The Fenwick High School wrestling team advanced four individuals downstate from the IHSA Class 2A Deerfield Sectional on Feb. 10-11, tying a program record set in 2005 for the most state qualifiers in one year.
“It was excellent, above expectations,” said Fenwick coach Seth Gamino. “We’re really excited.”
The Friars’ four state qualifiers came from four consecutive weight classes. Sophomore Aidan Burns (20-9) finished fourth at 152 pounds, senior Vincent Fioravanti (21-12) was fourth at 160, senior Finn McGee (35-4) came in third at 170 and sophomore Jack Paris (18-7) was third at 182.
After his semifinal loss, Vincent reversed Fenton’s Joey Zuniga in the waning seconds of his wrestleback match to make it to the final four. Finn lost to No. 3-ranked Aiden Cohen of Deerfield in the semifinals, but he rebounded to earn a state meet berth in the wrestlebacks by edging De La Salle’s Josue Hernandez 4-3 to advance to the third-place match.
Gamino was impressed with the poise Paris showed after losing in the semifinals to Sean Christensen of Wauconda. Paris led going into the final period 2-0, but Christensen got a pin to win.
“Jack wears his heart on his sleeve and was really upset,” he said. “I told him we weren’t out of it; he still had to wrestle.”
Paris pinned Matt Elzy of Riverside-Brookfield High School in the wrestleback to advance to the third-place match against Jim Amatore of Niles Notre Dame. Paris won that match with a last-second takedown.
Fenwick had two other wrestlers who narrowly missed advancing downstate by losing their final wrestlebacks. Junior Luke D’Alise lost his final wrestleback match at 195 pounds to De La Salle’s Evan Smith via pin (2:12), and at 220 senior Conor Stetz was pinned by Yaree Sandifer of Lake Forest in 3:31.
Burns, Fioravanti, McGee and Paris will compete in the IHSA individual state finals at State Farm Center on the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign campus Feb. 15-17.
OPRF girls wrestling
The Oak Park and River Forest High School girls wrestling team has experienced a rebuild this season, losing six seniors, including five who are wrestling collegiately, from last season.
“We’re young, we only have one senior [Andrea Munoz],” said OPRF coach Fred Arkin.
But at the sectional meet Feb. 11 at Evanston Township High School, the Huskies saw two girls finish in the top four to advance to the IHSA girls state finals Feb. 24-25 at Grossinger Motors Arena in Bloomington.
At 170 pounds, junior Trinity White (24-5) finished second, losing to Ileen Castrejon of Zion-Benton in the final via pin at 4:50.
“Trinity went out to the lead, but [Castrejon] came back towards the end of the match and got her,” Arkin said.
At 235 pounds, junior Sarah Epshtein (30-4) lost her semifinal to Curie’s Aaliyah Grandberry via pin at 5:09, after entering the final period ahead 5-3.
“Sarah controlled most of the match,” Arkin said. “But she couldn’t quite finish it off.”
But she clinched a downstate spot during her final wrestleback by pinning Oak Forest’s Jessica Komolafe in 57 seconds.
Epshtein then defeated Jasmine Mejia of Rickover Naval Academy 4-2 in the third-place match.
“I was impressed with both Trinity and Sarah,” Arkin said. “Their losses came to girls that finished second in the state last year, and they’re both not far from being the top wrestlers in the state.”
OPRF boys wrestling
The OPRF boys wrestling team also had two individuals advance to the IHSA state finals from the Class 3A Conant Sectional on Feb. 11.
Freshman Zev Koransky (34-9) received a bye in the first round of the 113-pound bracket but lost 5-3 to Luis Flores of Conant in the quarterfinals, which meant he had to win three consecutive wrestlebacks in order to secure a downstate berth.
First, Koransky pinned Jake Kubycheck of York in just 25 seconds. Next, he edged Lake Park’s Nick Merola 6-5. Finally, Koransky completed the feat with a major decision over Eduardo Castro of DeKalb 10-2.
Though he lost the third-place match to Glenbard North’s Kalani Khiev 8-6, Koransky will be at State Farm Center on the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign campus Feb. 15-17 for the state finals, since he finished in the top four at sectionals.
Joining him will be sophomore Joe Knackstedt (34-11). Knackstedt placed second in the 132-pound bracket, losing the final via pin at 5:56 to Sean Berger of York.