Wrestling: Hubs battle at IHSA 2A Sycamore Sectional

Three Rochelle athletes advance to state championship meet

Russell Hodges
Posted 2/11/22

The Rochelle Hub varsity wrestling team competed at the IHSA 2A Sycamore Sectional this weekend, with three individuals advancing to the state meet next week.

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Wrestling: Hubs battle at IHSA 2A Sycamore Sectional

Three Rochelle athletes advance to state championship meet


SYCAMORE — Rochelle freshman Xavier Villalobos went down to the wire with Morton senior Zane Ely in a battle of state-ranked athletes with a spot in the IHSA State Championship meet on the line.

Villalobos (42-5) and Ely (29-9) faced off in the consolation semifinals of the 113-pound bracket at the IHSA 2A Sycamore Sectional on Saturday, with the winner clinching a spot in the state meet. Villalobos entered the ring ranked No. 6 in Class 2A, while Ely took the mat ranked one spot higher at No. 5 in Class 2A. When the match began, Ely was the wrestler who took control, scoring a first-period takedown to take a 2-0 lead.

But Villalobos did everything in his power to stay in the match, riding for the full second period before earning an escape of his own during the third period to make the score 2-1. Looking to push the pace with under 30 seconds left in the match, Villalobos successfully executed the fireman’s carry, using the maneuver to score the last takedown of the match in the final seconds to earn a 3-2 decision. Villalobos then defeated Rock Island’s Samuel Niyonkuru with an 11-3 major decision to take third in the sectional tournament.

“I tried tossing him in the first period but he rolled through and scored two on me,” Villalobos said. “I rode him out for two minutes straight in the second period and when I chose down in the third period, I knew I could get back up. When I was out, I knew I was down in the match so I had to really push myself. I felt him hanging on my shoulder, so I went for a fireman’s carry and I did everything I could to get on top. I hooked my ankle, I heard my coaches screaming for me to get my two, which I did with two or three seconds left.”

Villalobos is one of seven wrestlers who represented Rochelle at the sectional meet and one of three who qualified for the IHSA State Championship meet. Senior Caleb Nadig (32-4) took third in the 145-pound bracket, recovering from a 3-1 loss against No. 1 ranked Joliet Catholic wrestler Mason Alessio in the semifinals with back-to-back victories in the consolation rounds. Nadig (No. 4) held off Freeport’s Jaylon Hail 7-3 before edging No. 6 ranked Sterling wrestler Drew Kested 3-1 to take third in the tournament.

“I’m really excited to make it to the state meet and I’m even more excited to make the trip down there and give everything I have,” Nadig said. “I thought I wrestled a lot of good matches, but in the semifinals against the Joliet Catholic wrestler, I was too tense mentally and I didn’t get to my offense. But I was encouraged because I think I can beat him if I see him at the state meet. My goal for the state tournament is to win the whole thing and I know it’s going to be a tough tournament, but I think I’m ready for it.”

Wrestling sectional 2

Freshman Grant Gensler (32-18) finished fourth in the 138-pound bracket, opening the tournament on Friday with two straight strong performances including a 4-1 win over Peoria’s Kenneth Rutherford and a 9-1 major decision over Rockford East regional champion Sam Young, who defeated Gensler earlier this season. After a semifinal loss against No. 2 ranked Joliet Catholic wrestler Owen O’Connor, Gensler went the distance against Morton’s Jamison Almasy with a spot in the state meet on the line, taking a 0-0 match into overtime, where Gensler scored the decisive takedown to defeat Almasy by 2-0 sudden victory.

“It felt really good to win that match,” Gensler said. “I was focused on doing whatever I needed to make it to my next match and make it to the state meet. I really wasn’t expecting to qualify for state, but I had a great week of practice before the sectional and I feel like I’ve put in a lot of work this season. It’s a great feeling and I have nothing to lose. I’m hoping that I can go out there and win a few matches.”

Two Rochelle wrestlers recorded top-6 finishes at the sectional meet including freshman Kaiden Morris (40-8) and sophomore Tommy Tourdot (26-14). Morris earned three victories in the 220-pound bracket, defeating LaSalle-Peru’s Gunnar Wright with an 11-2 major decision Friday evening before beating Limestone’s Aydan Trueblood 9-3 and Joliet Catholic’s Hunter Powell 11-1 during the wrestlebacks.

Tourdot won consecutive bouts in the 106-pound bracket on Friday, edging Joliet Catholic’s Noah Avina 12-10 and winning by fall over Morton regional champion Caleb Lenning to reach the semifinals. Freshman Joseph Nadig (34-13) and sophomore Brock Metzger (27-18) each recorded two wins in the sectional, with Nadig pinning Glenbard South’s Tyre Davis and Morris wrestler Ian Wills in the 120-pound bracket while Metzger earned falls over Peoria’s Kaleb Lawson and Morris wrestler AJ Franzetti in the 170-pound bracket. The IHSA State Championship meet will begin Thursday at the State Farm Center in Champaign.