Wrestling: Hubs take home Interstate 8 Conference title

The Rochelle Hub varsity and JV wrestling teams competed at the Interstate 8 Conference Championship meet on Saturday, with both teams finishing first out of eight schools. Rochelle fielded four varsity champions and three JV champions in the tournament. (Courtesy photo)

Four varsity individuals earn championships as Rochelle outduels rival Sycamore

SYCAMORE — Winning the Interstate 8 Conference Championship would mean taking down the Sycamore Spartans in their home gymnasium. Freshman Brenden Voight and members of the Rochelle Hub varsity wrestling team used that as motivation on Saturday, when the purple and white renewed their rivalry and went head-to-head with Sycamore for the conference title.

Rochelle and Sycamore emerged as the early favorites during the tournament, with Kaneland and Sandwich trailing in third and fourth place. Looking to add another accolade to an already historic season, the Hubs sent eight wrestlers into the first-place matches, with four wrestlers emerging victorious as Rochelle ultimately sealed the conference crown. The Hubs (24-1, 5-0 Interstate 8) scored 217.5 points in the meet, while Sycamore took second with 190 points.

“Sycamore’s one of our rivals and it felt really good to go to their house and beat them,” said Voight, one of the four conference champions for Rochelle. “I thought I needed to wrestle smart and slow the pace down in order to win. We have a really good team right now and I think we have a chance to be even better next season. Our goals are to make it to the dual state tournament and place higher than we have before. We also want to win the regional title.”

Voight won the 145-pound division with a 3-0 record, opening the tournament with a dominant 17-1 technical fall over Sycamore’s Jaden Cochran. After scoring a 9-1 major decision over Sandwich’s Sy Smith in the semifinal round, Voight entered the finals and upset Morris wrestler Tyler Semlar, notching a 7-2 decision that included takedowns in each of the three periods.

Junior Tommy Tourdot also earned a conference crown, winning the 113-pound division with a 2-0 record. Tourdot recorded a first-period fall over Ottawa’s Dallas Harmon, earning a rematch in the finals against Sycamore’s Tyler Lockhart, who defeated Tourdot during Rochelle’s dual meet with the Spartans earlier this season. Saturday’s rematch was a different story, as Tourdot showed dominance with a quick takedown-to-pin move in the first period to clinch the victory.

“We knew we had the upper hand coming in, but we also knew we had to take care of business and wrestle our hearts out,” Tourdot said. “Our coaches talk to us about letting our bodies take control and not thinking so much while we’re out there. It felt really good to win, especially because I got a look at a kid I lost to earlier this season. I wound up sticking him in the first period, which felt really nice. We have a great team and we all push each other in the room.”

Sophomore Joseph Nadig earned his second conference title in two seasons, going 2-0 over two matches to win the 126-pound division. Using his go-to butcher technique, Nadig recorded falls over Morris wrestler Kazden Klinker and Kaneland wrestler Alex Gochis for the crown.

“We know we’re going to have a really good team for a long time,” Nadig said. “My butcher is a technique I’ve been working on throughout the year and for most of my life. We definitely have a competitive team and everyone wants to wrestle and win for each other. We want to be champions and we have really good coaches who have been wrestlers for most of their lives.”

Junior Brock Metzger rounded out Rochelle’s four champions, winning the 182-pound division with falls over Kaneland’s Vince Ariola and Plano’s Richie Amakiri. Metzger, who took third in his weight class during last season’s conference tournament, was motivated to improve his cradle technique after causing a self-pin during Rochelle’s dual match against Harvard last week.

“I love when we wrestle against Sycamore because it’s a really fun environment,” Metzger said. “I pinned myself last week and I worked on that cradle during practice all week. I was able to finish with that move at the conference meet and I was really happy about that. It’s been an amazing season and we’ve been able to grind through all of our tough practices.”

Sophomore Xavier Villalobos (120) was one of four Hubs who placed second in their respective division on Saturday. Freshman Frank Nasca (132) as well as sophomores Grant Gensler (152) and Kaiden Morris (220) each placed second, while junior Alexander McBride (195) and freshman Roman Villalobos (170) both took third in their respective divisions. Freshman Keagan Albers (106) finished fourth and sophomore Robert Stoffel (285) placed sixth in their divisions.

JV

Rochelle also earned the JV conference crown on Saturday, scoring 169 points while Sandwich took second with 150 points and Plano finished third with 126 points. The Hubs fielded three conference champions at the JV level including freshmen Freddie Hernandez (106), Anthony Milburn (113) and Deegan Schabacker (120). Senior Troy Papke (195) and sophomore Dempsey Atkinson (145) each placed second in their respective weight classes in the meet.

Four wrestlers including seniors Jorge Driggs (195) and Josey Weber (126) as well as junior Abel Huerta (145) and freshman Colten Manning (106) took third in their respective JV divisions. Sophomore Colton Czekala (220) and freshman Elijah Mayen (126) both finished fourth in their weight classes, while sophomore Matthew Lynn (160) took fifth and sophomore Parker Campos (160) placed sixth in their divisions. Freshman Connor Macklin (132) also finished sixth.