Despite bringing only 12 wrestlers to the Rex Lewis Tournament at Buffalo Grove High School over the weekend, the Riverside-Brookfield High School wrestling team notched an impressive third-place finish. At 152 pounds, senior John Szydlo won his second tournament title of the season. Antonio Ochoa, Joey Giurini and Josh Contreras finished second in their respective weight classes. Sophomores Robert Martinez and Joey Rehder-Swallow and junior Ernest Bobe all finished fourth while senior Shannon Hickey took fifth at the tourney.

The Bulldogs’ showing over the weekend bodes well for the rest of the season. Last year, RBHS went 11-11.

Off to a 3-2 start, RBHS has already notched victories over Kennedy [48-24], Vernon Hills [38-34], and Hubbard [66-15]. The team also placed fifth in the Guerin Gator Classic tournament. The lineup offers a nice mix of seasoned veterans and promising underclassmen.

“We have great senior leadership,” RBHS coach Mike Boyd said. “Captains Lilly Cortes, Antonio Ochoa, and John Szydlo trained all summer with Relentless Pursuit Wrestling at Oak Park and River Forest [High School]. They took what they learned from the No. 1 team in the country and started implementing it at RB.”

Cortes, Ochoa (28-11 last season) and Szydlo (24-14) are among the top returners for the Bulldogs this season. Seniors Nicholas Giurini (31-7) and Hickey (20-17) are also back.

Several new grapplers appear poised to make an immediate impact as well, including Contreras (113 pounds), who is off to a 9-3 start this season and Al’lon Carter. Carter, a  transfer from Proviso West, will begin wrestling for the team in January.

“Contreras’ hard work is already paying off,” Boyd said. “I have taken him to every camp, clinic, and tournament in Illinois. Carter took second place in the freshmen/sophomore state championship last season and will make a big contribution as well.”

Cortes, who plans on wrestling at either Eastern Michigan University or McKendree College, has inspired three more girls to join the RBHS program, while local Nazareth also has three girls on its wrestling team.

“Lilly is going from being a game changer to a trend setter,” Boyd said.