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Vanik hopes to go far in Fargo

in Wrestling by

Kaneland junior qualifies for Nationals
SUGAR GROVE—After becoming the youngest Knight ever to medal at the State Tournament back in March, Riley Vanik kept the momentum going into the offseason.

But after winning the 2015 Greco-Roman State Meet in the 185-pound category in late April in Lockport, Ill., and winning the Second-Chance Qualifier in Freestyle in the same weight class May 30 in Sycamore, Vanik punched his ticket to the Asics Vaughan Cadet and Junior National Championships in Fargo, N.D., July 18-25. The top two place winners will advance to the national tournament in each weight class and division.

Vanik will wrestle in the Cadet division, which features athletes born between 1998-2000. This is the first year Vanik has competed in the Freestyle and Greco-Roman styles.

“I decided to come out to do this because I saw that the best wrestlers in college for folkstyle had also had a Freestyle and Greco Roman wrestling background,” Vanik said. “This made me realize that to be the best wrestler that I can be I need to diversify my wrestling and try something new out.”

The Cadet and Junior National Championships is considered the top youth event in the United States. Wrestlers from every state travel to the tournament, held in the Fargodome, to test their skills against the nation’s best Freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestlers. College coaches and scouts are a common sight at the tournament.

Support Vanik

Vanik’s trip to the National Championships in Fargo, N.D., is a self-funded endeavor. He is raising money to pay for his expenses, which include his
Team Illinois gear, travel expenses, tournament entry fees and room and board.

To help Vanik fund his trip, call (630)-338-7769.

Vanik has been training non-stop since the fall of 2014. After his successful sophomore season at Kaneland, where he earned a sixth-place medal at the IHSA State Tournament at 160 pounds, he began training with coaches Justin Perch and Izzy Martinez at Izzy Style Wrestling in Addison, Ill., four days a week.

“When I first thought about competing (in Greco-Roman and Freestyle), I wasn’t expecting much. I wasn’t too familiar with the rules, and the technique was pretty awkward for me. But with the help of my coaches I started to pick it up pretty quickly,” Vanik said. “I knew that I was going to do fairly well with my many years of Folkstyle wrestling background, but I had no idea that I would be going to Fargo this year. That came as a huge surprise.”

Before he embarks to Fargo, there’s no rest for Vanik. A three-day camp at the Martinez Wrestling Facility with coaches Nate Martinez and KHS coach Joe Orosco is coming up, followed by the Relentless Pursuit camp at Oak Park-River Forest High School in Oak Park, Ill., July 6-10. He then travels to Champaign, Ill., for training camp with the rest of Team Illinois from July 13-18 before heading to Fargo to compete in the National Championships.

“It can be pretty difficult balancing everything at times, but I have gotten the hang of it. I’ve had to prioritize all of my commitments and put them into a schedule of what has to get done and how important is it,” he said.

Vanik looks forward to the challenges that await him in Fargo.

“I’m feeling pretty excited about Nationals. I think it will be a fun experience, and I can’t wait for all the great competition. This is the biggest tournament in the nation, and I get to show off my skills against the best wrestlers in my weight class,” he said. “I’m feeling pretty confident right now, and I have high hopes. I’m going to give it my all to win it, and I believe I can, but no matter what happens I’m just happy that I have the chance to compete there.”

It’s a matter of style
There are three primary wrestling styles: Freestyle, Greco-Roman, and Folkstyle.

Freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling are the International/Olympic wrestling styles. Freestyle is different than Greco-Roman simply because Greco-Roman does not allow types of scoring below the waist (no leg attacks or trips). The main difference between Freestyle and Folkstyle is that in Freestyle competition (and Greco-Roman), you do not do anything while you’re on the bottom besides trying not to get turned. This is called par terre. Folkstyle—which is what is contested at the high school and collegiate levels—is the more traditional form of wrestling in the United States. The main difference between Folkstyle and Freestyle wrestling is that in Folkstyle competition, there are moves from the bottom position.

IHSA releases classifications for 2015-16 school year

in Baseball/Boys Basketball/Boys Cross Country/Boys Soccer/Boys Track/Football/Girls Basketball/Girls Cross Country/Girls Soccer/Girls Track/Golf/Softball/Tennis/Volleyball/Wrestling by

BLOOMINGTON, Ill.—The Illinois High School Association (IHSA) released the classifications breakdown for the 2015-16, and Kaneland will not see any changes to their sports landscape from the 2014-15 season.

• Baseball: 3A (four classes)
• Basketball (boys and girls): 3A (four classes)
• Cross Country
(boys and girls): 2A (three classes)
• Cheerleading: Middle
(three classes—small, medium, large)
• Dance: 2A (three classes)
• Football: Determined at the
end of the regular season
• Golf (boys): 2A (three classes)
• Golf (girls) AA (two classes)
• Softball: 3A (four classes)
• Scholastic Bowl: AA (two classes)
• Soccer (boys and girls): 2A (three classes)
• Track and Field (boys and girls):
2A (three classes)
• Volleyball: 3A (four classes)
• Wrestling: 2A (three classes)

Enrollment for the high school is up 19 students—1,310 to 1,329 —from the 2014-15 school year to the upcoming year. Since classification cut offs vary from sport to sport depending on the number of schools that participate in each sport throughout the state, the Knights had some close calls this upcoming season. Kaneland was 49 students away from moving up to 4A in basketball, 17 students away from moving to 4A in volleyball, and 11 away from moving up to 3A in track and field.

Up and down

in Wrestling by

Photo: Junior Austin Parks celebrates after earning fifth place at last weekend’s IHSA State Individual Tournament. Parks and the Knights took on Geneseo Tuesday night in the team Sectional as a team, but lost to the Leafs 43-26. Photo by Stephanie Vanik

Two Knights bring home individual medals; team falls in Sectional
KANELAND—It’s never easy to end a season on a loss, but the future looks bright for Joe Orosco’s Knights wrestling team.

The Knight grapplers celebrated two State medal winners this past weekend in junior Austin Parks and sophomore Riley Vanik. But a 43-26 loss to Geneseo in the Dual Team Sectional saw the Knight’s season end Tuesday. Kaneland finished as the sixth-ranked team in Class 2A, according to IllinoisMatmen.com.

Over the weekend at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, four Knights set their sights on individual glory at the State Individual Tournament. All four Knights won their opening-round match.

Parks was the highest-placing Knight, earning a 7-6 win over Lavall McNulty of Lincoln-Way West in the fifth-place match at 182 pounds. Parks won his opening match over Brandon Pettis of Hubbard 9-6 and a 3-1 sudden victory over Mahomet-Seymour’s Hunter Crowley in the quarterfinal. In the semifinal, Parks lost via technical fall to eventual State-champion Xavier Montalvo of Montini. In a chance to wrestle in the third-place match, Parks lost to Triad’s Alex Crehan 3-1 before prevailing in the fifth-place match.

Vanik became the youngest Knight to ever medal at the State tournament with his sixth-place showing at 160 pounds. He earned a 15-4 major decision over Carmel’s Nathan Morris before losing to Mt. Zion senior Jacob Morgan 6-3. A pin over Champaign Central’s Amir James gave Vanik a chance to get into the third-place match, but he lost 5-0 to Pontiac’s Jake Lanning. In the fifth-place match, a rematch with Morgan ended in a 3-1 overtime loss, but Vanik earned his medal with a sixth-place showing during the tournament.

Junior George Strang and sophomore Colin Gussman also competed at the tournament. Strang, wrestling at 145 pounds, won his opening match 7-4 over Kendall Miller of Rich East before losing 7-0 to eventual third-place winner Jake Eckenrod of Mt. Zion. In wrestlebacks, Anthony Swindell of Carmel ended Strang’s weekend with a 7-4 decision.

Gussman, wrestling at 170 pounds, won a high-scoring opening round over Rich South’s Cody Ralston 18-15 before getting pinned by eventual runner-up Cole Witzig of Triad. A 8-4 loss to Lakes junior Jared Smith ended Gussman’s weekend in wrestlebacks.

“The boys wrestled very well against some tough competition,” Orosco said Sunday. The good thing is they will be back next year.”

On Tuesday at Geneseo in the team Sectional round of 16, senior 285-pounder Zach Thielk gave Kaneland a 6-0 lead early with a pin over Cole Howard. Sophomore Austin Kedzie extended the Knight lead to 11-0 with his 16-1 technical fall at 106 pounds over Charlie Schlindwein. Geneseo would take a 12-11 lead with pins at 113 and 120 pounds before sophomore Matt Redman would take it back with a 16-0 technical fall at 126 pounds over Chase Boone.

The 16-12 lead after five matches was the last time KHS held the lead over the fourth-ranked Leafs. Two more Geneseo pins at 132 and 138 pounds put Geneseo up 24-16.
Strang got the Knights within four with a 15-6 win over Ethan Kennedy at 145 pounds, but Geneseo would rattle off four-straight decisions at 152, 160, 170 and 182 to grow its lead to 37-20. Senior Tom Price-Vanik earned the final Knight win of the season at 195 pounds with his pin over Justin Scott. A KHS forfeit at 220 pounds set the final at 43-26.

“We are hoping to add to our (individual) State qualifiers next year by increasing the number of our wrestlers who are participating in freestyle and greco this spring,” Orosco said. “We also need to commit to time in the weight room to get stronger.”

Final 4

in Wrestling by
Team Sectional information
The Knights will travel to Geneseo at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 24, with an opportunity to qualify for the Team State Tournament. Fourth-ranked Geneseo is the favorite, but the sixth-ranked Knights were only four points behind the Leafs when the teams met in January.

Four Knights proceed to State, team Sectional looms
STERLING, ILL.—The hits keep coming from the Knights.
Four individuals from coach Joe Orosco’s varsity lineup qualified out of the Sterling Sectional to the Individual State Tournament, which will begin Thursday at the State Farm Center on the campus of the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana.

George Strang
2nd Place, 145 pounds
Record: 27-12
Strang at Sterling earned a first-round bye before dispatching 12th-ranked (IllinoisMatmen.com) Bryce Sandoval of East Peoria 13-6. A 12-6 decision over Joliet’s Cameron Haney put Strang in the final against Daniel Close of Ottawa

Strang will open up the State meet against Rich East’s Kendall Miller, a senior with a 35-12 record.

Riley Vanik
4th Place, 160 pounds
Record: 32-10
Vanik earned a first-round bye and then defeated Cody Baldridge of Morris 7-2 before losing to Geneseo’s Josiah Cropp 5-2 in the semifinal. Vanik pinned Sterling’s Tyson Hall in 4:27 to earn his spot in the third-place match, where he lost to Pontiac’s Jake Lanning 7-3.

Sixth-ranked Vanik will open the State meet against Carmel junior Nathan Morris, ranked 5th with a 28-2 record.

Colin Gussman
3rd Place, 170 pounds
Record: 32-9
Parks earned a first-round bye before pinning Limestone’s Ervin Durking in 3:18. In the semifinal, Parks lost a close 5-4 battle with Trevor Schmidt of Lincoln-Way West. A 12-8 decision over Washington’s Ethan Sperry got Parks to the third-place match. Parks was awarded third place via injury by Geneseo’s Ryan Pitra.

The eighth-ranked Parks will open the state meet against 11th-ranked Brandon Pettis, a 39-1 senior out of Hubbard.

Austin Parks
3rd Place, 182 pounds
Record: 25-6
Gussman earned a first-round bye and then proceeded to defeat Lincoln-Way West’s Anthony Bendy 5-3. In the semifinal, Gussman lost to eventual champion Jake Warner (41-3, top-ranked wrestler at 170) of Washington by technical fall. Gussman defeated Sycamore’s Michael Beaudoin 5-3 to get into the third-place match, where he used a 3-1 decision over Geneseo’s Cole Hunzeker to secure third place.

The seventh-ranked Gussman will open the State meet against sixth-ranked Cody Ralston, a junior out of Rich South with a 32-9 record.


Editor’s note: In the print edition of the Feb. 19, 2015 Elburn Herald, we mixed up the names of Austin Parks and Colin Gussman. They are correct here on the online version. The Elburn Herald regrets the error.

Knights wrestlers win Regional

in Wrestling by
Sophomore Colin Gussman was one of four Knights to win an individual Regional title.
Photo by Stephanie Vanik
The Knights dominated the Belvidere Regional Saturday, earning the team’s sixth wrestling title in school history. Photo by Stephanie Vanik
The Knights dominated the Belvidere Regional Saturday, earning the team’s sixth wrestling title in school history. Photo by Stephanie Vanik

10 Knights advance to Individual Sectional; team to Dual Sectional
BELVIDERE, ILL.—For the sixth time in school history—and second since joining Class 2A—the Kaneland varsity wrestling team took home the team championship at Saturday’s Belvidere Regional.

Led by four individual championships, Joe Orosco earned his second tournament win as head coach in grand fashion, easily outdistancing the Regional field with 170 points. Northern Illinois Big XII conference-mate Sycamore was second with 132 points, while the historically tough Sandwich team of the Interstate 8 was third with 109.

Sophomore Colin Gussman was one of four Knights to win an individual Regional title. Photo by Stephanie Vanik
Sophomore Colin Gussman was one of four Knights to win an individual Regional title.
Photo by Stephanie Vanik

By winning the Regional crown, the Knights advance to face Geneseo in the team Dual Sectional Quarterfinal. But before that happens, it’s time for the individual Knights to seek personal glory.

At Belvidere, George Strang (145 pounds), Riley Vanik (160), Colin Gussman (170) and Austin Parks (182) all took home the top spot in their respective weight classes.

Strang, a junior, began his day with a pin over Sycamore’s Samm Cottone before earning a 6-4 win over Sandwich’s Anthony Rivas. In the final, Strang got a 7-5 win over Marengo’s Joe Mier to win the championship.

The sophomore Vanik dominated his early matches, with a pin over Boylan’s Fernard Harris in 1:16 and a major decision over Rochelle’s Alex Eckhardt before squaring off against Sycamore’s Michael Ernster in the final. Vanik used a 6-3 decision to secure the title for the Knights.

Another sophomore Gussman earned a first-round bye before defeating Sandwich’s Alex Maisonet 6-4. In the final it was all Gussman, winning 6-2 over Belvidere’s Gage Brewer 6-2.

Parks, a junior, also had a first-round bye before pinning Peter Konstantacos of Boylan in 1:27. In the final, Parks outdistanced Sycamore’s Christopher Malone—ranked fifth in 2A—9-6.

There were two more Knights that made the championship match, but came away with runner-up honors.

Matt Redman, a sophomore wrestling at 126 pounds, earned a first-round bye before dropping a 7-0 decision on Burlington Central’s Nick Maldonado. In the final, Redman lost to Sandwich’s Tommy Dale 3-1 in overtime.

__jraustinparksSenior Tom Price-Vanik was another Knight who enjoyed a first-round bye before quickly dispatching Burlington Central’s Matt Overstreet via pin in 30 seconds. It was Marengo’s Justin Dauphin, who is on IllinoisMatmen.com’s honorable mention list at 285 pounds, that pinned Price-Vanik in 4:32.

Four more Knights battled for third-place honors—and the final individual qualifying positions in their weight classes—with all four succeeding and punching their tickets to the Sterling Sectional.

Sophomore Austin Kedzie pinned Marengo’s Landen Pfieffer in 3:34, but lost a close 3-2 decision to Sandwich’s Nevin Thielk. It took a pin over Yves Worou of Belvidere to get to the third-place match, where Kedzie pinned Rochelle’s Justin Hernandez in 3:29.

Junior George Strang was one of four Knights to win an individual Regional title. Photo by Stephanie Vanik
Junior George Strang was one of four Knights to win an individual Regional title.
Photo by Stephanie Vanik

Senior Adam Mish pinned Sycamore’s Levi Peters in just 49 seconds, but was pinned by eventual champ Christian Arias of Belvidere, who came into the Regional with a 38-1 record. Mish coasted into the third place match via a bye before earning a 13-2 major decision over Sandwich’s Jacob Newberry.

Junior Zac Parker pinned Belvidere’s Enrique Morales in 4:31 before losing a 1-0 decision to Sandwich’s Kyle Eighner, the eventual champion. Parker came back to dispatch Rochelle’s Eli Keating 6-0, and rolled to a 6-2 win in the third-place match over Burlington Central’s Kyle Blankenburg.

Senior big man Zach Thielk, wrestling at 285, earned a first-round bye before losing to Sycamore’s Devin Knight in an overtime ultimate tiebreaker. Thielk then pinned Will Lawhorn of Rochelle before winning 9-2 over Sandwich’s Jason Howell in the third-place match.

Sophomore Riley Vanik was one of four Knights to win an individual Regional title. Photo by Stephanie Vanik
Sophomore Riley Vanik was one of four Knights to win an individual Regional title.
Photo by Stephanie Vanik

The 10 individuals now travel to Sterling on Saturday for a shot to qualify individually to the State Final, set to take place Feb. 19-21 at State Farm Center in Champaign, Ill.

The Knights will get a rematch at the Sectional with Geneseo—a team that edged the Knights 32-28 back on Jan. 15—on Feb. 24.

“I’m looking forward to the rematch,” Orosco said.

So close

in Wrestling by

Photo: Junior Zac Parker (182 pounds) helped the Knights dominate the upper-middleweights against Batavia Friday. Photo by Stephanie Vanik

Wrestlers can’t ruin Batavia senior night
BATAVIA—In a rare Friday night dual, the Knight wrestlers fell just short of ruining Batavia’s senior night, losing 31-26 in the team’s regular-season finale.

The Knights fell behind 15-0 after the first three matches (including a forfeit at 113 pounds) before Adam Mish earned a 5-3 win at 120 pounds to cut the Bulldog lead to 12.

Matt Redman added three more team points at 126 pounds to cut the lead to nine before Batavia jumped out to a 22-6 lead.

George Strang got the Knights back on the board with a major decision to cut the lead to 22-10.

Kanelands’ upper-middleweights made things interesting, as Kaneland won every match from 160 to 195 pounnds.

Riley Vanik earned the lone Knight pin in 1:51 at 160 pounds to close the lead to nine again. Colin Gussman (170) earned a 17-6 to pull the Knights within five points. Zac Parker’s (182) 5-2 win got the score to 25-23, and Austin Park’s 1-3 win at 195 got the Knights the lead at 26-25 with one match to go.

Tom Price-Vanik, wrestling up at 220 pounds from his usual 195 pounds, couldn’t overcome Upstate 8 Conference Champion Dylan Uzumecki, eventually losing by fall to the Bulldog.

The Knights now focus solely on the post-season, with the Belvidere Individual Regional taking place this Saturday. The nine-team field includes 25 wrestlers ranked by IllinoisMatmen.com—seven of which are Knights. Those that qualify move on to the Sterling Individual Sectional Saturday, Feb. 14.

Wrestlers hold their own against NIB-12

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___jrgeorgestrangPhoto: Junior George Strang (right) earned All-Conference Saturday at the Northern Illinois Big XII Tournament in Yorkville. Sophomore Collin Gussman (below) was the runner-up at 170 pounds, earning All-Conference. Photos by Stephanie Vanik

Five earn All-Conference; team places fourth
YORKVILLE—Nine of the 10 teams in the conference appear on the IllinoisMatmen.com team rankings—from honorable mention to fourth place in Class 2A. Couple that with an individual field that featured 23 ranked wrestlers and another 26 on the honorable mention list, and it’s clear the Kaneland Knights held their own at Saturday’s annual Northern Illinois Big XII Conference tournament.

The Kaneland team, ranked sixth in Class 2A, finished fourth in the team standings with 119 points. Nine Knights cracked the top six, with five earning all-conference honors and another honorable mention all-conference.

Host Yorkville, ranked 15th in Class 3A, was crowned NIB-12 champions for the third-straight year, narrowly edging out Geneseo (ranked fourth in Class 2A) 215.5-212. Class 3A DeKalb (honorable mention) was third with 151 points, and Class 2A No. 15 Sycamore rounded out the top five with 112 points, seven behind KHS.
Colin Gussman, ranked No. 10 at 170 pounds, was the lone Knight to make it to a championship match, facing off against Yorkville’s Joey Nauman but losing to the Foxes’ junior to earn runner-up and All-Conference honors.

A bevy of third-places helped propel the Knights, with George Strang (145 pounds), Riley Vanik (160 pounds), Austin Parks (182 pounds) and Zach Thielk (285 pounds) all winning their matches and earning All-Conference accolades.

Strang opened his day with a loss against Yorkville’s Brody Sharp (eventual runner-up), but battled back by earning a fall against Sycamore’s Samm Cottone and decisions against Sterling’s Keagan Kaye and DeKalb’s Howie Olson to reach the third-place match. Against Geneseo’s Ethan Kennedy, Strang dominated his way to third place with a major decision.

Vanik, ranked No. 8 in Class 2A, pinned Rochelle’s Alex Eckhardt before losing to No. 8-ranked in Class 3A Bryce Shewan of Yorkville in the semifinal. In the third-place match, Vanik put up a decision against Morris’ Cody Baldridge.

Parks, ranked No. 12, started off his day with a major decision win over Sterling’s Brian Folsom, but lost a close match to second-ranked and eventual champion Ryan Pitra in the semifinal. Parks would earn decisions over LaSalle-Peru’s Kayne Jenkins and Yorkville’s Derek Cajina to get third place.

Thielk pinned Rochelle’s Will Lawhorn, but lost to Sterling’s 10th-ranked Cariel Beasley to fall to the consolation bracket. There, Thielk pinned Geneseo’s Cole Howard before earning a decision over Morris’ Andrew Faught.

Tom Price-Vanik defeated DeKalb’s Leif Williams before losing to eventual champion, ninth-ranked Paul Turner of Ottawa. After defeating Saul Serrano of Sterling, Price-Vanik lost a rematch against Williams in the third-place match, but still earned honorable mention All Conference standing.

Matt Redman lost to runner-up Brenden McGee of DeKalb in the 126-pound quarterfinals, and to No. 9 Isaac Anderson of Sterling to settle for a clash with Geneseo’s Chase Boone for fifth place. Redman dispatched Boone via major decision.

At 120 pounds, Adam Mish lost his first match versus ninth-ranked Isaac Figueroa of Sterling, but battled back to make it to the fifth-place match against Yorkville’s Brett Stauffenberg, eventually losing in a major decision.

Luke Eggenberger lost to eventual runner-up Logan Mathey of Sycamore to fall to the consolation bracket. There, he defeated Colton Stage of Sterling before getting pinned by LaSalle-Peru’s Gino Nessenger. In the fifth-place match, Eggenberger lost a major decision to Rochelle’s Jake Meyers, placing sixth.

Up next for the Knight grapplers is a dual on Friday against Johnson Mound hill-mate Batavia. The Bulldogs host the Knights at 5:30 p.m.

Hard work pays off

in Wrestling by
Individual champions Junior George Strang (from left), sophomore Riley Vanik, head coach Joe Orosco, senior Tom Price-Vanik and sophomore Colin Gussman pose with the first-place plaque from Saturday’s Margaret Flott Invitational, which Kaneland won as a team.   Photo by Stephanie Vanik
Individual champions Junior George Strang (from left), sophomore Riley Vanik, head coach Joe Orosco, senior Tom Price-Vanik and sophomore Colin Gussman pose with the first-place plaque from Saturday’s Margaret Flott Invitational, which Kaneland won as a team.
Photo by Stephanie Vanik

Wrestlers take Flott Invitational championship
KANELAND—Joe Orosco earned his first tournament win as Kaneland High School wrestling head coach Saturday behind four first-place finishes, and seven more wrestlers in the top five, at Kaneland’s Margaret Flott Invitational.

“It’s good to win our own tournament,” Orosco said after the Knights clinched the victory. “I knew coming in with these tougher teams—Naperville North, Machesney Park (Harlem)—they are tough teams, (and) I was thinking we’d wrestle tough, but I didn’t expect to win it.”

Orosco’s crew finished with 196 points, 19.5 ahead of runner-up Naperville North’s 176.5 and Harlem’s 172. Plainfield North (152), Niles North (142), Johnsburg (114), Rochelle (54) and Elgin (41) rounded out the field. The Knights had won four straight Flott Invitationals from 2010-13, and placed second in 2014.

“They did very, very well,” Orosco said of his wrestlers.

Four Knights earned tournament wins on their home mat Saturday: George Strang (junior, 145 pounds), Colin Gussman (sophomore ,170), and brothers Riley Vanik (sophomore, 160) and Tom Price-Vanik (senior, 195).

Strang’s road to the 145-pound championship saw the junior get a first-round bye before edging out Joe Broton of Niles North 5-4 in the semifinal. In the championship, Strang burst out to a 6-2 lead after the first period. After an uneventful second, a Broton escape in the third brought the score to 6-3 before Strang was able to put him away for an 8-4 final. It was Strang’s first tournament win.

“It’s great to have (my first tournament win) at home, because everyone you love is watching you,” Strang said. “Winning the tournament just means we’ve seen improvements, but there’s always things I can work on.”

Gussman pinned Javier Aguirre of Rochelle in his quest for glory at 170 pounds, before earning an 18-13 major decision win over Harlem’s Dalton Hambrock in the semifinal. In the championship, it was all Gussman, earning a 5-0 decision over Calvin Rosenburgh of Niles North.

“I finally feel like I’ve earned it,” Gussman said. “I’ve put all this hard work in, just trying to do my best every day in practice. And I’m hoping this is what I get out of it the rest of the year.”

At 160 pounds, Vanik earned an opening-round 10-3 major decision win over Johnsburg’s Riley Buchanan, and a 10-2 major decision over Rochelle’s Alex Eckhardt in the semifinal. In the championship match, Vanik was up 4-1 after the first period, and pushed his lead to 6-1 before pinning Naperville North’s Steve Schmult in 2:29.

“I’m so happy, because I lost last year (at the Flott Tournament),” Vanik said. “The team works so hard to get everyone better, and knowing I could win at home makes me feel I’m in a much better position than anything else.”

Not to be outdone by his younger sibling, Tom Price-Vanik steamrolled his way to the Flott championship at 195 pounds, earning three pins in as many matches. Price-Vanik wrestled a total of 1 minute, 39 seconds en route to the victory. He opened his day with a :24 pin over Anthony Moore of Johnsburg, and kept his effort short against Tommy Higgins of Naperville North, pinning the Huskie in :49. In the championship, the Knight senior pinned Cameron Cichowicz in :26 to earn the tourney win.

“I’m pretty excited for winning,” Price-Vanik said. “A lot of hard work went into it with the team. We’ve practiced really hard this week.”

Earning runner-up finishes for the Knights were Matthew Redman (126 pounds) and Austin Parks (182), while Mitchell Jones (138) and Zach Thielk (285) earned third place at the tournament.

Also placing were Adam Mish (4th, 120), Zac Parker (4th, 182), Austin Kedzie (5th, 106), Luke Eggenberger (5th, 132) and Hayden Patterson (6th, 152).

With just three seniors and two juniors, Saturday’s win demonstrated the promise the young, talented Knights have going forward.

“I’m really proud of my team. I’m really glad that we’ve been working so hard to get all the accomplishments we have this year,” Price-Vanik said. “Practice has been a lot more intense this time of year—a lot more sprints, a lot more hard wrestling. Really, we have just all turned up the intensity, and it’s working out very well.”

Orosco noted that the team has been working hard at practice.

“We just keep pushing,” Orosco said. “We’ll see some issues during a dual meet and we’ll go back and spend the next practice working on those little minor issues,” Orosco said. “Because it’s those little minor things—like head down, being on your knees—that really set the tone in a match and keep you from scoring and keep you from winning. We’ll spend a lot of time on just the basics.”

The concept of minor things making a big impact is also something Orosco’s wrestlers have bought in to.

“I want to improve my top position, because I usually don’t have enough hip pressure,” Vanik said.

Looking ahead, the Knights will travel to Yorkville Saturday for the annual Northern Illinois Big 12 tournament. The tourney will begin at 9 a.m, with wrestlebacks begining at 12:30 p.m. and finals at approximately 4:15 p.m.

Following the NIB-12 showcase, Kaneland will travel to Batavia for a dual on Jan. 30 before heading to the Belvidere Individual Regional Feb. 7.

Jan. 22 Knight of the week

in Wrestling by

Tom Price-Vanik

The senior was one of four Knights to win individual championships at Saturday’s Margaret Flott Invitational. Price-Vanik won all three matches he wrestled, earning three pins. He wrestled a total of 1 minute, 39 seconds on the day.



‘Syco’ Saturday

in Wrestling by

Photo: Head coach Joe Orosco has been pleased with sophomore Matt Redman. “(He) has really turned it up since losing a disappointing overtime loss due to some stalling calls … at the Berman tournament at the end of December.” Photo by Stephanie Vanik


Margaret Flott Memorial Invitational
Saturday, Jan. 17 • 9 a.m.

Knights bounce back with strong tournament after 41-19 loss to DeKalbby Ben Draper
KANELAND—A 41-19 setback on Friday against conference rival DeKalb wasn’t what head coach Joe Orosco was hoping for after two days of school were cancelled. But the varsity wrestlers regrouped for Saturday’s vaunted Sycamore Invitational, placing eighth out of 26 teams.

Orosco’s crew still has a sparkling 12-5 dual record for the 2014-15 season.

Against Class 3A DeKalb, the team earned just five wins.

“Definitely not our best effort for a conference opponent,” Orosco said. “(We) came out flat and only won five out of 14 matches, some that we weren’t supposed to lose.

“But (we) wrestled a lot better at the Sycamore tournament on Saturday,” he added.

Saturday saw the Knights grapple with 10 ranked teams, according to IllinoisMatmen.com. Class 2A No. 2 Washington won the tournament with 564.5 points, while Class 3A No. 7 Hononegah was runner-up with 506. Only Washington and No. 11-ranked Sterling (sixth place, 394) were the only Class 2A schools to defeat No. 6 Kaneland’s 347.5.

Sophomore Riley Vanik continued his terrific season at 160 pounds, placing fourth overall. Vanik earned early-round wins over Hononegah’s Sylvester Vijil (fall, 2:27) and Downers Grove South’s Ramarro Lamar (fall, 1:54) before posting 9-0 major decision over Bloomington’s Shawn Safford. Vanik was defeated 5-0 by sixth-ranked Jake Lanning of Pontiac before losing to Grant’s Mike Kouvelis 9-6 in the third-place match.

“Riley Vanik continues to improve as the season progresses,” Orosco said.

170-pounder Colin Gussman won by fall over Waukegan’s Fidel Lopez in the opening round, and dispatched Downers Grove South’s Ramy Abd 14-7 before losing a 1-0 match to fifth-ranked Anton Krocko of Hampshire. Gussman won 13-6 over Grant’s Justin Gilich in the consolation round before winning the fifth-place match over Pontiac’s Levi Ransom 3-2.

Austin Parks also earned a fifth-place finish in the 182-pound class. It was all pins for Parks, as he pinned Thomas Rollette of Hononegah in 3:26 to open the tournament, and another fall over Grant’s Kenny Sahs. In the quarterfinal, Mahomet-Seymour’s Hunter Crowley pinned Parks in 5:58. In the consolation bracket, Parks earned a pin in 2:24 over York’s Brian Nudera and a :55 pin over Huntley’s Petros Mihlapolas in the fifth-place match.

195-pound senior Tom Price-Vanik placed sixth, earned quick wins over Sterling’s Saul Sarrano (fall, :38) and Sergio Villalobos (fall, :23) before getting pinned by sixth-ranked Woodstock North wrestler Cody Barnes. He came back to earn another pin in 3:49 over Josh Davis of Rock Island, before losing by fall to Kyle Gara of Marengo (ranked eighth in the 182 weight class).

Junior George Strang placed seventh in the 145-pound class. Stang earned wins over Mundelein’s Kamil Olechno (technical fall, 18-2), Hampshire’s Max McGowan (5-3) and the seventh-place match over Pontiac’s Kevin Gschwendtner (9-3).

Junior Zac Parker placed eighth at 182, and earned two wins: a pin in 5:43 over Austin Miller of Rockford East and a 4-3 decision over Washington’s Ethan Sperry. Zach Thielk placed eighth at 285, with wins over Moline’s Jesse Doyle (fall, 1:09) and Huntley’s Dominic Swanson (2-1 decision).

Rounding out the Knights’ top-10 finishers was 138-pounder Mitchell Jones, earning wins over Mundelein’s Alex Hendon (9-3 decision), Hampshire’s Josh Bybee (9-3 decision) and Belvidere’s Henry Flores (11-6 decision).

Austin Kedzie (11th, 106 pounds), Matt Redman (11th, 126), Hayden Patterson (11th, 152), Jacob Shearer (16th, 132), Adam Mish (18th, 120) and Ben Lycan (20th, 220) also competed for the Knights.

Of note at Sycamore, the Knight scored at every weight class with the exception of 113 pounds, which KHS did not contest.

The Knights now prepare for a tough test against Class 2A No. 4 Geneseo. The varsity team takes the mat at 6:30 p.m. at KHS.

Saturday will see the annual Kaneland-hosted Margaret Flott Wrestling Invitational. The action starts at 9 a.m., and will also feature a special ceremony, as four individuals from the Kaneland High School wrestling program will be inducted into the Kaneland Hall of Fame for Personal Athletic Achievement.

With just over a week until the Northern Illinois Big XII meets to crown a champion, Orosco plans on working all avenues to put his boys in a position of success.

“At this point, we are working just as much on mental toughness and the proper mindset as we are on our technique and conditioning,” Orosco said.

Four former KHS wrestlers inducted into Hall of Fame
KANELAND—During Saturday’s Flott Invitational, four individuals from the KHS wrestling program will be inducted into the Kaneland Hall of Fame:
• Steven R Henrikson (‘75)
• Kevin Callaghan (‘85)
• Jason Polz (‘87)
• Scott Brewer (‘92)
Community members are invited to a reception prior to the induction at 11:30 a.m. in the KHS library.
The induction will take place in the east gym at 1 p.m.

Kaneland wrestling locks win up vs. Plano, takes 15th at Berman Classic

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Photo: Adam Mish lost to Plano’s Juan Lazarit, but the Knights still defeated the visiting Reapers, who are ranked No. 11 in Class 1A, 39-27 Saturday. Photo by Stephanie Vanik

KANELAND—At 12-4 on the season, Kaneland High School wrestling has shown talent and a penchant for pulling out needed wins.

Such was the case in a Saturday win over Class A powerhouse Plano in a 39-27 meeting. Additionally, a large tournament like Palatine’s Berman Winter Classic, back on Dec. 29-30, shows how Kaneland, which finished in 16th place overall, stacks up against larger established programs.

Against Plano in the win that kicked off the 2015 portion of the season schedule, KHS saw a 10-3 win for 126-pound Matthew Redman, 1:16 pin for 138-pound Mitchell Jones, 13-6 win for 145-pound George Strang, :21 stick for 160-pound Riley Vanik, 1:35 pin for Zach Parker at 182, and an 8-1 win for heavyweight Zach Thielk.

At the Palatine-hosted Berman Classic, the top finisher in Knight garb was Vanik, who nabbed fifth overall in the 160 group. Tom Price managed a sixth in 195, Redman took seventh in 126, and Thielk also took seventh in his heavyweight skirmishes.

“There was a lot of talent there, which was good, because we had an opportunity to see how we stacked up,” KHS coach Joe Orosco said. “The boys worked hard. There were a few matches that I wish we could’ve had back, but overall they wrestled tough. Last year, we placed 21st out of 32 teams, with three placers.”

Kaneland’s 77.5 points was ahead of 16th-place Hinsdale South. The top five teams turned out to be Barrington (219), Oak Forest (200.5), Deerfield (163.5), Lincoln-Way West (149) and Metea Valley (141).

Redman’s day began with a 2-1 overtime loss to Glenbard East’s Drew Fugiel, sending him to the consolation bracket. Redman earned a forfeit before collecting a 9-0 major decision over Vince Liebich of Lake Park and a 6-1 win over Deerfield entry Aaron Brailov. Redman’s journey continued with a 2-0 loss to Riverside-Brookfield’s Gavin Sutton before getting revenge on Fugiel with a 10-4 win in the seventh-place match.

Vanik began his journey with a :38 pinfall over the tourney host’s Elvin Lama-Sosa, before solving Plainfield East’s Antonio Jameson in a 7-1 match. After being upended by Barrington’s Travis Cysewski 4-2 in the semis, Vanik was edged by LW-W rival Gabe Montalvo 3-2. In the fifth-place match, Vanik earned a 1:47 win over Lake Park’s Devin Brady.

Price beat Metea Valley’s David Rojas in :53 before losing to Hinsdale South’s Robby Regan in 9-2 fashion. Price moved to the consolation side and took down Oak Forest’s JT Melvan in 1:53 and Deerfield’s Christo Moran in a 5-0 match before losing to Geneva’s Austin Chaon in the consolation semis, 5-2. In the fifth-place match, Price was ousted by Barrington’s John Depersia in 5:07.

Thielk began with a 6-0 decision over LW-W foe Steve Lotz before losing to Glenbard East’s D’Andre Johnson in 2:29. Thielk then took down Metea Valley foe Bobby Papienik in 2:07 before losing to Barrington’s Alex Zentner, 5-3. Thielk secured seventh place with a 2-0 win over Rock Island’s Erick Cole.

Additionally, Colin Gussman took eighth in 170 action, as did Austin Kedzie at 106.

Kaneland wrestling continues with Northern Illinois Big XII action on Thursday, Jan. 8, in DeKalb.

Knights face big tests

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Photo: Junior Austin Parks looks for an opportunity to take down Yorkville’s Derek Cajina Dec. 11. Parks won 14-1. Photo by Mary Paulson

Back-to-back days against larger opponents see KHS go 1-2
KANELAND—A week that saw the Knights go 1-2 at home against three larger schools still featured much success for the KHS wrestling squad.

Last Wednesday, Kaneland beat Class 2A rival Crystal Lake Central on their home mat, 34-23 before falling to 3A Cary-Grove 44-23. The next day, the Knights grapplers fell to No. 13 ranked 3A school Yorville 48-15. The 2A No. 9 ranked Knights now sit at 9-3.

“Normally, we don’t like to schedule matches on consecutive days. But this was a calendar anomaly,” said head coach Joe Orosco. “Last year we won only one match vs. Yorkville, so our goal was to increase that number.”

On Wednesday against the 2A No. 10 Crystal Lake Central, the Knights were led by Austin Kedzie’s pin at 106 pounds, a 15-0 technical fall by Riley Vanik, and major decisions by both Colin Gussman at 170 pounds and Austin Parks at 182 pounds. Against Cary Grove, KHS got pins from Gussman and 195-pound entry Tom Price. Kedzie and Parks provided major-decision wins.

On Thursday against the Foxes, Kedzie continued his success with a pin over Johnathan Salgado, while 152-pound entry Hayden Patterson won a close 8-7 battle.

“The team score may look like a rout, but we had to forfeit three weight classes and had several close decisions that we lost by only a few points,” Orosco said “Whereas, last year, we lost those matches to pins.”

Next up for the Knights is tonight at Morris, starting at 7 p.m.

Knight grapplers continue to roll

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Photo: Wrestling at 160 pounds, sophomore Riley Vanik (center) pins Sycamore’s Michael Emster. Photo by Mary Paulson

KHS picks up crucial early season wins vs. Sycamore, Lemont
KANELAND—Winning six of its first eight encounters has the Kaneland High School wrestling squad feeling good—especially onsidering the competition.

The Knights on Dec. 4 were able to invade Northern Illinois Big XII rival Sycamore and exit with a slim 34-31 win. On Saturday in Maple Park, KHS followed that win up with a more sizable 49-22 finish over the visiting Lemont Indians.

Highlights against Sycamore included a pin by 160-pounder Riley Vanik and a similar outcome for 220-pound representative Tom Price (Vanik). Austin Kedzie at 106 and George Strang at 145 each had technical falls to help the cause.

“The mid to heavier weights have definitely been towing their weight, and then some, but the team as a whole has been doing a good job picking up the slack from the holes in the lineup, due to some forfeits at 120 and 220. Everyone has been willing to sacrifice for the team,” KHS coach Joe Orosco said.

Kedzie earned a 1:26 pin against Lemont over the weekend, while teammate Matthew Redman took an 11-3 major decision in 126 action. At 132, Knight Jacob Shearer was able to earn a 1:03 pin. Vanik upped his ante with a 1:57 pinfall, and fellow KHS entry Colin Gussman continued his trajectory at 170 with a 10-3 decision. After a pair of forfeits, Price stuck a :53 pinfall, and heavyweight Zach Thielk rose with a :54 pinfall of his own.

Kaneland was set to travel to Crystal Lake Central on Wednesday to face the hosts and Cary-Grove, before hosting NIB-12 rival Yorkville on Thursday.

Grapplers hook plenty of wins in early-season stretch

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KANELAND—For starters, KHS coach Joe Orosco and his wrestling squad are producing results like seasoned veterans, even if it’s still early.

Back on Nov. 25, Kaneland rolled into East Moline United and came away with two wins out of three tries, while on Saturday, KHS won handily over Burlington Central and Freeport before falling to Wheaton-Warrenville South.

Kaneland (4-2) took to the Quad Cities area before Thanksgiving and beat Sterling 46-18, lost to Moline 41-25 and vanquished Morton 39-33.

KHS beat Burlington Central 44-21 and Freeport 66-12 before losing to WWS 39-32.

“We started off on Tuesday and saw a lot of mistakes, but they’ve come back today and corrected some of that. We’re seeing matchups we want to see, and they’re progressing better than I thought,” Orosco said.

In East Moline against Sterling, 160-pound Riley Vanik won a 4-3 match, followed by 170-pound Colin Gussman winning a 12-1 major decision. At 182, Zach Parker took a 2:56 pinfall, followed by Austin Parks winning a 20-5 tech fall at 195. Tom Price (220) stuck a 1:32 pin, and later Austin Kedzie secured a 13-1 major decision at 106. At 120, Adam Mish won his 3-0 decision, followed by Matthew Redman doing the same at 126 with a 5-1 mark. Jacob Shearer won a 4:55 match at 138, and KHS grappler George Strang pinned his opponent at 5:02 for the 152 win.

In the loss against Moline, Gussman won a 4-2 match, Parker won 6-2 and Parks took a 13-3 major decision. Price was able to get a 2:32 pin, but Moline won four in a row. The other two wins for the Knights occurred thanks to Redman with a 4-2 win and Vanik in 3:34.

Against Morton, Price took a :51 pinfall, and heavyweight Zach Thielk earned a 4:41 pin. Kedzie stuck a 1:35 fall, and at 145, Mitchell Jones earned a 4-2 nod. With the match coming down to the 170 battle, Gussman was able to win for Kaneland by 2:26 pinfall.

On Saturday versus the rival Rockets, wins came the way of Price (2:11), Thielk (1:12), Mish (:15), Redman (5-0), Strang (5:47), Vanik (4:37), Gussman (13-9), Parker (5-2) and Parks (20-5 TF).

“It’s really aggressive out there, and you have to rely on speed and going around and through. It’s a lot more aggressive here than at the other weights,” Parks said.

Six forfeits took place against the Pretzels, but other wins came courtesy of Kedzie (1:23), Mish (12-6), Redman (1:47), Strang (1:43) and Vanik (1:30).

In the loss against the Tigers, two forfeits were stacked on wins for KHS personnel like Redman (12-0 MD), Strang (5-2), Vanik (4:08), Gussman (5-2) and Parks (9-0 MD).

On Thursday, Dec. 4, Kaneland enters head-to-head Northern Illinois Big XII action at Sycamore.

Wrestlers compete at preseason Nationals

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Photos: Kaneland sophomores Riley Vanik (above, left) and Colin Gussman (below, left) earned All-American honors at Saturday’s preseason Nationals meet in Iowa. Photo submitted by Stephanie Vanik to sports@elburnherald.com

CEDAR FALLS, IOWA—Six Kaneland students competed in the annual preaseason Nationals meet, which took place on Oct. 25 at the UNI-Dome at the University of Norther Iowa.

A pair of KHS sophomores earned All-American status with their efforts. Riley Vanik placed fifth in the 160-pound division, while Colin Gussman was seventh in the 170-pound division.

Also taking part in the tournament were Kaneland juniors George Strang and Austin Parks, as well as eighth-grader Nathan Orosco and seventh-grader Brenden Parks.

Summer basics

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photo 4

Orosco’s offseason spent making imprint on grapplers
KANELAND—With his hiring in late-May, new Kaneland Knights wrestling coach Joe Orosco could be spotted last week in the Wisconsin Dells area.

It was anything but a breezy four days.

Orosco helmed the Knights through the Malacek Team Wrestling Camp—through clinics and duals—and feels good in the offseason before the 2014-15 campaign.

“There isn’t going to be a big learning curve,” Orosco said. “It’s just about getting to know the kids, and I’ve seen and worked with 10 or 12 of these kids already through various levels and clubs.”

With the Monty Jahns era coming to an end after seven seasons, the good news is Orosco, an Aurora police officer, doesn’t have to deal with a complete reteaching of what it means to have success on the mat. The last two seasons have seen an uptick in dual and conference success and a steady stream of qualifiers for the Champaign mats. Orosco, a former East Aurora mat warrior, is taking the summer to build a steady foundation.

“It’s a lot easier to go at it with this group,” Orosco said. “It’s less about teaching the sport than it is building up the basics.”

Orosco has worked as an assistant with Martinez Fox Valley Elite Wrestling Club, Knights Wrestling Club and East Aurora wrestling, as well as being head coach for Waldo Middle School in Aurora.

The Knights coach got acclimated pretty quickly in the Badger state setting.

“My voice is hoarse from yelling so much on the sidelines. You’re working a lot, especially with your kids in there,” Orosco said.

Orosco has four months until the ramp-up to the season starts in earnest, but his experience and his learning process stand to serve him admirably.

“Steve Kenyon of East Aurora and Joe Martinez of the Martinez Wrestling Club are who I looked up to the most,” Orosco said. “They really helped me in a lot of ways.”

KHS wrestlers hope to raise funds for camp, volunteer 500 hours of community service

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Photo: Members of the Kaneland High School wrestling team have volunteered nearly 500 hours of community service throughout the Kaneland area this spring. Here, the Knights spread mulch for a Sugar Grove resident. Photo by Patti Wilk

KANELAND—The Kaneland High School wrestling team will be at both the Sugar Grove and Elburn Jewel-Osco stores this Saturday in an effort to raise funds for members of the team to attend the Malecek Team Camp in Wisconsin during the week of June 23. The team is making a final push to raise the funds needed to send 24 wrestlers to the camp. The team is seeking monetary donations during its time at the Jewel-Osco locations, and will be telling their stories of the community service they have provided this spring throughout the Kaneland area.

In its third year, the team’s spring fundraiser has seen the Knights volunteer over 1,400 hours of community service—ranging from helping seniors with spring cleaning to volunteering at the Northern Illinois Food Bank—and the team is close to its goal of 500 hours this spring alone.

If you are unable to meet the wrestlers at one of the Jewel-Osco locations on Saturday, you can send monetary donations of any amount to Kaneland Knights High School Wrestlers (an Illinois not for profit), 104 Maple Street, Sugar Grove, IL 60505. All funds are used to assist the wrestlers directly.

Just one try for Justin

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Heavyweight Knight’s opening match his only one as part of State field
CHAMPAIGN, ILL.—There would be no repeat performance for KHS wrestling in 2014’s version of the State tournament.

On the State Farm Center mats on the campus of the University of Illinois in Champaign, Ill., the Kaneland presence didn’t include an individual state title, like Dan Goress at 145 pounds a year ago.

However, the Knights still boast a state qualifier in heavyweight senior and future Indiana State Sycamore Justin Diddell, now by definition one of the top 16 285-pounders in Class 2A.

Diddell, who was a first-time qualifier, finished his 2013-14 campaign with a record of 32-9 after a Friday first-round loss to Taylorville competitor Blake Hooper. Hooper bested Diddell 3-2, and was the eventual sixth-place finisher at 285.

The finals of the heavyweight field came when Highland’s Tanner Farmer beat Montini Catholic’s Michael Johnson with a pinfall in 2:25.

Lone Knight Diddell had originally advanced to State thanks to a second-place finish at the Pontiac Sectional, while teammate Austin Parks was the next-best finisher for Kaneland in the 160-pound field at fifth.

A year ago, the Knights sent Goress, Stephen Gust, Esai Ponce and Zach Theis, Diddell’s predecessor, to the Champaign dance.

With the end of the 2013-14 season in the books, Kaneland says goodbye to seniors Brian Endrenal, Cullen Murray, Dane Goodenough, Jonathan Terry, Diddell, Kegan Workman, Sam Madriz and Zach Russell.

Encouraging for the Knight attack is the potential return of the remaining eight sectional qualifiers in juniors Nick and Adam Mish, freshman Matthew Redman, freshman Riley Vanik, sophomore George Strang, Parks, junior Tom Price and sophomore Zack Parker.

A better State

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Diddell powers through for lone Knight Champaign berth
KANELAND—Pontiac’s Class 2A Sectional can dampen the dreams of most any wrestler wishing to advance to the individual State tournament this weekend.

Fortunately for Kaneland High School, the wrestling dream remains alive for one.

Heavyweight contender Justin Diddell was the lone Knight to make it through the Pontiac gathering to become the 285-pound runner-up.

“I just knew I had to wrestle my hardest every step of the way,” Diddell said. “I had great friends there backing me up that weren’t even wrestling, which helped a lot with the nervousness and calming me down. Then I had to go through two honorable mention kids to make it into the finals.”

Six other Knights’ seasons were stopped in their tracks after tournament action.

In 2012-13, three Knights made it, including 145-pound State champ Dan Goress.

At 32-9, Diddell, bound for I-AA Indiana State for football, is set to face Taylorville entry Blake Hooper at 36-5, according to brackets released on Sunday.

Hot off capturing a Belvidere Regional title the previous week for the third-place Knights, Diddell got down to business with a quarterfinal win over Pontiac’s Andrew Mays in 2:59. In the semifinals, the Kaneland rep took a pinfall over Peoria Notre Dame’s Dom Tudor with 34 seconds remaining in regulation.

The final brought sectional glory for Diddell, despite the loss in 2-1 fashion to Geneseo’s Nick Verbeck.

At 113 pounds, Adam Mish lost in the consolation second round by 9-3 decision to Lincoln-Way West Larry Cozzo. In the 145-pound consolation bracket, Knight Riley Vanik was defeated by Dixon’s Kylian Lally by 12-4 major decision to see his season end. At 152 pounds, George Strang was ousted by Belvidere’s KC Pavlak by 5-0 count in the consolation second round. In 160-pound action, Knight Austin Parks defeated Morton’s Kartal Bakirdan by 10-0 major decision, but lost in the semi to eventual State-goer Rigo Fraire of Sandwich by 3:45 pinfall. 170-pound transfer Tom Price got a 6-0 win over Scott Schulte, but lost in the consolation semifinal to Crete-Monee’s Brandon Hannigan, 6-3. At 182 pounds, Zach Parker saw his season end by 10-3 decision to Sterling’s William Canales.

While the entire 2A field is, by definition, great, Diddell views everyone on somewhat equal footing.

“This is the first time I’ve qualified, and I’ve been wrestling since my sophomore year. If you just get in, you have an equal shot because everybody can be beat. Nobody is a God,” Diddell said.

The State tournament goes from Thursday to Saturday, Feb. 20-22, at the State Farm Center mats in Champaign, Ill., with tickets either $8 or $10 per session. The action can also be viewed on www.IHSA.tv.

In proper position

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Senior Justin Diddell place first at the Belvidere Regional

Photos courtesy of Stefanie Vanik
Third-place at tough sectional paves way for potential state berths
KANELAND—Call them the lucky seven.

After a third-place finish at the Class 2A Belvidere Regional, however, the rest of the field at this weekend’s Pontiac Sectional might see their fortunes run out, once they face the Knights.

Paced by heavyweight regional king Justin Diddell, the Knights’ 124-point total was good for third in the nine-team setup.

Sandwich took the regional with 174 points, followed by rival Sycamore’s 130. Belvidere (122.5) and Marengo (92.5) rounded out the top five. Belvidere North and Boylan Catholic of Rockford tied for sixth with 80. Burlington Central and Joliet Catholic brought up the rear with 34 and 31, respectively.

A year ago at the Sycamore Regional, the Knights finished second and also advanced seven.

While the regional championship mantle was less full this go-around, the Knights still maintain enough to do damage the rest of this postseason.

Besides Diddell, the Knights plan to brandish 160-pound second-placer Austin Parks, 170-pound runner-up Tom Price, and third-place grapplers Adam Mish (113), Riley Vanik (145), George Strang (152) and Zac Parker (182).

Diddell’s day began with a :41 second fall over Deon Roby of Belvidere, with the finals going the Knights’ way after a 1-0 edging of Sycamore rival, Devin Knight.

Parks beat Sycamore’s Michael Beaudoin by 12-0 major decision in his semi challenge before falling to capable Sandwich Indian Rigo Fraire by 3:45 pinfall in the final.

Price, who has had a productive first year as a transfer, got past Boylan’s Austin Middleton by 1:01 stick and Marengo’s Brandon Dierkes by 1:34 pinfall. In the finals, Price was upended by Sycamore’s Austin Armstrong in 51 seconds.

In the 113 category, Mish found his way to the consolation bracket, where he pounded Belvidere wrestler Jonathan Sanchez in a 15-2 major decision.

Vanik, getting a taste of the postseason attrition as a freshman, beat Spartan counterpart Andrew Larsen 14-6 in a major decision win. After a semifinal loss to Boylan’s Joey Bartolino and a consolation slot, Vanik recovered by beating BC’s Ray Coklan in 3:05 and beat Hilltopper Cameron Haney in a 17-10 slugfest for the invite to next weekend.

Strang wrote his ticket for this weekend by placing third in the 152-pound category. Beginning with a 13-7 win over Sandwich foe Jesse Brunoehler, Strang was then defeated by Sycamore’s Michael Ernster, 3-0. In the consolation bracket, the Knight recovered with a 3:17 pin of a Marengo opponent before outlasting BC’s Christan Quiles in a 4-3 final.

Parker’s journey began with a 6-2 win over Belvidere’s Gage Brewer, but after a tech fall loss to Sycamore’s Christopher Malone, the KHS sophomore beat BC’s Kyle Blankenburg by 7-3 count before solving Brewer once again in 5-2 fashion.

The Knights’ journey for statehood continues on Friday and Saturday, Feb. 14-15, on the Pontiac High School grounds with the eligible qualifiers from the LaSalle-Peru, Geneseo and East Peoria Individual Regionals.

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