Wrestling: Hubs finish second at IHSA 2A Rockford East Regional

The Rochelle Hub varsity wrestling team finished second out of eight schools in the IHSA 2A Rockford East Regional on Saturday. Nine individuals qualified for the IHSA 2A Rochelle Sectional next weekend. (Photo by Russell Hodges)

Nine Rochelle wrestlers advance to sectional meet

ROCKFORD — One wrestler stood between Kaiden Morris and a regional championship during the IHSA 2A Rockford East Regional on Saturday. That wrestler was Rockford East’s own Lee Smith, who entered the ring against Morris having lost only one match during the entire season.

Morris recalled facing Smith during his days with the Rochelle Wrestling Club, where the Rockford wrestler got the best of him. Saturday was a different story, however, as the sophomore standout Morris controlled the pace against the talented E-Rab wrestler Smith. Both wrestlers earned escapes over the first two periods, but overtime was needed to determine who would take home the regional championship for the 220-pound weight division on Saturday.

Staying patient and waiting for the right opportunity to strike, Morris found his chance midway through the overtime period, working his way inside and successfully taking Smith (37-2) to the mat for the first and only takedown of the match, which resulted in a 3-1 sudden victory and a regional title for Morris (34-7). It was the second sudden victory of the afternoon for Morris, who was one of five Hubs to finish first in their respective weight divisions at the regional tournament.

“It feels great and I came in here knowing that I wanted to wrestle well,” Morris said. “I continued to tell myself that I belong here and I knew I had to wrestle smart. That helped me get the takedown at the end of the championship match. [Smith] was a big boy and I knew that coming in. I wrestled him when I was younger and it didn’t turn out so well, so I knew there were things I could do better. I knew his gas tank may not be too good and I used that to my advantage.”

Junior Tommy Tourdot (17-5) brought home the 113-point division crown, scoring back-to-back major decisions including an 11-3 win over Woodstock North’s Taquildin Baker and a 14-6 victory over Crystal Lake Central’s Dylan Ramsey. Rochelle and Crystal Lake Central went back and forth for the team title throughout the afternoon, but the Tigers ended the tournament in the lead, winning the regional tournament with 234 points. The Hubs took second with 190.5 points.

Sectional Paper web

“I thought we wrestled alright,” head coach Alphonso Vruno said. “We left some things on the table and I thought Crystal Lake Central wrestled a heck of a tournament. They were coached well from top to bottom and they wrestled well from top to bottom. We have some bad habits that we need to break if we want to make a true run at a regional championship next season.”

Sophomore Joseph Nadig (35-6) played spoiler in the 126-pound division, rallying from consecutive deficits to stun Crystal Lake Central’s Greco Rendon and Prairie Ridge’s Mikey Meade with back-to-back third-period falls. Nadig received a medical forfeit to win the division title. Freshman Brenden Voight (33-11) followed an Interstate 8 title with an IHSA Regional title in the 145-pound division, notching a second-period fall against Rockford East’s Ty’Quavion Smart before outlasting Crystal Lake Central’s Zach Carnrite for a 4-3 decision in the finals.

“We had some individuals who looked awesome today,” Vruno said. “Tommy was awesome and Joseph pinned two really good kids. There’s a ranked kid who isn’t even going to the sectional tournament because Joseph destroyed that bracket. Brenden wrestled well and Kaiden beat a kid who was a state placewinner last season. We had some individuals who I’m really proud of.”

Junior Brock Metzger (35-9) rounded out Rochelle’s regional champions on Saturday, cruising over Freeport’s Michael Tillmon and Woodstock North’s David Randecker with first-period falls to meet Crystal Lake Central’s TJ Metz in the finals. The No. 2 seed in the bracket, Metzger held a 4-3 advantage over the No. 1 seed Metz before dominating the third period, where the Hub junior struck two takedowns and a near fall to ultimately clinch the match with an 11-5 decision.

Rochelle fielded two runner-up performers on Saturday including sophomores Xavier Villalobos (35-4) and Grant Gensler (28-14), who finished second in the 120-pound and 152-pound divisions, respectively. Two Hubs including senior Jorge Driggs (9-12) and freshman Freddie Hernandez (9-9) wrestled their way into the sectional tournament with third-place performances. Driggs went 3-1 over four bouts, recording a third-period fall over Rockford Jefferson’s Damein Acaley to earn his place in the sectional tournament. Hernandez needed only 18 seconds to score a first-period fall against Rockford East’s Hayden Roach to punch his sectional ticket.

Three Rochelle wrestlers including sophomores Erich Metzger (15-9) and Robert Stoffel (10-8) as well as freshman Roman Villalobos (29-17) placed fourth in their respective weight classes and fell just short of qualifying for the sectional tournament. Freshman Frank Nasca (15-12) and junior Riley Damask (5-14) also represented the Hubs at the regional tournament Saturday.