NEW LENOX – Throughout its history, wrestlers who have won championships at Lincoln-Way’s Illini Classic have generally been good candidates to earn medals at the IHSA individual finals in Champaign.
And with a number of state-ranked teams again in Saturday’s event that was held at Lincoln-Way West, it’s a safe bet that those who finished on top of the awards stand can look forward to big things in upcoming weeks.
Five area individuals captured titles with the host Warriors leading with two, while Lincoln-Way East, Minooka and Plainfield North also had a champion.
Taking firsts for West were Payton Geigner and Chris Kennedy. Two others lost in title matches and six more won medals for top-five finishes, That helped the Warriors to place second with 191.5 points. Washington won the championship with 230 points.
Geigner defeated Schaumburg’s Jack Lingle, 12-0, in the 145-pound championship.
“This is my first win here after taking third last year, and two years ago, I went two and out,” Geigner said. “There were a couple of guys from teams that I knew were going to be pretty good, but some of them didn’t show up. This win helps with my confidence since next weekend we have conference, and this helps me for that.”
Kennedy followed him to capture the title at 152 pounds with a 10-4 victory over Lincoln-Way Central’s Jackson Hosman.
“It’s great to be back and injury-free and to be able to do my best,” Kennedy said. “It’s been a battle to get back with nine months of recovery, and I honestly wasn’t sure if I was going to come back. We have a lot of good wrestlers, and we build off of each other.”
Plainfield North’s Jacob Macatangay opened the finals by recording a fall in 2:19 over Marist’s Owen Dunlap to win the 106-pound title.
“I came into this tournament just trying to do my best and to go all out in the matches to push myself,” Macatangay said. “I’ve been having pretty good success. This has been since at the beginning of the year I didn’t think I would do too well, but I’ve surprised myself.”
Lincoln-Way East’s Nick Mihajlovich won the title at 182 pounds following a 6-0 victory over Lincoln-Way West’s Jacob Cronk.
“My coaches always push me and my goal this year is to win a state title,” Mihajlovich said. “I like my mentality because I think that anybody is beatable and rankings are just a number. Our coaching staff is always believing in me and believe in their system.”
And Minooka’s Drew Gutknecht closed out the finals by with a 3-1 victory over St. Charles East’s Justin Hull for the 285-pound title.
“Last year I wanted to make state and did and this year I want to win it,” Gutknecht said. “I’m a light heavyweight and a lot of these guys get tired so fast, but my endurance is up, and I can wear some guys out. I don’t care who I’m against, I’m just going to go with my best.”
Other local individuals who reached title matches were Lincoln-Way West’s Josh Pakula (170), Morris’ Robby Bates (195) and Minooka’s Jake Shipla (220).
The Warriors also received a third from Javen Estrada (126), a fourth from Garrett Geigner (138) and fifths from Jake Simon (120), Brock Pfeifer (160), Peyton Knepper (195) and Griffin Ketelaar (220).
East also received thirds from Dominic Adamo (152), Jake LaMonto (195) and Anthony Sottosanto (285), a fourth from Gus Christensen (145) and Noah Alsguson (160) and a fifth from John Cooke (170). The Knights also got fourth-place finishes from Conor Smetana (113) and Chris Pasowisty (285).
Plainfield North also got a third from Jared Gumila (132) and a fifth from Dylan Amico (126), Morris’ Bryce Claypool (126) was fourth and Minooka’s Nathan Berta (106) took fifth.