Competing for the state championship at the Illinois Kids Wrestling Federation (IKWF) meet, Mt. Greenwood’s Eddie Enright finished in second place for the second straight year.
The 13-year-old wrestler couldn’t help but feel disappointed, but that disappointment didn’t last long after Enright was named to Team Illinois Gold to compete in the USA Wrestling National Middle School Duals.
He finished 13-0 over two tournaments for Gold, scoring 68 points and only allowing 3 points scored.
“Right after you lose, it was pretty tough,” Enright said. “You realize how lucky you are to be able to do that. [Illinois Gold] knew I wrestled a good match. They thought I’d be their best 90-pound wrestler. I was thankful for the chance.”
Enright wrestles with the Mustang Wrestling Club (MWC) based out of Mt. Greenwood Park.
Enright finished second at IKWF state March 8-9 in Rockford.
Chosen by Illinois Gold, he then went 6-0 at the middle school duals and 7-0 at the Heartland National Duals with 5 pins and 2 decisions.
Enright (Mt. Greenwood Elementary) was named the Outstanding Wrestler at both tournaments.
He is also MWC’s first four-time state qualifier.
As the young wrestler continues to strive for the next level, Enright embraces the challenge of being a top-level wrestler.
“I like wrestling because it’s hard to do. It’s not something everyone can do,” Enright said. “It’s unhuman to do it. With wrestling, you wake up in the morning, work out and eat a healthy breakfast. Then when you win an award you can celebrate.”
For the Enright Family, wrestling became even more of a family affair this season. Eddie’s dad, Ed, is in his 16th year as the MWC head coach and 19th in the program.
Eddie’s sister, 9-year-old Ava, also joined the club this season.
Making the most of her debut, Ava finished second at 70 pounds at the Illinois Girls Folkstyle State Championships.
“It was my first year wrestling, but I grew up around wrestling and watching Eddie,” Ava said. “I felt pretty good this year. It was tough for a couple practices, but I really liked it. It was a lot of fun.”
Ava was inspired to join the MWC after watching Richards High School’s Mia Palumbo, who won a state match at the 2018 Illinois High School Association state meet, the first female wrestler to do so.
“I saw Mia Palumbo wrestle,” Ava said, “and I really wanted to try it.”
Ava also received some brotherly advice in her first season.
“He helps mostly,” Ava said. “We practice lots of moves together. He shows me what to do, what could be better and work in a match.”
It wasn’t just the Enrights claiming postseason success for the MWC. Its deep roster piled up awards and state medals.
George Marinopoulos, an 11-year-old sixth-grader at Cassell, finished in third at Novice 74 pounds at the IKWF meet.
He scored the third most points in the entire tournament across all ages and brackets and first at the novice level.
Marinopoulos won the third-place match with a 6-4 decision.
“This is the finish I’m most proud of. It was a lot harder, a lot tougher,” Marinopoulos said. “I put more work in and practiced more. I blocked everything else out and came back to win after being down early.”
With 8 qualifiers, MWC finished 36th (53 points) at IKWF state with 171 teams competing.
Competing a week later at the 19th annual Illinois Midget Championship on March 16-17 in Danville, Ill., MWC finished sixth as a team with 104 points at the 130-team meet.
Ten-year-old Daniel Costello, a fourth-grader at Mt. Greenwood Elementary, won the state title at 95 pounds with a 12-5 decision.
“I placed second at bantam state last year. I kept doing what I’ve been working at,” Costello said. “I tried to stay on top and get back points. It’s fun to win big things, especially tournaments, and have that success.”
Jacob Crawford (101 pounds) and Ethan Sonne (74) finished second in their respective weight classes. Crawford and Sonne are fourth-graders at Mt. Greenwood Elementary.
Crawford loved the excitement of the atmosphere at state.
“I was nervous because everyone’s really good, but it was a lot of fun,” Crawford said. “It was hard and super-competitive. You have to keep trying your hardest and be the best you can.”
Sonne lost a close 4-0 decision in the championship, but his hard-fought confidence paid big dividends.
“This was my best tournament,” Sonne said. “I had more confidence than last season. It was one of my goals. I wasn’t confident last year and didn’t do as well. I was happy to get second. It was a fun tournament.”
Other midget state medalists included Eddie Astorga (6th, 66), Ronin Haran (7th, 84) and Frankie Miceli (8th, 72).
Coach Ed Enright said his young wrestlers stepped up repeatedly through a busy winter season.
“There’s a brotherhood and, now with Ava wrestling, a sisterhood,” Enright said. “They all bought in this year to the family aspect of the sport. Not just as teammates, but it’s a makeshift family. It was really cool to see and to be a part of.”