CHAMPAIGN – A little more than two years ago, Mike Hobbs was just cracking Downers Grove South’s varsity wrestling lineup.
Fast forward to his senior season, and Hobbs ascended to be among the elite wrestlers in the state of Illinois. On Saturday, he capped his high school career with a 3-1 win at the Class 3A state tournament at the State Farm Center.
Hobbs finished fifth at 285 pounds, but his satisfaction with that finish nearly matched the elation felt by some state champions.
“Yeah, it’s great, especially at heavyweight this year because it’s a pretty deep class,” Hobbs said. “It’s a great feeling. I never thought I was going to place at state. It feels pretty good.
“I never thought something like this could happen to me.”
Hobbs won his first state match 4-2, but lost his quarterfinal bout and went into the consolation bracket. He went 3-1 in the backdraw with the loss coming in the wrestleback semifinals.
A state qualifier last year, Hobbs was searching for his first state medal. Having state experience helped, and he stuck to a gameplan that might have been cause for consternation for his coaches.
“Being here before, it kind of shook the nerves for me. I was less tentative this time and more sticking to my stuff,” Hobbs said. “I would just wait. I would tire guys out first and second period and wait to take my shots in the last period. That’s just why I was in some pretty close matches and had my coaches scared in the [quarterfinal] wrestleback.”
Hobbs, who finished the season with a 39-6 record, wasn’t the only Downers Grove wrestler at state, but he was the only all-state finisher.
Wrestling for South, Joe Nugent was 0-1 at 132 while Shawn Jager went 0-2 at 160. Both are juniors who will have another opportunity to medal at state next year.
Downers Grove North sophomore Pat Walker had a solid state run, but did not place at 106.
He won his first match 3-1, which earned him a showdown with eventual state finalist Jason Renteria of Oak Park-River Forest. Walker lost that quarterfinal bout 8-1 and was bounced into the backdraw. He won a wrestleback match 6-4 before taking his second loss and being bounced from the tournament.
North senior Nick Bonomo lost his first state match at 170, but won a wrestleback match before falling out of the tournament.
Adam Ferrell (170 pounds) and Anthony Griffiths (285) wrestled for Westmont at state, but neither earned a medal.