Wrestling: Yorkville Christian crowns seven champs, takes regional title at Plano

Will Hupke leads four Wheaton Academy regional champs for runner-up Warriors

Yorkville Christian's Drew Torza turns Mendota's Rhett Watson in a 145-pound bout during the Class 1A Wrestling Regional at Plano High School on Saturday, Feb. 4, 2023.

PLANO – Will Hupke thought he was done with wrestling by the time he arrived at Wheaton Academy a few years ago.

Today, he’s a regional champion, just a year after narrowly qualifying for state.

Hupke was one of four Warriors winning title matches during Saturday’s Class 1A Plano Regional, but defending state champion Yorkville Christian continued its dominance, heading home with seven champions to win the regional.

Yorkville Christian finished with 268 while Wheaton Academy totaled 181.5. The host Reapers were third with 167, Sandwich was fourth with 101.5 and Lisle took fifth with 80.

“I had wrestled at a pretty high level coming into high school but was burned out and didn’t think there was a chance I’d come back to the sport,” Hupke said. “My coach, Justin Swider, called me down to his office one day freshman year and asked if I had any interest in wrestling and I said, ‘No, not a chance,’ but I started to think about it a little bit more.”

Hupke, a Geneva resident, had joined cross country and was considering trying out for soccer all while realizing something was missing.

“There was almost a void without wrestling in my life so I was looking to fill that,” he said. “I broke my wrist the first year back, and sophomore year I lost at sectionals and took fifth in the freshmen/sophomore state tournament. I have really enjoyed it this year.”

Oscar Smith (113), Taggart Kazmierczak (145) and Jaylen Torres (285) also enjoyed themselves at Plano, joining Hupke as regional champions.

Plano's Mauricio Romero takes down Mooseheart's Tilar Murphy in a 106-pound bout during the Class 1A Wrestling Regional at Plano High School on Saturday, Feb. 4, 2023.

Yorkville Christian sent 11 wrestlers to championship matches and won seven of them, including Ty Edwards (120), who knocked off Wheaton Academy’s Lincoln Hoger in the title bout.

“We did really well as a team.” Edwards said. “There’s a little bit we could improve on here and there, but I’m pleased with how our team did. I definitely did a lot better on my offense and just in controlling the ties.”

Aiden Larsen (106), Noah Diah (132), Grason Johnson (138), Tyler Martinez (160), Jackson Gillen (170) and Christopher Durbin (182) also won for the Mustangs.

“I felt like we collectively could’ve wrestled better but we got seven champs so I guess that’s pretty good,” Gillen said. “I did pretty good. I did what I was supposed to do.”

The Mustangs certainly aren’t getting complacent.

“It’s constant work and trying to get better all the time,” Gillen said. “Especially after last year and knowing how hard it is.”

It’s one step, or in the case of wrestling, one match at a time.

“I’ve been pushing toward my goals and slowly achieving it,” Edwards said. “My next goal is the first match at sectionals and getting that out of the way and just keep going from there.”

Sandwich's Miles Corder gets Mooseheart's Jaime Briceno on his back in a 132-pound bout during the Class 1A Wrestling Regional at Plano High School on Saturday, Feb. 4, 2023.

Lisle, Plano and Sandwich each had one regional champ.

Lisle senior Joe Raineri slipped past Yorkville Christian’s Jeremy Loomis, 3-2, to win at 195.

“I wasn’t forcing anything, just working my stuff,” Raineri said. “I wasn’t going to do anything stupid. I was just looking to wrestle my own match and score my own points and wrestle well.

Raineri also won a regional title last year.

“Winning a regional last year was great so I was just trying to get back there,” he said. “There are some tough kids in the regional and sectional and I’m not looking over anyone. I just got to wrestle the best I can every single match.”

The smile on Plano senior Eliyas Peray’s face may linger for a while after he won at 220 pounds, which was a key goal in his final season.

“When I had talked earlier (in the season) I talked about progress and getting better, working on my stamina and working on my moves,” he said. “It showed today. It was good to see that all my work has paid off.”

Peray caught Yorkville Christian’s Jackson Mehochko in a vulnerable spot and pounced on the opportunity, getting the pin at 2:32.

“He was a little off balance and I was able to get his head and arm and we rolled onto his back,” Peray said. “Then I had just pulled up and squeezed until the match was over.”

Gio Diaz (160), Richie Amakiri (182) and Alex Diaz (285) each placed second for the Reapers.

Finally, Sandwich senior Nolan Bobee earned a pin in 1:33 to give the Indians their lone title. The Indians had six athletes advance to the finals with Jack Forth (113), Kadie Kern (126), Miles Corder (132), Sy Smith (138) and Bryce Decker (170) each taking second place.

Lisle’s Ryan Hsu (106) also placed second.