While it may have been winter break for some, the Ida Crown Wrestling Team had a very busy two weeks over break. Most notably, the ICJA wrestlers turned in their finest performance ever in the DePaul Prep Freshman/Rookie Tournament.

ICJA entered a relatively large squad of seven wrestlers into the field which featured a dozen schools. Some of the school participating, for example Warren, Notre Dame, St. Rita, and Evanston Township, are among the most distinguished wrestling programs in the state. Historically, the competition in the DePaul Tournament has been fierce, and Ida Crown wrestlers have rarely placed.

The Aces altered that history with this year’s edition, as they put four wrestlers in the finals and had one champion. ICJA finished in seventh place, just behind St. Rita and Evanston–who both had large squads competing.

Freshman Ronen Lavi (126 lbs.) led the way for the Aces as he became the first ICJA champion in the tournament since Elan Yudkowsky in 2009. Lavi needed only :55 seconds to pin his first opponent from Notre Dame in quarterfinals. Next, Lavi bested a wrestler from Warren H.S. with a 6-5 victory. In the finals, it was another tense match as Lavi faced off against Demarques Chandler of Joliet Central.  Lavi emerged victorious, though, with an 8-7 decision.

Freshman Noi Cohen (98 lbs.) scored a second period fall against a Notre Dame wrestler in his first match. Cohen followed that victory up with a first period pin of a wrestler from St. Rita to put himself in the finals. Cohen fell just short in the finals against another Notre Dame wrestler and ended with the silver medal for his weight class.

Cohen’s drill partner, Freshman Enon Gurvich (106 lbs.) also found the way to the medal podium for another silver medal.  Gurvich began his day with a solid 5-0 victory over a wrestler from Warren. In the semi-finals, he dominated an opponent from Evanston with an impressive 12-4 major decision.  Gurvich faced off against a much more experienced adversary from St. Ignatius in the finals and was forced to settle for second place.

Yitzchak Nadoff (138 lbs.) also fought his way to the finals in his first ever wrestling tournament. In the quarterfinals, Nadoff made short work of his opponent from Warren with a 1:10 pin. He needed even less time in the semi-finals against a wrestler from St. Rita, as the referee slapped the mat to signify a pin in only :37 seconds. Although Nadoff’s day ended in defeat against a wrestler from Warren, his second place finish was an impressive performance.

Freshman Bentzi Osgood (138 lbs.) notched the first victory of his career with a second period fall of a wrestler from Warren and finished in 5th/6th place.

The Aces would most likely have finished higher in the team race, as Meir Cohen (132) appeared destined for the medals podium after his first match. However, he was forced to take a forfeit against a female competitor from Lane Tech in his second match and was unable to advance further in the tournament.

All in all, it was an phenomenal performance.  “It was very gratifying,” commented Assistant Coach Bill Porter, “To have other coaches come up to me and complement our kids and their wrestling technique.”

Two days later, the Aces traveled to the far side of Old Orchard Mall to take on Niles North. Meir Cohen (138) made up for his disappointing day at DePaul with a pair of first period pins–the first in :51 seconds, and the second in :38 seconds. Senior Captain Daniel Karesh (160) added to his win-loss record with a definitive third period fall of his opponent. Junior Matan Auerbach (182) won the first match of his career with a first period pin. Junior Binyomin Krohn (152) continued his winning ways with his own pair of first period pins. Krohn has worked hard in the off-season to improve his strength and his technique, and thus far, the season is showing the benefits of this dedication. Not to be out done by his team mates, Noi Cohen also felled a pair of adversaries. Of note in these matches, both wrestlers were larger than Cohen. However, with a combination of technique and determination, Cohen overcame early scoring deficits to pin both of them.

Congrats, Aces!