WEGO finishes strong after impressive wrestling season


Photo by Anna Zepeda

By Anna Zepeda and Chuck Baumgartner

West Chicago Community High School’s boys’ wrestling team concluded its season on February 19 at the State Farm Center in Champaign, Illinois, when senior and three-time State qualifier Pierre Baldwin placed eighth. 

This was West Chicago’s first full, competitive season since the beginning of the pandemic, which struck in the middle of 2020. The most recent season produced a new set of extremely promising wrestlers. 

According to Jamie Philips, Varsity boys’ wrestling coach, “We had a very successful season as a whole. Last season was during the spring, shortened, no tournaments and the IHSA did not host a state competition. This season was ‘more normal’ in that we were able to compete in tournaments and train for a state tournament series.” 

While multiple wrestlers lost a year of experience, many returned in 2021, and showed a promising future for the Wildcat team, post-pandemic. 

Boys’ wrestling after the Upstate Eight Tournament on January 22. (Photo by Anna Zepeda)

Philips said, “Of course the pandemic impacted our season as it has everything else. I would say some impact was negative, but there has also been a lot of positive impact. For us to be able to get into our practice room and go through workouts, it kind of gave everyone a time of their day where we could ‘forget’ about the outside world and the pandemic. Even if only for an hour and a half a day, I think it helped a lot of the wrestlers and coaches ‘deal’ with it too.”

Philips also acknowledged that the ability to compete for a full season  “felt good”, unlike the previous season.

While the fresh set of wrestlers were not able to compete in the IHSA State competition, some made the most out of their season by emerging as a sectional qualifier. Sectional qualifiers included freshman Ryan Alvarado, sophomore Connor Zentner, junior Emiliano Lopez, and seniors Mason Dupasquier, Larson Gallian and eventual State qualifier Pierre Baldwin. 

Baldwin said, “It was exciting. I was excited to represent WEGO and to compete for the city of West Chicago.” 

The future of WEGO wrestling holds promise in terms: from the characteristics of the team to its future lineup. While WEGO had an outstanding season, it is exciting to imagine what the next season will hold for the West Chicago Wildcats with its set of dedicated wrestlers.

Jayden Huesca Rodriguez on the podium at IHSA’s State competition in February. (Photo by WEGO Wrestling Twitter)

Freshman Jonathan Antonio said, “The atmosphere [of the team] is very intriguing. You get nervous but later get excited because of all of the adrenaline you get.”

Philips said, “I know our WEGO wrestling’s future is bright. We have a lot of talent on the team. Some returning sectional qualifiers would include Ryan Alvarado, Connor Zentner, and Emiliano Lopez. Some other guy wrestlers that we are looking forward to seeing would include Jonathan Antonio, Scotty Zentner, Donovan Avila, Santino Milazzo and Alexis Correa. We also have some younger wrestlers that will hopefully crack the line up. Our girls’ team performed awesome for its first season. Some to keep an eye out for would be sophomore Alyssa Elizondo and state qualifier Jayden Rodriguez!”

Malik Milazzo said to look out for “the upcoming freshman…the whole entire lineup for the freshman. They have a lot of potential and growth; they learned a lot this school year based off of the season alone and I see a lot of improvement for the future.”