Hononegah soundly wins NIC-10 boys wrestling championship


Hononegah's NIC-10 boys wrestling champion team

Hononegah’s varsity boys wrestling team dominated the IHSA Class 3A NIC-10 tournament this Saturday, Jan. 27, 2024, in Hononegah's Main Gym. With 12 out of 14 weight classes having one of our wrestlers guaranteed first or second place, Hononegah got the highest team score in the conference. The team totaled 261 points at this event, with the closest team, Rockford East, scoring 176: an 85-point difference! This was Hononegah’s first team championship in five years. Coaches and spectators can all agree that our wrestling program is seeing the most stacked roster in decades.

Eight championship match wrestlers won first place in conference, and four of them took second. These victories will push the championship winners to the IHSA State Regionals in Huntley, IL on Saturday, February 3: Rocco Cassioppi (freshman), Bruno Cassiopi (freshman), TJ Silva (junior), Max Haskins (junior), Brody Sendele (freshman), Connor Diemel (junior), Kurt Smith (junior), and Issac (Chuck) Smith (senior)

Rocco Cassioppi (37-2) secured first place in the 106 lbs class with two consistent 1:07 second pins. This Saturday, Rocco continued to prove himself as a propitious wrestler, triumphing in both his matches with concise, calm, and collected victories. Before his events, Rocco is composed, yet alert; and after, humble, yet confident. He spends the majority of his time on the mat driving up his score with planned-out maneuvers until he ultimately pins his opponent in a swift movement that appears to be effortless. Any spectator worth their salt can tell that this wrestler, while only a freshman in high school, has a great deal of experience in his precise, mathematical judgments in the ring.

Likewise, his brother, Bruno (30-4), won first place in the 113 lbs weight class with an 18-3 tech fall in the championship bout. Although both Rocco and Bruno display a respectable tranquility before they wrestle, there are distinct differences in technique. While Rocco is somewhat reserved both before and during his matches, Bruno’s demeanor clearly shifts once he shakes hands with his opponent. Bruno demonstrates an explicit tenacity until his arm is raised by the referee. One cannot disagree, however, that both Cassioppis are destined for greatness in their airtight techniques.

In an additional victory for the Cassioppi name, junior Angelina Cassioppi (10-1) just conquered the IHSA Regional Girls Wrestling Tournament at Minooka on January 26, taking first place in the 120 lbs class with four pins. This was her third consecutive regional title - if she continues her winning streak, 2024 will be the year of her third state championship. And most impressively, Angelina is ranked 17th on the national level.

Yet another highlight wrestler, Brody Sendele (40-1) secured his title with an undeniable aggression all day. Sendele continues to display intense resolve and an unshaken determination to win. The minute the clock starts to count down, Seldele pounces on his opponent, racking up points only to prove himself until he eventually pins them. His first place win was decided by a 1:16-second fall on Ty Smart (East).

TJ Silva (20-4) guaranteed his spot in the championship match with a skillful 49-second pin. Silva is a defending state champion, ranked #2 in the 138 lbs class. He took first place with a 19-3 technical fall over Dominick Girardin (Belvidere North).

Max Haskins (29-6) won first place in the 150 lbs class with a 7-3 point decision over Andrew Bucci (Belvidere North). Diemel (38-4) got his NIC-10 victory in the 165 lbs class with a 17-2 technical fall over Malachi Cannon (East).

Kurt Smith (33-8) got his first place title with an 11-3 major decision ruling over Juan Cervantes (Belvidere North) in the 175 lbs championship match. Kurt made it to the final match with a smooth 51-second pin.

Chuck Smith (32-11) took first in the 215 lbs weight class with an 8-1 decision victory over Zander Martinez (Belvidere North).

Senior Carlos Borges (15-5), freshman Evan Musil (13-13), sophomore Robert Darling (22-15), and junior Max Aranki (17-19) all took home second place titles. Junior Greyson Cotone (11-9) got fifth place in the 190 lbs class.

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