Aurora Christian sends 5 to state

A week after taking third at the Class 2A Burlington Central regional, the Aurora Christian wrestling team sent four wrestlers to the top of the podium, qualifying five wrestlers for the state tournament out of Saturday's Rochelle sectional.

"We had five finalists, four champs so pretty good," said sophomore Deven Casey, who won the 113-pound title. "We didn't win that regional, we got third, it wasn't what we planned. But we did good as a team here. Five qualifiers for state."

Casey, Josh Vazquez (120), Taya Silva (152), and Braden Hunter (285) won titles, while Pat Mullen (138) was second to round out the qualifiers for the Eagles.

Eagles coach Danny Alcocer said he liked what he saw out of all of his qualifiers. He said Vazquez was aggressive and while Mullen took second he avenged an earlier loss this year to Geneseo's Malaki Jackson.

He said Silva was his usual dominant self, picking up two pins and cruising to a 10-3 win in the title match, showing why he's a senior leader.

"The expectations are high for those guys," Alcocer said. "They performed up to their capability and we expect them to wrestle even better come Champaign."

He said he also like Casey wrestled all day, notching two pins and a tech fall.

"He's really pushing the pace, we like to see that," Alcocer said. "We like to see that early action."

Gabe Simpson took second at 182 for Cary-Grove.

Coach William Petersen it was great to see Simpson make the leap from a first-time,, 500 varsity wrestler to a state qualifier this year.

"This was a huge step for him," Petersen said. "I think there was a lot of his chest when he won that semifinal match and he was going down to state. He was excited for that."

Kaneland and Burlington Central were both shut out of any qualifiers. Caden Grabowski made the consolation semifinals but suffered an injury default and was eliminated, finishing 44-6.

Coach Kenneth Paoli said Grabowski finished his career in the top five in school history in both wins and pins.

"It's heartbreaking because he's a senior, he's a captain, he's the toughest working kid in the room," Paoli said. "To have it end like that was tough to watch. But I'm very proud of him."

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