SPRINGFIELD – Marian Central’s four-time state champion Dylan Connell wanted the Hurricanes to do something special for coach David Silva, who will move to Nashville, Tennessee next week.
Silva turned the Hurricanes into a state wrestling power and pushed back moving his family south until they could finish their best season in school history.
They did that Friday night at the Bank of Springfield Center, taking three individual titles and nine medals, as well as running away with the team title at the Illinois Wrestling Coaches and Officials Association Boys Open Class 2A State Championships.
With the COVID-19 pandemic disrupting the IHSA’s sports year, there was not IHSA individual or team dual state tournaments. Everyone set their sights on the IWCOA tournament and Marian dominated as it has all year.
“David believed in us,” Connell said. “He told us we were going to get this done. He wanted to get all 10 guys placing, but we got nine. We’ve never done that before. Four in the finals. It’s the best feeling. David gave us his best effort and everybody came out and performed tonight.”
Connell (182), Elon Rodriguez (126) and Nik Jimenez (132) won state titles. Chris Moore (138) was a runner-up. Five other Hurricanes – Josh Glover (106), Nick Davidson (120), Scott Burke (152), Charlie Fitzgerald (113) and Joe Miller (220) also grabbed medals.
Crystal Lake Central senior Caden Ernd, who will be teammates with his long-time friend Connell at Illinois next year, won the 170-pound state title.
Marian finished with 178 points, Bethalto Civic Memorial was second with 147 1/2, followed by Joliet Catholic (97), Deerfield (88) and Crystal Lake Central (65).
“It was a great season. Not the season we anticipated with COVID and everything pushed back, but the outcome was awesome,” Silva said. “It was exactly how I wanted it to end our season. Not only having three individual champions, but putting nine guys on the (awards) podium, that’s unbelievable. Nobody does that, and we did. We’re super-happy and proud of them.”
Connell defeated Civic Memorial’s Colton Carlisle, 9-1, and kneeled on the mat for a few seconds, taking in what he had done.
“It’s a great accomplishment,” Connell said. “This is what I’ve worked for the last four years of my life, to be where I am today. I never thought I’d get here, but hard work pays off.”
Carlisle, like many of Connell’s foes, could not mount any kind of an offensive attack.
“Dylan is the cherry on top,” said Silva, who became the Hurricanes head coach one year before Connell arrived at Marian. “I wanted to coach him to four state titles and we did that. I couldn’t be happier for him.
“Dylan’s just such a solid wrestler and his positioning is so great. What goes unnoticed is Dylan’s a very smart, tactical wrestler. What he does out there he’s in his own element and he’s such a talented wrestler. By far, the most talented kid I’ve ever coached.”
Rodriguez, a state runner-up last year, held off St. Patrick’s Sean Conway, 3-2, in double overtime for the win. He scored a reversal in the first 30-second period, then held Conway down long enough in the final period.
“I knew those 30 seconds were going to be tough because he’s a tough wrestler,” Rodriguez said. “I had to keep my pressure on. I knew I could do it. It’s a big relief. Since last year it’s all I’ve been thinking about, ‘State title. State title.’ It’s not an IHSA one, but it’s pretty much (the same).”
Jimenez, a Class 1A state runner-up at Harvard last year, defeated Deerfield’s Rory Perlow, 4-0.
“The kid was tough. I had to go to work and do what I’ve been training for this whole season, score points and stay good on my defense,” Jimenez said. “And it worked out.
“Our team’s outstanding. We worked hard for this all season. Our coaches kept us motivated, kept pushing us to be the best we can be and we went out here and got the job done.”
Ernd had to grind out a tough win against Carbondale’s Luke Daly, 1-0, for his state championship. Ernd managed to escape after starting down in the second period, then was able to hold Daly down for the whole third period.
“It’s a lifelong goal,” Ernd said. “I’m proud to say I’m a state champ. It was pretty emotional (in the third period). I’m in my head a lot, lots of thoughts out there. I’m proud that I kept him down. I should have scored more points, but it was well done.”
Moore lost to Civic Memorial’s Caleb Tyus, 7-2, in their title match.
Marian’s Glover and Burke took thirds, Davidson was fourth (forfeiting for an injury), Fitzgerald was fifth and Miller was sixth.
Other area athletes who won medals were Crystal Lake Central’s Dillon Carlson (145) and Julian Ryerson (195) and Crystal Lake South’s KT Sivertsen (182), who took thirds.
Prairie Ridge’s Tyler Evans (113), South’s Shane Moran (170) and Cary-Grove’s Joe Swanson (220) took fourths.