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Flores, Johnnic book berths for state wrestling

HINSDALE – Qarin Johnnic admitted he had a long weekend full of wrestling, but in the end, it was all worth it.

The Wheaton Warrenville South junior finished in third place at 138 pounds at the Class 3A Hinsdale Central sectional Saturday and earned his first trip to the state finals.

“It’s been my goal since freshman year,” Johnnic said of making state. “I came pretty close my freshman year and made it to sectionals. But last year, I had an injury at the end of the year. So coming back this year and making it down is a big accomplishment. It’s been my goal, so I’m pretty stoked.”

After wrestling into the semifinals, Johnnic was bounced into the back draw, where a 6-2 win in a wrestleback semifinal clinched his state berth. His 4-3 win in the third place match ensured a better seed at state, but he said at this point in the season, seeding means very little.

“Nerves are gone at this point,” Johnnic said. “Now it’s all up to you. You’re just wrestling. Train hard this week, go out and do your best.”

South teammate and fellow junior Ben Flores also earned his first trip to state at the sectional after finishing fourth at 126. His 5-3 win in a back draw semifinal solidified his state berth.

“It’s really nice for all the hard work to pay off at the end of the season,” Flores said. “It’s what you train for and it’s what I’m ready for, so I’m excited.”

Navigating a sectional field that included wrestlers from powerhouse programs like Lyons Township, Marmion, Marist, Sandburg and St. Rita gives Flores a boost heading to state.

“It makes me feel good knowing I’m going against the toughest competition in the state here already, so I’ll be ready for Champaign,” he said.

Cory Drummond finished one victory short of qualifying at 132.

Karlin Johnnic (120), Andrew Ives (145), Cain Bialas (170) and Chris Beck (285) competed in the sectional but did not make it to state.

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