JOLIET – Unlike some meets involving area wrestling teams, there wasn’t much drama expected for top honors at Saturday’s Class 3A Joliet Central Regional so everyone could focus on how many individuals would qualify for next weekend’s Alton Sectional.
Lockport dominated the field with seven champions and 10 qualifiers and beat Neuqua Valley, 225½-139½, for first place in the nine-team meet. Plainfield Central (96) had five qualifiers, Plainfield North (105), Plainfield East (98) and Joliet West (92) each advanced four, Joliet Central (66) qualified three and Romeoville (50) had two qualifiers.
It’s the fourth straight regional title for coach Josh Oster’s Porters, who are the defending Class 3A champions. As a result of the regional win, Lockport qualifies for the dual team sectional with hopes that it can advance to team state for a fourth year in a row.
Winning titles for the Porters were Mike Kaminski (106 pounds), Matt Ramos (113), Anthony Molton (120), James Pierandozzi (138), Baylor Fernandes (145), Zach Reese (152) and Yousif Salah (182). Matt Kronsbein (132) and Austin Kolada (160) both took second, while Jake D’Angelo (126) was third.
Plainfield North got titles from Devontae Davis (195) and Matt Hennessey (220) while Dylan Amico (106) and Jake Sobun (285) were second. Plainfield East got a title from Artese Gregory (285), while Anthony Zamora (120) and Barry Stevenson (138) were second and D’Anthony Hopkins (145) placed third.
Advancing for Plainfield Central were champion Jamel Sheppard (160), second-place finishers Nick Minnito (113), Josh Mackenzie (195) and Tom Gustafson (220) and Jake Bogdan (138), who took third.
Joliet Central received a title from Mario Leon (132), while Jayden Perez (170) and Ke’Andre Wiley (182) both placed third. Joliet West was led by second-place finishers Eric Davis-Smith (126), Jeremy Pullen (152) and Jonathan Pullen (170), while Terrance Snapp (132) was third. Romeoville got thirds from Ethan Spaniak (152) and Andres Jara (220).
Lockport won titles at the first three weights as Kaminski beat Amico, 7-4, at 106, Ramos won, 11-6, over Minnito at 113 and Molton was a 9-3 victor over Zamora at 120.
“It’s been fun since everyone is doing what they need to do and winning, so we’re having a good time,” Molton said. “We’ve been putting in a lot of work to get better. I believe we can have a lot of people qualify for state next week as long as everyone keeps working hard.”
After Neuqua’s Denis Murphy beat Davis-Smith, 8-0, at 126, Leon highlighted the host’s day by claiming a 7-4 title win over Kronsbein at 132.
“This medal is made of all of the hard work and sweat I’ve had in practice,” Leon said. “It feels really good to come out on top. My aggressiveness has helped me and made me more confident and I believe in myself and that’s helped me to win.”
Lockport again captured three straight titles as Pierandozzi beat Stevenson, 8-0, at 138, Fernandes got a fall in 3:16 over Oswego East’s Nico Patch and Reese was a 5-3 winner over Jeremy Pullen at 152.
“We’re looking good right now,” Fernandes said. “We’re getting ready for state, so we’re going to keep working and see where it gets us.”
After missing much of his season to injury, Wildcat newcomer Sheppard is hoping to finish on a strong note. In the 160 finals, he won by technical fall over Kolada.
“I was a little out of shape, so it’s tough to come back from that and I still don’t trust my knee all the way, but I’m getting back into things now,” Sheppard said. “Getting to state is the goal.”
After Neuqua’s Jacob Boumans beat Jonathan Pullen, 11-3, at 170, Salah got a takedown with 18 seconds left to beat Oswego East’s Jackson O’Reilly, 5-3, for the Porters’ seventh title.
“It was a tough match, and he’s a really good wrestler,” Salah said. “I broke my thumb and tore a ligament the second week of football season and I came back for the Cheesehead. So I’m thankful for coaches [Matt] Bartley and coach Josh since they push me all of the time.”
Davis beat Mackenzie, 4-2, at 195 and teammate Hennessey, who’s top-ranked and 37-0 at 220, didn’t compete in the finals since Gustafson injury defaulted.
“There’s so much joy at this moment that I can’t express it all,” Davis said. “Being able to practice with Matt is outstanding since it makes me work harder. It feels really good to keep on wrestling and hopefully I’ll be able to get to state.”
And Gregory won, 10-4, over Sobun in the 285 finals to give local teams 12 champions from five different programs.
“This is only my third year wrestling,” Gregory said. “So it’s a really big deal for me to win regionals. I’ve qualified for sectionals but my goal is to qualify for state. I’m very appreciative of my coaches who have pushed me and helped me to get to this point.”
In the day’s most-dramatic third-place match, freshman Snapp got a reversal with seven seconds left in the final tiebreaker to win, 4-2, over Plainfield East senior Tyler Krause, the top-seed at 132.