SPRINGFIELD – La Salle-Peru sophomore Connor Lorden’s day at the Illinois Wrestling Coaches and Officials Association Class 2A State Finals at the Bank of Springfield Center didn’t start as well as he would have liked, but his finish is something to build on for the next couple of seasons.
Lorden dropped his opening bout Friday to Julian Ryerson of Crystal Lake, 10-7, but rebounded to capture three consecutive victories over Riverside-Brookfield’s Jordan Medrano by pinfall in 1 minute, 23 seconds, Bloomington’s Anthony Curry via pin in 1:10, and Burlington Central’s Noah Ross by a 9-2 decision. Then, after falling to Ryerson again, Lorden topped Alex Goworowski of St. Patrick in the fifth-place bout at 195 pounds to earn a medal.
“That first match was really tough,” Lorden said. “I was beating [Ryerson] up until the last 20 seconds, but I ended up getting thrown on my back. I was able to come back and win my next three bouts, but then ran into the same kid, and he was able to pin me that time.
“After that opening bout, I knew I just had to win or I was out, and I really wanted to come home with a medal.”
Lorden fell to Ryerson in the rematch by pin in 2:36, but Lorden again responded by pinning Goworowski in 4:55 to finish the day 4-2.
“I was really happy I ended the day with a win and a pin on top of that,” Lorden said. “[Goworowski] was the same build as me and he was strong and quick, but I was able to get him. It was a really tough match, for sure.”
Lorden finished the season with a sparkling 35-4 record.
“I know for sure I’ll need to work on my cardio and I’m going to be getting into the weight room big time this summer,” said Lorden of what he will work on moving forward. “The goal is to keep working hard and, hopefully, be on the top of that podium the next couple of years.
“I’m just so happy we had a season, and I had a great time. I really didn’t think we’d get anything when the school year started, with wrestling being a one-on-one, contact sport. But I’m glad they figured it out, and we were not only able to have a full season but also a state meet.”
On Thursday at the IWCOA Class 1A meet, Princeton’s Matthew Harris beat four wrestlers, but the same opponent, Zach Foote of Camp Point Central, got him twice. The second defeat came in the third-place match at 126 pounds, which Harris lost by fall.
“I came out pretty strong my first match, but lost my second. Then battled some pretty tough kids all the way to the third-place match and was winning, but ended up getting caught by the kid that had beat me earlier in the day,” Harris said.
The Princeton junior was leading in his third-place match and was on top of Foote before he got his head pulled over and pinned at 4:43, settling for fourth, according to Tiger coach Steve Amy.
“Matthew wrestled really well today. He lost in the quarters and battled all the way back to the third-place match,” Amy said. “It takes a lot to build yourself back up and continue to compete at a high level. He has worked really hard for a long time, and I’m very proud of him.”
Foote also pinned Harris at 3:53 the quarterfinals.
After the quarterfinal setback, Harris plotted his path to the third-place match. He won three straight all by fall: 3:54 over Austin Grise of Herscher, 0:26 over Mikekal McClarin of Chicago DePaul College Prep and 1:24 over Dresden Grimm of Auburn to reach the third-place match.
Harris opened with a fall at 1:07 over Omar Ramirez of Chicago Phoenix Military Academy. He went 4-2 on the day, finished the season with a 25-9 record.
After the day was complete, Harris went and wrestled away all the wings he could at Buffalo Wild Wings.
The IWCOA tournament took the place of the IHSA State Tournament, which was not held during the abbreviated and shifted COVID-19 season.