Hopes are high for more Class 2A success

The area will only be represented by 18 individuals in this weekend's Class 2A wrestling state finals at the University of Illinois State Farm Center.

But the impressive thing about the relatively small group of wrestlers is that many of them have been ranked throughout the course of the season and have had success in previous years.

Entering the postseason, Rob Sherrill's rankings on the Illinois Wrestling Coaches and Officials Association website featured 13 individuals who were ranked in the top 10 in their weight class and a couple others that were ranked at some point during the season.

With eight of those wrestlers winning medals in the past for a top-six finish and four of them already having earned all-state honors on two or more occasions, it figures to be another big weekend for wrestlers from Lemont, Joliet Catholic Academy and Morris.

Leading the way is Joliet Catholic Academy junior Dean Hamiti, a two-time defending state champion who is 41-0 and ranked No. 1 at 152 pounds. Another junior who is undefeated and ranked No. 1 is Lemont's Apollo Gothard, who owns a 41-0 record at 220 pounds and is a two-time placewinner who took second last season.

Also ranked No. 1 for Lemont is senior Kyle Schickel, a three-time second-place finisher. He's 35-3 at 145 pounds after losing in the Hinsdale South Sectional title match to TF North's Sincere Bailey, who was ranked No. 2.

Lemont senior Grant LaDuke is ranked No. 2 at 152 pounds and owns a 35-1 record. He's a four-time state qualifier and a two-time medal winner who took third last season.

Another Lemont senior who is ranked No. 2 is Drew Nash, who is 14-0 at 126 pounds after missing much of the early part of the season to injury. He's a three-time qualifier who won a medal in 2018. Making his third straight state finals is Lemont senior Kyle Zator at 36-6 and ranked No. 5 at 160 pounds.

Morris senior Robby Bates is ranked third at 195 pounds and a returning medal winner with a 34-1 record.

JCA has four other athletes in the top six in their weight classes. Junior Jack Finnegan is fourth at 138 and the two-time qualifier and 2018 medal winner owns a 35-13 record. Hilltoppers junior Terrance Snapp is ranked No. 6 at 160 with a 35-11 record.

Hilltoppers freshman Gylon Sims is 38-6 and ranked No. 5 at 106 pounds, and sophomore Shay Korhorn also is ranked No. 5, but at 113, and owns a 37-10 record.

Four others from Lemont who were ranked during the year or are unbeaten are sophomore Evan Schiffman, who placed fourth last year, is 19-8 at 120, while freshman AJ Heeg is ranked 10th at 138 and owns a 31-6 record.

Earning their first trip to state are junior Ray Hernandez, who is 31-7 at 132, junior Mo Jarad, who is 39-8 at 285 and sophomore Alex Tagler, who is 15-0 at 170.

Schickel is Lemont's lone three-time medal winner, but Gothard and LaDuke hope to join him in that company, while Schickel tries reaching another title match and winning his first state championship.

Also representing JCA at state are freshman Mason Alessio, who's 28-13 at 120 and sophomore Owen Gerdes, who is 23-15 at 170.

Besides Hamiti likely becoming the the Hilltoppers' first-ever three-time medal winner, Finnegan hopes to join Pat Mudron (1966-67) as the program's only other two-time medalist.

JCA hopes to have three or more medal winners in Champaign for the first time.