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Lemont’s Berta, Brennan and Kirkman Make IHSA Wrestling State Finals Debuts

Junior Jimmy Brennan and freshmen Egan Berta and Jake Kirkman put in solid rounds at the IHSA wrestling state finals Feb. 20–22 in Champaign.

Three Lemont High School wrestlers—junior Jimmy Brennan and freshmen Egan Berta and Jake Kirkman—made their state finals debuts at the 2014 IHSA Class 2A Wrestling Individual State Finals, which were contested from February 20–22 at Assembly Hall on the campus of the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

Brennan (41-8) split four matches at 145 pounds. He started his state finals appearance on the right foot, pinning St. Viator’s Brandon Suchyta in the preliminary round. He dropped a 5-1 decision to Lincoln-Way West’s Kyle Rodriguez in the quarterfinal round, but bounced back with a 5-1 win over Marion’s Luke Abbott in the first round wrestlebacks. He fell one match short of wrestling for a medal, losing by a 15-2 major decision in the quarterfinal wrestlebacks to eventual fourth-place finisher Haratio Austin of Springfield. Brennan was making his second state finals appearance; he also qualified for the state finals at 145 pounds as a freshman in 2012.

Berta (29-13) won one of three contests. He opened the state finals with a 9-0 major decision over Vernon Hills’ Peter Vanderbloomer in the preliminaries at 126 pounds. Berta then lost by fall to Geneseo’s Hunter Grau in the quarterfinal round, and dropped a narrow 6-4 decision to Mahomet-Seymour’s Kolton Taylor in the first round wrestlebacks.

At 138 pounds, Kirkman (29-19) lost by fall in the prelims to eventual state champion Vincent Turk of Montini Catholic, and came up short in a 12-4 major decision against Decatur Eisenhower’s Patrick Riley in the first round wrestlebacks.

Head coach John St. Clair saw his three wrestlers advance to the IHSA State Finals thanks to their performances at the IHSA De La Salle Sectional. Brennan, who previously had earned South Suburban Conference and IHSA Regional titles at 145 pounds, captured his first IHSA Sectional crown, as did Berta at 126 pounds. Kirkman became the third member of his family to advance to the IHSA State Finals by finishing fourth in the 138-pound class in sectional competition. His older brothers—Eric and Mark—each earned medals at the 2012 IHSA State Finals.

Lemont’s state medalists have included Paul Burke (4th, 119-1984), Angel Cabral (1st, 285-2009; 1st, 285-2010), Brian Diaz (3rd, 167-1984), Marvin Drummond (4th, 132-1975), Dave Festin (2nd, 132-1974), Mike Freemantle (4th, 140-1990), Chris Giatras (5th, 182-2012; 3rd, 182-2013), Jamal Hamdan (4th, Hwt.-1986), Jehad Hamdan (2nd, 167-1988), Ryan Hennebry (5th, 125-2000), Jake Kaminsky (2nd, 152-2012), Eric Kirkman (2nd, 170-2012), Mark Kirkman (4th, 160-2012), Gordon Kickels (4th, 189-2007; 5th, 189-2008), Jake Latanski (4th, 103-2010; 5th, 126-2012), Matt Leibforth (3rd, 135-2009; 1st, 135-2010), Joe Long (6th, 215-2005), Andrew Mason (4th, 103-2009), Glenn Malecki (4th, 132-2012), Derek Nagel (2nd, 160-2011) and John Tomala (3rd, 195-2012).

Wrestling is the eighth Lemont High School sport to advance to IHSA State Finals competition this year. The girls’ bowling squad competed in the IHSA State Finals; the cheerleading squad won the IHSA Medium Division State Championship; the poms/dance team competed in the IHSA Class 2A Competitive Dance State Finals; sophomore Taylor Campos participated in the IHSA Class 2A Girls’ Cross Country State Finals; senior Bridget Lynn competed at the IHSA Class AA Girls’ Golf State Finals; junior Annette Lesnicki advanced to the IHSA Girls’ Swimming State Finals; and senior Lisa Gawron took part in the IHSA Girls’ Tennis State Finals.

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