Two first-round losses could have soured the experience. 

Both Ben Capitosti and Leo Meyer had lost their first-round matches at the IHSA state wrestling tournament, but they never wavered. Both battled through the wrestle backs to earn All-State status. 

“I’m just really proud of myself,” said Capitosti. “After losing my first round match, I could have been down in the dumps, but having the teammates and coaches to pick me up helped me win three in a row to even be in the position to medal.”

Meyer kept reminding himself of his abilities. 

“I kept telling myself I’m the better wrestler,” said Meyer. “Keep your head held up high.”

Aidan Blackburn finished with MHS’s best overall finish – fourth. Along with Meyer’s fifth-place finish and Capitosti’s sixth-place medal, three individual Green Wave wrestlers finished All-State with medals to cap off another historic season. 

Meyer now has two All-State finishes at 220 pounds after earning a medal for sixth last season.

“It’s pretty great because not too many people get to stay that went to state, yet alone twice,” said Meyer. 

Meyer’s state appearance finished with a 7-0 loss to Connor Lorden of LaSalle. In the first round of wrestle backs, Meyer had pinned Aiden Gomez of St. Patrick. He followed that with a pin over Griffin Carr of Hinsdale. With a 16-6 win over Kaiden Morris of Rochelle, he secured a second-straight IHSA medal. 

“It was pretty tough losing the first match,” said Meyer. “It set me back a little bit because that first match at state is very important. You just have to keep going. You get some downtime but the recovery time is your downtime. By the end, my muscles were just tired.”

Meyer had a chance to wrestle for a top-4 spot but lost in overtime to Alex Hamrick of Chatham-Glenwood. The wear and tear had finally taken its toll in the 6-4 defeat. 

“We were both beat,” said Meyer. “I was trying to be aggressive and score, and I went to throw the headlock. But he capitalized on it. It was just two wrestlers gassed, both giving it their all.”

That ended up being the final match of Meyer’s high school career. In the his next match, Meyer took fifth place via a forfeit win. Meyer, who has committed to wrestle at Elmhurst College, lamented not finishing higher. 

“It was emotional,” said Meyer. “I feel that I am better than a top-5 finish. It’s not where I wanted to finish after working hard but I still want to be on the podium.”

Two MHS wrestlers earned a spot on the podium for the first time.

Capitosti, a sophomore, followed a similar path as Meyer. Capitosti lost 5-2 to Eli Gonzalez of Washington in his opener. In the wrestle backs, Capitosti won 11-5 over Joey Baransky of Chicago Marian and 5-3 over Patrick Tinsley of Wheeling. 

Capitosti earned an All-State nod with an 11-4 win over a familiar opponent in Donovan Lewis of Mahomet-Seymour. 

“I just took one match at a time and didn’t overlook who I had next,” said Capitosti. “The coaching backed me up and went a long way. I just trusted my wrestling. I know I can belong with wrestlers like them.”

Capitosti fell 7-3 to Anthony Streib of Antioch in his final match to take sixth. Capitosti said Streib’s experience likely helped. 

“He controlled the whole match,” said Capitosti. “He held the lead 5-1 and I got a takedown to make it 5-3. I had a chance to get back into it, but I made a mistake and he reversed me. Once it was 7-3, he just controlled it the rest of the way. He was more experienced and stronger. It’s a good outlet for what I need to improve on to get me to that caliber.”

In his final round, Capitosti lost 1-0 to Dylan Watts of Bloomington.

“It proves I belong here,” said Capitosti. “With that competition, you can go in with doubts and psyche yourself out. Going 3-3 helps to know you belong. I have an idea of what I need to work on in the offseason to prepare for next year. I’m excited about the next two years.”

The highest finish of the night came from Blackburn. Out of the five state-qualifying Wave wrestlers, the junior was one of two to win his first-round match. Blackburn started the first day off with a 9-3 win over Santiago Tenuta of Montini. With a 7-6 win over Johnny O’Connor of Lemont on Day 2, Blackburn reached the semifinals in the winner’s bracket. 

Blackburn lost to the No. 1 overall seed and eventual state champion Kannon Webster of Washington. 

“He’s a three-time state champion,” said Blackburn. “He’s really good. He was just all over me, and I couldn’t do anything about it. He’s a well-coached wrestler and had the discipline to know what to do and when to do it.”

Blackburn qualified for the 3rd/4th place match with a win by fall over Josyahh Holland of Crete Monee. Blackburn finished the season with a fourth-place finish after a 5-3 loss to Caleb Nobiling from Antioch. 

“It feels pretty good,” said Blackburn. “It’s better than last year. I was just wanting to make it to the second day. I worked hard to get to the top four. I think I did a pretty good job. The coaching and support from the team, family, and fans helped.”

With one year left, the dream of being a state champion has already begun. 

“It’s been thinking about that a lot,” said Blackburn. “I want to make the finals. There’s always someone out there that can beat anyone. It’s going to push me to work harder to get to the championship match and, hopefully, be in the grand march.”