Wrestling: Rich Central’s Jabari Moody on a mission
By Logan Malloy For Sun-Times Media February 19, 2014 8:32PM
Jabari Moody (right), of Rich Central. | Vincent D. Johnson/For Sun-Times Media
Where: The University of Illinois’ State Farm Center, Champaign.
When: Competition begins at 1 p.m. Thursday. Title bouts start at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, beginning with the 195-pounders.
Format: The top four individuals from each sectional are here, creating a 16-wrestler tournament for state titles at 14 weights. The top six individuals from each weight reach the podium.
Class 3A: Argo — Cosmo Halwix (195); Bloom — Dominique Taylor (160), Johnnie Foster (182); Brother Rice — Rudy Yates (113), Juan Blanco (132); Homewood-Flossmoor — Mike Burke (120), Connor Bandy (145), Devion May (220); Lincoln-Way Central — Vinnie Piunti (106), Ian Meagher (120), Joey Nelson (132), Bryce Gorman (170), Bryan Ditchman (285); Lincoln-Way East — Jake DiBenedetto (106), Nick Allegretti (285); Lockport — Brian Rossi (113), Shayne Oster (126), Dan Radcliffe (132), Trevell Timmons (138), Vince Dietz (160), Tyler Johnson (195); Marist — Jimmy McAuliffe (106), Nick Lukanich (113), Mark Duda (120), Mike Mullaney (126), Ameen Hamdan (132), Mario Leveille (138), Nick Gasbarro (152), Peter Andreotti (160) and Alex Benoit (182); Mount Carmel — Bryce Brill (152), Dru Worker (170), Jimmy Mickens (182), Matthew Reyes (285); Providence — Matt Glenn (170); St. Rita — Austin O’Connor (106), Jake Silzer (113), Colt Kielbasa (120); Sandburg — John Pellegrino (145), Brian Krasowski (160), Patrick Brucki (170), Hunter Pindel (195); Stagg — Mantas Drukteinis (285); Thornwood — Kris Williams (120).
Class 2A: Bremen — Ryan Foster (152), Javier Soto (182), Josh Jones (220); Crete-Monee — Brandon Hannigan (170); De La Salle — Robert Zebrauskas (120), Devin Michicich (132), Sal Reyes (152), Ryan Rickert (160), Collin Farley (170); Evergreen Park — Will Jones (120), Josh Harvey (126); Lemont — Egan Berta (126), Jake Kirkman (138), Jim Brennan (145); Lincoln-Way West — Tom Buell (106), Kyle Ruettiger (126), Noah Keefe (132), Amier Khamis (138), Kyle Rodriguez (145), Matt Ryan (152), Javier Montalvo (170); Marian Catholic — Josh Jones (113), Jake Domke (138), Jose Champagne (152); Morgan Park — DeVante Williams (113), Jaleel Hampton (145); Oak Forest — Francis Edelen (106), Danny Swan (113), Alan Durham (120), Mousa Jodeh (126), Joel Barker (160), Patrick Kristin (170), Nick Graziano (195), Geri Mallet (220), Rob James (285); Rich Central — Jabari Moody (106), Raekwon Pittman (220); Rich East — Cameron Dean (138), Latrell Burden (160), Aaron Bouie (195); Rich South — Victor Roberson (170), Cody Ralston (182); St. Laurence — Brandon Ramos (106), Johnny Gahagan (138), Kyle Tetlow (182), Frank Tomaskovic (285); Tinley Park — Ceasar Clark (126), David McDonald (132), Eric Shultz (170).
Class 1A: Ag. Science — Amer Shalabi (138), Alexander Velasquez (182).
Updated: February 26, 2014 6:18PM
Rich Central’s Jabari Moody is one of eight wrestlers from the Southland carrying an undefeated record into the state championships in Champaign. Unlike the rest, Moody will step onto the orange-and-blue mats at the University of Illinois on Thursday for the very first time.
It’s not because Moody (33-0) wasn’t talented enough to advance to state the previous two seasons. The junior never had the chance.
Moody sat out consecutive postseasons to enable his brother, Nkosi, to take the team’s 106-pound slot — Jabari’s slot — for a better chance at the Class 2A state title. Nkosi became a two-time state finalist while Jabari watched from the sidelines.
“That was the plan for us going into high school,” Jabari Moody said. “I really just rooted him on. It was hard, but I had to accept it. He’s my brother and I want him to do great.”
Now it’s Jabari’s turn.
Moody put on a clinic at Saturday’s De La Salle Sectional, topping Oak Forest’s Francis Edelen (38-3) for the title in what looked on paper to be the tournament’s best match-up. Moody won 15-5.
“Jabari took a back seat to his older brother, but trust me, he could have been a four-time state qualifier and placer,” Rich Central coach Anthony Markanich said. “He stayed humble and worked hard, and that’s why he so hungry this year and doing so well.”
The sectional title and unbeaten record supplied Moody with the top seed in a 106-pound field that includes Montini’s James Pawelski (31-8) and Washington’s Dack Punke (32-5), all three in the bracket’s top half.
Edelen, on the bottom half, also figures to be in podium contention. The Oak Forest junior will try to make a similar run to the title as teammate Danny Swan did last season. Swan lost to the Nkosi Moody in regionals and sectionals but rallied to top him for the state title.
That isn’t lost on Jabari Moody. It’s fueling his fire.
“Seeing how (Nkosi) took second two times in a row, I definitely want to go in and avenge him,” Jabari Moody said. “He’s been coming back from (Iowa Western) and helping me prepare. That’s why I’ve been getting better each time I come out. I really appreciate it. I know if it were flip-flopped, I’d do the same for him.”
Those other guys
The list of the other seven undefeated state qualifiers from the Southland includes two in Class 2A — St. Laurence’s Johnny Gahagan and Marian Catholic’s Jose Champagne — and five in 3A: Mount Carmel’s Bryce Brill, Thornwood’s Kris Williams, Lockport’s Tyler Johnson, Lincoln-Way Central’s Bryce Gorman and Homewood-Flossmoor’s Mike Burke.
Johnson tops the state with 48 wins, while Burke has just seven victories after missing nearly the entire season while recovering from a torn ACL.
The headliners of this elite crew are Brill and Williams, each of whom is seeking his third state title. The Northwestern-bound Brill arguably is the state’s pound-for-pound best at 152 pounds. Williams, meanwhile, might have a say in that if he can navigate the rugged 120-pound field, which features Marist’s three-time placer Mark Duda.