Maine West's Bellizzi 4th, Barrington's Shonhoster 5th at state finals
CHAMPAIGN -- A big crowd at State Farm Center was thrilled by several high tension, exciting finals at the 82nd state wrestling championships Saturday night.
Abe Assad of Glenbard North would avenge his 2-1 loss to Jon Halverson (Maine South) in spectacular fashion to win his second straight title, while Trevor Chumbley (Marmion Academy) and Riley Palm from Carmel Catholic both celebrated second-straight state titles.
After Marcus Hartman of Barrington won a state title a year ago for the Northwest suburbs, nobody would follow in the footsteps of the Broncos' superstar, but there still were a few good stories to share when the action came to a close.
Jake Bellizzi (31-9) would earn the highest honors of all from the Northwest suburbs when the Maine West senior gave his storied program its 20th state medal in its history after his fourth-place finish at 220 pounds.
The last to do so was Joey Vogeney in 2015, Bellizzi's rookie season, which at the time broke a streak of 11 years after Tim Paulsen's 2004 title at heavyweight.
"Yes, I was in the room when Joey was a senior and finally, in my third year here, I was able to bring home a state medal for the program and myself," said a proud Bellizzi, who will play football next fall at Illinois State University.
Bellizzi would persevere in a weight class that had one big-time man after another all throughout his bracket, including eventual state champion Ramin Abraham, who finished a glorious career at Evanston at 52-0 after his 4-3 win over Lake Park senior DeMarco Lee.
"It seemed like I had one rival from the CSL after another to beat during the postseason, especially here at state," admitted Bellizzi, whose major decision over Glenbrook North senior Trent Williams sent him into the third-place bout with Brady Fisher of Yorkville.
Bellizzi lost to Abraham (7-3) in his semifinal on Friday, the third time he's fallen to the Wildkits' big man, including the regional final three weeks ago.
"This was a great way to finish my career, and it's something that I feel very proud of, thanks to my teammates and coaching staff," Bellizzi said.
Barrington junior Dayven Shinhoster finished one spot behind Bellizzi, in what would be an impressive first trip downstate for the Broncos' rookie 195-pounder.
"For a guy who loves football first and wrestling next, his season was just amazing and especially at a weight like the one he competed in," said Broncos Dave Udchik. "He gave us a real physical presence at the top of our lineup along with another state qualifier, Jack Hartman (182, 37-11), and we're expecting more from both of those guys next year during the regular season and a trip back downstate.
Udchik will get his men ready for their dual-team sectional semifinal at McHenry on Tuesday against Libertyville.
Jack Lingle (Schaumburg, 32-10) and Luke Rasmussen made it into the final day of the tournament, however both Mid-Suburban League stars were unable to clear that final hurdle to reach the top six on the state podium.
Lingle, here for the third time, was eliminated one victory short when Kevin Countryman (Providence Catholic, 41-11) recorded a hard fought 3-2 decision over the Saxons (32-10) senior.
Lingle made it downstate as a freshman, saw his chances the next year end to an injury, before bouncing back to earn a spot in the 16-man field a year ago.
The 2019 MSL and regional champ lost his tourney opener to eventual state runner-up Fidel Mayora (Montini Catholic) but then won his next two before the loss to Countryman.
The remarkable junior campaign of Rasmussen came to an abrupt end when Tommy Schroeder (St. Charles East) registered a pin just 71 seconds into his medal qualifying contest.
Schroeder would go on to claim third-place honors, while the Broncos' best man was left to dream of what might have been.
"Luke was having a real tough time after he lost, but I said to him to remember how it feels right now, and how he never wants that feeling next year," said Udchik. "Luke had a great year gaining immediate recognition when he beat 2018 state runner-up Brad Gross early on and never really looking back until this weekend."
Rasmussen was around the top spot at 160 all season long, turning a 14-win season a year ago into an astounding 43-win year, which saw the three-year veteran record 10 consecutive pins to start the postseason.
"Luke was a great captain, and I fully expect him to make another major jump in his game for his senior year," said Udchik.
Everything cannot be always be measured in wins, losses and state medals, and when you look at what Brian Morel has done this past month, you can appreciate this suggestion.
The Fremd senior fell one victory short of a state medal on Saturday, but it was not for lack of effort by the Vikings' star, whose work rate, ability to stay the course of the game plan devised by coach Jeff Keske saw him win a high percentage of close bouts.
Morel won a pair of tight bouts in his semifinal matches at the MSL meet and regional tourneys to stay alive, but delivered some spectacular results at sectionals to get downstate.
He opened with a 2-1 thriller in overtime, then twice more, including a tense win in his state qualifier.
Once in Champaign, Morel (30-16) was at it again, keeping high scoring opponents under wraps, recording a 3-2 winner to stay alive in wrestlebacks before Brady Fisher of Yorkville ended his run.
"Brian was the consummate worker and wrestler, and one who bought into our system, and put all of his trust in his coaches, who we are all very proud of," said Keske.