By Dan McGrath

The revival of Leo wrestling continues at an accelerated pace.

With junior Nick Armour leading the way at 285 pounds, the Lions placed second in the 10-team IHSA Class 1-A Regional at Chicago Military Academy Bronzeville on Saturday, Feb. 3. Eight Leo wrestlers finished third or better to advance to Sectional competition at Quest Multisport Center on Feb. 10-11, the Lions’ best showing since wrestling was restored as a varsity sport 10 years ago.

Leo accumulated 118 points to host Chicago Military Academy’s 176 points.

Armour pinned two opponents and won by disqualification over a third to finish first in the 285-pound weight class. Two weeks earlier he took third place in the Chicago Catholic League meet. With a 31-4 record, Armour has been one of the most accomplished wrestlers in the Chicago area this year. He’s also an All-Conference Catholic League Red Division defensive lineman and made Academic All-State for maintaining a GPA of 3.2 or higher. 

Joining Armour as a regional champion was freshman Vandell Dudley, who pinned all three opponents in the 126-pound weight class. Freshman Byron Lee (106 pounds), sophomore Taylor Atkins (157 pounds) and freshman Jubril Kannike (165 pounds) achieved second-place finishes, while sophomores Aiden Bright (138 pounds) and Venson Jones (150 pounds) and junior Amir Abdul-Shakur (215 pounds) advanced by way of third-place finishes.

The future looks bright for a hard-working squad that includes no seniors, only two juniors and the rest freshmen and sophomores.

On Jan. 27, the Lions finished eighth at the 16-team Catholic League frosh-soph meet at Brother Rice, outperforming such larger, known-for-wrestling schools as Loyola Academy, De La Salle and DePaul Prep.

“I’m really proud of our guys,” Assistant Coach Mike Anderson said. “For some of them, this is the first time they’ve ever wrestled and to do as well as they have is a reward for how hard they have worked.” 

Third-place finishes by Dudley at 126 pounds and Jones at 150 pounds helped the Lions collect 80 points as a team. Kannike and fellow freshman Lucas Villanova placed fifth at 175 and 215 pounds, respectively, while Taylor Atkins was sixth at 165 pounds.

Host Brother Rice was a runaway winner of the meet with 284.5 points, followed by Mt. Carmel (193), St. Rita (167.5), Fenwick (164), Montini (131), St. Ignatius (104.5), Providence Catholic (90) and Leo. 

Congratulations, Jim Earner

Jim Earner, Leo’s Vice President for Business Affairs, integral part of the management team and longtime wrestling official, has been selected to work the IHSA state wrestling finals at the University of Illinois’ State Farm Center in Champaign on February 18 and 19.

Mr. Earner also was given regional and sectional assignments leading up to the state meet. Officials earn these assignments based on how they are rated by coaches and meet directors over the course of a season.

Mr. Earner wrestled competitively at Brother Rice. He has worked the teams competition at the state meet before, but in an officiating career spanning 30-plus years, this will be his first time officiating individual matches.

His Leo colleagues salute Jim for a most worthwhile honor.