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Individual State Wrestling: Southlanders lead parade into title matches

Patrick KristOak Forest gets upper hMattoon's Mitchel Godden during 170 pound match for Class 2A Quarterfinals State Farm Center Friday

Patrick Kristin, of Oak Forest, gets the upper hand on Mattoon's Mitchel Godden during the 170 pound match for the Class 2A Quarterfinals at the State Farm Center, Friday, February 21st, 2014 in in Champaign | Gary Middendorf/for Sun-Times Media

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Updated: March 24, 2014 6:24AM



CHAMPAIGN — St. Rita freshman Austin O’Connor is getting the rematch he’s longed for, and it’s coming on the biggest stage.

O’Connor (42-3) blasted Glenbard North’s Kirk Johansen 13-3 in Friday night’s Class 3A semifinals, setting up his title bout Saturday vs. the only 106-pounder to put a blemish on O’Connor’s record: Oak Park-River Forest’s Jay Renteria.

“(Renteria) is tough. I know it will be exciting,” O’Connor said. “I’ve been looking for this match all year. This time, I’m going to wrestle him for the whole match. I have to be on him pushing the pace.”

Few wrestlers had a better Day 2 of the state championships than did Marist’s Mario Leveille. The Purdue-bound senior beat Crystal Lake South’s top-seeded Nick Gil in the quarterfinals before downing Wheaton Warrenville South’s Qarin Johnic to reach the finals.

Like O’Connor, Leveille (31-7) hopes to avenge a defeat against an Oak Park-River Forest wrestler, Isaiah White, for the 138-pound title.

“If I can get a little redemption in this finals match, all will be well walking out of here with my bracket board and going out on top,” said Leveille, the only RedHawk to reach the championship round out of five semifinalists.

In the ultra-competitive 113-pound bracket, Lockport’s Brian Rossi (47-1) will meet Plainfield South’s Miguel Silva (45-3) in a rematch of their regional final tilt that went into overtime. Silva advanced to the finals after reversing his fortune against Brother Rice’s Rudy Yates, the reigning 106-pound champ who bettered Silva in the finals last season.

Rossi will be joined in the Grand March by teammate Tyler Johnson (51-0), the state leader in wins. Johnson is set to face Lake Forest’s Regis Durbin (40-0) in the only 3A championship match featuring two undefeated wrestlers.

“My mind frame is to stay confident,” Johnson said. “I have a feeling I’m going to win this thing if I wrestle the way Tyler Johnson wrestles.”

Mount Carmel’s Bryce Brill (152) and Thornwood’s Kris Williams (120) also are bringing flawless records into championship contests. Brill (44-0) advanced after beating Libertyville’s Joey Gunther 16-4 and Williams moved on after surviving a 3-2 nail-biter over Cary-Grove’s Michael Cullen. Both are looking for their third state titles.

Lincoln-Way Central’s Joey Nelson topped Marist’s Ameen Hamdan by fall to reach the 138-pound finals.

Lincoln-Way East’s Nick Allegretti (43-2) fell in his semifinal vs. Hinsdale Central’s Brian Allen (45-1), the returning heavyweight champ, by 4-2 decision.

Class 2A

Tinley Park’s Eric Schultz (42-2) repaid a defeat to Lincoln-Way West’s Javier Montalvo to make the 170-pound championship. Schultz is a returning state medalist. His cousin, Derek, was a state runner-up last season for the Titans.

“Before the match, (Derek) said to not be nervous, go out and do your thing and you’ll be fine,” Schultz said. “I was extremely nervous.”

Schultz didn’t show it, landing a last-second takedown in overtime to move on.

Meanwhile, Oak Forest’s dynamic lightweight tandem of Francis Edelen (41-3) and returning champ Danny Swan (41-1) are two more from the South Suburban Conference headed for championship tilts.

Swan will face Washington’s Ethan Reel at 113. Edelen will meet Rich Central’s Jabari Moody (36-0), who topped him in regional and sectional action the previous two weekends, in the 106 title bout.

St. Laurence’s Johnny Gahagan (138) and Marian Catholic’s Jose Champagne (152) experienced their first defeats of the season in semifinal action.



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