Wrestling: West Aurora takes 2nd at Southwest Prairie meet ; Kaneland 3rd at I8C
Competition drives wrestlers to be the best fighters they can be, and the Southwest Prairie Conference is proving to be a great place to compete.
On Saturday at Yorkville, the host Foxes, with 471 points, may have repeated as champs, but got a hard fight from runner-up West Aurora (416) and others in the field.
Oswego (375) was third and followed by Joliet West (355) and Plainfield South (349.5) to round out the Top 5.
"We work hard and we're really dedicated to the sport," said Yorkville's Dom Coronado, who won the 138-pound title. "It took us some time to maneuver and go through the obstacles and persevere and get to where we are now. We've got a good group of kids and I think that we will go really far downstate as well."
Jack Ferguson (132), Luke Zook (170) and Ben Alvarez (220) also won titles for the Foxes, who also won the league's regular-season dual championship and repeated as tournament champs.
"I think we are definitely coming close to our goals of being one of the top teams in the state," Zook said. "I think we have a little more work to do, but I think we'll get there very soon."
Alvarez caught a break after his opponent from Plainfield North went down with an injury and couldn't wrestle in the title match.
"We knew we were the favorite and it's been like that the whole season," Alvarez said. "We were pretty good last year, but we know we're a good team in the state now and trying to push the pace and get ready for the state series."
While the Foxes and Blackhawks had the most success in the meet, the conference displayed great parity with eight schools having at least one wrestler crowned a champion.
"This is a really good conference with awesome competition," said West Aurora's Dominic Serio, who knocked off Yorkville's Ryder Janeczko, 14-4, to win at 145 pounds. "It's fun to wrestle here and our team just comes to win. Yorkville is a good team, but we were right up there. The distance from second to third was big and it just shows you how good the top two teams are."
The Blackhawks claimed three titles as Robby Wyland (113) and Noah Quintana (160) also prevailed in hard fought title bouts. Wyland survived Plainfield South's Rudy Silva, 5-2, and Quintana knocked off Plainfield North's Anthony Gulino, 8-5.
Joliet West's Wyatt Schmitt fought off Yorkville's Logan Fenoglio, 7-4, to win the 285-pound title.
"Losing the conference championship last year was a low point last year," Schmitt said. "To come back like this feels pretty good. It (losing last year) really propelled me to the state run I made last year. I had to focus up and get ready."
Carson Weber also came away with a big win, slipping past Yorkville's Dominic Recchia at 126 pounds.
"Every team in our conference has one or two really good kids so there's always good finals and third place matches and brackets," Schmitt said. "It's a good tournament before the state series."
A year ago Plainfield Central's Max Bowen got caught up in the numbers game and believes it got in the way of greater success. As judged by his big 4-2 win over Yorkville's Colten Stevens in the 182-pound final, he may be onto something.
"Something I've done a lot better with is my mentality," Bowen explained. "I used to be really nervous and concerned with rankings. 'He's above me ...' I love that this year numbers are just numbers. It's just how you wrestle really."
He's doing that extremely well.
"The conference is really tough here and pretty solid all the way up," Bown said. "I felt like I performed pretty well. I can always do better, but I'll take what I got."
Bowen previously defeated Stevens to win a regional title.
"It was a similar score and the third time I've seen him," Bowen said. "It feels good. I'm excited for the postseason. I've got a lot of work to do, but I think state champ is achievable."
Plainfield North's Maddox Garbix pinned Oswego's Jonny Theodor for the 106-pound title and Minooka's Elijah Munoz did the same to Oswego East's Noah Demarco for the 152-pound championship.
Romeoville's Brian Farley (120) and Plainfield South's Matthew Janiak (195) also earned titles with Janiak winning a 3-2 thriller over Oswego's Cruz Ibarra.
Other team results included Plainfield North (338.5) which was sixth and followed by Minooka (303.5), Joliet Central (270.5), Plainfield Central (258), Oswego East (244.5), Romeoville (205) and Plainfield East (163).
In the girls competition, Minooka (242) finished comfortably ahead of runner-up Joliet Central (188.5). West Aurora (79) and Yorkville tied for third.
Kamron Scholl held on for dear life quite literally in the Interstate 8 Conference title match against Rochelle's Xavier Villalobos Saturday.
The Kaneland 120-pounder had Villalobos by the lower part of his leg in the closing seconds of the third overtime, just barely, but hung on to prevent the escape and claim a 2-1 win for the league title.
"I just knew I couldn't let him up. We had to keep going," Scholl said. "I was already gassed."
Scholl and Caden Grabowski claimed titles for the Knights, helping Kaneland take third with 168 points behind runner-up Sycamore (190) and their five individual champions and team champ Rochelle (217.5).
Ottawa (123) took fourth, edging out Morris (117) and Plano (109). Sandwich was seventh with 87 points while LaSalle-Peru was eighth with 73. Complete results are available on trackwrestling.com.
The Hubs led throughout, but the Spartans made things close in the championship round with titles from Gus Cambier at 152, Zack Crawford at 160, Cooper Bode at 170, Gable Carrick at 195 and Lincoln Cooley at 285.
Bode, a freshman, got a second-period pin against Bryce Decker of Sandwich. The match was tied at 2-2 after the first period, but Bode racked up seven back points in the second without allowing an escape en route to an 11-2 win.
"It feels pretty good. That was the goal, go out here and wrestled. And that's what I did," Bode said. "I've been training hard, I really have really good practice partners and they motivate me a lot."
The win reversed a loss Bode suffered to Decker earlier this year. Sycamore coach Randy Culton said Bode's been working hard for the last month and a half in the training room, going up against experienced Sycamore wrestlers like Cambier and Crawford.
"The difference was on-the-job learning," Culton said. "He did some stupid things, some freshman things. So he got himself into shape. He was out of shape, not feeling it, and he realized that. And he earned that title in the wrestling room. I'm proud of him."
Scholl also topped a wrestler he lost to earlier this year. He had faced Villalobos twice, falling 11-2 at a Rockford East tourney and 6-2 in Maple Park.
This time, the match went overtime tied 1-1. After the first minute-long period didn't decide a winner, Scholl got an escape at the buzzer and looked poised for a reverse if there had been a couple more seconds on the clock.
He rode out Villalobos to lock up the win against his foe from Rochelle.
"To finally beat him feels great. That was one of my goals to beat Xavier," Scholl said. "Now I got to get a new goal."
Ivan Munoz started off the championship with round with Ottawa's only title, winning 4-0 against Morris' Owen Sater at 106.
The junior said it felt good to win the title despite not having competed much before this season.
"It's amazing. Last year I went to Mexico and I really didn't wrestle much freshman year," Munoz said. "I knew I could win it because I've already beaten everybody here, including the Morris kid. But this one was way closer."
Miles Corder had Sandwich's lone title, beating LaSalle-Peru's Gunna Skoog for the 138 crown. He said it was a long day between matches, especially before the championship match, but he ended up with a pin in 1:56 for the title.
"I came in today to my bus at 5 a.m. and I was very tired. I'm not a morning person," Corder said. "It's sort of like a snowball effect. You get the ball rolling."
While LaSalle-Peru was at the bottom of the team standings, Connor Lorden won at 220 pounds, beating Kaiden Morris of Rochelle. He moved to 3-0 against Morris after falling to him last year.
It was the second year in a row Lorden claimed the league championship.
"You know, I keep drinking my milk and eating my chicken, and that's why I'm here," Lorden said.
Lorden jumped up 3-0 in the second after an escape and takedown, but gave up an escape and a takedown before getting a second escape to take a 4-3 lead into the third. He eventually got a pin in 5:31 for the win.
"I'm 3-0 against him this year, and I'll see him at regionals, sectionals and state," Lorden said. "And I'm going to stay undefeated."
-- Eddie Carifio