The Leo Lions came up a little short in their bid to defend their IHSA Class 1-A Regional wrestling title, finishing third in this year’s regional meet at Chicago’s Bowen High School on Saturday, Feb. 2.

Leo, with 160 points, placed third behind regional winner Peotone (192 points) and runner-up Bowen (162). Only the top two finishers advance to team competition at the Pontiac Sectional on Feb. 8-9.

However, the top three individual finishers also advance, so Leo will be well-represented in Pontiac with nine individual qualifiers, led by regional champs Marco Gonzalez (138 pounds), Jordan Anderson (145), Brandon Williams (160) and Jarrelle Jones (220).

The Lions also had four runner-up finishers: Rayion Davidson at 152 pounds, Jalen Harris at 170, Devin Flakes at 182 and Martin Pumphrey at 285.

Leo’s final qualifier was Ako Franklin, third-place finisher at 113 pounds, Devale Alsup (106) and Do’ron Gee (195) just missed qualifying with fourth-place finishes.

Coaches Michial Foy and Mike Anderson hoped for better, but they were reasonably pleased with the showing considering the Lions’ inexperience and the loss of practice time to the record-breaking cold weather that closed school for two of the days leading up to the regional.

Moreover, five of Leo’s nine sectional qualifiers are underclassmen—junior Jordan Anderson, sophomores Jarrelle Jones and Martin Pumphrey and freshmen Rayion Davidson and Ako Franklin—which gives the coaches something to build on going forward.