Wrestling: Villalobos, Nadig medal at IHSA State Championship meet

Rochelle sends three athletes to state tournament in Champaign

Russell Hodges
Posted 2/19/22

Rochelle freshman Xavier Villalobos had to do something no other wrestler in Illinois had done this season in order to reach the finals of the IHSA State Championship meet.

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Wrestling: Villalobos, Nadig medal at IHSA State Championship meet

Rochelle sends three athletes to state tournament in Champaign


CHAMPAIGN — Rochelle freshman Xavier Villalobos had to do something no other wrestler in Illinois had done this season in order to reach the finals of the IHSA State Championship meet. 

Standing between Villalobos and the state finals was undefeated Crystal Lake South senior Josh Glover, who entered the tournament ranked No. 1 in Class 2A at the 113-pound weight class. The two standout wrestlers faced off in the semifinal round Friday evening, with the match entering the final seconds of the third period tied at 3-3 after a back-and-forth first two periods.

As thousands of fans including a large contingent of his family and friends watched from the bleachers of the State Farm Center, Villalobos stunned the crowd in the last moments of the match, bringing Glover to the mat and working around his body to score a final-second takedown to win the match 5-3 and hand Glover his first and only defeat of the season. With the historic victory, Villalobos became Rochelle’s first freshman to qualify for the state finals.

“It was an amazing feeling and my confidence increased dramatically,” Villalobos said. “I knew the match was tied and I could feel him grabbing my arm, but I knew if I could keep moving around him the other way, I could shuck him and score the takedown. I don’t think [Glover] saw it coming at all. I knew I was down early in the match, but when it comes to wrestling in the state tournament, you’re never down and you’re never out of the match until the last second comes.”

Villalobos battled Joliet Catholic’s Gylon Sims in the state finals on Saturday, suffering a tough 17-6 loss to medal in second at the 113-pound weight class. Despite the loss, Villalobos became Rochelle’s first freshman to medal at the state tournament and the school’s first state runner-up finisher since Alex Harvey during the 2017-18 season. Villalobos ended his freshman season with a 45-6 record, setting another school mark for the most wins in a season by a freshman.

“It’s a great feeling and it feels even better knowing that I have three more chances to win the state championship,” Villalobos said. “Finishing second hurts, but I feel like I’m right there and I know I’m only a freshman. I know I have to get better next season and I have to continue getting better every season after that, but I would say that my confidence is very high right now.”

Villalobos entered the state meet ranked No. 6 in Class 2A. Having knocked off the No. 5 ranked wrestler, Morton’s Zane Ely, at the sectional tournament in Sycamore, Villalobos began his run to the state finals with an opening-round fall over St. Ignatius College Prep’s Nate Sanchez on Thursday. Defeating Sanchez advanced Villalobos to the quarterfinals, where he took on No. 4 ranked Mattoon senior Brady Foster, who beat Villalobos 9-1 earlier this season.

Unfazed by the previous defeat, Villalobos stayed with Foster throughout the quarterfinal match, using a quick reversal during the second period to even the score at 2-2 before riding out Foster in the third period to send the bout into overtime. After regulation and overtime, Villalobos and Foster remained tied at 2-2, which sent the bout into two 30-second tiebreaker periods. 

Villalobos successfully rode Foster out during the first tiebreaker before taking the down position for the second tiebreaker, where the freshman executed the same reversal maneuver he scored on earlier in the match to score again and ride Foster out to win the match in a 4-2 tiebreaker.

“I thought I had more confidence this time around,” Villalobos said. “I thought I wrestled him flat the first time I faced him and I didn’t give my best effort. But I knew this was the state tournament and he was a senior so I had to give everything I had and I came out on top."

Nadig medal_1

Villalobos was one of three Rochelle wrestlers competing at the state meet this weekend. Senior Caleb Nadig medaled in fourth place at the 145-pound weight class, finishing with a 36-6 record for the season. Ranked No. 4 in Class 2A, Nadig split his first two bouts on Thursday, scoring a 17-1 technical fall over St. Rita’s Isaac Gaytan-Reilly before conceding a tough 5-2 loss to Mattoon’s No. 6 ranked senior Kiefer Duncan, who edged Nadig 1-0 in the third-place bout.

“This weekend was an unforgettable experience and I’m happy that I finally had the opportunity to compete at the state tournament,” Nadig said. “I thought I wrestled some really good matches where I performed my best, but there were a few matches where I came up a little short.”

Nadig bounced back with three impressive victories during the wrestlebacks, defeating Bloomington’s Jacob Barger 9-4 on Friday before returning Saturday morning with a 3-2 win over Aurora Christian’s Taythan Silva, who entered the weekend ranked No. 3 in Class 2A. Nadig held off Sterling’s No. 5 ranked senior Drew Kested 3-2 in overtime to seal a top-4 finish.

“I’ve enjoyed being there for my team over the last three years,” Nadig said. “We had a lot of fun during duals and I always encouraged my teammates to be fired up for each other and go out there to do their best in the sport. My advice for my younger teammates would be to give everything you have because anything can happen, especially at the state tournament.”

Freshman Grant Gensler (33-20) competed in the 138-pound bracket, falling against Civic Memorial’s No. 1 ranked sophomore Bryce Griffin in the opening round before recovering to score a third-period fall over Hillcrest’s Jovan Williams in the first-round wrestlebacks. Gensler bowed out in the second-round wrestlebacks with an 8-3 loss to Brother Rice’s Al Perez.