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Local Sports

3 local wrestlers earn trips to NCAA DI finals

Old Dominion University's Michael McGee, a Plainfield East graduate, won his second straight Atlantic Coast Conference title to advance to his second NCAA Championships.
Old Dominion University's Michael McGee, a Plainfield East graduate, won his second straight Atlantic Coast Conference title to advance to his second NCAA Championships.

Three college wrestlers from the area qualified for the NCAA Division I Championships, which runs from Thursday to Saturday in Pittsburgh, as a result of their showings in last weekend’s conference tournaments.

University of North Carolina redshirt freshman Austin O’Connor, who lives in Lockport and was a four-time IHSA Class 3A state champion from 2014 to 2017 at St. Rita, owns a 29-5 record after capturing second at 149 pounds in the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament. He is seeded sixth in his weight class.

Old Dominion University sophomore Michael McGee, a Plainfield East graduate who won Class 3A titles in 2015 and 2017 and was a three-time finalist, won the 125-pound title at the the Mid-American Conference Tournament title to repeat as a conference champion and qualify again for the national finals. He has a 28-4 record and is the 12-seed at his weight.

And Northwestern University junior Shayne Oster, a Lockport graduate who was a 2015 IHSA 3A champion and a three-time placewinner, drew an at-large bid at
149 pounds after claiming seventh place in the Big Ten Tournament. He carries a 12-12 record into the national finals.

Homer, Coal City win IESA titles: Last weekend capped the first year of two-class finals at the Illinois Elementary School Association State Tournament and two area schools captured state titles in their divisions. Homer Junior High School repeated as a state champ and claimed its third title since 2013 after winning the Class AA title while Coal City Middle School won its initial title by taking top honors in Class A.

In the AA finals, Homer scored 164.5 points to beat Chatham Glenwood and Mattoon by 24.5 points while in Class A, Coal City scored 155 points to win the title by 41.5 points over Taylor Ridge Rockridge.

In Class AA, New Lenox Liberty’s Nathan Knowlton won the title at 75 pounds to become a two-time champion and Frankfort Hickory Creek’s Zach Lamonto finished first at 145. Homer received second-place finishes from Timmy O’Connor at 65, Ben Markham at 85 and Aidan Nolting at 145.

Placing third were Homer’s Matt Giorgetti at 70 and Logan Kaminski at 100 and Hickory Creek’s Ari Zaeske at 112. Finishing fourth were Homer’s Charlie Spatz at 65, Chris Miller at 75 and Max Knezevich at 90 and also Shorewood Troy’s Noah Avina at 70.

In the A finals, Coal City’s Brody Widlowski won the title at 65 and Brant Widlowski was second at 80. Other champions were Wilmington’s Landon Dooley at 90 and Reed-Custer’s Kody Marschner at 215. Reed-Custer’s Gunnar Berg took second at 275, Peotone’s Marco Spinazzola was third at 112 and Coal City’s Mataeo Blessing was fourth at 95.

IWCOA awards nominees: Several area individuals were nominated for various awards that will be announced on April 7 at the Illinois Wrestling Coaches and Officials Association All-State Convention and Awards Ceremony, which will be held at Shepard in Palos Heights.

One of six nominees for the Class 3A Outstanding Wrestler award is Lockport senior Matt Ramos, who won the state championship at 120 pounds and finished with a 36-5 record.
Two coaches from the area were also nominated for the Class 3A Assistant Coach of the Year award. They are Lockport’s Jameson Oster and Minooka’s Mike Kimberlin.

There’s two local connections for the Class 3A Head Coach of the Year Award. One is Yorkville coach Jake Oster, who’s a Lockport graduate, and Shepard’s Scott Richardson, a Providence graduate and assistant coach there who also was a head coach at Coal City.

Sandburg’s Mike Polz, who was a hall of fame head coach at both Providence and Sandburg, was also nominated for the 3A Assistant Coach of the Year award.

In the Class 2A awards, Coal City senior Alex Friddle, who won the 2A championship at 132 pounds and finished with a 53-0 record, was one of eight nominees for the 2A Outstanding Wrestler. Friddle was as also nominated for the 2A Scholastic Wrestler of the Year Award.

Two area coaches were among the nominees for the Class 2A Head Coach of the Year. They are Coal City’s Mark Masters, who led the 38-4 Coalers to a second-place finish and Lemont’s John St. Clair, who directed his 24-7 Indians to another state finals appearance.
Coal City assistant Nick O’Bert was a nominee for the 2A Assistant Coach of the Year award. Also nominated was Bloomington’s Sean Reynolds, who is a Providence graduate.
Two high school administrators were nominated as Administrator of the Year. A Class 3A nominee is Lockport Principal Dennis Hicks while in Class 2A, Coal City Superintendent Kent Bugg was also nominated for the award. And former Plainfield Central coach Paul Faris was nominated for an award from the National Wrestling Coaches Association.

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