ALTON – One of the constants of the south suburban and downstate wrestling sectional that has been a given of Class 3A since the addition of the extra class is that there are always plenty of deserving competitors who see their seasons end before the probably should.
That point was driven home again this weekend in the Class 3A Alton Sectional, where returning placewinners had to scramble to advance. Plus, a defending state champion not only didn’t compete for a sectional title, but lost in the round to decide who would place.
When the grueling two-day event was finally complete, teams from the local area were pleased to collect 30 of the 56 spots that went to the top-four finishers who qualified for next weekend’s IHSA finals on the University of Illinois campus in Champaign.
Lockport led local programs with six state qualifiers, while Lincoln-Way West advanced five, Providence Catholic had four qualifiers and Plainfield North moved three on to state.
The five sectional champions from the area were Plainfield North’s Dylan Amico (106 pounds) and Matt Hennessey (220), Lockport’s Zach Reese (152), Providence’s Cole Smith (160) and Lincoln-Way East’s Nick Mihajlovich (182).
Reese picked up the Porters’ only sectional title, edging Moline’s Jayden Terronez, 7-6, in the 152 finals, while Anthony Molton (120) fell to Marian Catholic’s Travis Ford-Melton, 16-5, in the 120 title match.
Four others had to win matches in the consolation semifinals to earn a medal, with Mike Kaminski (106), Matt Ramos (113) and James Pierandozzi (138) all taking third place, while Yousif Salah (182) placed fourth. In a rematch of last year’s state semifinal match at 106, Ramos won, 10-5, over Providence’s Jacob Lindsey, who was a defending state champion.
“It feels good for sure,” Reese said. “My goal was to come in here and win it, not just to make it downstate. I wanted to show that I deserve to be downstate. I’m feeling real confident going to next week’s battle, and our guys should be in good spots in the bracket, so I’m excited to get it going.”
Lincoln-Way West had to take one of the challenging routes to get qualifiers through, but it came up big in the consolation semifinals, where it won five of six matches.
Nick Skentzos (285) finished in third place and Garrett Geigner (120), Jacob Cronk (160), Kyle Quinn (170) and Jimmie Olds (220) finished fourth while Payton Geigner (126) fell one victory shy of earning a state trip.
Providence qualified four straight individuals from 138 to 160, with returning state Cole Smith edging Oswego’s Allen Swanson, 5-4, in the 160 finals to cap the performance.
Dominick Ambrose (138) fell, 14-2, to Marian Catholic’s Holden Heller in the 138 finals, while Josh Ramos was third at 145 and Kevin Countryman had the same showing at 152. Joining Lindsey as individuals who fell in the consolation semifinals were Nick Matthias (106) and Logan Anderson (220).
“At my weight, almost everyone will be a returning state qualifier and we’ll have six or seven placers,” Smith said. “The big thing will be just taking it one match at a time because you don’t know who will beat who.”
Although Plainfield North had three qualifiers, two of those who are advancing also won sectional titles. Top-ranked Matt Hennessey improved to 40-0 after beating Edwardsville’s Josh Anderson, 15-7, in the 220 title match.
“I should have the No. 1 seed and be expected to win it,” Hennessey said. “I’m not taking anything for granted after that finals match, which I was very disappointed about. So obviously I’m going to be very well-prepared for the state tournament.”
Dylan Amico opened the finals with a 14-10 victory over Belleville West’s Josh Koderhandt at 106. And Devontae Davis (195) also advanced for the Tigers by taking fourth.
“This is very exciting and I’m very proud of myself,” Amico said. “There’s a ton of really good wrestlers who are staying home for state, so I’m glad to be one of the one’s that’s going to Champaign. I just knew that I could go out there and do what i can do.”
The other area sectional champion was Lincoln-Way East’s Nick Mihajlovich, who beat Yorkville’s Nick Stemmet, 9-7, to claim first place at 182. His teammate, Devin O’Rourke, also reached the finals at 285, but he injury defaulted to Homewood-Flossmoor’s Jeff Griffin. Chris Wilder (170) and John Christensen (195) both fell in the consolation semifinals.
“It’s a whole new feeling and it feels great,” Mihajlovich said. “I’ve been on the varsity for the past three years and I always made sectionals, so this feels amazing to be able win a title. It feels good to be able to beat some of the top guys. And being able to work with Devin, who’s one of the top-ranked guys, is a big confidence-booster.”
Joliet West had two qualifiers, Jonathan Pullen (170) and Eric Davis-Smith (126). Pullen just missed winning the title at 170, falling, 5-3, in overtime to O’Fallon’s Jack Bond, while Davis-Smith claimed fourth place at 126.
The other area finalist also happened to be Plainfield South’s lone qualifier, Enzo Silva. He fell in the 113 finals, 3-0, to Edwardsville’s Noah Surtin. His Cougars teammates, Jake Kendall (152) and Erik Santiago (160), both lost in the consolation semifinals.
Minooka, Plainfield Central and Plainfield East also had two qualifiers each, while Joliet Central advanced one individual, Mario Leon, who placed fourth at 132.
Drew Gutknicht (195) paced the Indians by placing third, while Noah Boles (145) finished fourth. Falling in the consolation semifinals were Austin Markee (120), Zach McDowell (126) and Adam McDowell (138).
The Wildcats received a third from Tom Gustafson (220) and a fourth from Nick Minnito (113), while Josh Mackenzie (195) fell one win shy of advancing.
For Plainfield East, Anthony Zamora (120) finished third, Artese Gregory (285) took fourth, and Barry Stevenson (138) fell in the consolation semifinals.