By Jason Maholy
Some observers – even wrestlers themselves – say experience competing in the state tournament can be a significant factor when it comes to what one can accomplish in subsequent seasons on the biggest stage in Illinois high school grappling.
Every athlete is different, so getting one’s feet wet against the best of the best may be important for some on their journey to glory. Apparently not for Mike Bosco.
The Sandburg senior heavyweight had never qualified for the IHSA state tournament before this season. That didn’t stop him from running the table and finishing his high school career with an unbeaten campaign and the Class 3A 285-pound state championship.
Bosco (44-0) scored a single-leg takedown in the third period of the title match to defeat Edwardsville’s Lloyd Reynolds, 3-2, in the final title match of the 2019-20 season at University of Illinois’ State Farm Arena. He was one of three unbeaten state champs this season in Class 3A.
The state crown is the first by an Eagle wrestler since Pat Brucki – who is now starring at Princeton – claimed the 182-pound title in 2017.
Bosco, an undersized heavyweight at 214 pounds – well within the limits of 220, the final weight class before heavyweight – was giving up 70 pounds to Reynolds, who came in one pound below the class’ weight limit.
Bosco was one of six Sandburg wrestlers to compete this season at state. Sophomores Sammy Hayes (106) and Kevin Zimmer (220) both suffered narrow defeats in their respective title matches to place second.
Hayes (41-2) dropped a 2-1 decision to Montini sophomore Joe Fernau (34-9) in his championship match. Zimmer (45-4) fell 3-2 to Montini senior Josh LaBarbera (38-8).
Marist, which sent six grapplers to the 3A finals, had two medalists. Owen Dunlap and Bobby Gaylord both placed sixth.
Dunlap, a sophomore, fell 11-3 to Danny Curran of DeKalb in the fifth-place match at 120 pounds. It was Dunlap’s second trip to state in as many years.
Gaylord, a junior, lost to Antonio Torres of Waubonsie Valley, 7-5 in overtime, in the fifth-place match at 170 pounds.
Mt. Carmel got championships from Sergio Lemley and Noah Mis.
Lemley and Mis were among five Caravan grapplers who ended the 2020 state finals on the medals stand. Also returning from Champaign with hardware were Connor Gaynor, Colton Drousias and Ashton Breen.
Lemley ended his freshman season by defeating Marmion’s Diego Sotelo to win the Class 3A 113-pound title. It was Lemley’s second victory over Sotelo in as many weeks, after topping him in the championship match of the Hinsdale Central Sectional. Sotelo, a junior, won the 106-pound title last season.
Mis, a junior, defeated Tommy Curran of DeKalb, 9-3, in the 132-pound title match. Mis placed fifth at 126 in 2019.
Gaynor, a junior, came up just short in his bid for a state championship, dropping a 4-3 decision to Oak Park-River Forest’s Joshua Ogunsaya in the 145-pound title match.
Drousias was unable to equal his accomplishment from 2019, when he won the 113-pound state title, but concluded his high school wrestling career with a win. Drousias beat Nain Vazquez of Montini, 6-3, in the third-place match at 120 pounds. It was his third consecutive year earning a medal – he finished fifth at 106 in 2018.
Breen, a senior, also finished with a victory, defeating Lincoln-Way West’s Payton Geigner, 5-0, to take fifth at 160 pounds.
The Caravan had the second-largest contingent of wrestlers at state with 12. Only Montini, with a state record 14, had more.