Nine from Antioch headed to Champaign
The drama and emotions were very high Saturday as wrestlers faced off at the powerful Class 2A Deerfield sectional.
With three of the top five teams competing in this individual sectional, No. 4-ranked Antioch knew it was going to have to be at its best in order to get as many wrestlers down to the 83rd Annual IHSA state meet as possible beginning Thursday in Champaign.
After setting a school record with seven individuals reaching the state meet last year, the Sequoits did themselves two better this time around as they will have a whopping nine individuals competing at the State Farm Center. The top four individuals in each class qualified for state.
Antioch's squad has been on fire since winning the powerful Lake County meet three weeks ago. And the Sequoits continued their dominant trend Saturday with four wrestlers going to the finals, and five wrestlers reaching the third-place match.
"The kids have worked hard all year, they've bought into our program, and I'm happy for them because it's another steppingstone to get our goal and their goals," said Antioch coach Wilbur Borrero, whose team should reach the Elite Eight for the sixth time since 2010 in two weeks.
"We've put ourselves in a position to compete, and the goal is to bring another trophy home and have the kids wrestle well."
Competing in Class 2A for the first time, Cary-Grove was impressive with five individual state qualifiers while Fox Valley Conference rival Crystal Lake South will have four wrestlers headed downstate.
CLS defending state champ Christian Olsen (27-3) rolled to the 113-pound title with a 12-0 major decision.
"It feels great, but it's just another step towards the big goal, and you have to take one step at a time," said Olsen, who also placed fourth in the state as a freshman. "I just need to remember to keep wrestling six minutes, and I can't make it any bigger than it is."
Cary-Grove 160-pounder Brad Peters, and 220-pound teammate Joe Swanson both took second to highlight the Trojans' big day.
"We looked really good, they wrestled the best they have all year, and they're building off each other," said Cary-Grove coach Will Peterson. "It's a tough sectional, nothing comes easy, and everything is earned, that's for sure."
Led by No. 1-ranked junior Adrien Cramer (35-1) winning the 182-pound crown, Grayslake Central will also have four individuals competing in the fabled state tourney next week. Besides former state champ Alex Cramer, the Cramer wrestling family will have yet another individual heading to state as surprise freshman Aaron Cramer placed fourth at 152.
"He (Aaron Cramer) wrestled well the whole tournament, and he picked up the pace against the competition in the regionals and sectionals," said Grayslake Central coach Matt Joseph. "I think staying focused, staying within himself, and not trying to do too much will be keys (for Adrien Cramer) at state."
No. 1-ranked Marian Central dominated the sectional field, including Elon Rodriguez posting a 5-0 decision over Antioch standout Alex Barbarise (40-2) for first at 120.
Other second-place finishers were CLS's Amador Castro (106), Grayslake North's Jake Jozwiak (126), Antioch's Danny McPherson (132), Grayslake Central's Joey Jens (170), Antioch's Niall Schoenfelder (195), and Carmel Catholic's Vince Swindell (two-time state qualifier), who dropped a 3-1 decision to CLS's Peyton Timmons (34-4 at 145) in the finals.
The Gators were very strong in the finals as Shane Moran (24-3) edged Fenton's Daniel Ramirez 3-2 for the 152-pound title. Fenton's Quinn Wilcoxen (30-7) closed out the meet with a pin in 1:13 over Antioch's Max Ness.
"He (Swindell) has done a nice job, it's hard to repeat in anything, and he put together a good sectional tournament," said Carmel coach Bob Kuykendall. "He avenged a loss he had earlier to a kid from Notre Dame with an overtime win in the semifinals."
Third-place medalists were Antioch's Caleb Nobiling (106), Antioch's Anthony Streib (113), Antioch's Luke Menzies (126), Cary-Grove's Charlie Gruen (132), Antioch's Eli Reyes (138), Antioch's Devin Nobiling (152), Lakes' Kurtis Smith (170), and Cary-Grove's Isaac Rands (182).
"He (Smith) lost to a two-time state champ from Marian Central 9-6 in the semifinals, and it's all heart for him," said Lakes coach Jack Troesch. "Ever since he was a kid he wanted to be on the podium. He's beaten the best of the best, and he's hung with the best of the best this season."
Fourth-place finishers were Grayslake North's Alex Castiglia (113), Grayslake Central's Jayson Weidman (120), Cary-Grove's Colin Suyko (126), Grayslake North's Nick Kozanecki (138), and Lakes' Isaiah Perrin (285).