IHSA Boys State Wrestling Recap: Lane Tech’s Finn Merrill’s Final Meet, Kennedy’s Victor Alvarado Showcased At State


By Mike Clark

After a standout prep career, Finn Merrill is ready to move on.

As a running back, the senior was one of the driving forces behind a turnaround season for Lane football in the fall. And Merrill is a two-time state qualifier in wrestling for the Champions, who have won the last two Public League titles.

He’ll turn his focus to wrestling in college after finishing 1-2 in the Class 3A 138-pound state bracket over the weekend at State Farm Center.

What does he take away from his return trip to state?

“The experience,” he said. “It’s nice to be out here again.”

“I definitely felt more comfortable, more confident.”

Merrill dropped his opener 7-2 to Fremd’s Maddox Khalimsky before scoring a 12-4 major decision over Lincoln-Way West’s Luke Siwinski. He was knocked out with an 8-5 defeat against Lockport’s Logan Kaminski.

Lane coach Matt Yan considered Merrill’s performance a step forward.

“He was down here last year, maybe a little shell-shocked last year,” Yan said. “I thought he wrestled a lot better this year. Three matches, same as last year — tough draw, it’s never going to be easy down here.”

The Lane coach is more interested in the long view, in any case.

“We’re not defined by one or two losses,” Yan said of Merrill, who went 40-7 this season. “He’s had a great career, over 100 wins.”

With his high school wrestling days over, Merrill will start looking for a college home. He said he’s talked to some NCAA Division II programs and Yan said there’s also been Division III interest,

“The sky’s the limit for him,” Yan said. “He has a very high ceiling. (Division II and III), that’s kind of what he wants, to get academic and athletic balance. He’s a great student, over a 5.0 GPA.”

“I’m excited for the future,” Merrill said.

The other Public League representative to win a match at state was Kennedy sophomore Victor Alvarado in the Class 2A 113-pound bracket.

Kennedy’s Victor Alvarado at IHSA Wrestling State Series

Making his second appearance at state, Alvarado (33-6) lost his opener by technical fall to Rock Island’s Truth Vesey before pinning Mattoon’s Tristan Porter in 5:16. He then lost by fall against Joliet Catholic’s Jason Hampton.

Four more Public League representatives went 0-2 at state: Harlan freshman Kingston Sawyers (27-9, 113), Rickover senior Nathaniel Sales (24-11, 120) and Phoenix senior Vin Moreno (40-5, 132) in 1A, and Taft senior Grzegorz Krupa (38-5, 285) in 3A.

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