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Tournament celebrates memory of Bob Jahn


By Kevin McGavin

BOLINGBROOK -- Bob Jahn would have been thrilled to see more than 900 elementary and middle school-aged wrestlers vying for championships in five different divisions Sunday at Bolingbrook High School.
Jahn was the face of youth wrestling in Bolingbrook until he succumbed to cancer in 2004.
Kyle Jahn won the Class 2A 125-pound Illinois High School Association championship to cap an undefeated season prior to his father's death.
“That was the last match Bob ever saw,” his widow, Donna Jahn, said.
Elias Medina, a 1995 Bolingbrook graduate, runs the Bolingbrook Junior Raiders wrestling club, which sponsors the tournament.
“Bob was my coach my freshman year,” said Medina, whose club has swelled to more than 70  wrestlers after starting with less than 10 eight years ago. “He had already been a high school, college and international wrestler. That’s where I fell in love with the sport because of his passion.”
Jahn, wife Donna and their four children graduated from Bolingbrook High School.
In addition to his underclass coaching duties at the school, Jahn coached travel programs and was instrumental in the development of a program at Humphrey Junior High in Bolingbrook.
“Bob Jahn took me all over the place,” said Vince Hannon, a state runner-up his senior year at Montini. “He was the first person to take me out of state for a wrestling tournament. Bob Jahn was an amazing man. I miss him all the time.”
Hannon’s father, Bill, developed a close friendship with the elder Jahn.
“I met Bob’s kids before I met Bob,” Bill Hannon said. “I told him I liked his kids; the kind of kids I wanted my kids hanging around with. We both had the same love for the sport.”
Athletes from across the state convened at Bolingbrook to compete in the tournament that bore Jahn's name.
Sunday marked the seventh incarnation of the Bob Jahn Memorial. Wrestlers ranging in age from 4 to 14 took part in the event.
The inaugural event featured 125 competitors.
“In six years (the tournament) has increased to 960 participants, becoming one of the biggest ... in Illinois,” Medina said. “That’s what we try to do: put on a show for the kids.”
“It means a lot to know (Medina) has carried on Bob’s love for wrestling,” Donna Jahn said.
Wrestling is still a family affair for the Jahns. Sons Kyle, Ryan and Mike coach wrestling in various capacities.
They follow the lessons that Bob Jahn instilled his athletes. They were as much about life skills as anything else.
Vince Hannon relayed the story of an invaluable lesson he was taught.
“He took my medals away and told me I couldn’t have them back until I showed better sportsmanship,” Hannon said. “I don’t think Bolingbrook wrestling would be where it is today without him.”
Jahn's successes came as no surprise to Bill Hannon.
“(Bob) knew what to say to (his athletes) after a loss to keep them level-headed,” Hannon said. “Bob was a super nice guy.”
Jahn, who worked for the Illinois Department of Transportation, only spent a few years at the high school before moving over to the middle school, principally in order to work with his sons.
“He meant a lot to the program,” Vince Hannon said.
“The biggest (impact Bob had) was to put Bolingbrook on the map (as a wrestling) hotbed,” Medina said. “The wrestling room (at Humphrey) is named after Bob.”
The Junior Raiders wrestling club enjoyed a successful day with a dozen chamions at Jahn's tournament.
Devin Aguirre snared the tots’ title at 51 pounds.
Colin Kacera (55 pounds), Ryan Krestel (58) and Dominic Hargrove (70) secured wins in the Bantam Division.
Dimitrios Lalezas (71) and Andrew Dado (75) won titles in the at the intermediate level.
Robert Major (83) and Frank Beradi (94) captured Novice titles for the Raiders’ program.
Bolingbrook's Jacob Dado, Corey Sapp, Vince Ochoa and Ronald Tucker took respective titles 115-pound, 130-pound, 141-pound and heavyweight divisions.
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