Wrestling: Hubs finish fourth at XLVII Sycamore Invitational

The Rochelle Hub varsity wrestling team finished fourth out of 24 schools in the XLVII Sycamore Invitational on Saturday. Eight Rochelle athletes brought home top-8 medals in the tournament. (Photo by Russell Hodges)

Eight Rochelle athletes medal in Saturday tournament

SYCAMORE — Despite missing three starters, the Rochelle Hub varsity wrestling team hung tough against some of the best Class 2A and Class 3A programs in northern Illinois at the XLVII Sycamore Invitational on Saturday. The Hubs (22-1, 5-0 Interstate 8), who saw eight athletes earn top-8 medals, finished fourth out of 24 schools with 387.5 points in the tournament.

“I thought our performance was outstanding today,” head coach Alphonso Vruno said. “We were disappointed with our performance last season, but the kids wrestled really well today and we performed a lot better during the medal rounds. We struggled during those rounds at the Rockford East tournament earlier this season and we talked with our kids about finishing strong. We had only 11 kids today and taking fourth in a loaded field has me feeling really proud.”

Sophomore Xavier Villalobos (23-1) led the way for the purple and white, placing second in the 120-pound bracket and scoring a team-high 46 points. Villalobos earned consecutive byes and went 2-1 over three bouts as a high seed, recording a fall over Kaneland’s Alex Gochis and outlasting Rock Island’s Daniel McGhee with an 8-6 sudden victory in the semifinal round. Villalobos faced York’s Zach Parisi for the championship, conceding a 6-1 decision in the finals.

“We always talk about taking care of business and our goal as a team is to win a regional,” Vruno said. “It’s cool to see our kids going after bonus points during these individual matchups and they’re always checking to see what the team score is. Our kids have done an awesome job of cheering each other on and it says a lot about the culture that we’ve built here.”

Sophomores Joseph Nadig (22-4) and Kaiden Morris (24-4) each finished third on Saturday. Nadig took third in the 126-pound bracket, earning falls over St. Charles North’s Jack Karsten and Unity’s Hunter Shike before conceding a 16-0 technical fall to Mundelein’s Benji Albavera in the semifinals. Nadig bounced back with a fall over McHenry’s Lucas Van Diepen for third place.

Morris also reached the semifinal round, notching consecutive falls over Sycamore’s Tristan Countryman and Unity’s Haidyn Hendricks and holding off York’s Austin Bagdasarian for a 3-0 decision in the 220-pound bracket. After a loss by fall against Nazareth Academy’s Gabe Kaminski, Morris secured third with a 4-3 decision over Glenbrook South’s Alex Enkhbaatar. 

Juniors Tommy Tourdot (3-3) and Brock Metzger (21-7) both finished fourth in the tournament. Tourdot took fourth in the 113-pound bracket, recording a fall over Lyons Township’s Roger Martinez and a 9-4 decision against Hononegah’s Angelina Cassioppi to reach the semifinal round. Tourdot dropped matches against Rock Island’s Truth Vesey (14-3 major decision) and McHenry’s Jimmy Norris (20-4 technical fall) to end the tournament in fourth place.

Metzger won his first two bouts in the 182-pound bracket, earning a fall over Woodstock North’s David Randecker before scoring a 3-0 decision against Hampshire’s Chandler Jernigan in the quarterfinal round. Metzger closed out the tournament with a hard-fought loss by 4-1 decision to Hampshire’s Dimitrios Skoulikaris and a fall to Unity’s Hunter Eastin in the third-place bout.

Sophomore Grant Gensler (18-9) and freshman Brenden Voight (19-7) both placed fifth on Saturday. Gensler finished fifth in the 152-pound bracket, opening the tournament with consecutive falls over Unity’s Eric Vlahovich and Hampshire’s Michael Brannigan. After a loss by fall to Sycamore’s Gus Cambier, Gensler finished the evening with a 7-2 decision over Mundelein’s Gael Diaz and a 15-0 technical fall over Portage, Wisconsin’s Luke Paulsen.

Voight batted in the 145-pound bracket, overcoming an early loss by injury default with a fall over Willowbrook’s Noah Brockie to reach the top bracket. After falling to McHenry’s Pedro Jimenez in the quarterfinals, Voight won back-to-back matches to close out the tournament, scoring falls over St. Charles North’s Colin Thompson and Lyons Township’s Calum Rogers.

Freshman Keagan Albers (11-5) was the eighth and final medalist for the Hubs, finishing eighth in the 106-pound bracket after notching a fall over Nazareth Academy’s Charlie Dvorak during the preliminary rounds. Junior 195-pounder Alex McBride (5-9) and freshman 170-pounder Roman Villalobos (20-10) each took 10th in their respective classes, while sophomore 132-pound Weylin Nay (11-7) finished 13th after two straight wins in consolation action.