Wrestling: Lincoln-Way Central’s Knowlton, Peotone’s Spinazzola win titles at McLaughlin Classic

Lincoln-Way Central’s Nathon Knowlton faces Deerfield’s Jordan Rasof in the 126 pound semifinal at the Joliet Central McLaughlin Classic in Joliet.

JOLIET – Last season started out well for Nathan Knowlton of Lincoln-Way Central. Knowlton was undefeated before a family matter forced him to end his season.

He has started this season right where he left off, winning the championship at 126 pounds Saturday in the 28-team McLaughlin Classic at Joliet Central.

Knowlton won four straight matches Saturday, running his season record to 7-0. After a bye in the first round, he pinned Javier Rodriguez of Northridge Prep in 1:10, earned a 17-1 technical fall over Peotone’s Micah Spinazzola, beat Jordan Rasof of Deerfield 7-4 in the semifinals, and topped Marist’s Matthew Cornfield 8-4 in the title bout.

“I am ready for this season,” Knowlton said. “It hurt to miss last year, but I have done a lot in the offseason to get ready for this season. I am faster and stronger than I was last year, and I am ready to get to that next level.

“It’s nice to win a big tournament like this. I have my eyes on some bigger tournaments later in the season, too.”

Knowlton’s performance helped the Knights finish second in the tournament to Marist. The Knights had 221.5 points, trailing the RedHawks’ total of 343.5. Among area teams, Romeoville (132.5) finished eighth, Joliet Central (121.0) was ninth, Peotone (102.0) was 13th, and Providence Catholic (85) finished 15th.

Peotone’s Marco Spinazzola faces off with Marist’s Eamonn Boyle in the 152 pound semifinal at the Joliet Central McLaughlin Classic in Joliet.

Peotone’s Marco Spinazzola won the title at 152 pounds, taking the championship match by injury default over West Chicago’s Nolan Allen. Prior to that, Spinazzola, who finished sixth in Class 1A last season, pinned Shepard’s Tavayris Howard in 28 seconds in the first round. He pinned St. Rita’s Nolan Keenan in the second round in 3:16, earned a 16-0 technical fall over Deerfield’s Will Holz in the quarterfinals, and beat Marist’s Eamonn Boyle 8-1 in the semifinals.

“I would have liked to win the title on the mat, but this is a fun tournament to start the season,” Spinazzola said. ”I know a lot of the guys that are here, so that’s pretty cool. I have been doing a lot in the offseason trying to get ready for this year. I want to finish higher than I did last year. I worked a lot on conditioning, doing a lot of reps with lower weights.

“Last year, I had to cut a lot of weight, and it was a little too much. This year, I feel a lot more comfortable, and it’s made a big difference.”

Another edge Spinazzola has is being able to practice against Peotone 145-pounder Ian Kreske, who finished fourth in his weight class Saturday, behind Lincoln-Way Central’s Kristian Meloy.

“We wrestle each other a lot in practice,” Spinazzola said. “We make each other better. I don’t know what I would do without Ian, because our other guys are at a lot higher weights or they are just starting as wrestlers. Our coach [Philip Thome] has us in a lot of tournaments where we wrestle 2A and 3A schools, so when the 1A postseason starts, we’ll be prepared.”

Joliet Central’s Alex Fernandez works overSt. Rita’s Austin Dangles in the 120 pound semifinal at the Joliet Central McLaughlin Classic in Joliet.

Earning third-place finishes for Joliet Central were 120-pounder Alex Fernandez and 195-pounder Charles Walker.

“I missed last year with a broken arm,” Fernandez said. “That was tough to go through. I wear a sleeve on my arm when I wrestle now, but it doesn’t bother me.

“It was nice to get a medal on our home floor. I won my last match of the day, and I always wrestle to get my arm raised. I was happy to be able to do that with all the schools here.”

Taking third place for Romeoville were 113-pounder Brian Farley and 220-pounder Jonathan Espinoza-Luna, while 106-pounder Savion Essiet and 126-pounder Alan Amaya each took fourth for the Spartans.

Lincoln-Way Central’s Max Becker finished fourth at 160, while Knight teammate Tim Key was fourth at 170. Evan Welsh took third at 182, while Colin Welsh was fourth at 285.