Meet the 2022 Herald-News All-Area wrestling team.
Mason Alessio, Joliet Catholic, jr.
At 145 pounds, Alessio was crowned a champion at arguably the state’s most difficult Class 2A sectional, in Sycamore. He then claimed three consecutive wins on his way to the state championship match, where he dropped a 6-4 decision. Alessio also played a big role in the Hilltoppers’ dual team title.
Andrew Blackburn-Forst, Lockport, sr.,
Blackburn-Forst was an absolute terror for opponents to deal with in the 220-pound classification, pinning two competitors in less than 30 seconds at the state tournament. He ultimately won the title in the division by a narrow decision, but not before winning by quick pin or a wide margin on his way there.
Owen Gerdes, Joliet Catholic, sr.
Gerdes lost in the second round of the 195-pound division at the 2A state tournament but clawed his way through the wrestlebacks, winning three consecutive matches, before falling in the third-place match. Both of his losses came at the hands of the same wrestler, Mahomet-Seymour’s Mateo Casillas.
Jared Gumila, Plainfield North, sr.
Gumila stacked a bunch of wins at 170 pounds for the Tigers and had an eventful run at the state tournament. After winning his first match, he dropped his second then scrapped his way through the wrestlebacks, losing in the fifth-place match to take sixth, capping a successful career.
Dillan Johnson, Joliet Catholic, so.
Dominance doesn’t come easy, but the Herald-News Co-Wrestler of the Year certainly made it look like it did. Johnson steamrolled his way to a 285-pound Class 2A championship, winning all four of his matches by pin, including a 90-second triumph in the title match to finish the season 34-0.
Jacob Macatangay, Plainfield North, sr.
Before a loss in the sectional championship, Macatangay stacked a winning streak that encompassed more than two years of competition. He won his first two matches at the state tournament, eventually finishing fourth in the 126-pound classification in Class 3A.
Joey Malito, Lincoln-Way Central, sr.
Malito breezed through the regular season at 120 pounds, taking only one loss before his appearance at the Class 3A state tournament. He started strong with a pair of wins, but a loss in the semifinal round pushed him into the consolation bracket, where he fought back to earn a fifth-place finish.
Kody Marschner, Reed-Custer, jr.
Marschner pummeled most of his regular-season competition and was a whisper away from making the 220-pound Class 1A final, losing by narrow decision. Marschner fought his way back through the consolation rounds after losing, winning the third-place match.
Billy Meiszner, Providence, sr.
Meiszner dropped his first match in the 132-pound division at the Class 3A state tournament, but instead of sulking, he won four consecutive matches to get himself to the third-place match. Although he lost the match to finish fourth, the effort was one to be admired.
John Pacewic, Plainfield South, sr.
Pacewic was another wrestler who didn’t let getting knocked out of the championship bracket at the state tournament deter him. Competing in the 195-pound division of Class 3A, Pacewic lost in the quarterfinals but turned in several dominating performances in wrestlebacks before finishing fifth.
Dillon Sarff, Dwight, sr.
Sarff went into domination mode once reaching the 138-pound bracket of the Class 1A state tournament. Only one opponent scored a point against Sarff in his first three matches, and although he lost a tight decision in the championship match, it’s hard to deny the strength of Sarff’s overall performance.
Gylon Sims, Joliet Catholic, jr.
Sims obliterated the field in the 113-pound division at the Class 2A state tournament, winning every one of his four decisions by major decision or technical fall on his way to claiming the championship. Sims also was a dominating force in JCA’s run to the school’s first dual team state title.
Alex Tagler, Lemont, sr.
Tagler did an impressive job of maneuvering his way through the 170-pound bracket of the Class 2A state tournament, winning two matches in the championship bracket before losing and working his way back through the wrestlebacks to take fourth.
Brayden Thompson, Lockport, jr.
It’s hard to imagine things going much better for Thompson in 2021-22, as the Herald-News Co-Wrestler of the Year got through the season undefeated at 45-0 in winning the Class 3A state title at 170 pounds. Thompson committed to one of the nation’s powerhouse college programs, Oklahoma State.
Gracie Guarino, Lincoln-Way Central, so.
Guarino improved rapidly throughout the season, and showed that improvement in a big way, reaching the championship match in the 105-pound division at the inaugural girls state tournament.
Alexis Janiak, Plainfield South, sr.
Janiak had been waiting for an opportunity to show her skills on a state-wide level, and she didn’t disappoint, breezing through the field to win the 130-pound state title. Janiak was one of only five wrestlers in the inaugural girls state series to complete the season without a loss, going 12-0.