Dusty Fiske – IVN contributing writer
Coach Jesse Clark and the Illinois Valley High School wrestlers repeated as district champions Feb. 11, scoring a new district record of 354 points. They broke the record they set last year by over 60 points.
“I am just so proud of this team,” said coach Clark, adding, “They have improved so much from day one, due to a lot of hard work and dedication.”
Clark is sending an amazing 13 young men to the state tournament Feb. 23 -25 in Portland. Their goal: Win the first state championship in IVHS history.
They had five champions at districts: 106 pound Mike Miller (22-5), 113 pound Micah Martinho (33-1), 126 pound Talen Shaffer (27-12), 138 pound Ryon Martinho (37-4) and 152 pound Ryan Griffin (21-0).
They had four second place wrestlers: 106 pound James Conn (25-6), 126 pound Ebyn Lyndsey (31-7), 160 pound Jozia Williams (28-10) and 170 pound Kaiden Green (19-16).
The four third place finishers: Ethan Green (21-12), Alex Aiassa (5-4), Jahsiah Demuth (16-13) and Riley Denlinger (11-11) complete the team going to state.
At the end of the evening, with six wrestlers placing at each weight, the Cougars had an unbelievable 17 wrestlers honored. Defending state champion Micah Martinho was selected as the Most Outstanding Wrestler of the tournament.
After all the individual awards were completed, coach Clark was named as the 2022-23 1A/2A wrestling Coach of the Year. Clark said, “I could break this trophy into several pieces for all my assistant coaches and coaches throughout the program. When I was named the I.V. head coach, I inherited a very strong program. My goal is to continue building the program, to ensure that young wrestlers from five to 19 years of age have a program to participate in. That’s what defines a ‘program’ and with coaches that work toward the same results at every level that strengthens your program”.
Based on Jesse Clark’s first two years with I.V., hopefully he’ll stay in the program as long as his predecessor Jay Miller – 40 years!