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Novice Division
state championship recaps

By Ed Muniz
Photos courtesy of Ken Dado

The Illinois Kids Wrestling Federation (IKWF) concluded its 43rd year of wrestling with its annual state individual championships. For the 11th year in a row, the BMO Harris Bank Center in Rockford was the host site. 825 wrestlers took to mats in two divisions to determine 35 state champions.

The Senior Division (12-, 13- and 14-year-olds) was made up of 18 weight classes from 74 to 275 pounds. The Novice Division (10-, 11- and 12-year-olds) had 17 weights from 62 to 215 pounds.

Recaps of the Novice Division championship matches follow.

 


 

108 pounds

 

Brad Gross, left, of the Sauk Valley Wrestling Club, controls Kolbi Caffey, of the Carbondale Wrestling Club.

The opening championship match saw Brad Gross, of Sauk Valley, take on Kolbi Caffey, of the Carbondale WC. After both wrestlers sized up the other, Gross opened the scoring. His takedown and reversal of Caffey gave him a 4-2 lead after one period. Gross closed out the short lived match by fall after muscling Caffey to his back in 2:18.

“I’m just gonna come back next year and do it again,” said Gross. “I was confused about a leg whip, and I was told not to do it again. But I was able to catch him when he sat out and finished the match.”

Gross gave credit for his success to his parents and brother along with his coaches.

“I want to thank them for all they did this year driving me all over and helping me get better, staying after practice and putting in the extra effort really helped me," he said.
 


 

115 pounds

 

Ehren Metzger, top, of the Rochelle WC, and Jabari Fitzpatrick, of the Gomez Wrestling Academy do battle.


Overtime was on the menu for Jabari Fitzpatrick, of the Gomez WC, and Ehren Metzger, of the Rochelle WC.

The match was close but not by choice. Metzger lead 2-0 after one period, but Fitzpatrick surged ahead after two takedowns in period two. Just as one wrestler took control the other countered and evened up the match. Back and forth it went with another Jabari takedown before Metzger escaped and scored a late reversal that sent the match to OT.

After no scoring in the overtime, the match went to the tiebreaker period. The wrestler who scored first in the match was given the choice to try to escape or prevent an escape by his opponent. This would determine a winner after 30 seconds.

Fitzpatrick chose to try to escape from the bottom position. With just 12 seconds left he managed to reach his feet and escape from Metzger for the 7-6 championship win.

“I needed to get out, or I’d lose is all that was on my mind,” said Fitzpatrick. “I couldn’t shoot on him so I was trying to throw and slam him, but I got tired at the end. I could have done better by pinning him but I got tired.”  

With a 41-10 record on the season and a championship under wraps, Fitzpatrick now has time to recoup from fatigue.
 

Jabari Fitzpatrick looks for an opening against Ehren Metzger.

 


 

122 pounds

 

Rahveon Valentine, top, of The Law, works for points against Peter Schied, of the Redhawk WC,


Zero points! Not a single point allowed through his state championship run! That is what Rahveon Valentine, of The Law wrestling club, handed out to his opponents in Rockford. This 12-year-old was also not willing to give any points to finals opponent Peter Scheid, of Blackhawk WC.

Valentine scored in each period and appeared to be content mat wrestling and controlling what Scheid did as he cruised to a 7-0 championship. In Valentine's four matches he outscored his opponents 46-0 (two 15-0 wins, and 9-0 and 7-0 decisions). His domination was so complete it earned him the Marty Combes Award given to the Novice Division Outstanding Wrestler.

“I felt I was in total control my whole time here, but my goal was to at least get third,” said a hard-breathing Valentine. When asked how was it possible to not let anyone score on him Valentine replied; “ I basically just tried to defend the shot and control their head. It made it easy after I got on top and got two on one. They really couldn’t do anything.”

For Valentine it really wasn’t that big a deal. He was used to not letting many score on him.
 

 

Rahveon Valentine enjoys his state title moment.

 

 

130 pounds

 

Unbeaten is what Darrell Chisum (31-0), of Zee-Bee Stingers WC, was after after his 10-2 victory over Zachary Braunagel, of Crusaders Elite. Chisum was never really tested during his time in Rockford. That didn't change in his final match.


Chisum took the lead early and built on it with a couple of takedowns and some near-fall points. About the only thing Chisum did wrong was get penalized a point for an illegal hold late in the match.

After his title win, he left the elevated mat and looked like he was out for a stroll, it just seemed so effortless. Chisum said: "I’ve been waiting a real long time to win a state championship and wanted to do nothing wrong here. I thought I did that. I’m pretty happy with my takedowns,”  

Chisum expects to repeat in his final IKWF season. Expect this Stinger to be in the mix for a state title next year.
 


 

138 pounds

 

Kobe Howard, top, of the Renegade Wrestling Club, works for an advantage against Nate Jimenez, of St. Charles North.


A family tradition continued in the championship match. Nate Jimenez, of St. Charles North wrestling, faced Kobe Howard, of the Renegade WC. After watching his older brother Johnny win his third-consecutive IHSA Wresting title, Nate wanted to add to the pile of titles the Jimenez family has won. He did just that with a 12-1 win against Howard.

Jimenez did all the right things as the match unfolded. His four takedowns and near-fall points were more than enough. His defensive skills limited Howard to a single escape.

“My brothers Johnny and Nico have worked with me almost every day of my life, always pushing me. It's because of them that I do well. They have told me to just keep my composure and wrestled to win, and I did that,” Nate said.

As well as this victory went for Jimenez he still wasn’t satisfied. He said he felt he could have stayed in better position throughout the match. Jimenez ended the year at 36-5.
 

Nate Jimenez, top, works on his title match win over Kobe Howard.

 

 

156 pounds

 

Izzy Fox, top, of the Evanston School of Wrestling, works toward his pin of Sergio Villalobos, of Downers Grove Cougars WC.

 
When you looked at the finalists, Izzy Fox, of the Evanston School of Wrestling, and Sergio Villalobos, of Downers Grove Cougars WC, you wouldn’t be intimidated solely on appearance. Of the two, Villalobos looked the more physical but looks sure were deceiving when it came to Fox.

This lanky, knobby-shouldered wrestler was all business. After leading 4-0 Fox gave up a takedown to open the second period and that seemed to spark his competitive juices. He quickly reversed Villalobos and then worked him to his back for the fall at 2:53 for his first state championship.

“I know most people take me for a lanky guy they can throw, but I got strength over all them,” spouted Fox. “This match I got tired so I need to work on my cardio to improve for next year. It’s my biggest weakness, but hey, I got it done.”

Fox ended the season undefeated at 33-0. He looks forward to next year and extending his unbeaten record.
 

Izzy Fox stands as the champion.

 


 

177 pounds
 

Jacob Kaminski, top, of Martinez Fox Valley Elite, is on the attack against Jake Sobun, of Celtic United.

Just when it looked like everything was in hand for one of the finalists, it came down to survival in the end. Jacob Kaminski, of Martinez Fox Valley Elite, found out how things can change quickly during his championship match with Jake Sobun, of Celtic Elite.

Kaminski looked like he was easily in charge as he jumped out to a very physical 7-0 lead heading to the third period. All that was needed was to coast in for the win but after a Sobun reversal, Kaminski found himself looking at the lights and struggling to keep from being pinned. All this happened with 23 seconds left in the match.

Sobun couldn’t finish off the dramatic comeback and Kaminski (21-5) hung on for the 7-5 win and his first state championship.

“I was thinking when he put me on my back if I could last the last few seconds,” said an exhausted and relieved Kaminski. “All I kept thinking was I can’t get stuck, no way! I cant get stuck. So I was holding on. I hope my folks are happy with the results; that was tough at the end.”
 

Jake Sobun, top, tries to erase his deficit against Jacob Kaminski with a late flurry.

 

 

215 pounds

Heading into the championship match, Sycamore’s Joey Beaudoin and Ronald Tucker, of the Bolingbrook Junior Raiders, had pinned their previous three opponents. That each sought a pin in finals was surprising no one.

What did surprise all was that the match went the distance. Beaudoin dominated the younger Tucker in a one-sided 14-2 decision. Beaudoin never let Tucker get any momentum and three times looked close to finishing with a pin. To Tuckers credit he fought off his foe each time and was not going to be another pin statistic for Beaudoin.

“I really struggled some with his size,” said Beaudoin of Tucker. “Trying to break him down made it hard. I just tried to work my moves but I couldn’t really tell you what I did really well. I guess my defense was pretty good, but I was confident coming into the match.”
 
At 35-4, it’s easy to understand Beaudoin’s confidence. He did was he has done most of the year; it was routine for this wrestler.
 


Joey Beaudoin lets the crowd know who's No. 1 at 215 pounds.

 

 

62 pounds
 

Anthony Schickel, of the Southside Stallions, gets his moment in the center of the mat.

 

Both finalists have been at the State finals before. For Anthony Schickel, of the Southside Stallions, and Justin Cardini, of Mahomet-Seymour Youth WC, wrestling in Rockford was old news. Last year Schickel finished fourth, and Cardini took home fifth.

This time they met vying for a first State title. Schickel had made it look easy getting to the finals winning by fall once and a 20-9 and 10-0 decisions. For Cardini, it was similar. He won his previous three bouts by fall and two 6-0 shutouts. So a tightly contested bout was expected. Nope it was over 26 seconds into the match.

Schickel made quick work of a completely stunned Cardini with a takedown. He put his foe on his back and pinned him in 26 seconds. While Schickel displayed elation, Cardini appeared stunned and unsure about what had just happened as both left the mat.

When asked if he expected that result that fast, Schickel said: “Yeah I kinda did! How I trained all season was the difference. My snap down really worked good.”

To simply say Schickel’s snap down worked good is overstating the obvious 10 fold! At 58-3 Schickel wasn’t satisfied. He left stating he wanted to wrestle more! Who’s next?
 

 


 

66 pounds
 

Travis Ford-Melton, right, fights off teammate Ryan Smith, of the Harvey Twisters.

 

The one sure thing known about the championship bout was the title was heading home with the Harvey Twisters. That's because both finalists were from the squad, Last year’s 62-pound champion Travis Ford-Melton (33-1) matched up against teammate and 10 year-old Ryan Smith. For both wrestlers, looking to their coaches would be useless. Both wrestled without the assistance of coaches.

With each wrestler knowing each other well, it was no surprise when this match headed into overtime after each wrestler gained a sole escape point. Nothing changed during the OT period. The tiebreaker format, which rewards the first escape, or lack of one, would crown the champion.

Smith scored first in the match as was given the choice of top or down position for the next 30 seconds. To the surprise of many, Smith chose down and would need to escape for the win. It didn’t happen as the clutch riding ability of Ford-Melton won him his second-straight State title with a 2-1.

“It was really hard, I’m happy because he put up a good fight and we’re still teammates," said Ford-Melton.

Smith said he was disappointed but other than that he felt normal and was glad for his teammate. Not bad for a 10 year-old battling a state champion.
 

 


 

70 pounds
 

Trevor Chumbley, left, of St. Charles North, reverses Bryan Smith, of the Harvey Twisters.

 

Never quit was the theme for the eventual winner. With a score table full of mothers from the SCN wrestling club, Trevor Chumbley (33-4) had a rooting section mat-side. It didn’t seem to bother Bryan Smith, of the Harvey Twisters, when he quickly jumped out to a 4-2 lead after one period. The Twisters have a reputation of winning most of their final matches if a title is at stake.

Unfortunately, Chumbley wasn’t content with being behind or the prospect of ending up runner-up, so he pushed the wrestling harder and vaulted to the lead on the strength of an escape and takedown, and a near-fall, all in the second period.

Even after giving up two points in the final period, Chumbley looked like he knew the match was his as he held on to the 8-6 decision.

“I felt I was in perfect control from the second period on,” stated Chumbley. “On our feet he was really good, and I just did a really poor job at defending him. I wrestled him last year so it feels great to win.” The scoring table moms were just as happy too.
 

Trevor Chumbley covers Bryan Smith.

 


 

74 pounds
 

In one of the most evenly fought bouts of the finals, James Pierandozzi, of the Bollingbrook Junior Raiders, and Dylan Fishback, of Bad Bass Wrestling, wrestled for 4:30 minutes with neither able to do much scoring.


Pierandozzi’s opening takedown was all he needed in the 3-1 decision. Pierandozzi effectively stymied everything Fishback tried with stellar defense and tactical evasiveness.  At the end, Fishback was desperately tried to score but was thwarted at every attempt, As the final seconds ticked away. Pierandozzi (49-3) shed tears after his hand was raised. Fishback walked away from the mat and looked proud of his efforts.

“I circled and snapped to keep him away,” said Pierandozzi. “My coaches helped me work on defense, I’m glad they did.”

He said it’s going to be harder to stay at a championship level, but he is going to work hard to do that.
 


Pierandozzi gets his arm raised as the 74-pound state champion.

 


 

79 pounds

 

Donnell Washington eyes the crowd after his win in the all-Harvey Twisters final.


The Harvey Twisters paired up to decide who would bring home the 79-pound title. Teammates Donnell Washington and Joshua Ogunsanya faced off. The physically bigger Washington didn’t take long to win his championship despite sporting a whopper of a bump over his right eye. The swelling was so pronounced, it forced Washington’s eye closed after the match.

After a quick takedown, he powered Ogunsanya over to his back and got the fall in 52 seconds. Washington got what he came for - a 2013 state championship. Ogunsanya made the finals the hard way winning four bouts in route but was overmatched in his final match.

Giggling from the obvious attention his swelling was getting, Washington (33-2) said of bout; “Things weren’t that way all the time here, but I'm glad it was kinda quick. I think my cradle worked great for me here.”

Washington credited his family for his success, and said his mom and sister helped him become a better wrestler. What other 11-year-old wrestler has his mom and sister making him a better wrestler?
 


 

84 pounds
 

Logan Johnson, of King Select Wrestling, grimaces under the attack of Juan Bazaldua, of Martinez Fox Valley Elite.

 

Reaching the finals for the second-straight year, Juan Bazaldua (69-3), of Martinez Fox Valley Elite, hoped for a better outcome. He already had a silver medal and now wanted the coveted gold medal. To do so he needed to defeat 2013 seventh-place finisher Logan Johnson, of King Select Wrestling.

Bazaldua didn’t wait. He took the match to Johnson and opened an early 4-1 lead. After another takedown, Bazaldua eased up but still managed to keep Johnson at bay. He limited his opponent's opportunities and cruised to his gold medal with the 6-1 decision.

Bazaldua said: “I didn’t want to get up and give him a chance to throw me, so I kept it on the mat the last period. I thought my shots were good, but I shut it down a little when I was ahead. This is way better than second place.”
 

Juan Bazaldua, top, works toward his state title.

 


 

89 pounds
 

Markus Hartman, top, of the Barrington Broncos, works against Will Lewan, of the Izzy Style School of Wrestling.

 

Last year both finalists wrestled at the state championships at 79 pounds and took home medals. Markus Hartman, of the Barrington Broncos WC, finished third and Will Lewan took home the fifth-place award in 2012.

Now both reached the finals and each looked to finish on top. Two periods produced a 0-0 display on the scoreboard. Choosing down in the final period, Hartman (50-4) managed to reverse Lewan to take the lead. Lewan followed with an escape and worked hard to get back into the the lead as time ticked away. But good defensive counters kept Hartman ahead 2-1 lead and earned him the eventual low-scoring decision.

“My matches are usually close, 4-0, 2-1, those are my normal matches,” said Hartman, who prefers the top position for controlling bouts. “I like the top because of my Jujitsu, using my hips and legs really works for me. I do think I need to work on my feet more and shoot a little more but I still prefer mat wrestling. I’ll get better.”
 


 

95 pounds
 

Gabriel Berta, top, of the Lemont Bears, holds Jackson O'Reilly, of the Team No Ego Wrestling Club.

 

Jackson O’Reilly, of Team No Ego WC, reached the finals after wrestling four matches. His route to the finals showed he could win the close ones and dominate as needed. For Gabriel Berta, of the Lemont Bears, his sectional championship allowed him to wrestle one less bout but when he got on the mat, he showed he knew how to win, by fall or by decision.

Berta jumped ahead with his opening takedown and still led after two periods. He reversed O’Reilly and keep a 4-2 lead heading to the last period.

Trying to hold on to the slim lead, Berta couldn’t keep a revved-up O’Reilly from scoring and turning a 4-2 deficit into a 7-4 advantage. With Berta fighting from his back, O’Reilly wasn’t easing up. He worked for the fall, but time expired and O’Reilly (50-12) smirked knowing he was the champion.

“Once I got the cradle I wasn’t gonna let go, I’d rather break my hands,” said an elated O’Reilly. “I wasn’t very offensive at the beginning but I think it just takes me a little time to get going. Maybe it's because I don’t get a good warm-up before each match, I have to get better at that. I knew I had won the match when I looked over and saw there was eight seconds left, and my coaches were jumping up and down.”
 

Gabriel Berta, left, tries to hold off Jackson O'Reilly.

 

 

101 pounds
 

B.J. Bailey, of the Harvey Twisters, lifts Anthony Randazzo, of the Golden Eagle Wrestling Club.

 

For some athletes, winning a championship is all the matters; for others it’s not as important as long as they give your all. For the 2013 finalists, each knew what it took. It was fresh on their minds after both finished among the top eight wrestlers in 2012.

Harvey Twister B.J. Bailey was the runner-up at 84 pounds, and Anthony Randazzo, of the Golden Eagles, finished eighth at 79.

Bailey was sharp early and jumped out to a 4-1 lead, that he held throughout. Randazzo had not been in this situation all tournament winning quite easily in his previous three bouts. He tried all he could to get back in the match but was denied. Bailey scored again to extend his lead as he again lifted Randazzo off the mat. Controlling Randazzo in the final period and waiting for the final buzzer was all that kept Bailey from earning his first State Championship and that too eventually came.

“I was kinda nervous with all the people looking at me but I tried to keep my composure in the match because I wanted this,” said Bailey. “I was trying to get my doubles in and work my shots in too because I was taller and used my legs to pick him up. I feel really good and want to thank God for what he did.”

Anthony Randazzo smothers B.J. Bailey.

 


 

Premium Preps links

Opening day photo gallery

Championship day photo gallery

Senior Division championship recaps


 

Today's Schedule: Season Schedule