Sandburg junior Rocco Hayes shows his national championship award to Orland Park Mayor Keith Pekau and the audience on Aug. 7. The Orland Park Board of Trustees honored Hayes. Photo by Jeff Vorva

Sandburg junior Rocco Hayes shows his national championship award to Orland Park Mayor Keith Pekau and the audience on Aug. 7. The Orland Park Board of Trustees honored Hayes. Photo by Jeff Vorva

Area Sports Roundup | Orland Park recognizes wrestler Rocco Hayes for national title

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By Jeff Vorva
Staff writer

Sandburg wrestler Rocco Hayes was honored at the Orland Park Village Board meeting on Aug. 7 for winning a national championship.

Hayes, a junior, beat five opponents by a combined score of 51-1 — including four technical falls — to win the 100-pound men’s freestyle title at the USA Wrestling/United State Marines Corps Junior Nationals, which took place July 17-19 in Fargo, North Dakota.

“He dedicates himself to wrestling and clearly it has paid off,” Orland Park Mayor Keith Pekau said to the audience at the meeting. “Rocco, we’re proud to present you with this award for winning the national championship. It’s a huge achievement and you should be proud of yourself.”

Hayes showed the audience his trophy and was presented with a Community Pride Award.

“I would like to thank my family and God for this opportunity,” Hayes said. “And thanks for everyone who came here to congratulate me.”

Hayes is the sixth of 10 children in the Hayes family. His older brothers, Louie and Sammie, were high school standouts while at Sandburg and went on to wrestle at Division I colleges. Louis went to Virginia and Sammie is headed there this year after spending a year at Illinois.

Orland Park trustees threw a few compliments Rocco’s way.

“Congratulations, Rocco. My brother wrestled, and he used to beat me up all the time,” Trustee Brian Riordan said. “I know it’s a family effort with all the practices, especially at that high level.”

“I watched a lot of wrestling matches in college and there is nothing more exciting than being in a packed gym watching two guys wrestle,” Trustee William Healey said. “It was just exciting, and there was discipline and strength displayed by the wrestlers and it’s just amazing.”

Hayes finished third at the IHSA Class 3A 106-pound state tournament in February.

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Rocco Hayes, front row with awards, and his large family and friends pose after an Orland Park board meeting in which he was honored. Photo by Jeff Vorva

Ice arena honored
In keeping with the sports theme at the meeting, Arctic Ice Arena was named Business of the Month. Arena owner David Gust was on hand to accept the award.

“You put Orland Park on the map,” Trustee Cynthia Nelson-Katsenes told Gust. “You have created some wonderful players. Our own Connor Carrick from Orland Park has done an outstanding job professionally thanks to the skills that he got at your arena.”

Trustee Sean Kampas added his praise.

“Thank you for being a gem of Orland Park,” he said. “Whenever I go somewhere else and tell people I’m from Orland Park, they say, ‘Oh, that’s where the Arctic Ice Arena is.’ It’s wonderful, and thank you for that.”

 

ARCTIC scaled

Arctic Ice Arena David Gust receives an award from Orland Park Mayor Keith Pekau. Photo by Jeff Vorva

Big time baseball at Nazareth
Just because two-time defending IHSA defending champion Nazareth is off for the summer doesn’t mean its players — and ex-players — can’t make news.

Junior Jaden Fauske was named to the 2023 Area Codes Games All-Tournament team. Fauske’s performance in California came in front of many MLB scouts. Roadrunners teammate Landon Thorne also had a chance to show off his skills at the prestigious event.

Many of the Roadrunners’ players had a chance to bask in a little glory. The Chicago White Sox honored the team for its state title before a game against the New York Yankees at Guaranteed Rate Field on Aug. 8. Nazareth assistant coach Jim Thome, who played for the Sox from 2006-2009, had a chance to see one of his old home ballparks.

Former Roadrunners left-handed pitcher Michael Prosecky was named Class A California League Pitcher of the Week for Fresno from July 31-Aug. 6 for his Aug. 1 performance against Rancho Cucamonga, in which he struck out 11 batters in six shutout innings. He was 4-0 over a four-start span with an 0.42 ERA.

 

SXU football tops list
Saint Xavier was picked by league coaches to repeat as the six-team Mid-States Football Association Midwest League champion.

The Cougars received 30 points and five first-place votes. Local rival St. Francis (Joliet) was second with 20 points and one vote. Roosevelt, Olivet Nazarene, St. Ambrose and Judson rounded out the preseason poll.

The Cougars won their ninth Midwest League title last year.

After four non-conference games to start the season, SXU will open the league season on the road Sept. 30 with a showdown at St. Francis.

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