LOVES PARK — Rochelle sophomore Kaiden Morris is motivated to qualify for the IHSA State Championships when his next wrestling season begins later this year. If his recent success is any indication, Morris has already taken a significant stride forward from his freshman year.
Morris was selected to wrestle for the Illinois 16U team at the 2022 USAW 16U Freestyle & Greco-Roman National Championships, which were held in Loves Park over the weekend. The 220-pound sophomore went 5-5 with four technical falls and one pin over 10 combined freestyle and greco-roman matches. Morris helped lead Illinois to a fifth-place national finish in the freestyle tournament and a sixth-place national finish in the greco-roman tournament.
“It was a great opportunity to wrestle against the best kids from other states,” Morris said. “Learning freestyle and greco-roman wrestling was definitely a new experience for me, but coach [Alphonso] Vruno and coach [Nelson] Baker have been really helpful and I’ve learned a lot from them. The rules are a lot different from folkstyle wrestling, but some of the skills are the same. I think this experience will help me tremendously when the high school season starts.”
Already an Interstate 8 Conference and IWCOA Fresh-Soph State Championship winner in his young wrestling career, Morris finished second and first at the USAW Illinois Freestyle & Greco-Roman State Championships back in April. The talented sophomore then secured first and third-place finishes at the 2022 USAW Northern Plains Regionals in Wisconsin last month.
“I feel like my strength and conditioning has improved a lot from freestyle and greco-roman wrestling,” Morris said. “That improvement will definitely help me for football. I think freestyle and greco-roman wrestling has also pushed me to work harder and have a tougher mindset mentally. The national meet was nerve-racking, but it was an awesome experience overall.”