By Bob Skolnik
Three Fenwick and two Riverside Brookfield wrestlers qualified for this week's state finals in Champaign by finishing in the top-four of their weight classes at Saturday's Class 2A wrestling sectional at Hinsdale South High School in Darien.
Senior Matt Zuber and sophomores Jimmy Liston and Conor Paris made it to state for Fenwick while junior Quintin Godlewski and sophomore Mateo Costello qualified for RBHS.
Zuber qualified for the state for the third consecutive year by finishing second in the 160-pound weight class losing the championship match to Bilal Bailey of Thornton Fractional North 11 to 3. Two earlier wins Saturday pushed Zuber's record this year to 17-5.
Liston (20-8) placed second in the 285-pound weight class after getting pinned in the championship match by Oak Forest's Julian Ramirez, who has only lost one match all season. Liston was thrilled about making it to state for the first time.
"It feels truly amazing after a whole season of ups and downs," Liston said. "You can't compare to really anything; it just feels amazing."
Liston's key win was defeating St. Lawrence's Sean Burns 6-3 in the semifinals after losing to Burns in their two most recent matches.
Paris, who finished fourth in the 170-pound weight class, edged RBHS's Garrett Weimer 3-2 in a close and tense match to determine which of them would go to state avenging a loss to Weimer in the Fenwick Regional championship match a week earlier.
Fenwick seemed set to have a fourth state qualifier when junior David Capron had a big lead on Hani Salam of Gary Comer College Prep late in their match to determine who would make it to state. But then while tangled up Capron lifted Salam off the mat and slammed him down. Salam was shaken up and didn't finish the match. The referee ruled that the move was an illegal slam and Salam got the win.
Fenwick head coach Seth Gamino was upset that the Comer coach took the win. He said that it is typical that when a wrestler is losing badly in a match and can't finish the match due to injury that the wrestler who cannot go on rejects the win. But, with a trip to the state finals on the line, that did not happen Saturday.
"I don't question the call by the referee," Gamino said. "What I question is the school accepting it."
RBHS's two lightest wrestlers are heading to state. Godlewski (21-9) was pinned by Trevor Reed of Thornton Fractional North in the 106-pound championship match. Godlewski advanced to the championship match by pinning Jermaine Carr of Tinley Park and Oscar Choi of Hinsdale South.
Costello (33-7) finished third at 113 pounds to make it to state in his first year as a varsity wrestler after just taking up the sport as a freshman.
"It doesn't feel real," Costello said.
After losing to eventual champion Caden Musselman of Oak Forest 9-1 in a semifinal Costello reeled off two consecutive wins to finish third. He defeated Brother Rice senior Michael Loughney 5-0 to clinch a spot for state and then Costello defeated Luis Villa of Back of the Yards 7-4 to capture third place.
In addition to Weimer, four other RBHS wrestlers fell one just win short of qualifying for state: senior Corey Dishmon at 126, sophomore Brock Hoyd at 132, sophomore Daeshawn Jackson at 220, and senior Jake Stewart at 285.
But their wrestling season is not over. By virtue of winning the Fenwick Regional RBHS has advanced to the Evergreen Park sectional in the dual meet state tournament. The Bulldogs will take on Brother Rice at Evergreen Park High School on Feb. 25 with a trip to the dual meet state finals on the line.
"Just kind of from watching them here I think it's going to be an evenly matched dual," said RBHS coach Nick Curby. "They're going to win their matches, we're going to win our matches, it's just going to come down to whether we can win more than them or score more bonus points or whatever it is."