PALOS HILLS – Though technically not a conference wrestling tournament, Stagg’s Tom Lahey Tournament certainly had a similar atmosphere while also allowing some schools that aren’t in the Southwest Suburban Conference to participate.
And like most of the big invites that the area’s wrestlers regularly participate in, this final major event in the regular season for seven local teams once again provided a high level of competition that should benefit all who have major goals for themselves or their teams in the upcoming IHSA postseason series.
With three of the top eight Class 3A teams in Illinois highlighting the 16-team field, a total of 17 area wrestlers advanced to title matches while five captured championships.
No. 7 Sandburg beat No. 5 Lockport, 247-224, for first place in the team race, while No. 8 Lincoln-Way West scored 200.5 points to finish third. Others in the top six were Lincoln-Way East (157.5), Joliet West (127) and Joliet Central (110.5).
The Porters led all teams with
six wrestlers who reached title matches and half of those captured championships. They also had 11 who placed in the top five. Winning titles for Lockport were Kaleb Thompson (106 pounds), Anthony Molton (126) and Baylor Fernandes (160), while Jacob Lukaszczyk (120), Mikey Kaminski (132) and Brendon Shin (285) all claimed second-place finishes.
Thompson began the finals with a win by technical fall over Andrew’s Joey Roti at 106.
“I’m been doing all right,” Thompson said.”I’m still not at my full potential,w but I’ll get there by state time.”
Molton had a battle on his hands before claiming an 8-6 victory over Lincoln-Way West’s Javen Estrada at 126.
“I feel like I wrestled really bad in that match,” Molton said. “I had felt good, especially after winning The Cheesehead and then going 4-0 last week. My main thing is to win state again, and I pretty much know what I need to work on. Even though I won state last year, that doesn’t matter since I still need to put in the work.”
And Fernandes picked up a 6-0 title win at 160 over Joliet Wests Jeremy Pullen.
“This is kind of like a little warm-up for the state series,” Fernandes said. “There’s a feeling of the tournament, and seeing kids from our area that you’ll be wrestling during regionals and sectionals. I’m just trying to focus on myself and focus on the team once state is over. In the end, I hopefully can win state, and I feel that I’m ready to take the next step.”
The Warriors had five finalists, and one of those, Josh Pakula, captured top honors at 170 with a 3-2 victory over Joliet Central’s Ke’Andre Wiley.
“It feels good to be in a tough tournament and to come out on top,” Pakula said. “I want to make it downstate and maybe place. And we have a tough team that has a good shot of to team state, too. Everyone on this team is a tough wrestler.”
Lincoln-Way East only had one finalist but the Griffins’ 182-pounder Nick Mihajlovich won a 12-4 major decision over Lincoln-Way West’s Jacob Cronk.
“I’m feeling really good and just want to keep it going,” Mihajlovich said. “And going up against tough kids each week just makes me better. I just need to keep that hard work going for the next two weeks going into regionals.”
Other finalists for the Porters were Jacob Lukaszczyk, who got pinned by Andrew’s Kyle Silzer at 120, Mikey Kaminski, who fell, 16-3, to Stagg’s Domenic Zaccone at 132 and Brendon Shin, who lost, 4-1, on a tiebreaker to Sandburg’s Nate Goodman at 285.
Also taking second for the Warriors were Garrett Geigner, who got pinned by Sandburg’s Pat Nolan at 138 and Chris Kennedy, who lost, 12-8, to Thornton’s Jamal Osborne at 152.
The Tigers’ other finalist was Terrance Snapp (145), who had a big lead against Sandburg’s Sam Wojcik in the third period before getting pinned. Steelmen Jayden Perez was pinned by Sandburg’s Kevin Zimmer in the finals at 195. And Lincoln-Way Central’s Conor Smetana was pinned by Bradley-Bourbonnais’ Austin Spacht in the 113 finals.
Placing third were Lincoln-Way East’s Dominic Adamo (152), Noah Alsguson (170) and Anthony Sottosanto (285), Joliet Central’s Mario Leon (138) and Damaris Stanley (220), Lincoln-Way West’s Payton Geigner (145) and Brock Pfeifer (160), Bolingbrook’s John McDermott (132) and Lockport’s Andrew Blackburn-Forst (195).
Finishing fourth were Joliet West’s Cristian Rojas (120), Nick Gantt (132), Jake Aharrah (195) and Daniel Landando (285), Lincoln-Way West’s John Buell (113), Lincoln-Way East’s AJ Lizak (126) and Joliet Central’s Jon Garcia (145).
And taking fifth place were Lockport’s Keegan Roberson (113), Jake D’Angelo (138), Malik Daghash (170) and Kyle Boone (182), Lincoln-Way Central’s Jackson Hosman (152) and Mason Sargent (195), Bolingbrook’s Joe McDermott (106), Lincoln-Way East’s Jake Abeja (132) and Lincoln-Way West’s Griffin Ketelaar (220).
As the result of dual meet success, Lockport was recognized for capturing its third Blue division title in six years while Lincoln-Way West received its award for capturing its fourth straight Red division title.