Boys’ wrestling season ends with historic achievement


Freshman Jeremy Huf wrestles in the Mudge-McMorrow Invite at Prospect on Dec. 10 (photo by Bella Brouilette)

Kevin Lynch, Editor-in-Chief

On Feb. 21, the Knights’ season came to a close in a 34-21 loss in the IHSA Team Sectional meet to John Hersey High School. Before this loss, however, the team made history, qualifying wrestlers in all 14 weight classes to the IHSA Individual Sectional Meet in Barrington on Feb. 10 — the first time the program has done so. After this, the team qualified seven wrestlers to the IHSA Individual State Final Meet in Bloomington on Feb. 16, also a first for the program, according to the Prospect Knights Wrestling Twitter account (@PHSWrestling6).

At the individual state meet, the Knights’ historic season continued, earning them a second place finish for senior Will Baysingar in the 132-pound weight class, a fifth place finish for freshman Jaxon Penovich in the 195-pound weight class and a sixth place finish for senior Joel Muehlenbeck in the 120-pound weight class, the most in school history. 

Though Penovich’s state placement as a freshman was monumental, his achievement was narrowly won; in the match that would determine whether he would move on to place, Penovich’s opponent gained a one-point lead on him with 9 seconds remaining in the match. With limited time remaining and both his club coach and Prospect head coach Dan Keller yelling encouragement in his ear, Penovich dug deep. 

“I was like, ‘Oh crap, man,’ but I felt good,” Penovich said. “Deep down I’m like, ‘I really want to place as a freshman,’ and with nine seconds left I get a takedown; we made history.”

Baysingar, who placed third, first and second in state during his previous three seasons, was disappointed about his loss in the final match, though he says time has given him more perspective on the match.

“Looking back on it, I wouldn’t change anything I had done,” Baysingar said. “I would have prepared the same way; I would have wrestled [and] done exactly the same things I did … Sometimes you [can] do everything and still lose.”

Baysingar was still able to finish his high school career with a win, though; in spite of Hersey already having won the team sectional meet with three matches left, Hersey’s head coach, Joe Rupslauk, made the decision not to forfeit in order to give the three Prospect seniors who had yet to wrestle — Baysingar included — one final match. 

“Most teams would have probably forfeited those last matches, just in possible case of injury,” Baysingar said. “ … And I feel like if we were winning that dual and that’s how it ended, I’m 100% confident that we would have done the exact same thing.”

Though Penovich didn’t succeed in his ultimate goal of placing first in state, he still says that every wrestler on the team showed improvement over the course of the season, leaving him optimistic about the group’s future. 

Baysingar echoes this sentiment; while the season may have gone out on a low note, he says, the team still showcased their full potential, right up until the end.
“When we got down to when it actually mattered, everyone was zoned in; everyone fought for the whole six minutes,” Baysingar said. “There was no one that just gave up … I was really proud of the effort level that we put in.”