There were a few challenges to naming this year’s Morris Daily Herald All-Area Wrestling Team. The first big decision was naming the Most Valuable Wrestler. It clearly came down to two grapplers this year, both of whom were state champions.
Morris 132-pound wrestler Kenny Baldridge won the Class 2A title with a 40-1 record and Coal City 113-pound wrestler Cody Minnick won the 1A title and finished with a 45-1 record. I thought about having an open invitation between the two to wrestle off for the rights to this year’s honor, but that’s too much of a weight disparity for Minnick to overcome, I think.
Ultimately, the senior won out over the junior. That means Minnick will be the odds-on favorite to be our MVW next year, although his teammate Corey Jurzak likely also will have a say in that matter.
For the most part, filling out the weight classes this year was pretty straight forward, picking wrestlers from Morris, Coal City, Minooka and Seneca. There was a hole at the 120-pound class this winter with the four area schools combining to go 23-44 after the postseason was recorded. Nobody was named from that weight this year. Were this a real team, I’m sure that state qualifiers Minnick or K.J. Minor of Minooka would be capable of wrestling up at 120.
Because the hole at 120 left two openings, one extra wrestler was added at 113 and at 170, and they both are deserving.
As always, you would feel safe with this bunch competing if were you the coach.
106 - Joey Rivera - Coal City
Won the Coal City Regional by beating Jake Krotz of Plano by fall in 2:44. Rivera was also the Plano Sectional champion after defeating Drew Sonnefeldt of Lisle, 12-9.
At state, Rivera defeated Trevor Bulington of LeRoy by fall in 2:24 before losing to Zac Schrank of Rockford Lutheran, 12-6. The sophomore then finished the season at 39-11 after losing in the first round of the wrestle backs.
106 - Tony Menozi - Morris
A freshman, Menozi finished fourth at the LaSalle-Peru Regional, losing to Jakob Weiss of Ottawa by fall in 1:37. He ends the year with a 20-14 record.
113 - Cody Minnick - Coal City
The junior won the Coal City Regional by beating Juan Lazarit of Plano by fall in 1:25. Won the Plano Sectional by defeating Jeff Chan of Lisle by fall in 5:35 and then won the state championship by defeating two-time defending state champion Brandon Briggs of North Boone, 3-2.
Finishes his season with a 45-1 record.
113 - K.J. Minor - Minooka
A senior who returned to state competition after making it there his sophomore year, Minor won the Bradley Regional by defeating Jeronnie Steward of East Moline 11-4, and he was fourth at the Normal West Sectional after losing to Miguel Silva of Plainfield South, 8-2.
Minor finished his high school career with a 28-8 record this season after losing his opener at state.
113 - Andrew Smith - Morris
Had his season brought to an end after losing the third-place bout at the LaSalle-Peru to Micah Kruger of Ottawa, 13-1. A freshman, he ended the season at 19-11.
126 - Corey Jurzak - Coal City
The junior opened the postseason by beating Colin Weis of Wilmington, 7-0, for the Coal City Regional championship. He then won the Plano Sectional by defeating Marc Rodriguez of Gordon Tech, 5-1.
Finished as the runner-up at state with a 33-4 record after losing late in the third period to Caleb Micho of Rockford Lutheran, 9-6.
126 - Sage Friese - Seneca
Was second at the Byron Sectional to Andrew Wenger of Dakota (5-3). Won the Stillman Valley Regional by defeating Wenger by fall in 5:14.
A junior who was making a return trip to state this winter in the same bracket as Jurzak, Friese finished at 40-5 after losing to arch-nemesis Brandon Malone of Herscher in the quarterfinal wrestlebacks, 7-2.
132 - Casey Brown - Coal City
Won the Coal City Regional by defeating Shawn Wollenweber of Plano, 8-2. He then won the Plano Sectional after defeating another Interstate Eight Conference rival in Austin Headrick of Wilmington, 1-0.
Like last year when he was a junior, he fought his way all the way to the title bout in his weight, only to lose to the only undefeated, four-time state champion in Josh Alber of Dakota 16-5. He concludes a rock-solid high school career with a 43-4 record his senior year.
132 - Kenny Baldridge - Morris
A three-time state medalist, Baldridge goes down as one of the greatest wrestlers in MCHS history, capping off his senior season with a win by fall over Alexander Butler of Rockford Boylan and a 40-1 record.
138 - Jonah Englert - Coal City
A sophomore sectional qualifier, Englert went 23-17, losing in the semifinal wrestlebacks at Plano. Previously he had finished fourth at the Coal City Regional, losing to Amber Shalabi of Chicago Agricultural Science by fall in 1:45.
138 - Nate Vaught - Minooka
A sophomore. Vaught finished the season at 17-19 after finishing fourth at the Bradley Sectional before bowing out after losing in the sectional quarterfinals.
145 - Alex Medina - Coal City
A senior who perhaps wrestled his best in the postseason, Medina was a sectional qualifier and made it all the way to the semifinal wrestlbacks at Plano before losing. He ends with an 8-16 record.
145 - Kenny Kirkland - Minooka
A sophomore, Kirkland was third at the Bradley Regional after beating Dalton Lawyer of Rock Island by fall in 1:54. After long both matches at the Normal West Sectional, Kirkland ended the season with a 14-16 record.
152 - Carson Oughton - Minooka
A returning state placer as a freshman, Oughton did not have that kind of success his sophomore season. Still, Oughton finished the year with a 35-6 record after losing his opener at state to Matt Rowland of Willowbrook.
Previously he had won the Bradley regional by defeating Riley Andriano of Bradley 4-1 and he was third at the Normal West Sectional.
152 - Bryce Coyle - Seneca
Was fourth at the Stillman Valley Regional after losing to Jacob Elsbury of Byron 6-0. He finished his sophomore season with a 24-14 record.
160 - Trevor Allbert - Morris
Won the L-P Regional by defeating Mike Milasuski of L-P 10-3 and then got second at the Pontiac Sectional after losing to Jake Warner of Washington 16-3.
At state, the senior went 2-2, losing in the quarterfinal wrestlebacks to Rigo Fraire of Sandwich by fall in 5:34.
160 - Zach Russell - Seneca
Was fourth at the Stillman Valley Regional after losing to Gavin Arnold of Stillman Valley by fall in :39.
A junior, his final record this winter for the Fighting Irish was 27-11.
170 - Riley Kauzlaric - Coal City
A sophomore, Kauzlaric was a state qualifier, though he lost his lone bout there. He ended with a 33-15 record after finishing second at the Coal City Regional to Kyle Betourne of Bishop McNamara by a 7-0 score and he was second again to Betourne at the Plano Sectional, losing that bout by a 14-6 major decision.
170 - Chris Hiscock - Minooka
Finished the season at 31-14 after losing in the prelim wrestlebacks at the Normal West Class 3A Sectional. Was third at the Bradley regional where he defeated Alan Willis of Homewood 8-5.
170 - Dayton Coyle - Seneca
A junior, Coyle finished the season with a 33-15 record, losing in the quarterfinal wrestlebacks in a loaded Byron Regional.
182 - Tommy Lovett - Seneca
Second at the Byron Regional to Sean Ward of Winnebago by fall in 4:34 and lost to him again for the championship at the Stillman Valley Sectional — this time by a 9-5 score.
The senior who was a state qualifier as a sophomore, finished his career with a medal at state after finishing sixth down in Champaign where he went 3-2. Finished his senior season with a 36-11 record.
182 - Josh Bouie - Minooka
Won the third-place bout at the Bradley Regional to advance to the Normal West Sectional. He lost both matches at the Normal West Sectional, however, to finish his junior year with a 28-16 record.
195 - Jake Frost - Coal City
The junior was a sectional qualifier who finished 24-16 on the season, losing in the quarterfinal wrestlebacks in Plano to Ryan Berman of Wilmington by fall in :33. Frost was third at the Coal City Regional after defeating Jackson Branum of Reed-Custer by fall in 1:39.
195 - Erik McMillin - Minooka
Had his season end after losing the Bradley Regional third place bout to Dalton Stracner of Moline. The junior finished the season at 8-13.
220 - Erik Velazquez - Minooka
A senior state qualifier, Velazquez finished the season at 38-10 after losing his opener at state to Lucas Warren of Marmion by fall in :28.
Velazquez was second at the Bradley Regional after losing the title to Devion May of Homewood 1-0 and he was second at the Normal West Sectional after having Matt Kent of Edwardsville edge him out for the championship there.
220 - Dalton Ness - Morris
Ness finishes the year with a 33-12 record, missing state after losing to Bryant Lilly of Sterling 9-1 at the Pontiac Class 2A semifinal wrestlebacks. The senior was second at the L-P Regional after losing to Cryano Rayfield of Ottawa 6-3.
285 - Andrew Faught - Morris
A sectional qualifier, Faught was 21-16 on the season after losing to Jonathon Hewitt of LaSalle-Peru in the wrestlebacks at Pontiac. The junior was third at the L-P Regional, defeating Steve Lotz of Lincoln-Way West by fal in 5:09.
285 - Kyle Williamson - Minooka
The senior had his season come to an end after finishing fourth at the Bradley Regional. He lost to Alexander Clak of Bloom 1-0 and ends the season at 9-18.