West Aurora claims Upstate Eight championship
Dzhabrail Khurshidov learned his lessons the hard way against Glenbard East 195-pounder Ben Pham.
But the West Aurora sophomore was not about to lose to his Upstate Eight Conference rival for a third time this wrestling season Saturday afternoon at Streamwood High School.
Khurshidov took the lead for good in the championship match with a takedown and solidified his 9-3 victory with a third-period reversal and 3-point near-fall.
The Khurshidov win proved symbolic as well as West Aurora not only matched the four Glenbard East champions on the day but also avenged its only league dual-meet loss of the regular season with a 251-189 triumph at the conference tournament.
Glenbard East won the regular-season title with its 9-0 dual record.
Bartlett and South Elgin were the only other schools to boast champions with three each as the former was third with 182 points.
South Elgin settled for sixth with 107.5 points. Larkin (142 points) was fourth, bettering West Chicago (115.5), the Storm, East Aurora (64.5), Elgin (55), Glenbard South (42) and the host Sabres (25).
Pham bested Khurshidov in the schools' dual as well as in the finals of the Newbill Invitational in Geneva two weeks ago.
"I was watching tape from the match from Geneva this week," Khurshidov said. "(My film study) was 75 percent of why I won. Coaches were pushing me to the max. I made sure to get my offense up front."
Two weight classes later, in the heavyweight championship final, the Blackhawks' Abbas Abdulkadhim took the early lead against South Elgin senior Hayden Grossner only to see the Storm 285-pounder tie the match early in the third.
But Abdulkadhim put the finishing touches on the Blackhawks' tournament championship with a fall with 43 seconds to go.
"In the beginning of the season (Grossner) beat me by 15 points," Abdulkadhim said. "I have been training so hard for the last two months."
West Aurora senior Parrish Watson captured the first individual title for the Blackhawks by turning a scoreless first-period tie against Larkin junior Kevin Reyes into an abbreviated match with a fall at 152 pounds.
"I was just working hard on the top," Watson said. "I was going for the wrists. Once you get the wrists, you just have to keep running to get him on his back."
In perhaps the most entertaining finals match, the Blackhawks' Andre Jones outlasted Larkin junior Deujuan Akins 12-10 with a dramatic final flurry.
Bartlett crowned champions at 113, 126 and 182 pounds.
The Hawks' Jack Oliver, a senior, improved to 32-6 on the season by scoring 5 straight points in double overtime against West Aurora 113-pounder Andrew Tijerina to prevail 10-6.
"To me, it was just about who wanted it more," Oliver said. "My coach (John Glorioso) really got me going. (Tijerina) beat me 5-3 (earlier in the season). I wanted my chance this week."
Paul Kearns and Jacob Cwenar took diametrically opposite approaches to their championships with a hard-fought 5-3 decision at 126 and a second-period fall at 182, respectively.
South Elgin had two of the more improbable champions on the day.
Alex Tornabene entered the tournament a mere match over .500, but the 132-pounder rampaged his way to the championship with a first-period fall.
"I had a tough season starting off," Tornabene said. "When things didn't go my way, I started breaking down. I learned mistakes are going to happen."
Storm sophomore Michael Roath dominated Glenbard East state-ranked 220-pounder Jesus Lopez in the finals with a 13-3 triumph.
"I don't know how it happened," Roath said of the unexpected ease of his championship. "I stayed in position and wrestled off what he did."
South Elgin junior Elijah Lopez won the equivalent of the tournament MVP by escaping the 160-pound championship against Bartlett 29-match winner Trent Johnson with a takedown 38 seconds into overtime of the 160-pound finals.
"I have never done this before," Lopez said.
Glenbard East returning Class 3A state qualifier Reese Martin certainly could have made a case for winning the Outstanding Wrestler Award.
It is only fitting the Rams' senior standout wrestles at 120 pounds.
Martin needed less than that many seconds to romp to the title with first-period falls in the semifinals and finals.
"I have been waiting for this moment," said Martin, who improved to 35-4 on the season. "I lost (the tournament championship) to someone from St. Charles East the last two years. I will still the (Valley) Divisional champion, but I came in with the mindset I couldn't settle for anything less than the championship."
The Rams' Alex Posada was equally masterful at 145 pounds.
Posada is 28-2 on the season after the senior needed 26 and 24 seconds, respectively, to reach the finals.
In the championship against West Aurora 25-match winner Jackson Thullin, Posada employed a series of devastating cradle moves to terminate yet another match, this time a technical fall with 39 seconds remaining in the second period.
"You just have to keep the endurance if you want to keep the momentum going," Posada said of his signature move. "I'm hoping to make a good placing this year (at the state finals)."
Glenbard South had its lone chance to win a first Upstate Eight Tournament championship when Hector Andres advanced in the opening weight class at 106 pounds.
But the Raiders' junior will have to wait a year for another chance after the Rams' Miguel Garcia bulldozed his way to a third-period fall in extending his season record to 34-6.
"I was just trying to stay focused and try not to overwhelm myself," Garcia said. "I was relying on my coaches."
Glenbard East had the only back-to-back champions on the day when Emiliano Garcia, the top seed at 138 pounds, preceded the Posada victory at 145 with the only offensive points -- a pair of takedowns -- in his 5-3 win over Bartlett senior Cody Rivelli.
Salinas was also the only West Chicago athlete to advance to the championship mat.