Coming into this season, Lockport had high hopes – but you would be hard-pressed to find anyone willing to bet that the Porters would qualify 12 wrestlers for the individual state tournament.  Thanks to an absolutely outstanding sectional tournament, however, the Porters did just that – absolutely obliterating the previous school record of 7 state qualifiers in one season (2013), and earning the incredible distinction of having the most qualifiers of any team in the state, in any of the three classes.

I was going to be concise, but I just can’t – not with a tournament like this.

Leading the way for the Porters with their championships were Abdullah Assaf (132), Brandon Ramos (138), Baylor Fernandes (145), Trevell Timmons (160), and Ronald Tucker (285).  Assaf picked up his championship with a very controlled 8-3 decision over 2x 2A placewinner Carlos Champagne of Marian Catholic, who was ranked 8th coming into the tournament.  Abdullah dominated the competition throughout the tournament, earning a tech fall over HM Jacob Blaha of Collinsville, then an 18-7 major decision over 7th ranked Jason Stokes in the semifinals.  Ramos started his tournament a bit shaky, falling behind to a very game Christian Hall early in his quarterfinal match before coming back for a 12-6 win.  Ramos then defeated Joliet West’s James Pullen by major decision in the semifinals, a far better showing than Ramos’ tight win over Pullen at the SWSC Open last month.  In the finals, Ramos squared off against Plainfield North’s Luke Smiley in a regional final rematch.  Like last week, Ramos picked up the win – but this time, it was a far better match, as Ramos won 7-0, compared to the one-point bout last week.

At 145, Baylor Fernandes had a solid tournament to pick up his first sectional title.  Fernandes pinned his first opponent, Crete-Monee’s James Foy, in just under one minute on Friday.  Saturday, in what felt like the 35th time they have met, Fernandes picked up a 5-4 decision over Edwardsville’s Rafael Roman, who is currently ranked 12th.  Baylor had a finals rematch from regionals himself, and while the score was closer, the match didn’t feel that way, as he cruised to a 5-2 victory over 10th ranked Juan Bazaldua of Providence for his championship.  Making it perhaps more rewarding to Fernandes was knowing that he was out with the flu most of the week, and unable to prep as one would hope to coming into such a big tournament.

At 160, Trevell Timmons put himself into the finals with an 11-6 win over Josh Bohne of Lincoln-Way West in the quarterfinals, and following that up with a fall over Thaddeus Nartley of Normal West in the semifinals.  In the championship, Timmons scored a 3-2 decision in a bout that appears far closer on paper than it did live, controlling 6th-ranked Michael Foy of Crete-Monee throughout the entire bout. 

Ronald Tucker looked fantastic en route to his championship at 285.  Tuck’s first match, a 3-0 victory over Joliet’s 9th ranked Robert Ford, was a bit slower, but still very controlled.  If riding time existed in high school, Tucker would have had about 4 minutes of it, if not more.  In the semifinals, Tucker opened it up against Lincoln-Way West’s Nick Skentzos, ranked 10th, picking up a lopsided 9-2 decision.  In the finals, the 4th ranked Tucker squared off against 3rd ranked Sammy Diehl of Lincoln-Way East.  Tucker wrestled his style perfectly, having arguably his best high school match since mid-season last year, controlling the entire bout en route to a 5-0 victory for his first sectional title.

Lockport had four others make the championship bout, but come up a bit short.  Matt Ramos lost a 7-0 decision to Luke Odom of Edwardsville – currently the top ranked wrestler in the state at 106.  Odom controlled the bout from start to finish, but the score is a bit misleading.  Twice, Odom scored off of a single when Ramos attempted to flip out, giving up a takedown both times and back points once.  Ramos had a thrilling 6-5 semifinal win over Plainfield South’s Enzo Silva in the semifinals, having to come back from behind to score the victory. 

Another runner-up for Lockport was James Pierandozzi at 120 pounds.  Pierandozzi’s finals bout was a rematch from last week against Plainfield East’s Michael McGee, ranked 4th in the nation.  While Pierandozzi was wrestling a bit timid and scared last week, he certainly came to battle this week. Unfortunately, he couldn’t break through McGee’s defense, and dropped the final by a score of 4-0, in a far more competitive match than the 11-4 loss he took at regionals.

Zach Reese reached the finals in the 152 pound bracket after scoring an upset of Marian’s 8th ranked Josh Jones in the quarterfinal, then following it up with a 3-2 upset over 6th ranked Jared Ellingwood of Plainfield Central in the semifinals.  Reese, however, currently battling through injuries, did not compete in the championship bout, electing to default to Cole Smith of Providence rather than run the risk of further injury halting his fantastic season. 

Our other wrestler in the finals was Nick Dado at 170, who also had a rematch of his regional championship.  Unfortunately, it ended similarly, with Oswego’s 3rd ranked Josh Torres getting his hand raised, this time by a final score of 3-2.  Much like last week, Dado was able to get to Torres’s legs throughout the match, but Torres held off the finishes, working towards so many stalemates that I honestly lost count.  The finals appearance came after another rematch for Dado, in which he defeated Trevor Swier of Providence in the semifinals for the second week in a row.  This one, however, went into OT, where Dado got in deep on a shot and while defending, Swier got hit for an illegal head scissor to lose the match.  Even Dado’s quarterfinal was a rematch from earlier in the season – Dado earned a 9-1 major decision over Yorkville’s 11th ranked Nick Stemmet, whom he lost to in our first dual of the season.

Lockport put three wrestlers through on the third place mat as well, and Anthony Molton (113), Brendan Ramsey (126), and Payton Fernandes (182) all delivered, picking up wins in their place matches to cap a great day.  All three wrestlers made it to the semifinals, lost, then had to win in the blood round to qualify.  After that, each of them added a win in the third place bout to end their tournaments on a high note.

For Anthony Molton, his loss in the semifinal came to Edwardsville’s Noah Surtin by a final of 7-0.  Molton was unable to get past Surtin’s tough defense, and Surtin used some good counter attack opportunities to put on the points.  In the blood round, Molton dominated Cody Hoshell of Minooka to earn his first state tournament berth, winning by an 18-3 technical fall, and then Molton scored another technical fall in his 3rd place match over Payton Geigner of Lincoln-Way West.

Brendan Ramsey wrestled one of the best complete tournaments in his high school career – probably the best, to be honest.  After an opening round win over 2x 2A State Qualifier Tom Buell of Lincoln-Way West, Ransey picked up a 5-2 win over Victor Guzman of Rock Island to get into the semifinals.  There, he met up with Bolingbrook’s 3rd ranked Dylan Burnoski for the third time in four weeks, where he dropped the bout 5-0.  In the blood round, Ramsey found himself squaring off against Buell for the second time in two days, with the right to head to Champaign on the line.  Ramsey came through, picking up a critical takedown late to earn a 3-2 victory.  Then, just to add to a great tournament, Ramsey picked up a 3-1 victory over Jevon Pargo of Collinsville for 3rd place.

Our other 3rd place finisher, also a first time qualifier, was Payton Fernandes.  Fernandes, ranked 7th, found himself in a bracket with the 1st, 5th, 6th, and 12th ranked wrestlers in the state.  Naturally, Payton, who had four matches on the weekend, manages to wrestle three ranked individuals. In his quarterfinal bout, Fernandes topped 12th ranked Trevor Schmidt of Lincoln-Way West, 7-1, before falling to 6th ranked Keontay Holmes of Alton in the semifinals, 11-5.  In the blood round, where Fernandes came up short last year, he made sure to do the job this year, picking up a 5-0 win over Adrian Cervantes of Plainfield South. Then, in the 3rd place bout, Fernandes defeated 5th ranked Mason Hewitt of O’Fallon, 4-3.

Coming up short at the sectional tournament was Yousif Salah at 220.  Salah, who hovers around 200 pounds, had a couple tough breaks that kept him from reaching his individual goal this year.  Salah lost in the quarterfinals by fall, after taking his opponent down to his back.  Unable to entirely stop his momentum, Salah’s legs caught a bit of air after he and his opponent hit the mat, and his opponent seized the opportunity to plant his elbow in the mat, catch Yousif’s leg in his hand, and essentially bench press/throw Salah over, where he would get the fall.  In the consolation bracket, Yousif found himself up against Providence’s Logan Anderson in a rematch of the regional final – a bout in which Salah was pinned in under a minute.  This time around, the two had a competitive match going on into the second, when Salah, down two, was put to his back after an unsuccessful trip effort from a clinch.  Anderson got the fall, and Salah was eliminated.

Full results for the tournament can be found at TrackWrestling by clicking here, just in case you were wrong for the second week in a row and didn’t like my extremely detailed recap.  All in all, we had 5 champions, 4 second place finishers, and 3 third place finishers, for a total of twelve qualifiers.  The next best marks in the state were Oak Park River Forest with 11 and Coal City with 10.  As a team, we lost a total of 9 matches in the sectional tournament – which is an insane statistic.  Now, we look ahead and move forward to this Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, where we’re going to try to set another record for most state placers and champions in a season!