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Emille Shannon (right), of King Select, controls Colt Smith, of Celtic Elite, in the IKWF senior state finals 122-pound title match March 15 in Rockford. Shannon won 5-1.

Championships run in the Jimenez family

IKWF crowns champions at senior state meet

By Kevin McGavin
Photos by Ken Dado

ROCKFORD—It was as if the Illinois High School Association state wrestling tournament had a near replay of its Class 3A 126-pound state championship match at Illinois Kids Wrestling Federation senior division state final Saturday night at the BMO Harris Bank Center.

On the high school side, Johnny Jimenez became a four-time state champion at the expense of Glenbard North senior Jon Marmolejo on Feb. 22 in Champaign.

At the 156-pound division of the IKWF state finals, Nate Jimenez, the younger brother of the Wisconsin-bound Marmion Academy senior, was pitted against Jayleen Fitzpatrick, who will enter Glenbard North next fall.

Jimenez used three third-period takedowns against Fitzpatrick to seal a 9-2 triumph.

The lone senior division finalist for the St. Charles North Wrestling Club proved to be a symbolic champion in Rockford: SCN captured the team title. The eighth-grader was one of several returning champions who repeated.

“I have been working for it all year,” said Jimenez, who dropped a lone match in 47 bouts this winter. “I had to keep working the pace on (Fitzpatrick). I was so tired but had to keep working. I guess (this title and novice 138-pound championship last year) are about the same (to me).”

Jack Jessen was a logical choice for the most valuable wrestler from the 18 weight classes.

The 166-pounder from Villa Park native had nothing but falls in easing to a fourth-straight state championship.

Runner-up Cameron Nichols also pinned his way to the finals, but the Westville Youth member was the only athlete to last more than a period against Jessen.

The winner and Martinez Family product ended the final match 28 seconds into the second period.

“It’s all about getting to the next level,” Jessen said. “I am also looking at my (high school) options. I may go to (hometown public school) Willowbrook, but I’m not sure yet. I think I can compete at a high level (in high school).”

As if Oak Park-River Forest--which captured the IHSA Class 3A team state championship -- needed any more ammunition, the program has at least two more coveted athletes about to enter its wrestling room.

Anthony Madrigal, of the Huskies’ middle-school feeder program, also became a four-time state champion with his 5-0 victory at 101 pounds.

“I can’t explain how this feels,” Madrigal said. “I have worked so hard for this. I deserve this title. I just kept on attacking and pushing the pace. I worked so hard for four (titles).”

Eventual state champion, We Rachel (bottom), of the Harvey Twisters, finds himself in a difficult situation against Crusader Elite wrestler Danny Braunagel. Rachal escaped and went on to win the IKWF senior 130-pound title 5-4.

We Rachel, another incoming OPRF freshman, captured the championship at 130 pounds.

Barrington eighth-grader Markus Hartman also made a statement to be a top underclassman during the next prep wrestling season.

In claiming a second-straight championship, Hartman had few issues during a third-period fall at 108 pounds.

Hartman and Robert Precin began their championship collision pretty in strategic mode.

After a scoreless opening period, Hartman scored the first point.

“I knew that I would get (an escape),” he said. “I was expecting (Precin) to get one.”

But it never materialized; Hartman used a third-period reversal as the linchpin of his win by pin.

“I just saw that pin there and took it,” he said.

Izzy Style 79-pounder Joey Melendez, a Norridge resident, recorded the quickest fall (25 seconds). Hononegah 177-pounder Anthony Cassioppi took his title with a pin.

Bismarck heavyweight Cody Miller was the last of the five titleists who won via fall.

“I wanted revenge on him,” Melendez said of his quick dispatch of Danville native Anthony Turner. “He beat me in the state finals two years ago. (Turner) is always in good position. He threw his arm up, and I knew I had to take advantage of that.”

Juwan Robinson (top,) of the Bolingbrook Jr. Raiders, keeps the pressure on Rochelle WC's Alex Harvey in the IKWF 138-pound final. Robinson won with a 7-4 decision.

IKWF state championships were also won by: Justin Cardani, Champaign, 74 pounds; Dylan Burnoski, Bolingbrook, 84; Garrett Bass, King Select, 89; Hassan Johnson, Harvey, 95; Brett Hancock, West Hancock, 115; Emille Shannon, King Select, 122; Juwan Robinson, Bolingbrook, 138; Steven Silva, Spartan Elite, 147; Sergio Villalobos, Downers Grove, 189; Erick Cole, Moline, 215.

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