High School Sports Notes
February 17, 2013 9:00PM
Lincoln-Way West's Josh Ruettiger (top) wraps up Bowen's Bobby O'Banner (below) during their fifth place match during state wrestling at Assembly Hall Saturday, Feb. 16, 2013, in Champaign. | Matthew Grotto~Sun-Times Media
Updated: March 19, 2013 6:14AM
One of the better feel good stories from the Individual State Tournament in Champaign was the comeback of Romeoville senior Naquan Hardy. After tearing his ACL playing football as junior year and missing the following wrestling season, Hardy came back to win titles at SouthWest Prairie Conference Tournament and the Class 3A Bolingbrook Regional.
“(Hardy) became one of four 40-match winners in Romeoville history,” coach Bill Normand said. “I couldn’t be more proud of him.”
In his first state tournament appearance, Hardy placed sixth in the rugged 120-pound field. “I’m disappointed in sixth, but I’m proud of how I finished,” Hardy said.
Lincoln-Way West put together one of the more impressive runs in Class 2A, as half of its 10 qualifiers reached the podium. The Warriors were paced by a fourth-place finish from 132-pound junior Kyle Rodriguez, and fifth-place finishes from freshman Kyle Ruettiger (113), senior Josh Ruettiger (152) and junior Javier Montalvo (182). Sophomore Noah Keefe notched a sixth-place medal at 120.
Providence qualified two to the state tournament and both reached the medal stand for coach Keith Healy. Ronald Triche took fifth at 113 and Vince Ambrose placed sixth at 220.
Lincoln-Way Central sophomore Cody Moris and freshman Brandon Tran of the Plainfield co-op squad will be two of the area’s top underclassmen at the state meet Friday and Saturday at New Trier.
Moris set a pool record in winning the 100-yard backstroke (51.94) at the Lincoln-Way North Sectional, his second sectional title in the event. Moris’ time ranks 13th going into the state meet.
Tran won the 100 breaststroke at the Neuqua Valley Sectional in 58.87, the state’s 10th-fastest sectional time. Sophomore teammate Alex Netzel qualified in the 500 freestyle and 100 backstroke.
As for upperclassmen, Lockport senior Jake Knowles was a repeat double champion in the breaststroke and the 100 freestyle at the Porters’ sectional. His 58.94 breaststroke time ranks 12th in the state.
Other Lockport state qualifiers were sectional champ Tyler Pastore and Jake Voltarel in diving, the first-place medley relay, Dan Oldendorf in the 200 freestyle and the 200 freestyle relay.
Lincoln-Way East senior Andy Gramont was a repeat sectional champ, winning the breaststroke at Lincoln-Way North in 1:00.40. His sectional time in 2012 was 59.80 in East’s pool.
“From year to year, it’s hard to match your times and keep the momentum going,’’ Gramont said. “I’m definitely going to be pumped.’’
For the first time since 2004, the Joliet area was shut out of having someone compete for the IHSA State meet, which concluded Saturday in Palatine.
Although area participation has limited in recent years to the Lincoln-Way Coop team and a few individuals from Lockport High School, Romeoville, Providence and athletes from the Plainfield schools, there has always been someone to make it for eight straight state meets until this year.
The campaign was tough as some of the top athletes in the area were freshmen and sophomores and didn’t qualify for state in the tough Hinsdale Central Sectional.
While there was disappointment this year, the future looks promising.
Lincoln-Way continues to be a power in the south suburbs and will likely stay that way in the coming years.
Lincoln-Way sophomore Kaila Pohrte, the All-Around SouthWest Suburban Conference champion, took 10th in sectionals while sophomore Shelby Wiktor took 19th and freshman Mallory Winter took 25th.
Lockport sophomore Kacie Kenney also made it out of regionals and finished 18th in sectional action. Her teammate, Athanasia Pappas, suffered a knee injury shortly before the conference meet and could bounce back and make an impact in 2014.