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Prep Sports

Lemont posts 6 champs, 10 state qualifiers

DARIEN – In a season where there has been a lot of success for Lemont’s wrestlers, it was a reasonable assumption that they would turn in a very strong showing in the Class 2A Hinsdale South Sectional.

And that’s what coach John St. Clair’s Indians did in the two-day event, which it capped off Saturday by qualifying 10 of 13 individuals for next weekend’s IHSA finals in Champaign while winning six of seven championship matches.

Other than having two individuals fall one win shy of a state trip – one athlete got injured and another just missed weight – Lemont is in a good position heading into individual state and the dual team series.

“Anytime you get six sectional champs, it’s a good day,” St. Clair said. “But unfortunately, in our sport we tend to dwell on the losses because we’re greedy and want to get everyone through, if possible, especially since everyone works hard in our room. The guys who lost earlier and didn’t make it in the final round really kicked butt. They came back to take third place, and I thought that was really cool.”

Winning titles for the Indians were Drew Nash (126 pounds), Ray Hernandez (132), AJ Heeg (138), Grant LaDuke (152), Alex Tagler (170) and Apollo Gothard (220).

Taking second place for Lemont was Kyle Schickel (145), while Evan Schiffman (120), Kyle Zator (160) and Mo Jarad (285) all responded to earlier losses to finish in third place.

Nash (14-0) got things started when he won by fall in 3:38 over Oak Forest’s Tyler Evitts.

“I broke my thumb in the last football game and was out for a while, so it’s good to be back,” Nash said. “I’m ready to go. I took some time off and I’ve been feeling better than ever. The team has something special going this year.”

Hernandez (31-7) followed with a pin in 3:59 against Evergreen Park’s Edwin Opoku, and Heeg (31-6) won a title after Oak Forest’s Jack Coyle was called for a slam and Heeg was unable to return to the mat.

“I’m really excited for the state series since it will be my first time there,” Hernandez said. “My teammates push me every day and Kyle Schickel is a big part of it. We’ve put so much work and we’re a dedicated team that is ready, both individually and teamwise.”

In one of the day’s most anticipated and also unusual title matches, the top-ranked Schickel (35-3) and second-ranked Sincere Bailey from TF North met in the 145-pound finals. After building a 7-2 lead, Bailey got penalized for stalling and was one call away from being disqualified, but hung on for a 9-6 victory.

LaDuke (35-1) rallied late to pull out a 4-2 win over Richards’ Rocco Palumbo, Tagler (15-0) recorded a fall in 1:37 over Oak Forest’s Chris Nowicki and top-ranked Gothard (41-0) got a pin in 3:31 against Tinley Park’s Leno Campbell.

“I’m super excited,” LaDuke said. “I think that our team performed very well today. I’m looking forward to individual state, and then team sectionals and team state are right around the corner. With the bond we’ve created, we’re like a big family, and everything is rolling.”

Schiffman (19-8) bounced back from a 12-4 semifinal loss with two first-period falls. Zator (36-6) got four falls after losing in the quarterfinals and Jarad (39-8) got a pin and two major decisions after falling in the quarterfinals.

Mo Khalil (27-13) at 182 and Tyler Wilms (14-6) at 195 both fell one win shy of state trips. And Sam Schuit (30-12) at 113 was injured and unable to compete afterward.

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