Article Source Written by: By Mike Garofola – Daily Herald Correspondent
With the team trophy firmly in control of Lyons Township midway through the Ed Ewoldt Invitational, all the attention turned toward winning an individual title.
West Chicago big men Miguel Rodriguez and Ryan Hannah ended the day at Wheaton-Warrenville South on a high note by claiming the top prize at 220 and 285 pounds respectively, joining teammate Pierre Baldwin to give the Wildcats three overall titles.
Lyons Township would squash the competition, outscoring runner-up Lincoln-Way East by 57 points (224.5 to 167.5) and third place Dixon (154).
Downers Grove North (131.5), led by 106-pound champion Kai Tacadena, and Oak Lawn (130) would round out the top five.
Rodriguez and Hannah were both magnificent on Saturday, Rodriguez stunning returning state qualifier and top seed Charlie Milligan (Waubonsie Valley) in the semifinals, before recording a 4-1 decision over No. 3 seed Justin Thomas (Homewood-Flossmoor) in his 220-pound final.
“It feels great to come in here (unseeded) and walking out as the champion in my weight class,” said Rodriguez. “I’m lucky to have a great partner in the room with (Hannah) — a big body guy who pushes me around, who is both athletic and tough — and there’s no doubt he’ll get me ready for the postseason, which I cannot wait for.”
Rodriguez, who went 33-10 a year ago, had the misfortune of being in one wicked 220-pound division at sectionals — a division which produced the top four state medal winners in Champaign.
“I was still just one win from going downstate, so I kind of have a chip on my shoulder in my senior year,” admitted Rodriguez.
Hannah (16-1) was unstoppable at 285, dominating his final with Brian Smith of Homewood-Flossmoor en route to a 14-4 major decision victory.
“I feel like everything is beginning to come together for me,” said Hannah, a junior who is also a three sport star (football, baseball) and a returning sectional qualifier.
Baldwin (12-2) used a takedown just after the opening whistle to fuel his pin of Roberto Castro (Downers Grove North, 19-4) at 3:05 in his 113-pound final.
“I wanted to have a fast start in my final, set up my shots, and be quick with my feet to finish off points,” said Baldwin, a two-year starter.
Tacadena, who was second at the Ewoldt last season, had no intention of having that happen to him this time around.
“I wanted to prove to myself that I could win a tournament championship because last year I didn’t think I was as tough as I should be in big matches,” said the North junior, now 17-5.
Ian Huff (Maine West, 10-5) turned in a first class effort in his semifinal to advance into the finals, where the Warriors’ senior ran into the highflying Lyons Township senior Jimmy Ruston, who was impressive in their 138-pound final.
“I was so nervous heading into my semifinal (I mean) really nervous, but after that wild second period scramble, I settled down and wrestled with a lot more confidence,” said Huff of his 9-1 semifinal victory.
Alex Young would rebound from his heartbreaking 7-5 defeat in the semifinals to defeat crosstown rival Eric Santana (Elgin, 14-5) to claim third place at 145 pounds.ADVERTISING
The Larkin junior took a 5-4 lead against Paul Cozzo (Lyons Township) with 24 seconds left in regulation but conceded a one-point penalty at nine seconds to send the contest into overtime. Once there, Cozzi would register a two-point reversal with three seconds to go.
“I lost my focus when I was hit with that penalty for stalling,” admitted Young (13-2), who is 100% healthy after offseason shoulder surgery.