There were a lot of happy coaches and wrestlers Saturday at the conclusion of the Class 2A Lakes individual sectional.
Five Lake County area squads qualified three individuals apiece for the state meet at State Farm Center in Champaign. The top four finishers in each of the 14 weight classes earned a berth downstate.
Perennial power Montini was the class of the powerful field, as the Broncos had 12 of their 13 sectional qualifiers advance to state meet, which starts Thursday.
Antioch got through three wrestlers, starting with 106-pound senior Briley Schultz.
Schultz (33-4) captured a 5-2 decision over Montini's Jimmy Pawelski in the semifinals before rolling to the championship with a technical fall over Elmwood Park's Marco Padilla.
This will be the third appearance in the state meet for Schultz.
"I'm excited for Briley," Antioch coach Wilbur Borrero said. "I'm hoping that he is focusing on being a state champ."
The Sequoits boasted two freshman qualifiers in 195-pounder George Bessette (third) and 132-pounder Patrick Schoenfelder (fourth). Bessette's father, George Sr., was a state runner-up for Antioch in the 1980s.
"It's nice that we have two freshmen going downstate," Borrero said. "They really have done well all year. George has only lost to state-ranked kids."
Wauconda also will be sending a trio downstate. But 220-pounder Nate Magiera (44-1) no longer has his perfect record intact after losing a 2-point decision in a defensive struggle with Montini's Edgar Ruano (32-4) in the finals.
Magiera will be making his third trip downstate. Senior Alex Schwickrath (third at 182) and freshman Jose Munoz (fourth at 113) will be joining him.
"(Munoz) got beat by (Carmel junior Brodie Palm) earlier this year fairly soundly, and the Carmel kid came up with some sort of a concussion (in first period of consolation semifinal wrestlebacks) and had to forfeit," said Wauconda coach Tom Nance. "That was the third time (Schwickrath) had beaten that kid (Antioch's Julio Ramirez), and it gets harder every time you wrestle somebody."
While Palm had to drop out due to the untimely injury, the Corsairs had a lot of bright spots, including second-place finishers Kenny Barber (126) and Joe Salvi (160). Carmel 138-pounder Anthony Swindell (third) also reached the fabled meet.
"We brought six kids here and three of them got out so I am happy for the kids that made it because they really earned it," said Carmel coach Bob Kuykendall. "They have to keep preparing (for state), and it's the mental part they have to fight through."
Vernon Hills senior Jordan Reich (38-4) had to settle for second place after dropping a 5-2 decision to Montini's Dylan Duncan in the 120-pound finals. Reich placed third in the state at 113 as a junior.
The Cougars will be well represented downstate as juniors Peter Vanderbloomer (126) and Joe Blitstein (285) each finished third. They will be getting their first taste of the pressure-packed meet next weekend.
"(Vanderbloomer) is our team captain and in the last two weeks he's just been improving every match and he believes in himself," said Vernon Hills coach Jerry Micelli. "(Reich) has been here before. He knows what it takes, and it's his time. It was really good (for Blitstein) because last year he got in as an alternate and now he's in."
Grayslake Central was another squad that advanced three individuals. Jonathan Makey pinned his opponent in 1:51 to take third place at 152 and earn his second straight state berth.
Makey will be heading to the State Farm Center along with senior teammates Kurtis Radke, who won a 3-1 overtime decision against Munoz for third at 113, and Jeff Morrow, who placed fourth at 120. Morrow was a two-time state alternate at Elgin before transferring to Grayslake Central this season.
"(Makey) turned it on at the end of the year and he's always been a kid who's turned it on at tournament time," said Grayslake Central coach Dan Catanzaro. "That was a huge accomplishment for (Radke). He's really only a third-year wrestler. Jeff has had a lot of success for us this year and it was huge for him to get over the hump and get downstate this year."
Lakes had four more chances to get individuals to state in the consolation semifinal wrestlebacks. But after going 0-4 in that round, the Eagles had to settle for just 152-pound runner-up Kavan Mulloy heading to the Assembly Hall.
"(Mulloy) is going six minutes every match, and he wanted to go downstate so bad, and he's going," said Lakes coach Mark Stave. "We could have wrestled our style and we let the opposition dictate every match."
St. Viator senior Brandon Suchyta punched his ticket to state with a fourth at 145. Suchyta beat Lakes' Max Hill 8-6 to reach the third-place bout.
"It's been a really great year for Brandon and he just put it all together at the right times," said St. Viator coach Jason Churak. "He came back and beat Max Hill today and that was the guy he lost the regional (crown) to."
Hampshire junior Anton Krocko overcame a 3-1 deficit with 14 seconds left in the third period before beating Johnsburg's Tim Pekovic 7-3 in overtime to reach the third-place match.
Krocko placed fourth (to Schwickrath) to reach state for the second straight year, while 103-pound sophomore teammate Kyle Szlenk also placed fourth to qualify.
"Anton didn't wrestle the best to start the match (against Pekovic), but like they say, it's not how you start the match, it's how you finish," said Hampshire coach Terry Wilkinson. "(Johnsburg) had a great game plan for us, and we had to persevere, and Anton did a great job to get it done. Kyle had a fantastic tournament and Jake (Szlenk) had a fantastic tournament at 113 too."