After not qualifying for the IHSA Class 2A wrestling individual state meet Feb. 12, senior Ethan Ranft was among eight Riverside-Brookfield High School sectional entries who continued training another week solely for the IHSA Class 2A team sectional on Feb. 22 at Brother Rice.
“It was really hard for me to practice for a while, but your priorities change,” Ranft said. “You’re not down there any more for yourself. You’re down there for what you can do together as a team.”
Ranft was among the Bulldogs’ 11 bout winners and part of seven consecutive pins that fueled them to a 66-12 victory over St. Ignatius to advance to the downstate quarterfinals for the second straight postseason — the only two in program history.
RBHS (17-7) meets Joliet Catholic at 5 p.m. on Feb. 25 in Bloomington. The Hilltoppers had five Class 2A individual all-staters at the state championships on Feb. 12, including two state champions.
“It feels amazing. We put a lot of hard work down in that room and it feels good to soak it all in right here,” Ranft said. “It’s been our plan right off the bat. This is the end goal. We really want to make our mark when we go as a team.”
Sophomore Jacob Noe (18-21 at 145 pounds), junior Bill Martin (15-13 at 152), Ranft (19-9 at 160) and seniors Brock Hoyd (34-8 at 170), Liam Cote (24-9 at 182) and Thurman Givens (17-13 at 195) as well as junior Joe Midona (21-17 at 220) collected the consecutive pins.
Senior Matt Decosola (24-16 at 106), sophomore Josh Gonzalez (20-17 at 132) and freshman Edgar Mosquera (11-9 at 113) also won by pin and senior Mateo Costello at 126 pounds won by forfeit.
Costello, Hoyd, Cote, Givens, Midona and Mosquera were the Bulldogs’ single- program’s six individual state qualifiers, a record number for RBHS.
On paper, the Bulldogs were favored. They led the Wolfpack in 2A individual state qualifiers 6-2 and sectional qualifiers 14-9.
Senior Daeshawn Jackson (18-12 at 285) was pinned Tuesday by Damian Lassek, one of the Wolfpack’s state qualifiers, after leading 6-2 following one period. Losing by 5-4 decision in the meet’s first match was senior Michael Racanelli (20-22 at 138) and junior Quintavius Murrell (22-20 at 120) to Nate Sanchez, a 113 state qualifier, 7-2.
St. Ignatius almost took a 9-0 lead before Noe sparked the Bulldogs’ dominance. Nearly pinned at the outset of the third period, Noe trailed 7-4 before his reversal and pin with 40 seconds remaining.
“[Noe] was a huge comeback, kind of got us on a roll,” Curby said.
“Heart definitely has a big role. This [victory] definitely has more meaning,” Noe said. “Pretty close [to being pinned], but I got out of it. It felt amazing, felt good just seeing our team [winning] like this.”
Martin (1:42), Ranft (53 seconds) and Hoyd (1:52) followed with first-period pins with Cote (3:40), Givens (4:29) and Midona (55 seconds) completed the pin streak. Givens trailed 10-3 in the second period but closed to 11-10 before his pin.
Mosquera (1:40) and Gonzalez (20 seconds) in the final match also had first-period pins, and Decosola prevailed in 3:33.
At sectionals, Decosola, Racanelli and Martin came one victory from qualifying for their first individual state meets with a top-four finish.
“I worked extra hard at practice,” said Decosola, who led 6-0 before his pin. “I could see that my practice work ethic the week before [individual] state wasn’t there so I made sure to make up for it here.”