Vandalia Commnity High School graduate Jarek Wehrle can add one more feather into the cap of his high school career – state champion in wrestling.
Wehrle won the Illinois Wrestling Coaches and Officials Association state wrestling tournament, with the finals being held last week in Springfield.
Wehrle (43-4) won the championship with a victory over Alex Fernandez of Wilmington in a Fall at the 1:11 mark.
He is the fifth state champion for the school, the fourth male. Also winning were Nathan Graumenz in ’96-97, Jo-E Smith, ’06-07, and Arthur Langston, ’01-02 for the IHSA. Morgan Dothager won back-to-back championships in the IWCOA tournament in 2017 and 2018.
Wrestlers this year did not get to participate in any postseason play in the IHSA, so the IWCOA stepped in, expanding its normal fresh/soph tournament to include all classes.
“It was run pretty similar to the IHSA tournament,” says Coach Jason Clay, and, as a result, Clay considers Wehrle a state champion. “I find it hard not to put him down as state champion, as tourney was legit, and we competed against the best schools. The kid’s matches count toward career records. As a freshman and sophomore, Wehrle placed sixth, and as a junior, fourth.”
“He’s been close to a championship and was confident and calm in Springfield,” Clay continued. “He wrestled well. In the semis he dominated against the kid from Coal City. In finals, Jarek got out to a fast start and got a take down. When he can get it quick, he can turn his opponent for a point. Once he got on top of the kid in the final, he took control of the match.”
“This is the one,” Wehrle told the IWCOA in an interview. “Last year this was my goal, too, but I came up short so I just had to bounce back and come after this one. I just want to thank God because I couldn’t have done it without Him, He’s number one. This is really a blessing, honestly. So many seniors didn’t think they’d get a match and some people thought it wasn’t going to be legit. But I’m really happy with the way they put it on, it feels like the real deal. At Vandalia, we just always have good kids and I’m proud to be another one of those kids.”