CHAMPAIGN — So, about a half hour after Plano 220-pound wrestler Derrick Maisonet was crowned champion at the IHSA State Individual Wrestling Tournament last Saturday, I sat down with Seneca coach Todd Yegge and 220-pound Irish wrestler Brandon Webb to talk.
I looked at Webb and said, "Be honest with me, were you rooting for Maisonet in the championship?"
"Oh yeah," Webb replied.
That was a question I had to ask the Seneca state qualifier, especially since he had finished second to the Plano wrestler in the Interstate Eight Conference finals, the Seneca Regional finals and the Plano Sectional finals leading to state, all in the past month.
"We always root for the conference guys down here," Yegge added.
It is a source of pride for wrestlers. Unlike other sports, wrestling is a tight-knit community which actually enjoys watching rival opponents during the year do well at the state finals.
"Our conference is tough," Yegge said. "We start off with 106 and go all the way to 32 with guys in the finals. That's awesome. It shows the depth of our conference and how tough it is."
Starting at 106, Cody Minnick, Corey Jurzak and Casey Brown — all of Coal City — were wrestling in the finals in Class A and were followed by Seneca's Sage Friese at 126. At 132, Andy Rodawold of Wilmington was then crowned champion.
That's a pretty good representation for the Interstate Eight Conference.
In all, by my count the I-8 had 12 All-State wrestlers, which included Shawn Wollenweber of Plano at 132 (sixth), Terry Newbeck of Hercher at 152 (fifth), Wes Brown of Plano at 160 (third), Sean Liaromitis of Wilmington at 170 (third), Anthony Bauer of Dwight at 195 (fifth) and Derrick Romano of Wilmington at 285 (third).
I know Morris coach Jon Lanning has made similar statements about the Northern Illinois Big 12, as well. By my count there were 13 All-State wresters coming out of Assembly Hall in Champaign representing that league. Among them were Morris' Kenny Baldridge ,who got fourth in Class 2A at the 120-pound class, and Nik Countryman, who got fourth in 2A at the 182-pound class.
Kyle Adkins of Sycamore and Dan Goress of Kaneland were each champions in the 113 and 145-pound divisions, respectively. Other 2A All-Staters from the NIB12 were Jacob Weaver of La Salle-Peru at the 126-pound class (sixth), Daniel Close of Ottawa at 138 (fourth), Austin Culton of Sycamore at 152 (second), Brandon Mizo of Geneseo at 152 (sixth), Bobby Schillinger of Yorkville at 182 (sixth), Jacob Davis of Sycamore at 195 (third), Alex Fuentes of Ottawa at 195 (sixth) and Zach Theis of Kaneland at 285 (fifth). And that list doesn't include DeKalb, a 3A school, and Doug Johnson being All-State at 132.
Again, great representation by kids in the NIB12 that we get to see develop throughout the years.
Minooka had two All-State wrestlers in Carson and Corbett Oughton. Carson is a freshman and got sixth in the 145-pound class, and Corbett is a senior who got fourth in the 152-pound class.
There were no champions from the Southwest Prairie Conference this year, though Miguel Silva of Plainfield South at 106 and Jordan Ellingwood of Plainfield Central at 195 were each in the finals. Ellingwood lost a gut-wrenching championship in an ultimate tiebreaker overtime.
Still, by my count there were seven All-Staters from the SPC. In addition to the aforementioned, that included Naquan Harty at 120 (sixth), Nick Nasenberry at 126 (fifth) and Ryan Holtzrichter at 132 (third).
Kudos to all those who went down and etched their names in IHSA annals. Same goes to all the other local kids who simply made it to state. History will not forget you and the hard work you put into the sport you've dedicated yourselves to.