Leaf grapples host big event this weekend
Wrestlers from nearly 15 schools from Illinois and Iowa will be meeting face-to-face on the
mats here for the 45 th Annual Geneseo Wrestling Tournament. Weigh-ins start at 2 p.m. today,
Friday, January 17 th with preliminary matches set to begin at 4 p.m. in the main gym at Geneseo High School. Championship rounds will begin around 5 p.m. with the final matches slated for some time around 9:30 p.m. Weigh-ins for semi-final and finals rounds will begin at 8 a.m. on Saturday, January 18 followed by competition at 9:30 a.m. Matches will be held all day with the finals anticipated to begin around 2:30 p.m.
Thirteen teams will join Geneseo in competition at this event: Bethalto Civic Memorial, Normal
Community, Cedar Rapids Kennedy, North Scott, Cedar Rapids Prairie, O’Fallon, Crete-Monee,
Hills Stagg, Rock Island, Granite City, Thornton Fractional North, Morton and United
Township. “We try to keep our tournament as competitive as possible and incorporate teams from both Iowa and Illinois which is why often times people will refer to this tournament as the “Bi-State” even though it’s officially called the “Geneseo Invitational”, noted hosting Coach Jon Murray. “Unfortunately Moline and Liberty will not be able to make it this year but with the new IHSA by-law change giving coaches more freedom in their scheduling, we hope to be able to add even more competitive teams in the future. The high level of competition helps us to be prepared for the State series which is the ultimate goal of the season.” “Three state champions competed at this tournament last year,” adds Athletic Director Joe Nichols. “It once again will be a very competitive tournament, and it will get these wrestlers ready for the postseason.” Nichols was referring to Drake Ayala of Fort Dodge (first at 113), Carson Taylor, also of Fort Dodge (first at 120) and Collin Lewis from North Scott (first, 145 lbs). Fort Dodge won the team title at the 2019 event.
According to information compiled for this year’s program, there have been 102 Geneseo
Invitational champions who have gone on to win state titles. Geneseo has had a few Invitational winners over the years including Billy Blaser in 2018, Sam Thomas in 2017 and Hunter Grau in 2016. Blaser followed his invitational win with a fourth-place finish at state that year while Thomas concluded 2017 with a fifth-place finish. Grau finished his carrier as a Geneseo grappler as a two-time state champion.
Former Leaf grappler West Cathcart was a two-time winner at the Geneseo Invitation, taking the
189-lb class in 2010 and heavyweight (285) in 2011. Both years he finished second in state
competition. Other Geneseo athletes listed as two-time champions at the event are Jeff Harris, Barry Westermeyer and Ken Peal. Geneseo graduate Adam Sheley is one of just four athletes to win four invitational championship titles. Geneseo has won the team competition seven times in the 44 years of the event: 1978 (2 nd year of the event), 1981, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1987 and 1988. Two years the event had to be cancelled due to weather conditions.
There will be plenty of competitive action with a number of top wrestlers to watch at this year’s
event which kicks off this evening – Friday, January 17.
That list of “who to watch” at the invitational includes a few Leaf grapplers including senior
notables Cade Hornback at 120 lbs., Luke Henkhaus at 126 and Rob Stohl, 285 lbs. Also ranked
this season and among the “to watch” are juniors Clay DeBaillie (152) and Bruce Moore (145),
sophomore Anthony Montez (113) and freshman Carson Raya (106 lbs).
This year’s program, like those in the past, is packed with top ranked grapplers, invitational
winners, state finishes for those winners and other athletes to watch.
Leaf wrestlers are entering with a 17-1 duals record follow this past weekend’s event in
Springfield where they faced Morton, East Peoria, Peoria Notre Dame and Troy / Triad, winning
all four matchups.
Geneseo, which joined the Western Big 6 conference this year, will host WB6 conference meet
the weekend of February 1 st.