2023-24 The Times wrestling team preview capsules

Ottawa’s Ivan Munoz (bottom) wrestles Morton’s Harrison Dea in the Class 2A 106 pound 5th place match in the IHSA individual state wrestling finals in the State Farm Center at the University of Illinois in Champaign.

Ottawa Pirates

Boys

Head coach: Peter Marx (21st season)

Last season: 12-6, 5-2 Interstate 8 Conference

Top returners: Ivan Munoz, Wyatt Wheeler, Malachi Snyder, Marek Duffy, Wyatt Reding, Ryan Wilson

Top newcomers: Ethan Day (285), Giovanni Hernandez (106),

Worth noting: Munoz, a Times first team selection at 106 pounds, posted a 35-7 record and placed sixth at the Class 2A State Finals last season with a 3-3 mark in Champaign after placing third at both the Rochelle Sectional and Sterling Regional. Snyder and Duffy were Times honorable mention picks. “We will have a young team this year that may face some growing pains but based off what we have seen so far, they are eager and excited to improve,” Marx said. “We feel Ivan Munoz has a great chance to improve on last year’s finish and we are hoping for him to end his career high on the podium in Champaign.”

Girls

Head Coach: Peter Marx (5th season)

Last Season: No dual record, only competed in tournaments

Top returners: Juliana Thrush (Top 8 finish in IHSA as a freshman), Kailee Lane, Ava Weatherford, Shelby Rank, Evy Grady and Brie Grady

Top newcomers: Val Munoz, Chloe Carmona, Zenna Cupples, and Ciara Bolf

Worth noting: Thrush, a Times first team honoree, posted a 20-12 record last season as a freshman, including two wins at the IHSA State Finals after bringing home the Geneseo Sectional championship. Rank was a Times honorable mention selection. “The girls are a mix of veterans and newcomers that are working well together,” Marx said. “They are off to a great start so far and we have high expectations for Juliana, and we feel we have a few potential state qualifiers on this team. We are excited to see what the future holds for them.”

Streator Bulldogs

Boys

Head coach: Kyle Lowman

Top returners: Nicholas Pollett, sr., (106 pounds); Steven Goplin, sr., (157); Alex Lopex, sr., (190)

Top newcomers: Aydan Radke, jr., (215); Devin Thompson, jr. (157/165); Jordan Lukes, jr. (157); Jesus Martinez, so., (120), Garritt Benstine, so., (132); Andrew Warwick, so. (144); Aiden Ferris, so., (285); Enrique Rodriquez, fr., (113); Ted Neuman, fr. (120); Andres Salcido, fr., (157); Matthew Dummitt, fr., (285)

Worth noting: Pollett, a Times first-team pick as a junior, posted a 31-8 record and won the Bulldogs Team MVP award after winning titles in tournaments hosted by Clinton, Walther Christian and Kewanee, missed a sectional berth with a 2A regional blood-round defeat. “We are back with our solid core from last year and leading the way are our seniors,” Lowman said. “Pollett is currently ranked 4th in 2A and will be looking to make an impact at state this year he is bringing a lot to the mat with his technique and experience. Steven Goplin will again feature his scramble style offense and Alex Lopez’s athleticism and leadership will stand out.”

Girls

Head coach: Kyle Lowman

Top returners: Jaylen Richardson, jr, (135); Isabel Gwaltney, so., (110); Alivya Onasch, so., (115)

Top newcomers: Lexy Jensen, sr., (235), Lily Gwaltney, fr., (105); Addison Yacko, fr., (110); Payton Henson, fr., (115)

Worth noting: Gwaltney returns to the mat after earning Times all-area honorable mention last season. “We are so grateful for our youth program which is producing great young athletes,” Lowman said. “We have experienced freshmen coming in and looking to make a statement this season.”

Marquette Academy Crusaders

Head coach: Trent Lyons

Top returners/newcomers: Shea Conner (106), Beau Thompson (126), Jacoby Gooden (132), Brysen Manley (144), Nolan Demink (150), Reilly Leifheit (157), Bobby Speaks (165), Grant Dose (175), Alex Schaefer (190), Luke Amicone (215)

Worth noting: The Crusaders, despite a 48-29 loss, held their own in an early-season match against Sandwich with Thompson, Gooden, Manley and Schaefer recording on mat victories.

Seneca Fighting Irish

Head coach: Todd Yegge (27th season)

Last season: 24-10

Top returners: Wyatt Coop, so., (113); Tommy Milton, jr., (126); Ethan Othon, so., (120); Nick Grant, jr. (150), Memphis Echeverria, jr., (165); Nate Othon, sr. (157); Asher Hamby, sr., (165/175); Landen Venecia, so., (175/190); Chris Peura, sr., (190/215); Sullivan Feldt, jr., (215/285); Jeremy Gagnon, jr., (285); Ryker Terry, jr., (132/138); Avery Phillips, so., (126/132); Sammie Griesen, so., (130, female)

Top newcomers: Raiden Terry, fr., (106); Michael Kucinic, fr., (126/132), Joey Arnold, fr., (285)

Worth noting: Peura, The Times 2022-23 Boys Wreslter of the Year, earned a 46-10 record, a new school record for wins while tying the pins record with 35 and was a champion at the Irish Invitational, the Riverdale tournament, placed second in both regionals and sectionals on his way to a sixth-place finish at the Class 1A State Finals.

Ethan Othon (42-11) scored third-place finishes in both the 1A Reed-Custer Regional and Coal City Sectional to become the third freshman state qualifier in school history. Milton (26-18) was honorable mention on the state rankings for much of the season before seeing his season halted by injury. Nate Othon (36-13) earned tournament championships at tournaments hosted by Reed-Custer and Riverdale before a fourth-place 1A regional finish. Hamby (39-8) finished first at the Irish Invitational, made sectionals as an alternate and used that second chance to place third at the 1A Coal City Sectional and qualify for state. Greisen, with a 24-15 combined record in competition against both girls and boys, was champion of the Ottawa Girls Invitational and Oregon Tournament and used a fourth-place sectional finish to qualify for the IHSA State Finals, where she won two bouts. “We have a good mix of veteran and young talent, as well as state caliber wrestlers throughout our lineup,” Yegge said. “Our depth is stronger than last season and we are hoping that will make us not only a stronger dual team, but one that can do well in the postseason.”

Sandwich Indians

Head coach: Derek Jones

Top returners: Shane McGuane, so., (106 pounds); Jakob Gruca, jr., (126); Kai Kern, so., (TBA); Miles Corder, sr., (144); Sy Smith, sr., (157); Josh Lehman, jr., (165); Kaden Clevenger, so., (175); Desi Longoria, sr., (190); Tristen King, so., (190); Ashlyn Strenz, sr., (115, female)

Top newcomers: Jacob Ross, fr., (106); Colten Stone, fr., (113); Wyatt Gregory, fr., (126); Cooper Corder, fr., (132); Luis Murillo, fr., (215); Eddie Urbina, fr., (285)

Worth noting: Corder (41-11 last year) and Smith (30-19) bring back a wealth of experience for a Sandwich program that has been blessed with a huge freshman class of 15 talented newcomers. These newcomers enter high school with previous wrestling experience. Some were IESA state qualifiers. It certainly bodes well for Jones who is definitely excited to see what this year’s group can accomplish. “We have a good chunk of returning guys that have seen varsity action,” he said. “Our incoming freshmen class from last year has fought through their early bumps and are ready to take the next step. The incoming freshmen class this year is tough.” The half dozen wrestlers listed as top newcomers are all freshmen and all expected to wrestle at the varsity level this winter.

Strenz, The Times 202-23 Girls Wrestler of the Year, posted a 25-16 record, was runner-up at the Geneseo Sectional and scored a fourth-place finish at the IHSA State Finals in Bloomington.

Ottawa's Wyatt Reding wrestles Seneca's Asher Hamby in the 160 weight class during a meet on Monday, Jan. 30, 2023 at Seneca High School.