CHAMPAIGN – Saturday proved to be a very special day for many local wrestlers, but especially for five athletes who were able to capture championships at the IHSA Individual State Finals at the University of Illinois’ State Farm Center.
Lockport seniors Matt Ramos and Baylor Fernandes won their first titles in the Class 3A finals, while Coal City senior Alex Friddle and junior Daniel Jezik also were first-time champs in Class 2A and Joliet Catholic sophomore D.J. Hamiti captured his second 2A title.
In the Class 3A title at 120 pounds, Ramos (34-4) and Edwardsville’s Noah Surtin met for the second week in a row, and Ramos (34-4) took the initiative this time to grab the early lead as he went on to claim an 8-4 victory.
“Last week, I lost to him, 11-10, but that loss helped me,” Ramos said. “I felt passive then, so I had to go out there and be the dominant guy in this match and attack. This has been one of my biggest dreams since I had never won state, so I’ve been wanting to do this my whole life, and I’m thankful that in my senior year that I was finally able to get it done.”
And in the championship at 160, Fernandes (35-4) recorded a fall in 1:10 over Quincy’s Hunter Yohn to post the fastest pin in a 3A title match at 160.
“I went out there and gave it all that I had,” Fernandes said. “With him scoring first, it kind of made me mad so I wanted to pin him real quick after that happened. I wouldn’t be here without my team, coaches and family, since they push me every day to get better so that I could achieve my goal and dreams.”
Hamiti (42-4) repeated as a champion in 2A after posting a 3-0 victory over Washington’s Brody Norman in the 126 finals.
“I feel like it was just going out there and taking care of business, since I didn’t want to take a loss as an option because I don’t know how I would have felt after that,” Hamiti said. “I think this sets me up for the next two years, but I know that I still have to keep grinding in the gym and in the practice room.”
Friddle (49-0) wrapped up a career where he won four medals after beating Washington’s Ezekiel Hulet, 8-4, in the 132 title match in 2A.
“Coming into my senior year having experience by getting three medals, I wanted to have fun and do anything that I could to make this the best,” Friddle said. “It was definitely a good way to finish, since some things didn’t work out in other seasons, but finally everything paid off.”
And Jezik (24-0), a three-time medalist, got a takedown with 15 seconds left to win the 182 title, 8-5, over the Crystal Lake Central’s Brock Montford.
“It was crazy at the end since I was running out of air,” Jezik said. “He was trying to get stalling calls out of me, but that drove me more and motivated me to get points at the end. It was a great match and he wrestled well. This was my first one, so it feels great to be on the top after going up every year and I hopefully I can get another one next year.”
Lemont’s Kyle Schickel (43-5) reached his third-straight title match, but lost, 8-4, to Carmel’s Riley Palm at 138 in 2A. Teammate Apollo Gothard (44-3) fell, 1-0, to Cahokia’s Jacob Bullock at 220.
Peotone’s Paul Keane (33-2), a three-time finalist, hoped to repeat as a state champion, but fell in the Class 1A title match at 120 by a 5-4 score to Heyworth’s Gabe Spencer.
Lockport also received third-place finishes from Kaleb Thompson at 106 and Anthony Molton at 126, with the latter winning his third-straight medal.
Leading Plainfield South were Andrew Bejarano (285), Jake Kendall (160) and Jimmy Pierandozzi (145). Bejarano took fourth, while Kendall and Pierandozzi both were sixth. All three captured their first state medals.
Providence Catholic received a third-place finish from three-time placewinner Jake Lindsey (113) and a fourth-place from Kevin Countryman (145). Lincoln-Way East’s Nick Mihajlovich captured his first state medal after placing fifth at 182.
Lemont also received a third-place showing from Grant LaDuke (145) and fourth place from Evan Schiffman (106). Other Class 2A medalists were Coal City’s Ryan Wasielewski (152), who took third, while Morris’ Robby Bates (195) placed sixth.
Other Class 1A fifth-place medal winners were Seneca’s Jackson Beene (152) and Dwight’s Cameron Klingler (170). Wilmington’s Jack Narine (126) took sixth.