ROCKFORD — Not many opponents can slow down Rochelle Wrestling Club standout Kaiden Morris. Standing 5 feet 9 inches tall, the Rochelle Middle School sixth-grader has used his superior length and athleticism to overwhelm his competition all season long.
Even nerves and some flu-like symptoms couldn’t stop Morris, nicknamed “The Moose” by his coaches, from making history in the IKWF State Championships at the BMO Harris Bank Center this past weekend. The 156-pound novice division wrestler dominated his bracket, winning all four matches after earning a first-round bye to bring home the first IKWF state title in Rochelle Wrestling Club history.
“It was really cool and it was a fun experience to be there and become the first wrestler to win,” Morris said. “It was a big moment and I was really nervous… It was crazy, and I freaked out the moment I won the last match.”
Morris started strong in the second round, winning by fall over Minooka’s Robbie Murphy in 2:05 to reach the quarterfinals. The Moose showed no signs of slowing down, defeating Fisher Wrestling Club’s Raul Martinez by 15-0 technical fall in the quarterfinals before pinning Belleville’s Ethan Hofmeister in 2:46 during the semifinal round.
With coaches, teammates and family members cheering from the crowd, Morris took center stage and faced Isaiah Logan from Team 1006 for the state championship Saturday evening. Like all his previous foes, Logan stood no chance against Morris, who won by fall in 2:40 to claim the crown.
“I think being taller than everybody else helps me,” said Morris, who’s been with the Rochelle Wrestling Club for four years. “Having longer arms and legs and being quicker helps too… I like the feeling you get when you win, and I like the competition.”
Morris was one of five wrestlers representing the RWC at the IKWF State Championships. Xavier Villalobos medaled in third place in the 70-pound novice division bracket, while Elias Koonce finished fourth in the 84-pound novice division bracket. Tommy Tourdot placed eighth in the 74-pound senior division bracket, and Brandyn Metzger finished 0-1 in the 95-pound novice division bracket.
Villalobos defeated Jack Platt from Team 1006 by 15-2 major decision before topping Jeremy Huf from the Arlington Cardinals by 6-4 decision in the quarterfinals. After falling to Bolingbrook’s Aaron Camacho in the semifinals, Villalobos defeated Huf again by 6-4 decision before edging Chazz Robinson of the Harvey Twisters by 2-1 decision for third place.
Koonce earned a 7-0 decision over Brodey Durbin of Just Wrestling before falling by 10-3 decision to Donavon Allen of the Harvey Twisters in the quarterfinals. Koonce won three straight consolation matches against Nicholas Herman of the Celtics (5-3 decision), Zachary Montez of the Junior Pioneers (4-2 decision) and Pedro Rangel of the Storm Youth (11-9 decision) to reach the third-place match, which Koonce lost by 7-0 decision to Carson Bissey of Respect Wrestling to take fourth.
Tourdot won by 7-1 decision over Zachary Koschnitzki of the Oak Forest Warriors before falling against Jase Salin of the Celtics by 8-0 major decision. After pinning Carter Mikolajczak of the Lemont Bears, Tourdot lost to Ty Edwards of Team 1006 and Kamron Scholl of the Kaneland Knights to place eighth. Metzger wrestled one match, losing by fall against Zac Pitre of the Belleville Little Devils.