Girls wrestling: Joliet’s Paramo, L-W Central’s Guarino, Ottawa’s Thrush repeat as sectional champions

Newman’s Grennan wins title with 3 pins

Blair Grennan of Newman Central High School takes the victory in the 100 weight class during girls wrestling sectionals at Geneseo on February 10, 2024.

GENESEO – Sitting in a chair next to the podium waiting to receive her medal at the Geneseo Sectional, Joliet senior Eliana Paramo reflected on how far she, her school’s girls wrestling program and the sport have come since she first stepped on a wrestling mat at age 12.

“When I first started wrestling, I only ever wrestled boys,” Paramo said. “I never really got the opportunity to wrestle a lot of matches. There weren’t a lot of girls around me. I was kind of the extra person they threw out there. Now at Joliet, we have a combined team with our west and east campuses. We’ve put a lot of work in to create the environment we have now. I’ve put a lot of work in during the season and in the offseason, and I’ve made a lot of progress. From where I first started to now, it’s just so much better.

“I’m just really happy to be here, and I’m really excited we get this opportunity now with just girls and we can be as competitive as we are.”

Paramo claimed the 110-pound title to repeat as a sectional champion. She won by pin and by 10-0 major decision to reach the final, where she edged Sandwich’s Ashlyn Strenz 2-0.

“I was just remembering how bad I want it,” Paramo said about what helped her in the close title match. “I’ve put a lot of work in to be in the position I am right now. I kept thinking of everything I’ve done.”

Joliet Township's Eliana Paramo controls Sandwich's Ashlyn Strenz during the Geneseo Sectional held February 10, 2024.

Paramo, who was state runner-up at 115 last season, will compete in the state tournament Feb. 23-24 in Bloomington. She’ll be joined by teammate Izabel Barrera, who placed fourth at 135.

Other champions included Newman freshman Blair Grennan (100 pounds), Kaneland freshman Angelina Gochis (105), Lincoln-Way Central senior Gracie Guarino (115), Minooka sophomore Addison Cailteux (130), Peotone senior Kiernan Farmer (170) and Ottawa sophomore Juliana Thrush (235).

Grennan (13-1) won all three of her sectional matches by pin. She got Galesburg’s Hannah Almendarez in 1:40 in the title match.

“Honestly, going into the match knowing you’re going to win,” Grennan said about the key to her title. “You have to be confident. Confidence is always key.

“It feels great [to win the title]. I’m super proud of myself. It’s an amazing experience so far.”

Gochis (43-5) pinned her way to the final, where she faced a familiar foe in DeKalb sophomore Alex Gregorio-Perez. Gochis led 4-1 after the first period before expanding her lead to 12-3 after two periods en route to an 18-6 major decision.

“Just move her more and get to my angles,” Gochis said about what she did to pull away in the title match.

Kaneland junior Brooklyn Sheaffer will join Gochis at state after placing third at 125. DeKalb has two state qualifiers in addition to Gregorio-Perez – junior Reese Zimmer, who took third at 115, and sophomore Aariana Bloyd, who finished fourth at 235.

Guarino stayed undefeated, moving to 23-0 as she won by fall in all three of her sectional matches, including pinning Burlington Central junior Victoria Macias in the 115 title match. Also for Central, freshman Ryann Miller placed third at 170.

Cailteux was one of three state qualifiers for Minooka along with seniors Eva Beck (135) and Peyton Kueltzo (235), each a runner-up in her bracket.

Cailteux (24-4) won by pin in her first match, won by 8-3 decision in the semifinal and won 4-3 over Camp Point Central’s Amber Louderback in the title match. Cailteux built a 3-0 lead through two periods before Louderback rallied to tie it in the third. Cailteux score on an escape to secure the title.

Farmer (17-1) won her first two matches by pin before defeating Plainfield Central junior Alicia Tucker by 9-0 major decision in the title match.

Thrush repeated as sectional champion at 235. She won by pin in the quarterfinal and edged Prairie Central’s Chloe Hoselton 2-0 in the semifinal before winning by first-period pin over Kueltzo in the final.

“I wrestled really well,” Thrush said, “better than at the regional. At regional, I was really sloppy. Yesterday and today, I felt clear. I felt like I was determined enough where I would get first, and here we are.

“It’s amazing. It feels like Christmas Day. It’s one of those things.”

Ottawa's Juliana Thrush wrestles Peyton Kuetzlo, of Minooka, for first place in the 235 weight class at the girls wrestling sectional meet on February 10, 2024, at Geneseo High School.

Other qualifiers were Yorkville’s Yamilet Aguirre (second, 125) and Danielle Turner (third, 100), Lincoln-Way West’s Zoe Dempsey (third, 105), Morris’ Ella McDonald (third, 110) and Morgan Congo (third, 190), Erie-Prophetstown’s Ryleigh Stephens (fourth, 110) and Michelle Naftzger (fourth, 130), Joliet Catholic’s Grace Laird (second, 120) and Bianca Campos (fourth, 170), Plainfield South’s Teagan Aurich (second, 155), Seneca’s Sammie Greisen (third, 130), Princeton’s Izzy Gibson (fourth, 140), Streator’s Lily Gwaltney (fourth, 105) and Putnam County-Hall’s Bailey Herr (fourth, 190).

Gibson earned her first trip to state when she won by 11-3 major decision in her semifinal wrestleback.

“I was super happy when I won that [semifinal wrestleback], because I worked so hard to get here,” Gibson said.

In her first high school season, Gwaltney qualified for state with a 4-2 win over La Salle-Peru’s Kiely Domyancich, which Gwaltney secured with a third-period reversal.

“It feels good, because she’s beaten me four other times,” Gwaltney said. “[I think the difference this match] was just having more confidence in myself.”

Herr is returning to state after winning via pin in her semifinal wrestleback.

“It feels great,” Herr said. “I didn’t really expect to do it, because girls keep getting stronger and stronger and more keep joining. It’s really good to go back. It’s a fun time.”