JOLIET – To say Joliet Catholic Academy surpassed the field at the Class 2A JCA Regional on Saturday would be an understatement.
The only word that comes close to describing the Hilltoppers’ performance is “dominant.”
The top three individual finishers at each weight class advanced to next week’s Hinsdale South Sectional, but there was no mystery for any Hilltoppers wrestler. All 14 were in the championship match, and they came away with 11 regional champions.
All told, JCA finished with 292.5 points, easily ahead of second-place Oak Forest’s total of 178 and third-place Bremen’s total of 113. It is the third straight year that JCA has advanced all 14 of its wrestlers to the sectional.
The usual suspects of Gylon Sims (120 pounds), Mason Alessio (160) and Dillan Johnson (285) won titles at their weight classes, while other first-place finishers were Jason Hampton (113), George Hollendoner (126), Jake Hamiti (138), Luke Hamiti (145), Connor Cumbee (152), Nico Ronchetti (182) and Zach Pomatto (195).
Noah Avina (106), Nolan Vogel (132) and Hunter Powell (220) all took second.
Joliet Catholic coach Ryan Cumbee was pleased with his team’s performance and noted that it was the first tournament win of the year for Hollendoner, Luke Hamiti and Connor Cumbee.
“When all of the guys were in title matches, it meant that things went right,” Ryan Cumbee said. “It gave the coaches a lot less stress because we knew everyone was going to advance. At that point, we just wanted no one to get hurt.
“Getting everybody out and advancing to the sectional was our goal, and this is the third year in a row we have done that.”
Connor Cumbee was happy to win his first tournament as a regional and on his home floor.
“It’s awesome to win at home,” he said. “We wanted to make a statement in the regional. We’ve had a good year so far, but it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.
“A lot of guys who wrestled before me won their matches, and that kind of set the momentum. Once they were all winning, I expected to win, too.”
Pomatto had a thrilling win in the title match, coming from behind and pinning Kankakee’s Michael Bannerman-Blacks in 3:16. Not bad for a sophomore who wasn’t in the starting lineup until a couple of weeks ago after an injury to normal starter Max Hrvatin.
“The title match was a tough fight,” Pomatto said. “As the match kept going, I felt like I would wear him down. I just kept my head up and kept going.
“It was pretty fun to win on my home floor, too.”
Luke Hamiti, a freshman, was also excited to get his first tournament win.
“We’ve been wrestling tough teams all year,” he said. “I didn’t feel any pressure because of my brothers [Jake and former JCA 3-time state champ DJ]. We all have our own styles and are different wrestlers.
“It’s pretty cool that all of us qualified for sectionals. It will make practice almost like a preparation for team state.”
Ryan Cumbee also liked having all of the Hilltoppers qualify.
“It’s great that the guys are still wrestling as individuals,” he said. “It will keep all 14 of them extra sharp. Now, the big question is how many we can get to qualify for state.”