By: John Nee '93
It's not what they came to do, but the varsity wrestling team didn't come home empty-handed on Saturday either as they finished third in the Class 2A IHSA Team State Wrestling Tournament.
Head Coach Mike Boyd and his St. Rita wrestlers left for Bloomington on Friday afternoon with the dream of bringing home St. Rita's third wrestling state championship trophy. With such a young lineup, it was going to be a tall task.
The Mustangs opened state tournament action at 9am on Saturday with a dual against Antioch. It was an up-and-back affair as the two state qualifiers traded wins until St. Rita junior 220 lb. George Western stole the momentum from the Sequoits with a resounding pin.
Senior Tommy Russell, who finished third in the individual state tournament in Champaign last weekend, then sealed the deal on the dual win with another pin as the Mustangs outlasted Antioch 37-33 to advance to the semifinals and wrap up the sixth state trophy in program history.
Top-ranked Washington was waiting for the young Mustangs in the semis, and they dominated the match from start to finish beating St. Rita 59-9 setting up a third place showdown against Rochelle.
Senior Timmy Murphy, the Mustang's 195 lb., bumped to 220 lb. against Rochelle and the 220 lb. Western was bumped to heavyweight as both guys pulled out close matches which proved to be the difference as St. Rita beat Rochelle 40-25 claiming third in Class 2A.
In only his second season as head coach, 2001 St. Rita graduate Mike Boyd has laid the groundwork for a return to dominance by the St. Rita wrestling program - a dominance that saw the Mustangs claim state trophies for 5 straight years from 2003-2007, including back-to-back Class 2A state championships in 2003-2004.