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IKWF heads into season with momentum

By Dave Surico

The Illinois Kids Wrestling Federation (IKWF) heads into its upcoming 44th annual season with unprecedented momentum.

The state-wide organization contributed to a rare feat in freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling over the summer. Team Illinois dominated the boys individual competition at the ASICS/Vaughan Junior & Cadet National Championships and the equivalent team duals. When all the mats were rolled up and the results tabulated, Team Illinois swept all eight national championships.

“It shows the quality of wrestling that’s going on here in the state of Illinois,” said IKWF president Jim Considine. “The quality of wrestling, the quality of coaching and along with that the administration that puts it all together, if it wasn’t for all of these things, wrestling in Illinois wouldn’t be what it is.”

The IKWF organized the logistics for Team Illinois and also subsidized 20 percent of the more than $200,000 in trip expenses.

The enthusiasm for youth wrestling in the Land of Lincoln mirrors its success. Last season the IKWF grew to 15,223 members and overtook California as the biggest state youth wrestling organization in the country. It’s the first time the IKWF can stake that claim.

Team Illinois began its history-making win streak at the Cadet (ages  14-15) team dual tournaments June 11-15 in Orlando.

The Illinois Greco-Roman team topped Pennsylvania Red 60-18 in the title match.

The roll call of Illinois champion match winners included: Louie Hayes (88-pound weight class, 4-0 decision), Nolan Baker (94, pin); Jimmy Pawelski (100, 7-0), Andrew McFall (113, 14-10), Gabe Townsell (120, 7-0), Jonathon Doyle (126, 7-0), Riley Beard (132, injury default, Isaiah White (138, 9-1),  Larry Early (145, pin), Joey Gunther (152, 12-0), Kamal Bey (160, 9-0), Dru Worker (176, pin 2:16), Allen Stallings (195, 9-2) and Romeo McNight (220, pin).

Austin O`Connor (106), Andrew Marsden (182), and Adam Lempke-Bell (285) also competed in the finals.

Team Illinois won the Cadet freestyle division over Pennsylvania Red  by a 43-31 margin.

The championship match winners were: Nolan Baker (94, 2-1), Jimmy Pawelski (100, 10-0), Isaiah White (138, pin), Larry Early (145, 11-0), Joey Gunther (152, 17-8), Kamal Bey (160, 11-0), Riley DeMoss (170, pin), Allen Stallings (195, pin) and Tyler Johnson (220, 10-0).

Louie Hayes (88), Austin O`Connor (106), A.J. Jaffe (113), Andrew Merholz (120), Shayne Oster (126), Jonathan Doyle (132), Andrew Marsden (182) and Edwin Phillips (285) also competed for Team Illinois.

Illinois’ junior teams (16-19-year-olds in high school) also swept through the team championships June 25-29 in Oklahoma City.

The freestyle squad defeated Michigan Blue 38-24.

Miguel Silva Jr. (106, 13-4), Michael Cullen (113, 10-0), Tommy Pawelski (120, 12-2), Jered Cortez (126, 11-0), Bryce Brill (145, inj. default), Brian Murphy (152, 10-0), Xavier Montalvo (160, 10-0), Davonte Mahomes (170, 11-1) and Ricky Robertson (195, 11-0) posted wins for Illinois.

Kirk Johansen (100), Jordan Laster (132), Nick Gil (138), Joey Ariola (182) and Michael Hobbs (285) also competed. Illinois forfeited the 220-pound match.

The Greco-Roman team downed Michigan Blue 37-28.

Kirk Johansen (100, 10-3), Miguel Silva Jr. (106, 13-4), Nate Smith (113, pin), Tommy Pawelski (120, 8-0), Darius Henry (132, 7-0), Nick Georgean (152, 11-0), Xavier Montalvo (160, 8-0), Ricky Robertson (195, 4-1) and Sage Hecox (220, 10-2) won championship matches.

Jon Marmolejo (126), John Gahagan (138), Cullen Cummings (145) and Adarios Jones (285) also competed for Illinois. The team forfeited the  matches at 170 and 182 pounds.

On July 12-20 in Fargo, N.D., the boys junior and cadet teams each finished with titles in the Greco-Roman and Freestyle divisions.

The Cadet Division wrestlers earned 38 All-America honors.

Louie Hayes (88 pounds, GR champ, FS 3rd), Austin Gomez (94, GR champ, FS runner-up), Gabriel Townsell (120, GR champ, FS runner-up), Larry Early (138, GR champ, 145, FS 3rd), Kamal Bey (160, GR 3rd, FS runner-up) and Antonio James (285, GR runner-up, FS 6th) led the dual honorees.

Andrew Marsden (185, GR 3rd, 182, FS 5th), Dru Worker (170, GR 8th, FS 7th), Romeo McKnight (220, GR 8th, FS 6th), Adam Lemke-Bell (285, GR 8th, FS 4th) shared the elite status.

Team Illinois took the 32-state Cadet Greco-Roman division with 86 points, 36 more than runner-up Minnesota. Wisconsin completed the Midwest sweep with 41 third place points

Illinois’ weight class champions were Louie Hayes (88, 7-0), Austin Gomez (94, pin), Gabriel Townsell (120, 7-0) and Larry Early (138, 6-2).

Dylan Duncan (106), Antonio James (285),  and Joey Gunther (145) who lost to the meet’s outstanding wrestler -- Mason Manville, of New Jersey, recorded second place finishes.

Riley Beard (132), Kamal Bey (160) and Andrew Marsden (185) won third place matches.

Illinois’ medalists included: Jimmy Pawelski (100, 4th place); Nolan Baker (100, 6th); Eric Schultz (160, 8th) and Michael Bruno (185, 7th).

The Cadet freestyle team posted the biggest margin of victory with a 99-60 finish over Pennsylvania. Ohio came in third with 43 points in the 34-team tournament. Champions Isaiah White (138, 8-5) and Tyler Johnson (195, pin) led the way for the Land of Lincoln.

Austin Gomez (94), Gabriel Townsell (120), Trace Carello (152), Kamal Bey (160) earned second place points for their home state. Louie Hayes (88), Alexander Butler (132), Larry Early (145) and Jose Champagne (152) won third place matches.

Travis Piotrowski (106, 6th), Andrew Mehrholz 113, 6th), Matt Ferraro (152, 6th), Tyler DeMoss (170, 6th), Riley DeMoss (160, 7th) and A. Phyllip DeLoach (8th, 138) rounded out the scorers.

The junior wrestlers earned 33 All-America spots.

Davonte Mahomes (160 GR champ, FS runner-up) and Kirk Johansen (100 GR runner-up, FS champion) led the quintet of wrestlers who earned dual honors. Tommy Pawelski (120 GR 5th,FS 4th), Edgar Ruano (220 GR 5th, FS 5th) and Michael Hobbs (285 GR 7th, FS 8th) rounded out the elite group.

Illinois’ 70 points topped runner-up Minnesota’s 45 in the junior Greco-Roman tournament. Wisconsin finished third with 37 points in the 31-team event.

Davonte Mahomes was the lone Illinois champion. He defeated teammate Xavier Montalvo 4-0 at 160 pounds. Kirk Johansen finished second at 100 pounds, and Alex Benoit (195) and Adarios Jones (285) finished third to complete the top-three finishes for Team Illinois.

Shaun Ramey (106, 4th); Kegan Calkins (113, 5th); Jonathan Marmolejo (126, 5th); Sir Romeo Howard (145, 5th),  Zach Pickering (152, 6th),  Joel Shump (132, 7th), Matthew Stopka (195, 7th), Brady Wilsie (100, 8th) and Nick Georgean (152, 8th) contributed valuable points.

Team Illinois tallied 69 points to take the 33-team Junior Division freestyle tournament. Oklahoma earned 46 points for second place. Third place California was four points further back.

Kirk Johansen (100, 14-4) and Jared Cortez (126, 4-0) represented Illinois at the top of the podium.

Brian Rossi (113) and Davonte Mahomes (160) tallied second place points. Michael Cullen (113) and Kyle Akins (120) posted third place wins.

Derrick Maisonet (220, 6th) Nick Lukanich (106 pounds, 7th place), Brian Murphy (152, 7th), Carlos Fuentez Jr. (106, 8th), Steve Polakowski (120, 8th) and George Fisher (132, 8th) rounded out the podium appearances.

Illinois youth wrestling added to the success with a win in the Schoolboy (ages 12-13) freestyle duals June 5-9 in Indianapolis.

Team Illinois defeated Pennsylvania Blue 41-34 for the title. After dropping four of the first five matches, Team Illinois reeled off six straight wins to take control.

Championship match winners were: Tony Madrigal (91 pounds, 10-0 dec.); Jason Renteria (105, 13-3); Jake Polka (112, 16-6); Blaize Punke (120, 10-6); Jaime Hernandez (128, 8-0); Trevell Timmons (136, 9-0); Jack Jessen (144, 10-0); Jacob Warner (160, 15-4); Mason Kroenig (175, pin 1:44); and Blake Zalapi (210, 13-3).

Justin Cardani (70 pounds), Joey Melendez (77), Holden Heller (84), Will Lewan (98); Nate Jiminez (152); and Cole Bateman (190) also wrestled in the championship dual. Team Illinois forfeited at 265 pounds.

Team Illinois lost to Pennsylvania Blue 39-36 in the Greco-Roman championship dual match. Team Illinois won more matches (9-8) but recorded only one pin to Pennsylvania Blue’s four.

Team Illinois winners were: Will Lewan (91, 7-0 dec.); Tony Madrigal (98, 2-1): Jason Renteria (105, 7-0); Zach Villarreal (112, pin); Blaize Punke (120, 10-2); Jaime Hernandez (128, 3-0); Trevell Timmons (136, 12-4); Jack Jessen (144, 10-3); and Jacob Warner (175, 10-0).

Justin Cardani (70); Joey Melendez (77), Sean Mckenna (84), Andrew Okayama (152); Mason Kroenig (160); Nathan Shultz (190); Blake Zalapi (210) and Hunter Bowles (265) also wrestled for Team Illinois.

Stephanie Nadig earned All-America status with an eighth place finish at 115 pounds for Team Illinois' women’s cadet team.

Washington (Ill.) High School’s Bryan Medlin was named USA Wrestling's Cadet Greco-Roman Coach of the Year.

Today's Schedule: Season Schedule