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St. Rita's Jack Threloff advances to the championship bout with a win over Hinsdale South's Dan Garcy at 145 lbs. | Steve Johnston~for Sun-Times Media
The old guard at traditional wrestling state power St. Rita may be gone, but the new guard is chomping at the bit, as the Mustangs showed on Saturday at this year’s Hinsdale South Invite.
“We have no returning state placers,” Mustangs senior Jack Sears said. “St. Rita has its name from past years, but we have to come out and make a name for ourselves this year. We wanted to come out here and have everybody place, and that’s what we did.”
The Mustangs posted a 287.5-208.5 edge over second-place Homewood-Flossmoor, with all 14 wrestlers earning place medals in the 12-team field. Quincy finished third with 194 points and the host Hornets placed fourth.
Sears (182), Colton Kielbasa (120), Victor Keane (132), and Mike O’Connor (138) all won titles and five other Mustangs placed second for Mustangs coach Dan Manzella, who wrestled on the Mustangs’ state title-winning team of 2003.
“The St. Rita of old is gone. Our generation is coaching now, Manzella said. “So it’s up to them to put a name up there for themselves and not feel entitled, and have to earn it. We’re going in the right direction.”
Kielbasa won a wild title match against West Chicago’s Tommy Svestka, earning a 5-0 lead but needing a reversal late in the third period for an 8-7 decision win.
“He’s a tough kid,” Kielbasa said. “I just wanted to keep my composure and keep going. In that situation you just have to get it done.”
Homewood-Flossmoor had four champions on the day in Mike Burke (106), Connor Bandy (152), Isaiah Smith (220), and heavyweight Devion May, while Quincy’s Matt Bilgri (145) and Dakota Downs (170) won titles in their team’s first appearance in the tournament.
Bandy used an ankle pick for the lone takedown of a hard-fought 3-0 title mat decision over Hinsdale South’s Justin Maslow at 152. “(Maslow) was strong and quick so I had to adjust my style a little and improve my hand-speed,” Bandy said.
“I’ve been working on the ankle pick and it happened to work out.”
Hinsdale South’s Nick Perisin (113), West Chicago’s Tyler Svestka (126), Fenwick’s Mike Kozyra (160), and Proviso West’s Jameer Thurman (195) also won individual titles. Kozyra trailed 5-0 and fought off his back to pin St. Rita’s Tyre Lee, 55 seconds into their title bout.
“I stopped wrestling and he capitalized on it,” Kozyra said, “but I have a history of fighting off my back and rolling through. Then he made a mistake and I just caught him.”
Thurman moved up to 195 after wrestling at 182 last year, and is acclimating to wrestling bigger, stronger wrestlers, as his 6-2 title win over St. Rita’s Ben Threloff showed.
“He was every bit of 195 pounds,” Thurman said of Threloff. “I shot and felt his weight, so I had to figure out different ways to score against him. That’s what I’ll have to figure out at 195.”