High School Wrestling State Finals: Shepard’s Dixon, Stagg’s Zaccone, Sandburg’s Nolan earn medals
By Steve Millar
CHAMPAIGN – Mount Carmel junior Colton Drousias was bleeding from his mouth and a bit dazed following a hard-fought win at the University of Illinois’ State Farm Center.
And that was just the state semifinals.
Drousias survived a highly-physical semifinal match with past state champion Jake Lindsey of Providence on Feb. 15, then beat Belleville West’s Josh Koderhandt 8-4 the following evening to capture a hard-fought Class 3A 113-pound state championship.
“It’s very exhilarating,” Drousias said. “I’m still taking it all in right now, but it means a lot.”
Drousias (35-4) trailed Koderhandt 2-1 before scoring a three-point near fall in the final seconds of the second period.
“That gave me the confidence going into the third,” he said. “I knew what I had to do to come out on top.”
Leading 6-4, Drousias scored a takedown with 49 seconds left to seal the title.
Drousias breezed into the semifinals, pinning Elk Grove’s Griffin McEnroe in just 52 seconds in the first round and beating Andrew’s Luc Valdez 7-0 in the quarterfinals.
Then it got tough.
Lindsey, who won the 2016-17 state title at 113 pounds as a sophomore, and Drousias battled in a semifinal war of attrition. A first-period collision left Drousias bloody.
“His head drilled me in the nose and the temple,” Drousias said. “I was getting shooting pain in my ear, but then my adrenaline kicked in and I pushed through it. I didn’t feel the pain again until after the match.”
Drousias said he may have dislocated his jaw, but trainers popped it back into place.
He persevered for a 4-2 win with strong defense as Lindsey only scored via two escapes.
“My practice partners push me hard in practice and I feel like as long as I work that hard in practice, the matches won’t be as hard,” Drousias said. “But that one was pretty hard.”
Drousias ended the season on a 20-match winning streak.
“Since my last loss at (the Dvorak Invitational in December), I’ve taken every match like it’s my last match and I’ve wrestled the same every single match,” Drousias said. “As the days and months went on, I just kept getting better and the wins took care of themselves.”
Brother Rice senior Dominic Murphy also took some big blows on his way to a third-place finish in 2A at 170.
With his left eye swollen nearly shut after he took a knee to the face in the quarterfinals on Feb. 14, Murphy (41-4) beat Champaign Centennial’s Dontaice Roberson 5-3 in the third-place match.
“It means a lot to end with a win,” Murphy said. “I had motivation to stay focused and finish on top.”
Stagg senior Domenic Zaccone said he learned from last season, when he was upset in the first round, finished 1-2, and failed to medal for the first time.
Zaccone got a tough draw in the Class 3A 132-pound bracket and dropped a heartbreaking 5-4 decision to DeKalb’s Fabian Lopez in the first round. Zaccone (38-3), an Illinois recruit competing at his future home arena, then won five straight matches to capture third place.
He capped off his high school career with an overtime takedown for a 3-1 win over Montini’s Dylan Burnoski in the third-place match.
“Last year, when I lost in the first round, I was just broken right away,” Zaccone said. “This year, it’s my last year and all I could think about was getting the next best thing, which was third place.
“It was a tough battle back to get there, but I did it.”
Rest of the best
Senior Michael Leveille (41-9) finished fourth in 3A at 113. The Purdue recruit beat Andrew’s Valdez 6-0 in the consolation semifinals before falling 4-1 to Providence’s Lindsey in the third-place match.
Senior Jacob Dado (46-8) took fifth at 138 as his opponent, Sandburg’s Pat Nolan, forfeited the fifth-place match due to injury. Dado, who will wrestle at The Citadel, sealed earning a medal with a 10-1 major decision over Oak Park-River Forest’s Torry Early in the third round of wrestlebacks.
Owen Dunlap (37-12) at 106 and Kendric Nowling (30-16) at 182 went 1-2.
In the second round of wrestlebacks, Dunlap, a freshman, was pinned by Proviso East’s Jameir Castleberry and Nowling, a senior, lost 7-3 to Metea Valley’s Josh Labarbera.
Sophomore Mateen Taylor (33-21) went 0-2 at 126, dropping a 12-2 major decision to Libertyville’s Brandon Murphy in the first round of wrestlebacks.
Senior Sherman Dixon (42-5) took fourth place in 3A at 170.
Dixon, a senior, beat Naperville Central’s Jackson Punzel 10-3 in the consolation semifinals, then was pinned by Wheaton North’s Quinlan Nelson in the third-place match.
Freshman Damari Reed (32-8) went 1-2 at 113, dropping a 5-3 decision to Warren’s Austin Nash in the second round of wrestlebacks.
Sophomore Noah Mis (31-12) finished fifth in 3A at 126 as his opponent in the fifth-place match, Marian Catholic’s Travis Ford-Melton, was injured and had to forfeit.
Mis earlier pulled out a 4-3 win over Downers Grove North’s Brad Rosen in the third round of wrestlebacks to secure his spot on the podium.
Rehan Uribe (35-11) at 120 and Danny Benoit (29-11) at 182 each went 2-2, both finishing one win shy of a medal.
Uribe fell 4-2 to Oak Park-River Forest’s Nico Bolivar in the third round of wrestlebacks, while Benoit lost 3-1 to Lincoln-Way East’s Nick Mihajlovich.
Jordan Blew (27-11) at 106, Alex Lalezas (28-14) at 132, Miles Hoey (31-13) at 145 and Nik Misha (29-11) at 220 all went 1-2.
In the second round of wrestlebacks, Blew fell 1-0 in overtime to Glenbard North’s Ronan Schuelke. Lalezas lost an 8-0 major decision to Marmion’s Nathan Callaway, Hoey fell 12-5 to Jacobs’ John Ridle, and Mishka was pinned by Yorkville’s Brady Fisher.
Louie Stec (27-6) took sixth in 2A at 285. He sealed his state medal by pinning Freeport’s Isaiah Batteast in the quarterfinals.
Stec fell 7-2 to Caleb Guise of Eisenhower (Decatur) in the fifth-place match.
Alex Carrillo (37-5) went 2-2 at 152, falling 7-3 to Coal City’s Ryan Wasielewski in the third round of wrestlebacks.
Anthony Greco (37-7) at 138, Elijak Pesek (33-9) at 160 and Stan Sutor (33-4) at 195 went 1-2.
In the second round of wrestlebacks, Greco lost 8-4 to Rochelle’s Eddie Villalobos, Pesek was pinned by Fenwick’s Brandon Navarro, and Suter was pinned by Simeon’s Matthew Black.
Jackson Fowler (23-17) went 0-2 at 120, losing to Harvard’s Nik Jimenez by technical fall in the first round of wrestlebacks.
Despite battling a left knee injury sustained at the Bolingbrook Sectional, senior Pat Nolan (43-6) finished sixth in 3A at 138.
Nolan, a Michigan recruit, scored a last-second takedown to beat top-ranked Luke Odom of Edwardsville in a first-round showdown, and advanced to the semifinals with a 10-6 win over DeKalb’s Damien Lopez.
After a pair of losses, he medically forfeited the fifth-place match to Marist’s Jacob Dado.
Senior Nate Goodman (36-8) went 2-2 at 285 as he was pinned by Neuqua Valley’s Roberto Pena in the third round of wrestlebacks.
Freshman Kevin Zimmer (34-12) finished 0-2 at 195 after getting pinned by Larkin’s Diego Facio in the first round of wrestlebacks.
Junior Sean Burns (15-10) finished sixth in Class 2A at 220.
Burns sealed his state medal with a pin of Tinley Park’s Ezekiel Childs in the third round of wrestlebacks. He lost 8-5 to Westville’s Dawson Pruitt in the fifth-place match.
Damen Michicich (29-9) at 106 and Mike Rodriguez (29-9) at 145 both went 0-2.
In the first round of wrestlebacks, Michicich fell 9-4 to Wauconda’s Jack Sullivan and Rodriguez lost to Carmel’s Vincent Swindell by technical fall.
Ahmad Suleiman (28-7) went 2-2 at 285 in 3A, falling one win short of the podium when he lost 4-1 to Edwardsville’s Lloyd Reynolds in the third round of wrestlebacks.
Marty Larkin (29-10) at 160 and Jake Viloria (31-16) at 170 went 1-2 in 3A.
In the second round of wrestlebacks, Larkin lost 7-2 to Barrington’s Luke Rasmussen and Viloria fell 4-3 to Montini’s Anthony Geraci.
George Western (32-10) went 0-2 at 220. He was pinned by Joliet Central’s Damaris Stanley in the first round of wrestlebacks.
Junior Anthony Bitner (37-6) went 1-2 at 152 in 2A, falling to Thornton’s Jamal Osborne 4-2 in an ultimate tiebreaker in the second round of wrestlebacks.
Emmett Connolly (20-13) at 113, Nathan Chirillo (16-7) at 126 and Tom Bennett (20-17) at 145 all went 0-2 in 2A.
In the first round of wrestlebacks, Connolly lost a 10-2 major decision to Charleston’s Trey Pearcy, Chirillo was pinned by St. Patrick’s Delano Walker, and Bennett lost by technical fall to Antioch’s Jackie Sistrunk.
Davion Johnson (25-14) went 0-2 at 106 in 2A, losing to Sycamore’s Alex Crawford by technical fall in the first round of wrestlebacks.
Brock Hoyd (27-16) went 0-2 at 120 in 2A, losing to Sycamore’s Trevor Boryla by technical fall in the first round of wrestlebacks.
De La Salle
Dominee Daniels (32-8) took sixth place at 182 in Class 2A, dropping a 5-2 decision to Ben Harvey of Rochelle in the fifth-place match.
Daniels started strong, winning hist first two matches, 6-4 over Prairie Ridge’s Kyle Koelblinger and 5-2 over Freeport’s Matthew Chavers to come within one victory of securing a top-two finish. He then dropped three consecutive matches – a 7-3 decision to Coal City’s Daniel Jezik and a 3-1 decision to Bremen’s Mounes Betancourt before losing the fifth-place match.
Mateo Portillo (29-16) went 0-2 at 152, bowing out of the tournament after being pinned by Kaden Randazzo of Woodstock in the first round of wrestlebacks.
David Ortiz (11-10) went 0-2 at 220, with a 2-0 loss to Gabe Robison of Washington ending his tournament.
Jason Joy (28-5) went 0-2 at 285 in Class 3A. Joy lost 3-1 to Cobie Underwood of Moline in the first round, and 3-2 to Jose Ramos of Prospect in the first round of the consolation bracket.
Back of the Yards
Carl McNickles (21-5) went 0-2 at 160 in Class 2A. McNickles lost by fall to Tommy Hoy of Carmel in the first round, and Marcus Linwood of Limestone in the first round of wrestlebacks.
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