For the ninth consecutive year, a band of Ida Crown wrestlers trooped out of the Academy parking lot after Friday classes. They carried with them their wrestling gear, naturally, but also a Sefer Torah and food for Shabbat. The wrestlers headed to a hotel in Schiller Park, where they settled in for Shabbat. Senior Captain Jacob Zwelling led a Carlbach-style Kabbalat Shabbat. Afterward, they dined on a lovely Shabbat dinner. In the morning, they leyned Parshat Yitro, and they sang zemirot at lunch. After Havdalah, they scurried to their cars and headed out to the 2015 IHSA Class A Individual Regional Wrestling Tournament at Walther Christian Academy in Melrose Park, Ill. The other schools and their fans had patiently been waiting for the arrival of the Academy wrestlers. Having taken care of their Shabbat business, the Aces then proceeded to take care of their wrestling business.
Eleven ICJA wrestlers participated in the tournament and all of them placed. All but two qualified for this weekend’s Sectional Tournament. (Since this tournament cannot be scheduled around Shabbat, the ICJA wrestlers will forfeit their spots to others from the region.)
Sophomore standout Raphi Chernoff led the Aces as he won the 138 pound weight class. Chernoff put his #1 seed to good use as he earned a first period pin of a wrestler from St. Joseph in the semi-finals, then bested Ian Evans of Walther in the finals. In what proved to be a wild match, Chernoff overcame an early deficit and had narrowed Evans’ lead to 13-10 with about a minute to go in the match. Chernoff then scored in flurry, taking down Evans twice and putting him on his back twice. As time expired, Chernoff won, 20-14.
Sophomore Aili Lafer (120), Junior Ofri Ben David (126), Junior Ilan Kaissar (132), and Junior Matthew Jacoby (145) also medaled for ICJA, taking second in their respective weight classes. All notched impressive wins on the way to the finals.
Sophomore Ethan Lewis (106), Sophomore Akiva Goldberger (113), Sophomore Joey Silverstein (170), and Senior Captain Jacob Zwelling (195) stood on the podium with their third place finishes. Silverstein had a dominating run through the consolation brackets after dropping his first bout. For Zwelling, his third podium finish was bittersweet as he was the victim of an inattentive scorers’ table crew in the semi-finals. He lost a controversial 8-7 decision to a wrestler from DePaul College Prep.
Senior Elchanan Frankel (152), filling in for an injured teammate, showed much heart and courage as he claimed fourth place. In doing so, he had his first career pin over an opponent from Luther North. Senior Dovi Garfinkel (160) also nailed down a fourth place finish as he defeated a St. Joseph wrestler in a tense, 8-6 overtime victory.
Host Walther Christian won the team title, while Uplift High School edged Ida Crown out of second place by a single point, 135 to 134. Despite missing second place by a single point, the ICJA wrestlers and coaches were generally upbeat about their accomplishments. According to Head Coach Doug Klein: “We wrestled well, and we mostly held true to our seedings. With one or two exceptions, we only lost to superior competition. It was a strong performance, and we are wrestling better every time we step onto the mat. This was a great tune-up for next week’s Wittenberg Tournament.”
On Thursday, the Aces travel to the 20th Annual Henry Wittenberg Wrestling Tournament at Yeshiva University. Wrestling will take place on Friday, 13 February, Sunday, 15 February, and Monday, 16 February. Monday’s finals will be broadcast on www.macslive.com.