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Seven Mt. Carmel wrestlers win titles, help Caravan to Chicago Catholic League crown; Brother Rice takes 3rd

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By Steve Millar 
Correspondent

Ryan Boersma did not get the opportunity to become a four-time Catholic League champion because the COVID-19 pandemic caused to the cancellation of the conference tournament.

But winning three Catholic League championships at two schools, and wrapping it up by winning a Lawless Award for the league’s best senior wrestler? The Mount Carmel heavyweight knows that’s not too shabby.

“I’m excited,” Boersma said. “It kind of stings not getting a chance to be a four-timer, but we’ll say three with an asterisk.”

Boersma, a Missouri recruit, was one of seven champions for the host Caravan on at the Chicago Catholic League meet on Jan. 22. Mount Carmel rolled to the team title with 327.5 points. Marmion (295.5) was second, followed by Brother Rice (198).

Boersma, who is ranked No. 1 in Class 3A by the Illinois Wrestling Coaches and Officials Association, won two Catholic League championships at Providence before transferring to Mount Carmel following his sophomore year.

He finally got the chance to win one for the Caravan and delivered, beating Fenwick’s Jimmy Liston 9-1 in the finals.

Boersma (29-2) now has his attention turned to the postseason.

“I’m very excited for team state,” he said. “I know coach (Alex) Tsirtsis is going to have us as ready as we can be. I’m super excited to help us compete, hopefully, for a team state title.”

While Mount Carmel is still likely considered by most to be the favorite for the Class 3A state title, the Caravan were shown last week that it will not easy. Mount Carmel dropped back-to-back duals Jan. 20 and 21, falling 30-29 to fifth-ranked Marist and 31-29 to Crown Point, the latter being the top-ranked team in Indiana.

“Getting through those duals was a pretty tough challenge itself,” sophomore Eddie Enright said. “We lost to them, but the team kept our head up and focused on the task at hand. We cleaned up pretty well (at conference), so we’re excited about that.”

Enright (20-7), ranked No. 4 at 132, beat Marmion’s Connor Thompson by a 9-1 major decision in the finals.

Mount Carmel freshman Seth Mendoza (29-2), ranked No. 1 at 106, pinned both his opponents, including Marmion’s Donny Pigoni in the finals.

“It’s a pretty good feeling,” Mendoza said. “There was good competition here. I’m excited, with a couple weeks left in the season, to get after it starting with regionals.”

Mount Carmel junior Sergio Lemley (30-1) was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Wrestler. Lemley, ranked No. 2 at 126, earned a 16-5 major decision over No. 6 Billy Meiszner, of Providence, in the finals.

Carlos Perez (145), Colin Kelly (160) and Elliott Lewis (195) also won titles for Mount Carmel.

Also placing for the Caravan were Damian Resendez (2nd, 113), Nam Doan (2nd, 138), Rylan Breen (2nd, 182), Jairo Acuna (3rd, 120), Marcus Millianti (3rd, 152) and William Jacobson (4th, 170).

 

Strong showing by Crusaders
The most dramatic championship match of the day was at 170, where the battle between Brother Rice’s Tommy Bennett and Marmion’s Tyler Perry went to overtime.

Bennett, ranked seventh in Class 2A, (22-1) scored a takedown in the sudden-victory period to earn an 8-6 win.  Perry went into the weekend ranked fourth in 3A.

“My freshman year, my coaches sent all the freshmen and sophomores to the JV Catholic League meet,” Bennett said. “Sophomore year, I finished third. Last year, there was no meet. So, this was my last chance and I really wanted to get first.”

Bennett’s senior teammate, Al Perez, also won a title for the Crusaders.

Perez (21-5), in his first season at Brother Rice after transferring from Morton, beat Doan, 5-0, at 138.

“I never, in a million years, thought I would win this many matches this year and win a Catholic League championship,” Perez said. “It’s insane.”

Perez’s younger brother, freshman Gabe, placed third at 195 for Brother Rice.

Also reaching the podium for the Crusaders were Nate Chirillo (2nd, 160), Bobby Conway (4th, 120), Charles Connolly (4th, 152), Colin Ashley (4th, 182), James Bennett (5th, 126) and Pat Galeher (5th, heavyweight).

St. Rita senior Isaac Gayton-Reilly was in a tight championship match at 145, but fell 1-0 to Mount Carmel’s Carlos Perez.

Still, it was a solid performance from Gayton-Reilly (17-7), who pinned two opponents to reach the finals.

“Even though I didn’t win, I’m happy with my placement and it’s really going to push me to want to get that first place,” Gayton-Reilly said. “I’m going to take that and apply it to regionals.”

St. Rita (113 points) finished seventh in the 13-team field.

Also placing for the Mustangs were Austin Dangles (3rd, 113), Griffen Duffin (3rd, 126), Sean Larkin (3rd, 132) and Jon Fulgencio (5th, 170).

Senior Mike Gentile was the top finisher for St. Laurence (61.5), which finished 10th.

Gentile (22-6) was pinned by Perry in the semifinals at 170, but came back with two wins, edging Jacobson 9-8 in third-place match.

“I thought I wrestled OK,” Gentile said. “In that (semifinal) match, I thought I had a pretty good first period, but then it didn’t go my way in the second period, obviously.

“I feel like I battled back pretty well after that. I was a little gassed in that last match, but (Jacobson) wrestled good and I wrestled good, so it was a good battle.”

Also reaching the podium for the Vikings were Gabe Alvarez (4th, 145) and Henry Coughlin (5th, 152).

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