TINLEY PARK – When a wrestling team has six champions, two second-place finishers and two other sectional qualifiers, it’s a pretty good bet that it will win whatever regional tournament it is competing in.
And that certainly was true for Lockport in Saturday’s Class 3A Andrew Regional. The Porters broke open a close race with Providence Catholic thanks to a successful semifinals and subsequent wrestlebacks to defeat the Celtics, 242.5-196, for top honors.
Joliet West (134), Lincoln-Way East (126), Andrew (119.5), Lincoln-Way Central (101.5) and Joliet Central (94) were next in line in the 10-team competition.
Winning titles for the Porters were Kaleb Thompson (106 pounds), Matt Ramos (120), Anthony Molton (126), Mikey Kaminski (132), Baylor Fernandes (160) and Brendon Shin (285), while Kyle Boone (182) and Andrew Blackburn-Forst (195) both took second, and Keegan Roberson (113) and Malik Daghash (170) finished third.
Besides sending those 10 individuals to next weekend’s Joliet Central Sectional, coach Josh Oster’s Porters won their fifth straight regional title and now are only one dual meet win away from earning their fourth trip to the dual team state finals in five years.
In a rematch of last year’s 3A state finals match at 120, defending state champion Molton captured a 3-1 win over Marian Catholic’s Travis Ford-Melton for the regional title at 126. Ford-Melton had been top-ranked, while Molton was third in recent state rankings.
“I knew that he would be hungry, but I was pretty hungry, too,” Molton said. “I needed to prove that I’ve still got it since I’ve been working hard throughout the season and am a returning state champ. The rankings push me to keep working hard to do what I have to do.”
Thompson opened the final round with a fall in 5:39 against Andrew’s Joey Roti at 106, and Ramos followed a short time later by pinning Providence’s Nick Matthias in 1:38 at 120. Ramos had been out of action due to a shoulder injury for nearly a month.
“I feel like I’m back stronger,” Ramos said. “It made me open up my eyes since I feel like I needed that break since I got to see what I can work on, and I feel like I’m a much better wrestler now. Going into regionals, I knew that I was ready. No doubt in my mind.”
Kaminski recorded a 14-5 victory over Joliet West’s Nick Gantt to take first at 132, Fernandes beat Providence’s Aidan O’Connor by technical fall in 2:07 to win the 160 title, and Brendon Shin got a fall in 4:55 over Joliet West’s Daniel Landando in the 285 finals.
“I felt pretty good out there today,” Kaminski said. “All of our guys are great, and we have a lot of fun, and everyone works hard at practice. I’m just kind of seeing what my next competition is and doing extra practice to beat them.”
The Celtics received championships from Jake Lindsey (113), Josh Ramos (138), Kevin Countryman (145) and Ryan Boersma (220) while Matthias (120) and O’Connor (160) were second and Billy Meiszner (106) placed third.
Lindsey, a state champion in 2017 who didn’t qualify a year ago and has been hampered by shoulder problems, won, 7-1, over Andrew’s Luc Valdez in the 113 title match. Josh Ramos won by fall in 4:45 over Andrew’s Luke Gardner in the 138 title match.
“It’s crazy after being at the top and winning a state title and then not even qualifying a year later,” Lindsey said. “It does a lot to you and makes you question a lot of things. All it is are four matches in the middle of February, and that’s all it takes.”
Countryman recorded a fall in 1:33 over Joliet West’s Terrance Snapp to win the 145 title and Boersma edged Joliet Central’s Damaris Stanley, 2-1, to capture the 220 championship.
“It all starts with our coach, Donny Reynolds,” Countryman said. “All year people have doubted us since we lost seniors from last year, but he’s pushed us hard. I made it to state last year, and I’m hoping to get on the podium this year.”
Lincoln-Way East’s Nick Mihajlovich defeated Boone, 15-3, to claim the 182 title while Lincoln-Way Central’s Mason Sargent rallied from a late 8-0 deficit to record a fall in 4:50 over Blackburn-Forst to claim top honors at 195.
“I’ve had some struggles the past few weeks,” Sargent said. “But I just have to keep wrestling, I can get out of it and just have to trust my ability. This feels really good since I didn’t wrestle all four years on varsity, so I’ve really pushed myself.”
Two other local individuals who lost in first-place matches were Joliet West’s Jeremy Pullen, who fell, 8-2, to Marian’s Reece Heller for the 152 title, and Joliet Central’s Ke’Andre Wiley, who lost, 6-5, in a tiebreaker against Andrew’s JP Migawa for the 170 championship.
Others who finished in third place to advance were Lincoln-Way East’s AJ Lizak (126), Jacob Abeja (132) and Dominic Adamo (152), Joliet Central’s Mario Leon (138) and Jon Garcia (145), Joliet West’s Steven Fallon (182) and Jake Aharrah (195) and Lincoln-Way Central’s Mike McCormack (220) and Chris Pasowisty (285).