Saturday will mark the end of a special era in local wrestling for a family that has had a huge impact on their program’s rise to prominence.
When Lockport’s Shayne Oster finishes competing in Saturday’s IHSA Class 3A dual team finals at U.S. Cellular Coliseum in Bloomington, it will end an 18-year run that saw five Oster brothers go toe-to-toe with the best in the state, and as a result, help elevate the Porters to become one of Illinois’ top programs.
From 1999, when current coach Josh Oster began competing for hall of fame coach Joe Williams, until this season, when Northwestern University-bound Shayne finishes up, an Oster stepped on the mat in all but one season. That was in 2012, which also happened to be Josh’s first year as coach after serving as Williams’ assistant since 2004.
The Oster brothers hold five spots among the school’s list of its top 15 winningest wrestlers. Jameson (2008 to 2011) ranks second with 153 wins, one victory ahead of Shayne (2013 through 2016), who could claim second place but can’t pass Brian Rossi, who had 159 wins.
Jake (2002 to 2005) ranks eighth with 135 wins, Chris (2004 to 2007) is ninth with 124 victories and Josh (1999 to 2002) finished his career as the program’s wins leader but now is tied for 13th place with 112 victories. Jake also served as an assistant coach in 2006 and 2012 and Chris is an assistant this season.
The Osters, who became renowned statewide for their distinctive funky style, have posted a 676-136 record during their 20 total seasons, which is good for an .833 win percent. They combined for eight state medals, advanced to five IHSA title matches and became one of the few families in state history to have three different brothers capture championships.
Shayne Oster (35-4), a three-time placewinner who won a state title last year and settled for second place this year, leads the way for the Porters. He’s the only senior on the tournament roster.
The Porters (22-4), who are making their second-straight state visit and third since 2012, hope to capture a second-consecutive trophy in the sport. A year ago, they placed fourth. They meet 20-6 Prospect in a 9 a.m. quarterfinal for the chance to likely meet two-time defending champion Oak Park and River Forest in the 2 p.m. semifinals.
Juniors Trevell Timmons (26-7) and Abdullah Assaf (22-6) both missed large parts of the season because of an injury, but were able to place for a second-straight year. Other top winners for Lockport include junior Brandon Ramos (37-13) and freshmen Ronald Tucker (43-6), Baylor Fernandes (31-12) and Anthony Molton (30-13).
“I’m very proud of how the team came together in a year full of adversity,” Josh Oster said. “We didn’t wrestle a single dual this year with the lineup that wrestled at regionals but we have a very deep team that got lots of experience throughout the season.
“We are looking to send our captain Shayne Oster off with one more state medal. Shayne has helped guide many of our younger wrestlers and been a role model to them so many feel a desire to see him off right.”
Providence makes state return
There once was a time when it was a given that Providence Catholic would not only finish its season at the IHSA dual team finals, but would win a trophy. From 1987 to 2004, the Celtics competed in every state finals (the 1995 tournament was cancelled). They won eight titles and placed in the top-three on seven other occasions.
When Keith Healy took over from Mike Polz in 1993, Providence claimed three-straight third places and then began a run of six-consecutive championships before missing out on titles the next two years. The Celtics last appeared at state in 2008, when they again took second.
After finishing eighth in the regional two years and having only one state qualifier the past two seasons, the Celtics sent six to Champaign this year and had two placers, sophomore Cole Smith (43-9) and freshman Jake Lindsey (36-10).
Others top Celtics are seniors Tom Younker (27-14) and Mason Heimlich (21-17), junior Dominic Ferraro (22-8), sophomores Ben Emery (36-13), Logan Anderson (25-17) and Dominick Ambrose (25-14), and freshmen Josh Ramos (38-12) and Juan Bazaldua (22-11).
Providence (14-6) meets Grant in an 11 a.m. quarterfinal with the winner advancing to a 2 p.m. semifinal against either Marmion or Montini. The finals are set for 6 p.m.
Coal City seeks another trophy
A year ago, Coal City not only made its first trip to the dual team finals since 1999, but also captured a trophy after finishing third in Class 1A.
The 29-2 Coalers are looking for more of the same this weekend when they face Walther Christian in an 11 a.m. quarterfinal. If they win the 2 p.m. semifinals against Murphysboro or Sherrard, a clash with top-ranked Dakota could play out in the 6 p.m. championship.
Leading the way for coach Mark Masters’ squad are senior state champion Riley Kauzlaric (47-2) and senior runner-up Joey Rivera (49-2).
Other top records are owned by seniors Jonah Englert (43-10), Alec Leasure (34-5) and Max Rowell (28-4), juniors Brock Crawford (35-11), Jake Hiles (34-8) and Bryan Stopka (28-13), sophomores TJ Jezik (37-14) and Danny Norton (29-10), and freshmen Alex Friddle (43-5) and Ryan Wasielewski (37-10).