Girls wrestling: Huntley’s Janiah Slaughter finishes runner-up at IHSA state tournament

Slaughter earns Red Raiders’, McHenry County’s highest finish at state tournament

Kaneland’s Angelina Gochis and Huntley’s Janiah Slaughter compete in the 105-pound bout at the girls wrestling state finals at Grossinger Motor Arena in Bloomington on Saturday, Feb. 24, 2024.

BLOOMINGTON – Janiah Slaughter could only look at the bright side Saturday afternoon.

While Slaughter, a Huntley sophomore, wanted to win a state championship during her second trip to the IHSA individual state tournament Saturday, all she truly wanted to do was improve upon her third-place finish at last year’s tournament.

Everything might’ve not gone exactly according to plan when Slaughter finished runner-up at 105 pounds this season, but she did accomplish part of her goal. Slaughter became the highest state placer not only in Red Raider history, but in McHenry County history.

“I’m still proud that I got second,” Slaughter said. “I got better than I was last year. That means that I’m growing, I’m improving. I’m glad that I improved from last season.”

Slaughter led a group of six McHenry County-area wrestlers who placed at the tournament, the most for the area in the tournament’s three-year history. Huntley sophomore Aubrie Rohrbacher (130) placed third, Richmond-Burton senior Jasmine McCaskel took fourth (140), Burlington Central junior Victoria Macias (115) and freshman Ryann Miller (170) and McHenry sophomore Natalie Corona (140) each took fifth.

Huntley finished sixth as a team after scoring 39 points. Lakes won the state championship with 61 while Lockport finished second scoring 58 points.

Slaughter fell behind early in her 105 matchup against Kaneland’s Angelina Gochis. She started with a 2-0 hole before Gochis built her lead to 4-1 after the first period and 6-1 after the second. Gochis held off a late push from Slaughter, ultimately winning 8-2.

After realizing that Slaughter and Gochis had a similar style of wrestling, Slaughter admitted she became hesitant in attacking.

“I was scared to take my shots,” Slaughter said. “But if I did, I knew the match would’ve been closer or I could’ve won.”

While Saturday didn’t go exactly the way Slaughter wanted, she said it’ll make the last two years of high school more interesting. After taking third as a freshman and second as a sophomore, in Slaughter’s mind, there’s only one place to go.

“It’s definitely the goal,” Slaughter said. “Become a two-time state champ in two more years. I’m improving and I’m excited for next year. I have a good coach, I have a good support system and I’m excited.”

Rohrbacher was motivated to show improvement Saturday after losing in the second round. She already had the motivation to place after taking eighth last year and the loss only made her matches Saturday more important.

“I’m still proud that I got second. I got better than I was last year. That means that I’m growing, I’m improving. I’m glad that I improved from last season.”

—  Janiah Slaughter, Huntley sophomore

The third-place match for 130 felt like the perfect place to improve for Rohrbacher. After winning three straight matches in the consolation bracket, Rochbacher put together her strongest performance to place for the first time in her career.

“It means a lot,” Rohrbacher said. “I think it means my hard work has finally paid off. I’ve put in a lot of work this season and it’s a big mental game. I feel like I’ve finally won a part of that mental game.”

Rohrbacher ran out to a quick 4-0 lead in the first period before ultimately controlling the match. She went on to win 12-0 after not allowing Minooka’s Addison Cailteux to make a strong move on her.

Rohrbacher was proud of her ability to overcome some early adversity and also learn what it means to win at state.

“I got a little taste of victory,” Rohrbacher said. “I’m going to come back for more next year.”

McCaskel reflected on her wrestling career after taking fourth at 140. She joined the sport a few years ago just because she was bored and never imagined that she’d become a two-time medalist in the sport.

While McCaskel would’ve liked to have ended her high school career with a title, she’s proud of what she accomplished.

“Even if it’s not the top of the top, it’s great to be here again,” McCaskel said. “I’m proud of my work, I’m proud of myself and I’m grateful for everyone who came here to support me.”