Winnetka, Sports

This time it’s Miller time — and more stories of local state qualifiers from wrestling sectionals

Tagg Miller’s primal outburst Saturday afternoon was a year in the making.

Last season, the New Trier junior wrestler lost a minor decision at the sectional to just miss a berth in the IHSA state championships. This time around, Miller pinned his opponent in the consolations semifinals of the 150-pound division at the Barrington Sectional in just 24 seconds, punching his ticket to state.

And he acted accordingly, letting out a celebratory scream and jogging to the crowd to hug his father.

“It felt great,” Miller said. “Last year, I was in the same situation in the blood round, lost 5-3, heartbroken. And this year, after being so close, it feels great. … It was an indescribable feeling coming off that mat.”

Miller (33-7), who finished his day with a 16-6 victory to place third, is one of 11 wrestlers from the Record’s coverage area who will compete at the IHSA finals on Thursday-Saturday, Feb. 15-17, in Champaign (boys) and Friday-Saturday, Feb. 23-24, in Bloomington (girls).

Cousins Quinn (right) and Joey Hebert hug after Joey’s state-clinching pin on Saturday, Feb. 9.

Loyola Academy sent five boys wrestlers to the sectional and will take all five to Champaign.

Sophomore Kai Calcutt (215; 27-4) led the way with a championship performance at the sectional, conquering Libertyville’s Owen McGrory 12-7 in the title bout. He will be joined at state by senior Quinn Herbert (29-8), second at 190 pounds; sophomore Gavin Pardilla (26-11), third at 120; sophomore James Hemmila (21-10), fourth at 106; and junior Joey Herbert (20-11), fourth at 285.

Quinn Herbert qualified for his fourth state tournament — the first Rambler to accomplish that feat.

Calcutt was a state finalist a year ago, falling 3-2 in the 220 championship match. Pardilla is now a two-time state qualifier.

“We did what we were supposed to do,” Ramblers coach Matt Collum said. “I thought we could have done better, but I expected all of them to get through.”

He added, “We tell our guys to go out there with a lot of energy and score a lot of points, get to their offense, wrestle where they’re good and wrestle really hard.”

The Giants Dmitry Derbedyenyev is in control during a consolation match Saturday.

Highland Park senior Dmitry Derbedyenyev (165) is returning to state.

Derbedyenyev (32-3) wrestled through knee pain to claim fourth place. He dropped a tight quarterfinal match 3-2 before winning his first consolation bout 3-0 to earn a state berth. At last year’s state finals, Derbedyenyev had a difficult draw, wrestling the eventual 152-pound state champion, Nolan Allen of West Chicago in the first round.

Girls Sectional: A Rambler, a Giant and two Trevians advance

Jillian Giller, of New Trier, stands atop the podium for the 140-pound division at the Evanston Sectional Saturday, Feb. 9.

New Trier’s Jillian Giller and Loyola’s Harlee Hiller won sectional championships and Highland Park’s Clara Ugaz and New Trier’s Nina Aceves each finished fourth, all earning places in the state finals Feb. 23-24 in Bloomington.

All three will make return appearances to state. Giller, a junior, and Ugaz, a senior, also qualified last season, while Hiller, a junior, has qualified each of her three seasons and won the state championship at 105 a year ago.

Giller (34-4) pinned her first two sectional opponents to advance to the tournament championship. She then earned a 13-5 decision to win the sectional title.

Hiller (24-8) dominated the 115-pound field, collecting three first-period pins en route to her sectional crown.

Ugaz (22-6) recorded two pins to begin her sectional performance. A loss in the semifnals put her in the consolation bracket, but a pin there clinched Ugaz’s state berth.

Aceves (30-10), a senior, got a forfeit victory and then pinned Ryann Reeves, a ranked opponent from Oak Forest, to advance to the semifinals. Aceves then dropped a 9-1 decision to bracket champ America Cabrerra, of Phoenix Military Academy, but won her first consolation bout to punch her state ticket. In the third-place match, Aceves had to forfeit with an injury in the second period.

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joe coughlin
Joe Coughlin

Joe Coughlin is a co-founder and the editor in chief of The Record. He leads investigative reporting and reports on anything else needed. Joe has been recognized for his investigative reporting and sports reporting, feature writing and photojournalism. Follow Joe on Twitter @joec2319

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