Considering their stellar careers as youth wrestlers, it makes sense that Jake Rundell and Jacob Kaminski were both pegged for stardom at the high school level.
Rundell (Oak Park and River Forest) and Kaminski (Fenwick) have already made good on such promise by each winning an IHSA individual state tournament title on Saturday, Feb. 17 at the State Farm Center in Champaign.
Both dominant sophomores left little room for suspense with four straights wins at state.
Rundell (42-2), who was the top-ranked wrestler at 106 pounds by IllinoisMatmen.com essentially all season, won his weight class state title in Class 3A. Rundell defeated Marmion Academy’s Diego Sotelo 5-2 in the championship bout.
In other matches at state, Rundell notched victories against Colton Drousias of Mount Carmel (5-1 decision in semifinals); Mike Kaminski of Lockport (fall 1:35 in quarterfinals); Michael Leveille of Marist (4-2 decision in championship round 1).
“I feel other than my first match, I was able to showcase my full potential,” Rundell said. “It’s been a great season for me. I developed every day and I didn’t let my losses hold me down. I used them to push harder and get tougher.”
In 2015, Matthew Rundell (Jake’s older brother) won the IHSA individual state championship at 160 pounds. He edged Libertyville’s Joey Gunther 3-2 in a taut 160-pound weight class final that season.
Kaminski (31-2) won his state championship in the 195-pound class in relatively comfortable fashion as well. Kaminski, who advanced to the semifinals in the individual state tourney in 2017, finished the job this year with a 7-1 decision over Rochelle’s Alex Harvey in the state final match.
“It obviously feels great to be a state champion.” Kaminski said. “It’s really fulfilling for all your hard work to show and to know that you deserve the title. Accomplishing something like this would not be remotely possible without the support system of my family, coaches and friends that contributed their help to get me to the top of the podium.”
Kaminski also claimed a 7-1 decision over Robert Castellano (Galesburg) in the semifinals. In the opening two rounds, Kaminski won by fall 1:26 over Nicholas Capriotti (Rochester) and by fall 3:50 over Julian Ramirez (Oak Forest).
“Jake Kaminski is a tremendous talent, one of the best wrestlers in the country,” Fenwick first-year head coach Pete Kowalczuk said. “I’ve coached him the past couple of years with the Greco team in the offseason. He’s such a special talent and we can build our program around him.”
According to Kowalczuk, Kaminski joins Nick Bertucci, Bobby Barnhisel and Matt Garelli (two-time state champ) as the Friars’ state champions.
As a freshman last year, Kaminski compiled a 22-2 record at 195 pounds, highlighted by regional and sectional titles and a fourth-place finish at state. Kaminski was undefeated until the state semifinal, where he lost to eventual champion Jacob Warner of Washington.
“Last year’s state meet taught me that it’s just a matter of preparing myself,” Kaminski said. “It’s about taking it one step at a time and knowing that I am capable of placing anywhere on the podium.”
Kaminski developed as a wrestler this past summer as well. He traveled to Fargo, North Dakota to compete in the Cadet National tournament, which features many of the nation’s top high school wrestlers.
Wrestling in both the Freestyle and Greco-Roman divisions, he placed third in each. Both of the losses – just like in the 2017 state finals – came at the hands of the eventual champions.
While Kaminski had the benefit of experiencing last year’s state finals, Rundell made his debut over the weekend.
Collectively, Rundell and Kaminski posted a 73-4 record this season. They will have two more excellent opportunities as upperclassmen to tack on more individual state championships.
Other state qualifiers
In addition to Rundell and Kaminski OPRF had eight and Fenwick two state qualifiers who had mixed results in Champaign.
The best of the remaining bunch was Huskie junior Eddie Bolivar at 132 pounds. Bolivar (40-8) reeled off three victories in a row (2 decisions, 1 tech fall) before falling to Montini’s Real Woods by a 16-1 tech fall in the final. Woods, a three-time IHSA individual state champion, is regarded as one of the best wrestlers at his weight class in the country.
OPRF sophomore Joe Chapman (40-11) battled his way to sixth place in the state at 152 pounds by splitting six matches.
Other state qualifiers for OPRF included Josh Ogunsanya (39-5 record at 113 pounds), Nico Bolivar (28-9 at 120), Eddie Ordonez (34-13 at 145), Jack Fisher (27-9 at 160), Daemyen Middlebrooks (35-10 at 170) and Elijah Osit (25-5 at 195); however, none of them placed at state.
Looking ahead to the IHSA dual team state tournament in Class 3A, OPRF hosted Maine South on Tuesday, Feb. 20 (past deadline).
Glenbard North and Conant also squared off at OPRF. The two winning teams from the OPRF Sectional advance to the state quarterfinals at Bloomington’s Grossinger Motors Arena, along with six advancing teams from other sectionals.
As for Fenwick, Matt Zuber (23-18 at 132) and Liam Mahon (23-10 at 285) also competed at the state tournament. Zuber lost a pair of matches, 20-5 tech fall against Bloomington’s Savion Haywood and 11-3 major decision to Cahokia’s Rodney Evans. In the opening round, Mahon lost a 4-2 tiebreaker against Marquis Hall from Richards.
“Zuber has shown a ton of talent and has a bright future ahead of him,” Kaminski said. “Liam also showed a lot of heart and talent this year. I’m proud of how he did at state.”