Wrestling: Times area sending 13 to boys, girls IHSA state finals

A look at the first-round matchups for athletes from Ottawa, Streator, Seneca, Sandwich

Seneca freshman Raiden Terry looks to escape from the hold of Streator senior Nicholas Pollett in the 106-pound championship match of the Seneca Fighting Irish Wrestling Invitational on Saturday at Seneca

Here is a look at the initial matchups for qualifying wrestlers from Ottawa, Streator, Seneca and Sandwich for the boys state tournament that begins Thursday and runs through Saturday at the State Farm Center in Champaign, as well as the girls tournament Feb. 23-24 at Grossinger Motors Arena in Bloomington.


Bulldogs senior Nicholas Pollett (40-4) will open in Class 2A at 106 pounds against Brother Rice freshman James Lotito (24-13). As a junior, Pollett lost in the blood round at regionals that eventually produced three state medalists, but he came back this season to capture the regional title at Rock Island and last week finished second at the sectional in Sycamore. Pollet is the school’s single-season record holder with his 40 wins, 28 via pin.

Next week, Bulldogs freshman Lily Gwaltney (105, 19-7) opens competition against unbeaten Glenbard East sophomore Nadiia Shymkiv (18-0) in the girls tournament. Gwaltney finished fourth in the Illinois Elementary School Association tournament last season, while Shymkiv placed fourth in the IHSA tournament a year ago.

Streator's Lily Gwaltney wrestles L-P's Kiely Domyancich during a meet on Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2023, in Sellett Gymnasium at L-P High School.


The Fighting Irish are sending a school-record five wrestlers to compete at Class 1A state. Senior Chris Peura (215, 44-4) and sophomore Gunner Varland (157, 28-13) are coming off 3-0 marks in claiming regional and sectional championships. Peura, who finished sixth at state last year, will begin against Peoria Heights senior Issac Coleman (30-12), while Varland starts against Hoopeston junior Ayden Larkin (40-11). Peura defeated Coleman by technical fall this season.

Also for Seneca, freshman Raiden Terry (106, 40-8) opens against St. Joseph-Ogden senior Emmitt Holt (37-2, ranked No. 3 in the state), senior Nate Othon (150, 36-11) against Peoria Notre Dame senior Chase Daugherty (36-7), and senior Asher Hamby (175, 48-6) against Tolono Unity senior Thayden Root (44-9)

“Most of these wrestlers we match up with we have not wrestled or seen in a tournament bracket before,” Seneca coach Todd Yegge said. “But, obviously, once we get to this level of competition, everybody is very good, so it will be a challenge. “Our athletes will have to be ready to compete at their highest level and peak performance to do well.”

On the girls side, Fighting Irish sophomore Sammie Greisen (130, 29-8) will begin her march against Morton junior Karen Canchola (18-1). Greisen, a repeat state qualifier who won a pair of matches at Grossinger Motors Arena a year ago, finished fourth at regionals and third at sectionals.


Pirates sophomore Juliana Thrush (235, 27-3) has Romeoville freshman Henessis Villagrana (18-11) as her first-round opponent and is coming off a repeat sectional championship after going 3-0 in Geneseo and an unbeaten regional title run at Minooka.

“Juliana is wrestling really well right now, and if she continues to wrestle smart, she should be able to win that match,” Ottawa coach Peter Marx said. “Her second match will be a difficult test, but we need to win match one first.

“[At the sectional in Geneseo], Juliana beat the No. 1-ranked girl in state by decision 2-0. That was a huge win and a huge confidence builder, but she knows she can compete with anyone in the state if she wrestles smart. Last year, Juliana went 2-2 at the state tournament and was one match away from earning a medal, so we are hoping to come home with a medal this year.

“We are all excited for Juliana and look forward to watching her compete.”

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.


The Indians will have three wrestlers battling in Class 1A.

Freshman Cooper Corder (32-3), a two-time IESA champion who is coming off championships at the Plano Regional and Byron Sectional at 138, opens with Cumberland senior Brayden Olmstead (43-7). Senior Miles Corder (144, 38-9), who went 3-0 to win the regional title at Plano, then finished third at the sectional in Byron after a thrilling blood-round win, will take on Peotone sophomore Micah Spinazzola. Freshman Colten Stone (113, 29-17), who won a regional title and finished fourth at sectionals, begins with unbeaten Carlyle freshman Preston Waughtel.

“Cooper has a decent draw,” Sandwich coach Derek Jones said. “He has a first-round opponent that we need to focus on our attacks against. Miles has a kid who is tough, but he has the experience of age in this matchup, and hopefully he can wrestle tough. Colten has a very tough first-round matchup, but we’ll see what happens.”

In the girls state tournament, Indians senior Ashlyn Strenz (110, 15-4) starts against East Peoria sophomore Kennedy McMenimen (17-3). Strenz finished fourth at state last season and was The Times 2022-23 Girls Wrestler of the Year.

“Ashlyn is looking to get back on the podium,” Jones said.