Girls wrestling: Schaumburg a solid second at Hoffman Estates tourney
Oak Park-River Forest held off hard-charging Schaumburg to claim the top prize at the first major all-girls wrestling tournament of the season Saturday afternoon at host Hoffman Estates High School.
The Huskies, who led all throughout the day until the Saxons caught and passed the eventual champs, used a pair of individual titles in the final three bouts of the day to lift the big trophy with 187 overall points, 4 more than the Saxons.
Glenbard West edged the host Hawks 93-92 to earn third-place honors, with Lockport rounding out the top five with 88.50 points.
"This is the biggest all-girls tournament of the season, and we were very proud to be the hosts today. We're already thinking of making it bigger and better next season with a two-day tournament," said Hawks coach Leo Clark, whose club celebrated its two champions, Sophia Ball (115) and freshman Abby Ji, whose hard-fought contest with Mid-Suburban League rival Madeline Zerafa-Lazare (Schaumburg, 11-3) ended late in the third period when a shoulder injury forced Zerafa-Lazare to concede to an injury default.
"Madeline and I wrestled the other night, and we're also friends, so it was upsetting to see her get injured," said Ji, now 11-7 on the season.
Reigning state champion Jasmine Hernandez of Palatine improved her record to a sparkling 20-0 after winning the 145-pound crown.
"I was really looking forward to my final but I don't think my opponent wanted to wrestle against me," said Hernandez, who will enter the Army next season, where she will continue to wrestle with an eye on becoming an Army nurse.
Runner-up Schaumburg impressed the field of 26 teams, and over 300 wrestlers, earning eight top-three medals and 10 total medals on the day, led by champions Bethan Regione (125, 15-1) and Valeria Rodriguez (18-0) at 155.
"Both Bethany and Valeria have put in a ton of work during the offseason, plus extra time in the room and it shows," said Saxons coach Matt Gruszka.
Maine East senior Hannah Suboni Kaufman (13-0) was dominant at 120 as she pinned her way to her title.
"This is a great individual sport, and team sport as well, and I just love being a part of it all," said Kaufman, who finished sixth at state last summer, and who hopes to wrestle at the collegiate level next fall.
Freshman sensation Kat Bell of Montini (14-7) defeated top seed Ava Anderson (Homewood-Flossmoor) to win at 100 pounds, while Conant star Gianni Gagliani used just 2:40 of the clock on the mat to capture the 105-pound title.
"It feels good to win my first big tournament championship," said Bell, following her pin of Anderson at 3:14.
Keira Dafnis and Anika Navarro would shine for Wauconda and Glenbard West, respectively, en route to their titles at 135 and 140.
Dafnis (16-1) used an early escape, followed by a takedown at 4½ minutes to take the lead for good over Naomi Marchan, before closing out the Lane Tech sophomore with a pin at 4:44.
"It's all about staying positive and confident this year for me. That's why the season is going well for me thus far," said the Bulldogs' senior.
Navarro used a takedown 13 seconds in overtime to outlast Hazel Hartwig (Wauconda) 13-11 to earn her first tournament title of the season.
"I knew if I could keep going, and working hard in the match that I could win this match," said Navarro, a junior, who is in her first year in the sport.
Lockport juniors Caitlin Cassello (105) and Kelli Watkins (170) earned well-deserved second-place medals, as did Downers Grove South freshman Violet Cherap at 155.
Buffalo Grove junior Julianna Conroy (12-3) was third behind Cherap, while Chicago Curie sophomore Aaliyah Grandberry won the final contest of the day over Sarah Ephstein (OP-RF) in the closing moments of her 235-pound bout with a 3-2 decision.