Seven area wrestlers will be heading to the annual IHSA individual wrestling state finals in a return appearance there. Three are from Coal City, two from Seneca and two from Minooka.
Two of them are seniors who made it to state as a sophomore but missed out on making the cut last year. That’s Indians’ 113-pounder K.J. Minor and Fighting Irish 182-pounder Tommy Lovett.
Four others were in the Class 1A finals last year in Sage Friese (126 pounds) from Seneca and Cody Minnick (113 pounds), Corey Jurzak (126 pounds) and Casey Brown (132 pounds) – all from Coal City. Minnick and Jurzak are juniors, and Brown is a senior.
The remaining returning wrestler – Minooka’s Carson Oughton (152 pounds) – placed sixth last year as a freshman.
They will all be joined in Champaign at the State Farm Center at the University of Illinois by three newcomers starting today. Those are Minooka senior 220-pounder Erik Velazquez and Coal City sophomores, 170-pounder Riley Kauzlaric and 113-pounder Joey Rivera.
All gunning for All-State status.
Here’s a rundown of the area competitors by weight. All rankings by the respective weight classes provided by illinoismatmen.com.
Class 1A – 106 pounds
Sophomore Joey Rivera
Rivera (38-9) opens against Trevor Philpot of Vandalia, and the winner will get either Trevor Bullington 15-3) of LeRoy or Zac Schrank of Rockford Lutheran (34-4). Shrank is currently ranked fifth.
Class 1A – 113 pounds
Junior Cody Minnick
Minnick (42-1) is ranked No. 2 in the state and will open with Austin Grant of Rockford Lutheran (29-13). The winner will get Dylan Carey (30-12) or Chaston Womack (34-11) of Vandalia.
Both Brandon Biggs (27-3) of Poplar Grove and Will Lucie (31-1) of Warsaw are ranked No. 1 and 2, respectively, and both are on the other side of the bracket from Minnick.
Class 3A – 113 pounds
Senior K.J. Minor
Minor (35-13) opens against Nick Lukanich (28-7) of Marist with the winner getting either Nick Koch (38-5) of Grant or Austin Gomez (40-3) of Glenbard North.
No. 1 Brian Rossi (44-1) of Lockport looms as a possible semifinal opponent.
Class 1A – 126 pounds
Junior Corey Jurzak
Jurzak (30-3) is ranked No. 3, and he will join fellow Interstate Eight Conference wrestlers Friese and Brandon Malone of Herscher in Champaign.
Jurzak opens with Chance Teel (42-4) of Sherrard with the winner getting either Brock Overbeck (16-8) of Cumberland or Darren Stephens (27-7) of Quincy Notre Dame.
Both Malone (No. 2) and Friese (No. 1) are on the opposite side of the bracket, but on Jurzak’s side in a potential semifinal matchup is Andrew Wenger (31-10) of Dakota. Wenger was ranked seventh before upsetting Friese at the Byron Sectional last week.
Junior Sage Friese
As mentioned, Friese was ranked No. 1 before losing to Wenger last weekend.
Friese starts with Danny Grant (38-3) of Lisle, and the winner is likely to get Garrett Brachbill (40-4) of Shelbyville if the rankings hold. Brachbill is ranked fourth and has Luke Roach (26-11) of Illini Bluffs in the opener. Another meeting against Herscher’s Brandon Malone (32-2) may be waiting in the semifinals for Friese.
Although No. 1 ranked Josh Alber (40-0) of Dakota is on the opposite side of the bracket, Jack Lucie (36-2) of Warsaw is and could be a semifinal opponent should Brown win his first two.
Class 1A – 132 pounds
Senior Casey Brown
Brown (40-3) is ranked No. 3, and he opens with Luke Morales (29-16) of Herscher. The winner gets Bailey Menees (28-8) of West Frankfort or Kyle Kalkbrenner (26-10) of Lena-Winslow.
Class 3A – 152 pounds
Sophomore Carson Oughton
Oughton (35-5) opens with Matt Rowland (42-4) of Willowbrook with the winner likely facing Bryce Brill (41-0) of Mt. Carmel in the quarterfinals. Brill is No. 1 in the state.
Class 1A – 170 pounds
Sophomore Riley Kauzlaric
Kauzlaric (33-14) will face Jarod Noel (38-7) of Bismarck-Henning in the opener. The winner gets either Bryce Ivey (35-1) of Sterling Newman or Mike Redwinski (25-13) of Monticello. Ivey is No. 2 in the state.
Class 1A – 182 pounds
Senior Tommy Lovett
Lovett (34-9) opens against Logan Millizer (25-9) of Monmouth-Roseville. The winner gets either Nic Berty (31-14) of Robinson or Clay Dargert (31-7) of Peotone. No. 1 Brendan Menacher (37-0) of Monticallo is a potential semifinal matchup for Lovett.
Class 3A – 220 pounds
Senior Erik Velazquez
Velazquez (38-9) opens against Lucas Warren (10-2) of Marmion Academy with the winner getting either Sage Hecox (36-2) of Harlem or Anthony Yanan (39-14) of Wheaton North.
The Nos. 1, 2 and 3 wrestlers are all on the opposite side of the bracket from Velazquez.