***NOTE: DUAL TEAM SECTIONALS ARE TONIGHT, TUESDAY, 2/20/2018!!! WE WRESTLE MINOOKA HIGH SCHOOL AT 6:00 AT DOWNERS GROVE SOUTH! THE WINNING TEAM QUALIFIES FOR STATE, THE LOSING TEAM SEES THEIR SEASON END TONIGHT. WE HOPE TO SEE YOU COME SUPPORT US AND GIVE US THAT EXTRA FAN EDGE!!!!***
The Lockport wrestling team took a contingent of six wrestlers down to Champaign on Thursday. Having already met their goal of just qualifying for the state tournament, these young men had their eyes on a spot on the podium - hopefully the top spot. While three wrestlers unfortunately left the tournament empty handed, three others did not. Zach Reese finished in 4th place at 152 pounds, Matt Ramos finished in 3rd place at 113 pounds, and Anthony Molton had arguably the greatest run of the tournament, knocking off two opponents ranked in the top ten in the nation on his way to his first IHSA Individual State Championship.
To say that few people saw Molton having a chance of winning the 120 pound bracket would be an understatement. After all, the bracket featured two wrestlers who are ranked in the top-ten in the country; Joey Melendez of Montini and Travis Ford-Melton of Marian Catholic. Melendez is currently ranked 3rd by InterMat and 6th by FloWrestling, whereas Ford-Melton is ranked 4th by InterMat and 5th by FloWrestling. Not only that, but Molton held a combined 0-6 record against the two of them in high school to date; 0-4 vs. Melendez and 0-2 vs. Ford-Melton.
But this weekend, none of that mattered.
I'll save you a long and drawn out analysis, mainly because a handful of others have written better, shorter ones (like this one here, or this one). Bottom line is this: Molton wrestled a heck of a tournament and came out on top. Beginning with a major decision win in the first round, Molton battled to a hard fought 10-7 win in the quarterfinals over Warren Freshman Joel Vandervere. In the semifinals, Molton squared off against Melendez, against whom his best previous result was a 14-7 loss at the Cheesehead this year. Molton came out firing, putting the two-time state champion Melendez on his back in the first period, and using the momentum from that four-point move to keep himself going for the duration. (IllinoisMatmen wrote a good piece on that match here)
In the finals, Molton got a rematch against Marian Catholic's Travis Ford Melton, a 2A Champion in 2016 who defeated Molton by fall in last year's 3rd place match at 113 in 3A. Just last week, Molton took a 16-5 loss to Ford-Melton at the sectional tournament. It was another match for Molton to get revenge. This one, however, did not start in his favor. Molton found himself trailing 3-0 by the middle of the second period, and had to bounce back. He earned an escape with under 0:08 left in the second period to cut the deficit to 3-1. In the third, Molton took bottom, escaped again, and was down 3-2. A takedown for Molton gave him a 4-3 lead, but an escape from Ford-Melton tied it at 4-4, which is where the score remained until the end of regulation. After a scoreless first overtime, the pair went into double overtime. Melton chose bottom for the first of the two thirty-second goes, and Molton was able to ride him out. When it was Molton's choice, Melton elected to cut him, giving Molton a 5-4 lead, and work from neutral for the full 30 seconds. Melton was unable to come close to scoring, and a last ditch effort in the final ten seconds was easily thwarted by Molton, who covered for the takedown, a 7-4 victory, and more importantly, his first state championship.
Catch the very end here! (We see that Milly Rock, Big Tone!)
BUT... as fantastic as the tournament was for Molton, he's not the only Porter that came home with some hardware.
Matt Ramos became a two-time state placewinner this weekend, following his 3rd place finish at 113 pounds. Ramos also found himself in one heck of a tough bracket, with a pair of nationally ranked Fargo champions in Noah Surtin and Dylan Ragusin in the bracket. Surtin, ranked 4th by InterMat and 8th by FloWrestling, was on the other half of the bracket, while Ragusin, InterMat's 8th ranked 113 pounder and Flo's 7th, was on the same side. To his credit, while unranked by InterMat, Ramos is currently ranked 12th by FloWrestling. This bracket was arguably the toughest bracket with the greatest amount of parity.
Due to the seeding criteria, and Surtin winning the sectional after a narrow UTB win over Ramos in the semifinals last weekend, Ramos found himself with a tough path to the finals. He would meet Ragusin early, in the quarterfinals. After picking up a win Thursday night, that quarterfinal matchup with Ragusin was set for Saturday morning. Unfortunately, Ragusin was able to stifle Ramos's offense, not allowing Ramos to pickup a takedown, and Ramos came up short, losing 4-2 and falling into the wrestlebacks. Ramos didn't have a necessarily easy path from there either, but he was able to score points when he needed to, and racked up four straight wins on the consolation side to come away with a a 5-1 record on the tournament, three bonus point victories, and a solid 3rd place finish.
Our other state placer this year was Zach Reese, who came home from Champaign with 4th place honors. Reese had qualified last year but came up just short of placing, so ending his senior season on the podium was a goal from the beginning of the year for the senior. Zach had one of the tougher opening round matches, squaring off against Deerfield's Kenny Kerstein, ranked in the top ten in the state, but Reese was able to control the match on top and pick up points from neutral, coming away with a 5-3 win. From there, Reese had Marmion's Patrick Daum in the quarterfinals. Reese was confident but not cocky heading into the bout, having defeated Daum earlier in the season while Reese was not at 100%, but recognizing that the winner would be guaranteed a spot on the podium and that past results didn't mean much. Either way, the added confidence sure seemed to benefit Reese, as he scored a very controlling 8-2 decision over Baum, scoring from all areas while only allowing escape points.
Reese would then go on to square off against Barrington's Markus Hartman, ranked 7th nationally by InterMat and 14th by FloWrestling. Reese kept it close but was unable to get to his offense, and while on bottom in the 3rd, Hartman was able to turn Reese and pickup the fall. (Spoiler alert: Hartman would then go on to upset Cadet World Champ Will Lewan in the finals) As Reese dropped into the semifinal wrestleback, he found himself up against Joe Chapman of OPRF, whom he had zero problems with, scoring multiple takedowns and backpoints en route to a 15-5 major decision. In the 3rd place match, however, Reese fell to Jack Tangen of New Trier by a 3-1 score. Each wrestler earned an escape, but Tangen had the only takedown of the bout, which turned out to be a pivotal early move, as he had Reese well scouted and knew which situations to avoid from the get-go.
Three other Porters qualified for state but came home empty handed. James Pierandozzi qualified at 138, but went 0-1 for the second year in a row (Side note: IHSA, please give us full wrestlebacks, and get rid of this follow the leader stuff!) Pierandozzi was battling St. Charles East's Niko Derain in a first round matchup. In a tight matchup, Derain got to Pierandozzi's leg in the second period. Pierandozzi went to kick out to escape his grip, but failed, and upon repositioning himself, Derain was able to lock in a cradle. Pierandozzi nearly bridged it over, twice, but after the second attempt, the ref was in position to call the fall. As Derain would drop his next bout to the top-seed and eventual state champion, Pierandozzi was eliminated from competition.
Yousif Salah also qualified this year, his first time qualifying in his last opportunity to do so. Salah, wrestling at 182, had a draw that is both great and terrible at the same time. Salah's first round opponent was Jack Jessen of Willowbrook, ranked 2nd nationally. After losing by fall to Jessen, it was all but assured that Salah would be pulled back into the consolation bracket - after all, for him not to be would mean that the #2 wrestler in the nation was beaten in the quarterfinals. Fortunately for us, Jessen continued to win (all the way to a state championship), and Yousif was brought back into the consolation bracket. There, Salah squared off against Naperville Central's Jackson Punzel. Yousif was able to score from his feet with a nice low single, but was put on his back halfway through the second period, and unable to hold out quite long enough, losing by fall at the 3:59 mark.
Finally, our other qualifier was sophomore Mike Kaminski at 106. Kaminski, in his first year on varsity, found himself in a pretty good spot in the bracket, but was unable to capitalize on it. He opened with a close 4-3 win over Sawyer Nash of Gurnee, a match on which Kaminski later commented "I didn't think I would be but I was really nervous, and it really showed. I'm just gonna try to relax and wrestle better now." His next match, however, was against Jake Rundell of OPRF, the nations 5th/4th ranked 106 pounder, who picked up a win over Kaminski by first period fall. Kaminski dropped into the consolation bracket, where he was set to square off against a tough opponent in Marist's Michael Leveille. Taking nothing away from Leveille, Kaminski just didn't have his best showing this tournament, and was unable to do anything against Leveille, dropping the bout 4-0 and being eliminated from the tournament.
2018 IHSA STATE CHAMPIONSHIPS Results for Lockport
Mike Kaminski (30-12) place is unknown
Champ. Round 1 - Mike Kaminski (Lockport (Twp.)) 30-12 won by decision over Sawyer Nash (Gurnee (Warren)) 34-7 (Dec 4-3)
Quarterfinal - Jake Rundell (Oak Park (O.P.-River Forest)) 42-2 won by fall over Mike Kaminski (Lockport (Twp.)) 30-12 (Fall 1:35)
Cons. Round 1 - Michael Leveille (Chicago (Marist)) 37-12 won by decision over Mike Kaminski (Lockport (Twp.)) 30-12 (Dec 4-0)
Matt Ramos (48-6) placed 3rd
Champ. Round 1 - Matt Ramos (Lockport (Twp.)) 48-6 won by major decision over Jack Milos (Mt. Prospect (Prospect)) 37-5 (MD 10-1)
Quarterfinal - Dylan Ragusin (Lombard (Montini)) 42-3 won by decision over Matt Ramos (Lockport (Twp.)) 48-6 (Dec 4-2)
Cons. Round 1 - Matt Ramos (Lockport (Twp.)) 48-6 won by tech fall over Bobby Tornabene (South Elgin) 26-16 (TF-1.5 5:00 (20-5))
Cons. Round 2 - Matt Ramos (Lockport (Twp.)) 48-6 won by major decision over Nate Cummings (Downers Grove (North)) 39-7 (MD 11-2)
Cons. Semi - Matt Ramos (Lockport (Twp.)) 48-6 won by decision over Sam Spencer (Huntley) 43-6 (Dec 3-1)
3rd Place Match - Matt Ramos (Lockport (Twp.)) 48-6 won by decision over Michael Jaffe (Aurora (Marmion Academy)) 41-11 (Dec 10-5)
Anthony Molton (46-7) placed 1st.
Champ. Round 1 - Anthony Molton (Lockport (Twp.)) 46-7 won by major decision over Alex Giuliano (Hoffman Estates (Conant)) 32-6 (MD 11-3)
Quarterfinal - Anthony Molton (Lockport (Twp.)) 46-7 won by decision over Joel Vandervere (Gurnee (Warren)) 44-3 (Dec 10-7)
Semifinal - Anthony Molton (Lockport (Twp.)) 46-7 won by major decision over Joey Melendez (Lombard (Montini)) 41-4 (MD 11-2)
1st Place Match - Anthony Molton (Lockport (Twp.)) 46-7 won in tie breaker - 1 over Travis Ford-Melton (Chicago Heights (Marian)) 31-2 (TB-1 7-4)
James Pierandozzi (11-2) place is unknown
Champ. Round 1 - Niko Derain (St. Charles (East)) 39-6 won by fall over James Pierandozzi (Lockport (Twp.)) 11-2 (Fall 3:04)
Zach Reese (33-12) placed 4th
Champ. Round 1 - Zach Reese (Lockport (Twp.)) 33-12 won by decision over Kenny Kerstein (Deerfield (H.S.)) 31-9 (Dec 5-3)
Quarterfinal - Zach Reese (Lockport (Twp.)) 33-12 won by decision over Patrick Daum (Aurora (Marmion Academy)) 34-13 (Dec 8-2)
Semifinal - Markus Hartman (Barrington) 47-0 won by fall over Zach Reese (Lockport (Twp.)) 33-12 (Fall 4:54)
Cons. Semi - Zach Reese (Lockport (Twp.)) 33-12 won by major decision over Joe Chapman (Oak Park (O.P.-River Forest)) 40-11 (MD 15-5)
3rd Place Match - Jack Tangen (Winnetka (New Trier)) 45-3 won by decision over Zach Reese (Lockport (Twp.)) 33-12 (Dec 3-1)
Yousif Salah (15-11) place is unknown
Champ. Round 1 - Jack Jessen (Villa Park (Willowbrook)) 51-0 won by fall over Yousif Salah (Lockport (Twp.)) 15-11 (Fall 0:27)
Cons. Round 1 - Jackson Punzel (Naperville (Central)) 39-6 won by fall over Yousif Salah (Lockport (Twp.)) 15-11 (Fall 3:59)