The O'Fallon Junior High wrestling team capped off an impressive season this past weekend by finishing runner-up to Homer Glen Homer in the 34th annual Illinois Elementary School Association (IESA) State Final Wrestling Tournament at the Convocation Center on the campus of Northern Illinois University in DeKalb.
This is the highest placement in the history of the school's program and the first time a school from Southern Illinois has placed in the top four to earn a state trophy.
Coach Rob Stoelzle, who took over the program in 2007, and saw his team finish eighth in 2011 and seventh in 2012, said he was happy for his youngsters.
"The kids set high goals for the team this year, and their talent coupled with hard work helped them reach those goals and contributed to our success and second-place finish," Stoelzle said.
With 456 wrestlers from 123 schools competing in 19 weight classes at this year's state tournament, O'Fallon had six individuals place in the top six of their weight class to earn medalist honors.
Leading the way was eighth grader and Team Captain Mason Hewitt (40-2) who won the championship at 155 pounds, becoming only the school's second state champion ever, behind Jarrid Braunagel's win at 95 last year. Eighth-grader Kobey Bosworth (36-4) placed second at 167. Eighth-grader Alek Ziegler (41-1) placed third at 80. Seventh-grader Dylan Davidson (36-5) placed fourth at 90; Sixth-grader Alex Fulton (36-7) placed fifth at 70 and seventh-grader Cam Wodochek (33-10) placed sixth at 85.
The six individual placers were also the most in the school's history.
Other state qualifiers not placing, but contributing to the team's success were eighth-grader Caleb Carriel at 100; seventh-grader Dewayne Young at 105; seventh-grader Jack Bond at 145; eighth-grader Brian Ahle at 185 and seventh-grader Tre Fox at heavyweight.
Stoelzle said the boys had a great season.
"I am extremely proud of all the boys on the team, and am very thankful to have such great parents in our program," Stoezle said. "And my assistant coaches, Greg LeDuc, and former junior high wrestler Hayden Hewitt, were instrumental to our success."
With six state qualifiers and three state place winners returning next year, the boys from down south will have their sights set on bringing home the top prize in 2014, Stoezle said.