah Sylvester) and I wrestling together. East is still good, I just needed a change of scenery. It’s fun here, it’s different, but it’s nice.”

Casey, a senior who went 23-9 a year ago and made her second trip to state, was one of the Red Raiders’ four finalists and one of their two individuals that lost close decisions on the title mat. She won her first two matches by fall to advance to the finals. Metea Valley’s Ashley Basmajian took third place with a fall over Larkin’s Ashley Hammond and Lockport Township’s Averi Colella finished fifth after getting a pin over Hoffman Estates’ Gwendolynn Ridley.

115 – Gabby Gomez, Glenbard North

Following a successful offseason, Gabby Gomez sets her sights on accomplishing what three others, Angelina Cassioppi, Cadence Diduch and Sydney Perry, also seek to do this season, and that’s becoming the first three-time IHSA champions.

The Glenbard North junior, who went 33-0 last year to take first at 115 after going 12-0 and winning the title at 105 in 2022, continued her winning ways and was the lone champion for coach Chris Edwards’ Panthers after winning all four of her matches by technical fall, collecting 104 match points. Gomez claimed a 24-9 triumph over Plainfield Central’s Courtni Chuway in the 115 finals.

“This year we have a bigger team, so I have 15 girls on my team supporting me and I get to support them,” Gomez said. “Freshman year, I had nobody really cheering for me, and this year I have teammates so I’m helping them learn and they’re helping me to learn to teach them how to wrestle. This sport is really growing and I like to see the new competition because girls are getting better and they’re getting stronger and are getting faster, and I like that. Seeing a lot of these girls picking this as their first sport is crazy. Wrestling makes it feel like a community and a family and what I really like about the sport is that a lot of the girls are right on top of the mat and cheering, and you don’t see that with the guys. Illinois is really stepping up with the girls programs and hopefully in a couple of years it will be Freestyle. A lot of the girls in the finals went to Fargo, so they want that competition. Hopefully all of these girls will be on the National team again and we can bring some more Fargo titles home.”

Chuway, a senior who was a state qualifier who finished 15-9 a year ago, joined 170 champion Alicia Tucker as finalists for coach Terry Kubski’s Wildcats. She won her first two matches by fall before advancing to the title match with a 12-4 major decision. Morris senior Ella McDonnell, who went 33-13 and placed fourth at 110 in 2023 and also finished fourth at 105 in 2022 at the IHSA Finals, took third place with a first-period fall over Ottawa Township’s Kailee Lane. And Bolingbrook’s Alejandra Flores finished fifth after winning by technical fall over Metea Valley’s Uliana Shevtsova.

120 – Liz Ramirez, Lockport Township

A year ago, Liz Ramirez joined Claudia Heeney as the first two individuals from Lockport Township to win 30 or more matches as both made their state debuts. After seeing practice partner Heeney cap a 42-1 season with a runner-up finish at 125 in the IHSA Finals, Ramirez hopes to improve upon a 33-10 campaign and also become her school’s second state placewinner to cap her senior season.

The pair started off the current season on a good note as they both won titles for coach Nathaniel Roth’s squad, joining West Aurora and Hoffman Estates as the only teams with multiple champions. Ramirez took top honors at 120 after recording a fall in 3:11 over West Aurora’s Laolonie Molina. Ramirez, who’s in her third season in the sport, recorded three first-period falls, including two in less than a minute, to reach the title mat. That allowed her to tie 130 champion Heeney and the 170 title winner, Plainfield Central’s Alicia Tucker, with the most team points with 30.

“I just want to get better,” Ramirez said. “All summer I went to club and I went to offseason training just to get better. Now I have a bit more experience with takedowns because Freestyle is all takedowns and understanding that getting a good set up and a nice shot off. And working with my practice partners, like Claudia, is a big help. It’s huge, especially with her experience. Even at club, there weren’t a lot of girls so I had to work with guys and they had more experience than me so they told me what I could do better to improve. I really try to put in the effort, not miss practice and do work on the side. And I watch videos and that helps me to understand. (Being at Lockport) It does help because they are so knowledgeable. I can go to any one of the coaches, and even my teammates, and they’ll know.”

Molina, one of five finalists for coach Charlie Graves’ champion Blackhawks, reached the finals after recording two falls. Morris’ Ellie Evans pinned Bolingbrook’s Samara Hood to claim third place while Larkin’s Tina Ebrahimi won by fall over Romeoville’s Jesslynne Ochoa to finish in fifth place.

125 – Yamilet Aguirre, Yorkville

Yamilet Aguirre has been a part of a lot of history during her career at Yorkville. She joined teammate Natasha Markoutsis as one of the first champions at a girls-only invite at Normal Community in 2021 and then went 29-4 and took fourth at 115 at the inaugural IHSA Finals while her senior teammate Markoutsis won the 125 championship. 

After finishing 37-4 last season and placing second to Hononegah’s Angelina Cassioppi in the IHSA Finals at 120 to become the initial two-time medal winner and also the second state finalist for the Foxes, Aguirre hopes to close out her senior season in style. She’s off to an impressive start after recording three straight pins to capture the championship at 125 after recording a fall in 2:57 over West Aurora’s Aiyanah Sylverster in the title match, the top showing for coach Kevin Roth’s team during the competition.

“This is definitely super exciting,” Aguirre said. “I love seeing the sport grow more and a lot of tough girls are coming in, so it’s progressively getting harder. It’s definitely been a big jump from going from just two girls my first year to almost 20. It’s great to see and a lot of the girls are learning fast. I’m going to be a force to be reckoned with this year.”

Sylvester, who was one of five finalists and three second-place finishers for the champion Blackhawks, advanced to the title mat after recording three first-period falls. Lockport Township’s Lucy Madrigal claimed third place with a 6-1 decision over East Aurora’s Valentina Barboza while Geneseo’s Lydia King finished in fifth place after getting a pin over Minooka’s Kira Cailteux.

130 – Claudia Heeney, Lockport Township

Last season, Lockport Township freshman Claudia Heeney caught everyones’ attention after recording victories in her initial 42 matches to assure herself of becoming her school’s first medal winner before falling to Freeport’s Cadence Diduch in the championship match at 125 in the IHSA Finals in a showdown of unbeaten competitors. 

As Heeney embarks on her second season for coach Nathaniel Roth’s Porters, she hopes to again post an impressive record while taking the next step and capturing her first state title. The sophomore got off to a great start after recording a fall in 3:13 over Huntley’s Aubrie Rohrbacher in the 130 title match after winning her first three matches with first-period falls. Heeney joined teammate and 120 champion Liz Ramirez as well as Plainfield Central’s 170 title winner, Alicia Tucker, with a tournament-high 30 team points.

“I really do like the competition,” Heeney said. “We have a lot of good girls in Illinois and it certainly is fun to just go out there and get it. It’s very individualized, so everybody has their own accomplishments, and I think that’s what is beautiful about it, you have nobody else to depend on but yourself. (Lockport Township’s coaches) They do push the bar very high and they have high expectations. It’s really fun to be part of a program where everyone is pushing each other and everybody wants each other to do well. I definitely love the program. I feel like the difference between this year and last year is definitely numbers and the girls are getting a lot more talented. So it really is fun to see the sport grow.”

Rohrbacher, a sophomore who finished 30-7 last season and fell one win shy of earning a medal at 125 at the IHSA Finals, was one of four finalists and three runner-ups for coach Gannon Kosowski’s Red Raiders after winning by fall in her first two matches. Glenbard North’s Keagan Edwards took third place after recording a fall over West Aurora’s Allina Williams and Geneseo’s Bella Curcuru placed fifth after getting a pin over Metea Valley’s Isabel Rangel.

135 – Emmylina O’Brien, Hoffman Estates

Emmylina O’Brien hopes that the third time’s the charm as the Hoffman Estates senior looks to place at the IHSA Finals for the first time in 2024 after going 29-9 last season and 17-5 the year before, qualifying for appearances in the IHSA Finals on both occasions.

O’Brien captured top honors at 135 and teammate Abby Ji followed with a title at 140, making coach Leo Clark’s Hawks one of three teams in the invite with two champions, joining West Aurora and Lockport Township in that regard. O’Brien recorded a fall in 1:19 over Ottawa Township’s Ava Weatherford on the title mat, her third opening-period pin in her three matches.

“I would love to step foot on that (the awards stand) since just being a state qualifier is not enough any more,” O’Brien said. “I crave more and I’ve got to get more. Things have progressed fast, amazingly and beautifully, but it took so much work. I started off wrestling boys with no girls on the team, especially when COVID-19 was big. So to see this all happen and me and (Abby Ji) were qualifiers in the inaugural state tournament. It’s been very emotional, but also amazing. It went from us being a little girls team with the boys program and now we’re trying to expand it. We’re our own girls team now. We’ve had a state placer, Sophia Ball, and she is definitely supposed to come back.”

Weatherford, the first of two Pirates to reach the title mat, recorded two first-period falls to advance to the finals. Seneca sophomore Sammie Griesen, who went 24-15 and fell one win shy of a medal at 130 last season at state, claimed third place with a fall over Geneseo’s Grace Schilling. And Minooka’s Eva Beck took fifth place after recording a pin over Plainfield Central’s Miah Banda.

140 – Abby Ji, Hoffman Estates

Following in the footsteps of her teammate Emmylina O’Brien, who took top honors at 135, Abby Ji claimed the championship at 140 to give the Hawks two title winners, a feat that was only achieved by champion West Aurora and by Lockport Township. The Hawks junior hung on to capture a 4-3 victory over Huntley’s Jessica Olson in the 140 championship match.

Ji, who went 33-8 and fell one win shy of a medal at 130 in the 2023 IHSA Finals and also qualified for state in 2022 when she went 18-6, recorded two first-period falls to earn her spot on the title mat, which was the closest of the three championships determined by decisions.

“I started off at a good time in my freshman year since we had a team that was strong,” Ji said. “We had a lot of people who were just starting out that year so it’s really nice seeing them joining me and then growing to where we are now and what we are. Now we’re to the point where we don’t want to be just a program any more, we want to be an actual team, and that’s what we’re working toward, and I’m glad to be a part of the working steps to it. Our new girls look up to us older girls and we’re glad that we can set the example for them. We set the bar in practice and they watch us in practice and they follow our lead. So we’re glad that we can build a strong team.”

Olson, one of four finalists for Huntley, had first-period falls in her first match and in the semifinals and also captured a 5-3 decision in the quarterfinals over Bolingbrook’s Katie Ramirez-Quintero. In the third-place match, Minooka’s Beth Castro won by fall over District 230’s Lana Shuaibi. And senior Ramirez-Quintero, who went 17-3 a year ago and qualified for state and 13-5 in 2022 when she finished  sixth at 130 in the IHSA Finals to become the Raiders’ first medal winner, claimed fifth with a fall over West Aurora’s Giselle Marin-Carrasco.

145 – Alyssa Keane, District 230 (Andrew)

At the 2023 IHSA Finals, Alyssa Keane and Kelly Ladd met in the consolation semifinals at 135 to see who would advance to the third-place match and who would compete for fifth. The two met again in the 145 finals and just as was the case in Bloomington, District 230 (Andrew/Carl Sandburg/Stagg) co-op’s Keane defeated Macomb’s Ladd, but this time it was not by fall but instead a 6-2 decision.

Keane, a junior at Andrew, went 32-5 and placed third at state while Ladd, also a junior, wound up taking sixth place and finished with a 32-8 record. Keane is the highest of three placewinners for District 230 at state while Ladd became her school’s first medal winner. Both also qualified for state in 2022. Keane, the lone champion for the co-op team and one of two finalists, reached the title mat with three falls.

“I went to Nationals for preseason and I was kind of a little rusty, but after those practices, I’ve just come back and built everything back up,” Keane said. “We have a lot bigger team with around 30 girls. And a lot of the girls haven’t been quitting, so we keep adding up after last year when we did decrease a little bit. I feel like I’ve improved a lot, especially this past week. I can definitely wrestle differently in just a matter of a week and just come back and be on top.”

Ladd, who was one two Bombers to reach the finals, also recorded three falls to advance to the title mat. Minooka senior Bella Cyrkiel, who went 28-9 and was a state qualifier last season, took third after recording a fall over Yorkville’s Brooke Coy. And in the fifth-place match, Geneseo senior Gia Ritter, who also was a state qualifier in 2023, claimed a forfeit win over West Aurora’s Kymber Hall.

155 – Abbey Boersma, Minooka

Abbey Boersma made sure that the host school wouldn’t be shut out of an individual champion in the inaugural Thanksgiving Throwdown that they hosted when she recorded a fall in 1:13 over East Aurora’s Jordan Young in the 155 finals.

Although coach Paige Schoolman’s Indians claimed a second-place finish to West Aurora in not only their first tournament but also the initial invitational in girls or boys wrestling in Illinois this season, they only had one individual who advanced to the finals, senior Boersma, who won all three of her matches with pins in the opening period.

“There were a lot of good competitors here and it was exciting to see it was hosted at my own school,” Boersma said. “It’s exciting for me to start off the season this way because I feel like I’m starting off on a good note. There was a lot of good competition here. I’m very excited for the rest of the season because my teammates performed really good, as well.”

Young, who was the lone finalist for coach Ryan Mick’s Tomcats, recorded three falls to reach the title mat. In the third-place match, West Aurora’s Michelle Obasa won by fall over Huntley’s Grecia Garcia. And Yorkville’s Joanna Okunnu claimed fifth place with a pin over Curie’s Daiana Lopez.

170 – Alicia Tucker, Plainfield Central

Alicia Tucker, who joined Gabby Gomez as one of two defending state champions at the inaugural Minooka Thanksgiving Throwdown, turned in a dominating performance as did the Glenbard North junior earlier in the finals which she completed with a win by fall in 2:20 over Macomb’s Sifa Feruzi in the 170 championship match.

Tucker, who capped a 34-2 season in 2022-23 with a 3-1 decision over Moline’s Maryam Ndiaye in the 155 championship match in her inaugural state appearance to also become her school’s first state medal winner, recorded falls in all four of her matches. The junior was the lone champion for coach Terry Kubski’s Wildcats and one of their two finalists. Tucker finished with 30 team points, which tied her with Lockport Township’s Claudia Heeney and Liz Ramirez for the highest totals in that category for the competition.

“I was the first girls state champion at my high school,” Tucker said. “And just throughout the summer, I competed in various tournaments and placed high in those, so I think going to both Folkstyle and Freestyle really helped me for this season. My high school team is growing every year. We had about six or seven and now we have a full team with 10.”

Feruzi, one of two finalists for coach Luke Ladd’s Bombers, recorded two falls to reach the title mat. West Aurora senior Ionicca Rivera, who went 27-7 and took sixth place at 170 in last year’s IHSA Finals and was 20-8 and fell one win shy of a state medal at 170 in 2022, bounced back from her semifinals loss to Tucker to finish third with a fall over Yorkville’s Janiah Murray, her third of the day. Hoffman Estates’ Isabella Chiovari pinned Minooka’s Mia Lemburg to take fifth.

190 – Brittney Moran, West Aurora

Following a sixth-place finish at 190 to cap a 28-5 campaign in 2023 and another sixth-place showing at 190 in the 2022 IHSA Finals to complete a 12-5 debut, Brittney Moran clearly wants to move closer to the top of the awards stand this season. But the West Aurora junior also would like to be a member of a successful team, and she and some of her teammates did something about that and the dividends are clearly already beginning to pay off for them.

Thanks to a push for more team members, West Aurora has gone from three individuals competing in the 2022 sectional to over 30 athletes this season. Coach Charlie Graves’ Blackhawks kicked off the season in impressive fashion by capturing the championship at the Minooka Thanksgiving Throwdown by 80 points over the hosts and Moran was one of its two champions and five finalists. She joined new teammate Kameyah Young as a title winner after recording a  fall in 1:43 over District 230’s Janae Vargas to cap a day where she won all three of her matches with first-period falls to capture the 190 championship.

“I’m really proud of all of the girls that came out,” Moran said. “We have over 30 girls, which we did not expect, and they’ve actually turned this all around. We’re supporting each other mentally and physically and we’re teaching the new varsity girls to be better. We have some girls who are in their first year and they got third place in their first tournament, which is amazing. I feel like us being a leader for the varsity team is just expected. If you see us during practice or after school, we all just push each other.”

Vargas was one of two finalists for District 230, which consists of athletes from Andrew, Carl Sandburg and Stagg. The senior, who went 17-7 last season and fell one win shy of qualifying from the rugged Schaumburg Sectional, advanced to the title mat with three pins in the opening period. Morris’ Morgan Congo edged Larkin’s Kimberly Reyes by a 5-4 decision to capture third place while Geneseo’s AJ Juarez took fifth with a fall over Plainfield Central’s Zyon Jordan.

235 – Aaliyah Grandberry, Curie 

After falling twice in 235 championship matches at the IHSA Finals to Belleville East’s Kiara Ganey, Aaliyah Grandberry has high expectations for her senior season and will be very disappointed if she doesn’t capture a state title to close out her successful high school career. In the process, the standout from Curie hopes to not only become the first state champion from any Chicago school but also the first three-time medalist from one of the Chicago Public Schools.

Grandberry, who went 24-1 last season and suffered her lone loss in the state finals after going 11-1 and doing the same thing in 2022, only had to wrestle two matches to claim the 235 title at the Thanksgiving Throwdown, becoming the lone member of coach Yahya Muhammad’s Condors to win a title and be a finalist. The two individuals she faced also finished in the top eight at state in 2023. She beat Ottawa Township’s Juliana Thrush by fall in 1:01 for the title after capturing an 8-2 semifinals decision over District 230’s Emma Akpan.

“This past summer I’ve been working really hard,” Grandberry said. “I’ve been going to different tournaments. I went to Fargo and I placed fifth. So every bit of training and every tournament, win or lose, I’m going to still keep pushing. We’re (her and Kiara Ganey) like really good friends now, ever since we went to Fargo, we had an automatic bond, regardless of what happened in competition. I’m so happy that there’s been so much growth, especially at my school. We almost have a full lineup of girls and they’re working hard. It’s just so good to see how much the sport has grown because now we’re here until 6:00, like the boys.”

Thrush, who concluded a 20-12 freshman season by losing to Akpan in the third round of the consolation bracket at 235 last year at state, joined teammate Ava Weatherford as finalists for coach Peter Marx’s Pirates. She recorded falls in her first two matches to earn her spot on the title mat. Akpan, a junior who placed sixth at 235 a year ago to cap a 21-8 campaign, claimed third place after capturing a 6-4 decision over Minooka senior Peyton Kueltzo, a two-time state qualifier who went 26-13 a year ago. And in the fifth-place match, Hoffman Estates junior Anjali Gonzalez, who also was a state qualifier who finished 25-11 a year ago, won by fall over another Ottawa Township competitor, Shelby Rank.

Lockport Township wins Minooka Thanksgiving Throwdown J-V title

Lockport Township edged host Minooka 157.5-148 to claim the junior-varsity title at the Minooka Thanksgiving Throwdown on Wednesday. District 230 co-op (Andrew, Carl Sandburg, Stagg) placed third with 141 points, Macomb (114) was fourth, West Aurora (86) took fifth and Geneseo (86) claimed sixth place.

Winning championships for coach Nathaniel Roth’s first-place Porters were Veronica Skibicki (110), Lizzy Rock (120), Kyleigh Green (125), Lydia Chrobak (190) and Rebekah Ramirez (235+).

District 230 received title wins from Tatum De La Vega (105) and Mackenzie Conry (135), champions for East Aurora were Jazmin Vera (140) and Noreidy Ruiz (170) and Macomb got first-place finishes from Makela Mwangong (155) and Avery Lundgren (235). Other title winners were Yorkville’s Analiese Garretson (100), Minooka’s Ava Staley (115), Peotone’s Annie Bergeron (130) and Geneseo’s Lauren Piquard (145).

Minooka Thanksgiving Throwdown team standings

1. West Aurora (194), 2. Minooka (114); 3. Huntley (111.5); 4. Hoffman Estates (102); 5. Geneseo (99); 6. Yorkville (91); 7. Lockport Township (89); 8. District 230 (85); 9. Plainfield Central (68); 10. Morris (59); 11. Ottawa Township (57); 12. Curie (51); 12. Larkin (51); 14. East Aurora (46); 14. Glenbard North (46); 14. Macomb (46); 17. Bolingbrook (45); 18. Metea Valley (41); 19. Romeoville (34); 20. Seneca (19); 21. Plainfield East (0).

Minooka Thanksgiving Throwdown championship matches

100 – Molly Snyder (Geneseo) over Janelly Gutierrez (West Aurora), F 1:12

105 – Janiah Slaughter (Huntley) over Josefina Orozco (Romeoville), TF 26-9

110 – Kameyah Young (West Aurora) over Taylor Casey (Huntley), D 13-9

115 – Gabby Gomez (Glenbard North) over Courtni Chuway (Plainfield Central), TF 24-9

120 – Liz Ramirez (Lockport Township) over Laolonie Molina (West Aurora), F 3:11

125 – Yamilet Aguirre (Yorkville) over Aiyanah Sylvester (West Aurora), F 2:57

130 – Claudia Heeney (Lockport Township) over Aubrie Rohrbacher (Huntley), F 3:13

135 – Emmylina O’Brien (Hoffman Estates) over Ava Weatherford (Ottawa Township), F 1:19

140 – Abby Ji (Hoffman Estates) over Jessica Olson (Huntley), D 4-3

145 – Alyssa Keane (District 230) over Kelly Ladd (Macomb), D 6-2

155 – Abbey Boersma (Minooka) over Jordan Smith (East Aurora), F 1:13

170 – Alicia Tucker (Plainfield Central) over Sifa Feruzi (Macomb), F 2:20

190 – Brittney Moran (West Aurora) over Janae Vargas (District 230), F 1:43

235 – Aaliyah Grandberry (Curie) over Juliana Thrush (Ottawa Township), F 1:01

Minooka Thanksgiving Throwdown third-place matches

100 – Evelin Martinez (Curie) over Amari Gibson (Hoffman Estates), F 1:41

105 – Daniela Santander (Romeoville) over Danielle Turner (Yorkville), F 3:06

110 – Ashley Basmajian (Metea Valley) over Ashley Hammond (Larkin), F 1:24

115 – Ella McDonnell (Morris) over Kailee Lane (Ottawa Township), F 0:38

120 – Ellie Evans (Morris) over Samara Hood (Bolingbrook), F 4:18

125 – Lucy Madrigal (Lockport Township) over Valentina Barboza (East Aurora), D 6-1

130 – Keagan Edwards (Glenbard North) over Allina Williams (West Aurora), F 1:42

135 – Sammie Griesen (Seneca) over Grace Schilling (Geneseo), F 1:24

140 – Beth Castro (Minooka) over Lana Shuaibi (District 230), F 0:48

145 – Bella Cyrkiel (Minooka) over Brooke Coy (Yorkville), F 3:43

155 – Michelle Obasa (West Aurora) over Grecia Garcia (Huntley), F 2:12

170 – Ionicca Rivera (West Aurora) over Janiah Murray (Yorkville), F 1:04

190 – Morgan Congo (Morris) over Kimberly Reyes (Larkin), D 5-4

235 – Emma Akpan (District 230) over Peyton Kueltzo (Minooka), D 6-4

Minooka Thanksgiving Throwdown fifth-place matches

100 – Kayleigh Shannon (Yorkville) over Kiley Adelmann (Minooka), F 0:50

105 – Maggie Gordon (Morris) over Giselle Arambula (Curie), D 10-6

110 – Averi Colella (Lockport Township) over Gwendolynn Ridley (Hoffman Estates), F 2:17

115 – Alejandra Flores (Bolingbrook) over Uliana Shevtsova (Metea Valley), TF 15-0

120 – Tina Ebrahimi (Larkin) over Jesslynne Ochoa (Romeoville), F 2:55

125 – Lydia King (Geneseo) over Kira Cailteux (Minooka), F 1:47

130 – Bella Curcuru (Geneseo) over Isabel Rangel (Metea Valley), F 0:26

135 – Eva Beck (Minooka) over Miah Banda (Plainfield Central), F 3:57

140 – Katie Ramirez-Quintero (Bolingbrook) over Giselle Marin-Carrasco (West Aurora), F 3:24

145 – Gia Ritter (Geneseo) over Kymber Hall (West Aurora), FF

155 – Joanna Okunnu (Yorkville) over Daiana Lopez (Curie), F 0:44

170 – Isabella Chiovari (Hoffman Estates) over Mia Lemburg (Minooka), F 1:29

190 – AJ Juarez (Geneseo) over Zyon Jordan (Plainfield Central), F 2:36

235 – Anjali Gonzalez (Hoffman Estates) over Shelby Rank (Ottawa Township), F 0:50

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