Category Archives: Wrestling

Wrestling coach praises team’s pluck, camaraderie

By Cassidy Thornburg

12.6.19

Since Coach Jim Gruenwald took over Wheaton Wrestling in 2009, the program has grown from just a few athletes to 24, relocated to its own complex and welcomed three new assistant coaches. As the wrestling season gets underway, the Record sat down with Coach Gruenwald to talk about life both on the mat and off.

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Thunder wrestling preps for post season

02.07.19

By Maggie Franke

The Wheaton Wrestling team hosted the Pete Wilson Invitational on Friday, Jan. 25 and Saturday, Jan. 26. The Chrouser Recreation Complex filled with wrestlers from across the country as spectators, parents, friends and family flooded the stands.

“The Pete Wilson Invitational is the such a special opportunity for wrestlers because it is the largest and longer running DIII tournament, outside of the national tournament,” junior Isaac Odell said.

Over the course of the two-day tournament, wrestlers from 38 different teams competed in six different weight classifications ranging from 125-pounds to 285-pounds.

“This tournament is always awesome because of the great competition,” Odell commented. “It is really cool that teams … we don’t usually see come to this tournament. It is always fun to wrestle new people.”

The Thunder wrestlers ended up finishing 18th overall in the team competition. Both senior Carlos Fuentez and junior Odell were the runner-ups in their own weight classes.

Going into the final, Odell maintained a calm mentality. “More importantly, just keeping in mind that I was not just wrestling for myself but … wrestling to glorify my Lotrd and savior, Jesus Christ. Being the runner-up at this tournament is awesome. Of course, I would have liked a different outcome in the finals, but I am still happy.”

Wheaton finished seventh place out of 35 teams last year. However, while an 18th place finish as a team overall this year might seem like a major loss for the Thunder, half of the teams in the top 20 at the 2019 Pete Wilson Invitational were different from the top 20 teams at the 2018 Pete Wilson Invitational. North Central College was a newcomer to the tournament this year, and they finished second overall as a team.

Five schools from the CCIW competed in the Pete Wilson Invitational: Millikin University, North Central College, Elmhurst College, Augustana College and, the Pete Wilson Invitational’s host, Wheaton College. This weekend, the Pete Wilson invite was an opportunity for the Thunder to get a sneak peek at what the

North Central, who placed second overall in the tournament, is the front-runner for the CCIW team title. Millikin and Elmhurst finished 9th and 13th respectively, and they will also prove to be tough competitors for Wheaton to face in a week. However, the Thunder has a game plan going into their championship season.

“The post-season part of the season is always really fun,” Odell said. “These tournaments are the best. There is good competition and the stakes are high, so it is going to be really exciting.”

Wheaton finished in fourth place, closely behind Elmhurst at the 2018 CCIW Championship Tournament, and Fuentez will have the opportunity this year to defend his 2018 124-pounds CCIW Wrestling Champion title. Odell and junior Max Gierke finished third and fourth in the tournament last year, and the door of opportunity is also open for them to pin down more points with higher place finishes.

Either way, Odell said that their coach is always telling them to, “give God the glory in wins and losses.”

Catching up with Wheaton wrestling

12.9.18

By Eden Schultz

Wheaton Wrestling started their new season at the beginning of November, already showing promise for the rest of the season. “All-around we’ve gotten to be a tougher team,” senior captain Max Gierke said. “Last year we had some great individual success, but this year we have more depth, and instead of last year [where] we would have three guys place at a tournament out of ten, this year we are getting five or six guys through to the championship rounds.”

The team’s most recent meet took place on Saturday, Dec. 1 at the Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE) Invitational. The Thunder finished sixth of 13 teams, with senior Carlos Fuentez, of the 125 weight class, and junior Isaac Odell, of the 154 weight class, taking home first place titles. Fuentez won by a 10-5 decision over North Central College’s Ian Mullen, while Odell won by a close 3-2 decision over North Central’s Cody Baldridge.

Wheaton Wrestling opened the season on Nov. 3 with the Messiah Invitational at Messiah College, placing third out of nine teams overall. Fuentez and Odell finished in first in the 125 and 154 weight classes respectively. On Nov. 10, Wheaton traveled to the Trine University Invitational and finished with 100 points, placing them at third out of 14 teams. Odell,s Fuentez, and freshman Ethan Harsted all placed first in the 184, 125 and 133 weight classes, respectively. Wheaton competed in a dual meet with Elmhurst College on Nov. 13, resulting in a 30-22 loss.

The Thunder have brought more than just wrestling to the mats by living out the team’s motto, “Jesus Christ is life, the rest is just wrestling.” This motto is printed on the front of the team t-shirts they wear to meets and around campus. “One thing that Coach constantly tells us is when we graduate: if he can have taught us anything, it would be that we are men who love and want to serve Jesus,” Odell explained. “He also wants us to be good and successful wrestlers, but the most important thing for him is that we are good men who love Jesus.”

Wheaton wrestling has two months of matches left before the CCIW Championships on Feb. 7. Coming up, Wheaton has two events on Saturday, Dec. 8. The North Central Invite in Naperville will start at 9 a.m., and att 12 p.m. Wheaton will compete against the University of Chicago in the only home dual of the season at King Arena. Max Gierke emphasized the importance of this meet, saying, “It would mean a lot to have a bunch of fans show up to cheer us on for the senior’s final home dual of their careers.”

Wheaton Wrestlers at NCAA DIII Championships

March 15 2018

Two Wheaton wrestlers, seniors Frank Aiello and Carlos Fuentez, competed at the NCAA DIII Championships in Cleveland, Ohio from March 9-10, 2018.

Fuentez competed in the 125-pound and came in as the No. 5 seed. In his first match, Fuentez won with a 15-3 major decision before a very dramatic second round.

It looked like Fuentez would win his second round match 6-5, but, with only three seconds left, Fuentez’s opponent was awarded a point because Fuentez pulled on his opponent’s headgear, a technical violation. Needing a win to lock All-American recognition and an advancement to the semifinal round, Fuentez took down his opponent with only two seconds remaining in the first overtime period.

Fuentez won the semifinal round in a 10-8 decision after coming back from a 6-4 deficit. With 1:19 left in the third period, Fuentez was able to take down his opponent and earn the victory. In the championship round, Fuentez faced the No. 2 seed who was the DIII runner-up at 125 pounds last year. Fuentez faced a 9-1 deficit after two periods, but, just like his previous two matches, Fuentez fought back to cut the deficit to 9-8 and ended up tying the match at 10-10 with 44 seconds left. Holding on to his opponent would have forced the match into overtime. However, Fuentez’s opponent escaped, which gave him the 11-10 lead to beat Fuentez. Fuentez finished the tournament as the NCAA DIII 125-pounds Wrestling Runner-up and with a season record of 36-3.

Fuentez became Wheaton’s highest finisher at wrestling nationals since 2001 when he finished as the runner-up, and he concluded his three-year career with an overall record of 85-30.

Meanwhile, Aiello was the No. 4 seed at 165-pounds and also won his first two matches. First he won a 7-3 decision, second a 4-3 decision which he came back to win after being down 2-0. However, Aiello lost his semifinal match in a 10-3 decision which sent him to the consolation semifinal match. He was able to pin his opponent at 1:22 into the match and advanced to the third place match. Aiello led the third place match 2-1 at the end of the first period, but he would go on to finish fourth overall after losing the match 7-5.

Aiello finished his season 14-3 overall after being injured for a large portion of the season, and his four-year career record is 100-39.

Wheaton placed 14th overall as a team out of 62 total teams in the competition.

There were six seniors, including Fuentez and Aiello, on the Wheaton wrestling team this season finished their wrestling career at the end of this season. The rest of the Thunder wrestlers return to action in the fall for the 2018-19 season.

 

Fuentez and Aiello qualify for the DIII NCAA tournament

March 1 2018

Seniors Carlos Fuentez and Frank Aiello both qualified for the NCAA Division III national tournament after competing at NCAA Upper Midwest Regionals on Feb. 23-24. This is Fuentez’s third time qualifying for nationals and Aiello’s first nationals competition.

Fuentez received the Most Outstanding Wrestler award at the end of the competition because he won the 125-pounds weight class. After entering the tournament as the top seed at 125-pounds, Fuentez won his two opening matches with pins, the first at 5:42 and the second at 1:34. In the semifinals, Fuentez was on the winning side of a 10-5 decision and finished with another 9-5 decision victory in the final.

In the 165-pounds weight class, Aiello started off strong with an 11-4 decision and winning a close 3-2 decision on the first day. On the second day of competition Aiello was able to qualify for nationals by winning the semifinal round with a 3-2 decision. Afterwards, Aiello declared a medical forfeit to the top-ranked wrestler in the 165-pounds weight class and finish as the Upper Midwest Regionals Runner-up.

Sophomore Isaac Odell and junior Max Gierke both finished fifth in their respective weight classes. Odell had two strong victories to start off the weekend by a 16-4 major decision and a 10-2 major decision. Gierke also opened with two victories, one by a fall at 5:08 and a 3-0 decision. However, Odell then lost a 3-1 decision, and Gierke lost a 9-3 decision and a match by pin. Odell would win a 4-3 decision and lose a 9-7 decision before winning a 12-3 major decision to finish in fifth place. Gierke came back from losing two matches in a row to win a 7-2 decision and finish in fifth place as well.

 

Fourth place overall and a CCIW champ for wrestling

February 15 2018

Last Thursday, Feb. 8, the Wheaton Wrestling team finished fourth overall in the 2018 CCIW Wrestling Championships. The Thunder had four wrestlers finish in the top three in their respective weight classes.

Wheaton finished fourth in the championship with 96 points. North Central College won the 2018 CCIW Team Champion title by scoring 123.5 points. Millikin University finished second with 114.5 points, and Elmhurst College, the defending CCIW Team Champions from 2017, finished in third place with 100 points. Milwaukee School of Engineering, Concordia (Wis.), Augustana College and Lakeland College finished fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth, respectively, in the team competition.

Senior Carlos Fuentez won the 125-pound CCIW Champion title and became the first Wheaton wrestler to win the 125-pound weight class since 2001. Fuentez had a first-round bye before his semifinal victory over a Concordia (Wis.) wrestler in a 16-0 technical fall. Then, in the championship match, Fuentez won a 13-1 major decision over a North Central wrestler to secure his first place finish.

In the 157-pound competition, junior Jonavan Huggins finished second overall in the conference. Huggins also had a first-round bye and won a close 9-8 decision in the semifinals to advance to the championship match. Huggins lost a 12-3 major decision to North Central’s 157-pound wrestler.

Senior Caleb Odell finished third in the 174-pound weight class. After a strong victory by fall at 2:23 in the first round, Odell lost a 7-3 decision in the semifinal which sent him to the wrestleback round. Odell wrestled back into contention for a third place finish after he pinned an Elmhurst wrestler at the 2:51 mark. To win third place, Odell pinned Millikin’s 157-pound wrestler at the 3:53 mark.

Odell’s sophomore brother Isaac Odell also got a third place finish in his 184-pound weight class competition. After receiving a first-round bye, Isaac Odell was defeated by a Millikin wrestler in an 18-10 major decision. In the wrestleback round, Isaac Odell won by a pin at 1:05 before sealing a third place finish with a 3-0 decision over an Elmhurst wrestler.

Senior Tim Blickle and junior Max Gierke placed fourth in the 197-pound and 285-pound weight classes, respectively.

Wheaton’s Wrestling team will compete in the NCAA Division III Upper Midwest Regional which will be hosted by Augsburg University in Minneapolis, Minn. on Feb. 23-24.

 

A Pete Willson Wheaton Invitational Champion for Wheaton

February 1 2018

This year’s Pete Willson Wheaton Invitational was pretty successful for the Wheaton Thunder. One of the biggest tournaments in the NCAA, Wheaton hosted 35 teams from all around the country.

Messiah College won the invitational after they had three individual champions and two second-place finishers. Wheaton had success on the mats, but Wheaton junior Jonovan Huggins was awarded the Pete George Sportsmanship Award for his excellence in and out of competition.

Of the 35 teams, the Thunder placed seventh overall with four individuals who placed in the top-ten in their respective weight classes.

Senior Carlos Fuentez won the 125-pound weight class. In the first round of the tournament, Fuentez won a 22-8 major decision before his 17-1 victory by technical fall in the following round. After a 9-3 decision and a victory by medical forfeit, Fuentez advanced to the championship round. Fuentez won the championship round by a 12-3 major decision and became Wheaton’s first individual Pete Willson Wheaton Invitational champion since 2003.

For his victorious performance in the Pete Willson Wheaton Invitational, Fuentez was honored with his third CCIW Wrestler of the Week award.

Sophomore Isaac Odell continued his strong consistency by opening up his tournament competition with a 16-0 victory by a technical fall and then would go on to finish fourth overall at 184-pounds by winning a 6-5 decision, losing a 8-2 decision, winning a 6-1 decision and loses the third-place match.

Senior Frank Aiello also continued to display proficient wrestling skills by winning a 21-7 major decision, winning a 9-4 decision, losing a 6-2 decision, and losing two matches via medical forfeit. Aiello finished seventh overall at 165-pounds.

Junior Max Gierke lost a 5-1 decision but went on to win a 5-2 decision, win by a pin at 4:26 into a match, win by a pin at 1:17 into a match, winning by medical forfeit, and then losing an 11-3 major decision. However, Gierke won his final match by an 18-2 technical fall to finish sixth overall at 285-pounds.

Wheaton’s Isaac Odell (PICTURED) placed fourth at 184-pounds. Odell, the No. 4 seed in the weight class, opened the tournament with a 16-0 technical fall in 3:29 against Muskingum’s Anthony Cole. Odell advanced to the quarterfinals with a 5-0 decision over John Carroll’s Jimmy Suhayda. Odell earned a 6-5 decision over fifth-seeded Dan Squires of UW-Stevens Point in the quarterfinals. Odell lost an 8-2 decision against UW-Platteville’s Grant Wedepohl, the top-seed at 184-pounds, Saturday morning in the semifinals. Odell won a 6-1 decision against Elmhurst’s Mark Miller in the consolation semifinals to advance to the third-place match. Odell faced Squires in the third-place match. Squires pinned Odell at the 4:16 mark of the match to earn the win.

Thunder senior Frank Aiello finished sixth at 165-pounds. Aiello, the top seed, received a first-round bye. In the second round, he defeated John Carroll’s Vittorio Santillo in a 21-7 major decision. Aiello picked up a 9-4 decision over UW-Whitewater’s Ryder Sigler in the quarterfinals. Fifth-seeded Keone Derain of Elmhurst won a 6-2 decision against Aiello in the semifinals. Aiello lost via medical forfeit to Mitch Hertel of UW-LaCrosse in the consolation semifinals and Olivet’s Tyler Grimsley in the fifth-place match.

Max Gierke placed seventh at 285-pounds. Gierke opened the tournament with first-round bye and lost a 5-1 decision against Case Western’s Brian McNamara in the second round. In the opening round of the consolation bracket, Gierke won a 5-2 decision against Chicago’s Hare Will. Gierke pinned Heidelberg’s Christian Climer at the 4:26 mark of their match. His second pin of the day came just 1:17 into his matchup with Messiah’s Dan Kiser. Gierke won by medical forfeit against No. 3 seed D’Andre Johnson of UW-Platteville. Gierke lost an 11-3 major decision against Zach Rieger of Adrian on Saturday morning when the consolation bracket resumed. Gierke defeated Jalen McFerrin-Pace of Olivet in an 18-2 technical fall in the seventh-place match at 285-pounds.

Wheaton wrestling loses to UChicago and North Central

January 18 2018

After a close competition against the University of Chicago, Wheaton lost to North Central College on Tuesday, Jan. 16.

On Saturday, Jan. 13, the Wheaton wrestlers travelled to the University of Chicago. U Chicago won six out of the ten matchups, but individual Wheaton wrestlers performed at their best despite the team losing as a whole. Sophomore Isaac Odell leads the rest of the Division III wrestlers so far this season in number of matches won by fall. He has won 13 matches by fall so far this season including his victory over U Chicago’s 184-pound weight class wrestler. Senior Carlos Fuentez won his match by a last minute forfeit, and senior Caleb Odell won in an 8-4 decision in the 174-pounds weight class. Finally, sophomore Grant Miller got his first collegiate victory in the 285-pound weight class by a 3-2 decision.

On Tuesday, North Central beat the Thunder quite handily in a hard CCIW loss for Wheaton. North Central was fourth in the CCIW tournament last year, right behind Wheaton’s wrestling team that finished in third. However, the Thunder only won two matches against the Cardinals. Fuentez and senior David Aiello both were able to win their matches.

The Wheaton wrestlers will get some much needed time off until they host the Pete Willson Wheaton Invitational on Friday Jan. 26 and Saturday Jan. 27.

 

Wheaton wrestlers face tough competition

January 11 2018

The Wheaton Wrestling Team won four of the six matches they’ve had since Dec.16. The victories were against Nebraska Wesleyan University, University of Dubuque, Concordia University in Wisconsin and Ferrum College. The Thunder fell to The University of Wisconsin-La Crosse and to Olivet College.

On Dec. 16, 2017, Wheaton won all three of their dual competitions at the Jim Fox Duals competition. Senior Carlos Fuentez, senior Frank Aiello, senior Caleb Odell, sophomore Isaac Odell and junior Jonavan Huggins earned victories in all three of the matches they competed in. Huggins won his second victory against Concordia by forfeit, but his victory over Nebraska Wesleyan’s Dustin Monroe was finalized by a major decision.

The Wheaton wrestlers mourned the loss of former Wheaton wrestling head coach professor Pete Willson who passed away on Dec. 30, 2017. Willson graduated from Wheaton in 1950 and was a successful wrestler himself, winning four Wheaton Invitational championship titles and competing in three NCAA championship competitions. Willson then spent 10 years as Wheaton’s assistant wrestling coach from 1964-74 before becoming the head coach; he retired from his coaching position in 1990. He returned to coach the 1995-96 season before returning to retirement. Wheaton’s wrestling room is named after the late Willson, and the annual Wheaton Invitational that Willson himself competed in is called the “Pete Willson-Wheaton Invitational.”

To start off the 2018 competition, the Thunder wrestlers competed in the National Wrestling Coaches Association (NWCA) National Duals. Wheaton’s first opponent was UW-La Crosse, who defeated the Thunder 33-9. Fuentez and Aiello won their matchups by a fall and 3-1 decision respectively.

After that tough loss, Wheaton was able to rebound with a close victory over Ferrum College. Fuentez won his weight class by injury default, and Huggins won his weight class by a 3-2 decision in overtime. Aiello and Isaac Odell won their weight classes by an 8-3 and 5-2 decision, respectively. Going into Max Gierke’s 285-pounds matchup, the Thunder were trailing Ferrum 18-15, but Gierke won in decisive fashion with a 6-0 decision. This victory tied the Thunder with the Panthers which Wheaton won on tiebreaker criteria.

Olivet eliminated Wheaton in the second round of the consolation bracket with a final score of 24-18. Individual athletes continued their tournament success. Fuentez defeated his final opponent in a 7-4 decision, and Aiello won by fall at 2:50 into his match. Isaac Odell won by fall at 4:15 into his 184-pounds match, and Gierke finished out competition for the Thunder with a 10-3 decision.

Yesterday night Wheaton faced the University of Chicago at 7:00.

The Thunder wrestlers return to action next Tuesday, Jan. 16 at 7:00pm on Wheaton’s campus against North Central College.

Wrestling hosts Elmhurst and competes in Trine Invite

November 16, 2017

The Wheaton Wrestling team fell to Elmhurst College in their first CCIW matchup of the season on Friday, Nov. 10, and the Thunder got fourth place at the Trine Invitational on Saturday, Nov. 11.

Elmhurst topped Wheaton in the first six matches of the night, winning weight classes ranging from 125-pounds to 165-pounds. Then, senior Caleb O’Dell won by fall at 4:32 of his 174-pounds weight class match. Immediately after that victory, Caleb’s brother sophomore Isaac O’Dell won by fall at 3:33 of his 184-pounds weight class competition.

Elmhurst would go on to win the 197-pounds weight class, but Thunder sophomore Max Gierke won the 285-pounds weight class by major decision.

Elmhurst won the dual match by totaling 31 points from their victories, while Wheaton accumulated 16 points.

After losing to Elmhurst, the Thunder wrestlers travelled to Angola, Ind. for Trine University’s Invitational that consisted of 11 teams.

Senior Carlos Fuentez was able to continue his tournament success and beat five people in order to win the 125-pounds weight class competition.

Isaac O’Dell was also able to carry the strong momentum from his victory on Friday to a stellar performance at the Trine Invite. O’Dell won the 184-pounds weight class by a pin, 15-0 tech fall, pin and a pin in the final match. Gierke placed second in the 285-pounds weight class after losing his final match 2-1.

The Wheaton wrestlers return to action on Saturday, Nov. 18 in Mequon, Wis. for the Concordia University (Wis.) Open.