Yorkville captures championship at its own Class 3A Regional

By Chris Walker – for the IWCOA

A year ago, Yorkville made the two-hour drive to Moline to begin its postseason journey.

On Saturday, the Foxes barely had to leave the comfort of their own homes. 

The Foxes stayed at home in Yorkville where they took charge of the IHSA Class 3A Yorkville Regional, sending nine wrestlers to the finals and coming away with five champions, four second-place finishes and three more third-place winners. They will send 12 wrestlers to the Quincy Sectional.

“Coming into this, these guys knew our goal is not to just win a regional title, it’s to make the state finals,” said Yorkville coach Jake Oster. “It starts with wrestling well at regionals, and these guys taking care of themselves takes care of the team. 

The Foxes went 18-7 last season and finished in fourth place in Class 3A after losing in the third-place match to the school that Oster attended and where he won a Class AA title at 112 in 2004, Lockport Township. The dual meet was historic since it was the first time that two brothers had teams who met in the IHSA Dual Team finals. The Porters are coached by Jameson Oster. 

“Now they can focus on that for the next couple weeks and aspirations for state titles and state place winners, and then we’ve got the other guys continuing training with us and we’ll focus on that team sectional and ultimately team state. Right now is a little bit of a focus on individuals.”

Yorkville (245) was followed by Moline (175) and Oswego (171). Plainfield North (112.5) was fourth, Plainfield East (69) and Plainfield South (69) tied for fifth and were followed by Plainfield Central (59), United Township (58) and Oswego East (45).

Coach Jacob Ruettiger’s second-place Moline Maroons had three champions, two runner-ups and a pair of third-place finishes to give them seven qualifiers for the Quincy Sectional.

Oswego was outscored by Moline but produced the second-most sectional qualifiers at the regional with eight wrestlers moving on. That includes three champs, three second-place finishers and two others who won their third-place matches.

“All these guys here wrestle year round,” Panthers coach Andrew Cook said. “We run our own Freestyle Greco program and go all summer and we took a trip to Florida this summer and the majority of all these guys wrestling today were on those trips.”

Cook recognizes the gains his kids have made and has support to back it up by official results.

“We flipped a lot of matches today that we lost early in the year and that’s great,” he said. “It’s great to see that progress and we want to be wrestling at our best at the end of the year. I wouldn’t say we wrestled our best, but we were pretty close, you know what I mean, it’s great.”

Plainfield North had five sectional qualifiers, including three who won third-place matches. Plainfield East advanced four individuals, which also included three third-place finishers.  Plainfield Central and Plainfield South each had two individuals advance from the Yorkville Regional while Oswego East and United Township had one sectional qualifier apiece. 

Here’s a look at the champions and weight classes at the Class 3A Yorkville Regional:

106 – Collin Ledbetter, Moline 

In his postseason debut, Moline freshman Collin Ledbetter (20-3) knocked off another Quad Cities freshman in United Township’s Blake Trickey (29-6) by a 10-3 decision for the 106 title.

Yorkville sophomore Ramsey Barton (9-12) earned a 12-4 major decision against Plainfield North freshman Tristen Garbis (14-12) to take third place and advance to sectional competition.

113 – Maddox Garbis, Plainfield North

Essentially trapped at home a few years ago during the pandemic, Maddox Garbis was looking for something to do.

“We were trapped up in Covid and my dad used to wrestle and my dad’s friend said Maddox should wrestle,” he said. “I had nothing better to do so I just started to do it and started to like it and got decent so I stuck with it.”

The Plainfield North junior has not only stuck to it, but quickly become one of the best wrestlers at his weight in the state, improving to 38-3 with an 8-6 decision over Oswego senior Jonathan Theodor (32-7) for the 113 regional title.

“I feel the score doesn’t really tell how I wrestled,” Garbis said. “I’ve wrestled him like eight times in the past so we know each other. I’ve never lost to him but he’s a great competitor.”

Unlike many of his peers who began wrestling not long after learning how to walk, Garbis is still a relative newcomer. Despite that, he went 42-5 last season and took sixth at 106 in Class 3A.

“I started wrestling my freshmen year, so I’m three and a half years in,” he said. “Freshman year I was new and didn’t know much but I wrestled varsity but was a small 106. Last year I got to state, placed sixth and this year I’m just trying to do more.”

Garbis jumped on Theodor and built a cushion.

“I was up 6-0 and then I turned him and gave up a reversal,” he said. “I’ve been working on the mental side of the sport because I get in my head a lot so I’ve been working on that with (a coach) and just been thinking before matches.”

Garbis said he wasn’t very good at baseball so making the transition to something new like wrestling proved to be a wise choice and now he’s reaping multiple benefits, including a regional title.

“I wasn’t too good at baseball but I got decent at wrestling so I’ve kept doing it,” he said. “What I like about wrestling is the reward for working hard and getting what you want and the friends I’ve made. I’ve made friends across the state, it’s awesome.”

Yorkville sophomore Liam Fenoglio (22-17) scored a 10-6 decision to defeat Moline freshman Housseyn Ndiaye (12-17) to capture third place.

120 – Aiden Villar, Plainfield East

During a championship featuring a pair of Southwest Prairie Conference athletes who share the same first name, Plainfield East senior Aiden Villar (31-8) won 6-0 over Oswego sophomore Aiden Ortiz (24-18). Villar won 34 matches a year ago but couldn’t advance out of the sectional. 

Yet another individual with the same first name, albeit spelled differently, took third place at 120 as Plainfield North sophomore Aidan Durell (27-17) earned a 13-6 decision over Yorkville freshman Daniel Martino.

126 – Nathan Craft, Yorkville

As a freshman a year ago, Nathan Craft wrestled at 120 at regionals but did not advance. On Saturday, Yorkville’s Craft (26-20) prevailed 5-3 over Moline sophomore Dominick Diaz (10-7) to become a regional champion for the first time.

“I put in a lot of hard work in practice and offseason work,’ Craft said.  “I’m glad it paid off.”

The hard work that he’s put in has helped craft the sophomore into a champion.

“We have a lot of great kids in the room working hard,” he said. “I’m just working hard in practice and now have more confidence in my shots.”

He’s also confident that the Foxes can make a run in the state team competition this winter.

“I think we have a good chance of placing big downstate this year,” he said. “Hopefully we can get into the finals and that team stuff will take care of itself.”

For third place, Oswego junior Vincent Manfre (25-16) won by fall over Plainfield South senior Rocco Silva (18-16), who fell one win shy of a state trip last season.

132 – Dominic Recchia, Yorkville 

Yorkville’s Dominic Recchia (27-14) stayed composed to win a battle between juniors for the 132 title, scoring a 14-3 major decision victory over Moline’s Kayden Serrano (24-18)

“I just stayed focused, stayed calm, didn’t panic, and kind of did my thing,” Recchia said. “I slowed my pace down and when I needed to get in shots I got them, and obviously had a nice cradle that got me back points so ended up working well for me.”

Staying committed to the sport and getting better each day has made a big difference.

“The more work you put in the better you’re going to get always,” he said. “I think that’s pretty much what I’ve done this whole offseason. I’ve been putting in a lot of work, hit the gym and that’s why I’m at where I’m at right now.”

Even if Recchia came up short in his title match, there’s a good chance that the frustration of a difficult loss would’ve ultimately helped him as long as he used the experience to get better as he has when he’s come up short previously, like last season when he won 32 matches but came up a bit shy of a trip to the state finals.

“It’s definitely frustrating when you have that finals match, that match you know you can win, and you don’t ,” he said. “it’s definitely frustrating. It’s more fuel added to that fire and motivates you for that next week.:

Plainfield East sophomore Camden McCloskey (29-10) won by fall in 2:59 against United Township sophomore Xavier Marolf (29-12) for third place.

138 – Brayden Swanson, Oswego

What transpired a year ago in the regionals provided 100 percent pure motivation that it wouldn’t happen again for Oswego’s Brayden Swanson during his junior year.

“(Last year) I got caught really early in the tournament and I had to wrestle my whole way back,” Swanson explained. “It was a super hard bracket. I wrestled the number-six kid in the state and if I won I would’ve had to go against the number-two (kid in the state). Here it motivated me to be in the first-second place match. I’ve worked hard all week. I’ve been working on bottom and top.”

He’s been putting in the work and seeing it pay off like it did when Swanson (29-7) edged Yorkville freshman Donovan Rosauer 3-2 for the 138 title.

“I’ve been working all year for this moment,” Swanson said. “I just wanted to be doing better than I did last year without getting stuck in stupid positions and winning good matches like that, so it was really cool.”

It was the third time Swanson and Rosauer went toe-to-toe. Swanson won 2-0 during their first meeting while Rosauer (30-14) won by the same score when the two last met. 

“I love wrestling kids like that,” Swanson said. “You get the competition and the work in and it gives you something to work towards and to be better at.”

Swanson was able to get into such an ideal position by his commitment to be a wrestler today more than he was just a year ago.

“Last year I got caught, I felt the moment was too big for me last year so sometimes I just crumbled under pressure,” he said. “I talked all year, me and my dad, if you want to go achieve something you got to speak it first. I  had to put in the work, time, a lot of cutting weight, but all in all I was just working toward getting better.”

Plainfield North sophomore Luke Grindstaff (26-16) earned a 3-1 decision over Plainfield Central senior Gavin Enders (27-9) for third place.

144 – Dominick Coronado, Yorkville 

Coming back from a shoulder injury, Yorkville’s Dominick Coronado (26-4) won a 6-1 decision over Plainfield Central junior Matthias Hautzinger (21-8) for the title at 144.

“I had similar results when I wrestled him before,” Coronado said. “I’m coming back from a shoulder injury and just working hard to punch my ticket to state.”

It’s a special time for Coronado as a senior.

“This puts me in a good place,” he said. “I’ve been wrestling for 10 years now so I know the swing of things, but it feels great. I’m going to enjoy this moment and come back next week.”

He’s looking to finish his high school wrestling journey strongly with his fellow Foxes that he’s gotten so close to over the years because of the sport.

“I grew up with most of these guys and have known a lot of them for 10-plus years so we have a strong bond in the wrestling room,” he said. “High school goes by so fast, you know, I didn’t believe people when they told me that that high school would catch up to you so it really does. I’m just going to enjoy the moments.”

Moline senior Bradley Ledbetter (25-17) earned a 6-5 decision to defeat Oswego sophomore Dillon Griffin (29-15) in the third-place match at 144.

150 – Jack Ferguson, Yorkville

On January 20, Yorkville’s Jack Ferguson pinned Oswego East’s Noah DeMarco in 2:42 during the Southwest Prairie Conference Tournament in Joliet.

On Saturday, junior Ferguson (38-10) repeated that, but in less time, winning by fall in 2:42 against senior DeMarco (35-8) to win the 150 title.

“I dominated him on top at conference last week and knew it was going to be the case today,” Ferguson said. “I knew if I got to my stuff I would be good.”

He certainly was able to get to his stuff. Last year, he went 42-13 and fell one win shy of winning a 3A medal at 132.

“Anything can happen, but we wrestle all these tough tournaments all year and I think that prepares us for the state series,” Ferguson said. “When you are facing good guys you got to have your head in it to compete and be in the match, that sets us up to succeed here.”

His fellow Foxes push him so he can make a push towards getting to the top of the award stand regardless of the tournament.

“It starts in the room where we push each other and battle everyday,” Ferguson said. “It’s good knowing you’re going to have good partners here and going to wrestle someone good in the rooms everyday,”

In the third-place match featuring two juniors, Oswego’s Ethan Essick (29-11) captured a 12-5 decision over Moline’ Jack Sibley (23-19).

157 – Zander Ealy, Moline

Moline’s Zander Ealy (37-5) earned a hard-fought 5-3 decision over Yorkville junior Ryder Janeczko (16-9), who was a state qualifier in 2023, to capture the regional title at 157.

“I think a lot of it was me staying focused and worrying about me,” Ealy said. “I think a lot of guys here get wrapped up in what their opponent is going to do so they lose sight of taking control of the match themselves so I think what is really important out here, staying in control.”

Ealy, who’s a senior, has certainly stayed busy while controlling his time in a positive way, finding a way to balance being a three-sport athlete while maintaining excellent grades.

“It’s really enjoyable to play multiple sports and I don’t like getting stuck at one thing for too long,” he said. “So being able to split it up into three I’m able to enjoy it all. I get to be around a lot of different people in the school. I have different groups of friends so it’s nice.”

Ealy wrapped up the football season as a two-way player for a 3-5 Maroons squad this fall. After he finishes up his wrestling season he’ll transition over to track and field. Ealy played baseball his first two years at Moline before a shoulder injury inspired him to switch sports.

“I think a lot of people nowadays lose sight of how playing multiple sports actually helps you with every single one,” he said. “It gets different parts of my body strong for other sports which is very helpful.”

He has made the decision to pursue football in college over his other sports.

“If I’m being honest I don’t want to cut weight anymore,” he laughed. “That’s where I’m at, and football is a little shorter of a season, and in college I’m going to study a pretty hard major so I want to be able to balance my academics and sports and feel football would be easier to do with that than wrestling.”

Ealy plans on studying biomedical engineering and pursue a career in prosthetics. He credits having a father who is a teacher and other family members in the medical field for helping him focus on his ambitions.

“It’s really a big dream of mine to work on prosthetics and help people out,” he said. “My dream would be working with kids, helping them get prosthetics, especially as an athlete giving a kid an arm, giving him an opportunity to play that sport with that arm or working with the military, with someone who maybe lost a leg would be pretty cool. The human body is capable of doing some awesome things and I want to be able to help people out.”

Plainfield East senior Niko Duggan (40-3) rebounded from a loss by fall in the quarterfinals to Plainfield South sophomore Chase Pierceall (25-10) in the quarterfinals to take third place by beating him by fall in the third place match. Pierceall, who subsequently lost a 7-4 decision to Janeczko in the semifinals, was pinned by Duggan in 1:26 on the third-place mat.

165 – Joey Griffin, Oswego

Donning Pringles pajama bottoms could be seen as a bit cruel for those struggling with weight, but Oswego’s Joey Griffin was all smiles in his post-performance pants after a 7-0 victory against Yorkville sophomore Caleb Viscogliosi (23-13) for the 165 title.

“At the beginning of the season cutting weight can be difficult but once I get it down, I’m pretty good at maintaining it,” he said. “I started at 190 and cut it down throughout the season. At most I’m 169 before practice and afterwards I’m like 165. It’s good now. I eat three meals a day and drink a lot of water. Some people struggle with it more than others.”

Griffin (41-4) has struggled with very little during his junior season, including an opponent like Viscogliosi who he’s rather familiar with these days.

“We’ve known each other forever,” Griffin said, “We used to go to the same club. I just had to keep the pace up and keep him down and that’s all there was to it.”

Plainfield East senior Jerry Nino (31-6) earned a 9-1 major decision over Moline sophomore Jaxson Soliz (13-18) to take third place.

175 – Luke Zook, Yorkville

Luke Zook (41-4), the last of Yorkville’s five regional champions on the day, scored a 15-6 major decision over Oswego senior Colin O’Grady (30-10) to take the title at 175.

Zook, a junior who went 47-9 last season and took third at 170 in the IHSA Class 3A Finals, won his only other match in the semifinals with a fall in 0:56 over United Township’s Alex Long.

Moline sophomore Deanthony Simpson (26-15) won a 4-0 decision over Plainfield North sophomore Jack Nowicki for third place.

190 – James Soliz, Moline

There’s no train from Moline to Yorkville, but Moline’s James Soliz (33-9) is riding one that’s a stop away from another trip to state after winning a 3-2 decision over Plainfield North senior Leonardo Tovar (39-4) in the 190 title match. A year ago, Tovar went 48-9 and took third place in Class 3A at 220.

“It was a tough match,” Soliz said. “I wrestled all six minutes and I wrestled smart, stayed in good position.

This is the fourth year that Soliz has advanced to the sectional. Last year, he qualified for state and finished with a 41-10 record.

“I’m rolling off a conference title and trying to keep the train rolling all the way to state,” Soliz said. “We’ve all been working very hard and it shows. We had a lot of people in placing matches and they wrestled all six minutes. No one got pinned in the place matches.

“I think I’ve grown a lot over the years. Thinking about it, this is my last year so why not leave it all out on the mat?”

Yorkville junior Luke Chrisse (28-14) got a pin in 0:58 over Plainfield Central sophomore Ty Sabin (16-15) to win the third-place match.

215 – Matt Janiak, Plainfield South

One of the most exciting final matches featured a pair of seniors who were 2023 IHSA Class 3A medalists, Plainfield South’s Matt Janiak, who went 37-9 and placed sixth at 195 a year ago and also took sixth at 170 in 2022, and Yorkville’s Ben Alvarez, won went 42-8 and won the championship at 220 in 2023.

The two met at the Southwest Prairie Conference Tournament and Alvarez won 2-1 on a tiebreaker to win the title. On Saturday, it was Janiak’s turn and he captured a 7-3 decision to win the regional title at 215.

Janiak hopes to follow in the footsteps of his sister, Alexis, who won a title at the inaugural IHSA Finals in 2022, to become the first Cougars wrestler to win an IHSA championship. She’s currently ranked among the nation’s best while competing for Aurora University and has a long an impressive resume in national competitions.

“He’s a good friend of mine so definitely the respect goes both ways,” Janiak said. “I’ve known him forever but never really wrestled because he was always heavier, but now we’re in the same weight class and have been able to meet a couple of times.”

The difference this time according to Janiak was his ability to wrestle to his advantage.

“I was definitely able to wrestle my style instead of going into his style of wrestling this time,” Janiak said. “I changed it up to constantly be in his face and constantly shoot him to get him a little unwired so I felt like I was successful with that.”

Janiak made sure to not just review film of his prior match against Alvarez.

“It comes down to practice and watching the film,” he said. “Watching it, I could tell I wasn’t wrestling as myself, I was kind of going down to how he wanted to wrestle.”

Knowing his opponent, who is someone he considers a friend, is nothing new for Janiak to cope with when he heads into battle.

“So I’ve wrestled friends all over the years and it happens often,” he said. “Yeah, sure it’s your friend but once you get in that tournament zone you both know to turn it on and say we’re not friends right now and the second it’s over, it’s congrats, love you, you’re still my buddy.”

As fierce of competitor as Janiak is, he doesn’t lose sight that he has a common bond with his opponent.

“Wrestling is such a degrading sport,” he said “In reality, it’s hard, so you respect everybody that does it because you know they’re going through the same stuff that you’re going through.”

Plainfield Central junior Anthony Minnito (28-6) captured a 5-3 decision over Oswego East senior Josh Edwards (31-11) to claim third place.

285 – Brodie Slou, Oswego 

Last year while wrestling at 215 for Oswego in the Marmion Academy Regional, Brodie Slou got pinned twice in in the opening-period of his two marches.

Those losses simply turned into fuel to inspire Slou (24-16) this season. Today he’s a regional champ at 285. The junior won a nail-biter against Plainfield South junior Ian Portillo (20-20), getting a 4-2 win by sudden victory.

“We wrestled for fifth place at conference and it was 1-0 so I knew it was going to be another tough match,” Slou said. “I only had like nine wins last year so it was a rough year, so to win my regional feels great. I’ve got to give credit to my practice partners for being there every day and for my coaches, they are very good about pushing me and they know what I can do and they helped me see that this year.”

Slou attempted to push Portillo out of the circle.

“I was looking to try to push him out of the circle try to get the act of stalking points but I got hit when up one and had to work and then just ran out of time,” he said. “I ended up getting that move off at the end. It felt good.”

The hard work in a year’s time most certainly paid off in Slou’s case.

“This reassures myself for putting in all this hard work,” he said, “To see it pay off is really exciting to see,”

For third place, Plainfield North sophomore Liam Corona (16-17) won by fall in 3:49 over Plainfield East freshman Xavier Casey.

Championship matches for the Class 3A Yorkville Regional

106 – Collin Ledbetter (Moline) D 10-3 Blake Trickey (United Township)

113 – Maddox Garbis (Plainfield North) D 8-6 Jonathan Theodor (Oswego)

120 – Aiden Villar (Plainfield East) D 6-0 Aiden Ortiz (Oswego)

126 – Nathan Craft (Yorkville) D 5-3 Dominick Diaz (Moline)

132 – Dominic Recchia (Yorkville) MD 14-3 Kayden Serrano (Moline)

138 – Brayden Swanson (Oswego) D 3-2 Donovan Rosauer (Yorkville)

144 – Dominick Coronado (Yorkville) D 6-1 Matthias Hautzinger (Plainfield Central)

150 – Jack Ferguson (Yorkville) F 2:42 Noah DeMarco (Oswego East)

157 – Zander Ealy (Moline) D 5-3 Ryder Janeczko (Yorkville)

165 – Joey Griffin (Oswego) D 7-0 Caleb Viscogliosi (Yorkville)

175 – Luke Zook (Yorkville) MD 15-6 Colin O’Grady (Oswego)

190 – James Soliz (Moline) D 3-2 Leonardo Tovar (Plainfield North)

215 – Matt Janiak (Plainfield South) D 7-3 Ben Alvarez (Yorkville)

285 – Brodie Slou (Oswego) SV 4-2 Ian Portillo (Plainfield South)

Third-place matches for the Class 3A Yorkville Regional

106 – Ramsey Barton (Yorkville) MD 12-4 Tristen Garbis (Plainfield North)

113 – Liam Fenoglio (Yorkville) D 10-6 Housseyn Ndiaye (Moline)

120 – Aidan Durell (Plainfield North) D 13-6 Daniel Martino (Yorkville)

126 – Vincent Manfre (Oswego) F 2:00 Rocco Silva (Plainfield South)

132 – Camden McCloskey (Plainfield East) F 2:59 Xavier Marolf (United Township)

138 – Luke Grindstaff (Plainfield North) D 3-1 Gavin Enders (Plainfield Central)

144 – Bradley Ledbetter (Moline) d 6-5 Dillon Griffin (Oswego)

150 – Ethan Essick (Oswego) D 12-5 Jack Sibley (Moline)

157 – Niko Duggan (Plainfield East) F 1:26 Chase Pierceall (Plainfield South)

165 – Jerry Nino (Plainfield East) MD 9-1 Jaxson Soliz (Moline)

175 – Deanthony Simpson (Moline) D 4-0 Jack Nowicki (Plainfield North)

190 – Luke Chrisse (Yorkville) F 0:58 Ty Sabin (Plainfield Central)

215 – Anthony Minnito (Plainfield Central) D 5-3 Josh Edwards (Oswego East)

285 – Liam Corona (Plainfield North) F 3:49 Xavier Casey (Plainfield East) 

Team scores for the Class 3A Yorkville Regional

1. Yorkville 245, 2. Moline 175, 3. Oswego 171, 4. Plainfield North 112.5, 5. Plainfield East 69, 5. Plainfield South 69, 7. Plainfield Central 59, 8. United Township 58, 9. Oswego East 45.

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