Taft rolls to Public League title, We Rachal chasing history

Illinois Matmen

Records aren’t just made to be broken, We Rachal figures.

They’re also made to be ignored.

You might think the two-time state champ from Chicago Washington is having his worst high school season if you just look at his won-lost totals.

Rachal is 21-5 this season after rolling to his third Public League title Sunday at Chicago State University with a 1:44 pin of Lindblom’s Kobe Allen in the 138-pound final. By contrast, Rachal was 92-5 in his first three high school seasons.

But as he bids to become the first Public League wrestler to capture three state championships, Rachal has followed a more difficult path.

Hence, the senior’s belief that he’s at the top of his game.

“I think I’m way better (than last year) because I’ve (faced) a lot more competition, such as the Ironman and Dvorak (tournaments),” Rachal said. “I’m a lot more technical, my cardio is way better.”

Competing against some of the best wrestlers in the country has helped Rachal mentally too.

“It was a big wakeup call, you could say,” he said. “It was a learning experience.

“I was very humble about it because, with a snap of a finger, I’m in there with the No. 3 kid in the country, the No. 8 kid in the country.”

Rachal already is one of just seven Public Leaguers to win two state titles. If he makes history by winning a third, he hopes it will have other city kids chasing big dreams of their own.

“When kids look at me, (they may think), ‘He’s done it, why can’t I do it?'” Rachal said. “A lot of kids may want to wrestle because they say, ‘We Rachal, he’s done it.'”

In fact, there’s someone who lives under the same roof with that mindset: Rachal’s twin brother Baan.

Injuries to and surgery on both shoulders robbed Baan Rachal of his postseason as a sophomore before he took sixth in Class 2A at 138 last season. This year, he has bulked up to 152 in a bid to join his brother at the top of the state podium.

“After (injuring) my shoulders, I felt I needed to put more work in,” Baan Rachal said. “I lifted, got bigger. … I worked on cardio and got better.”

So far, so good for Baan Rachal (21-3), who pinned Taft’s Tyler Ridley at 1:20 in the 152 final to win his second Public League title.

Now he turns his sights to the state series.

“I would see We win state year after year and I knew I should have been there with him,” Baan Rachal said.

Another Public Leaguer with state-meet aspirations is Bronzeville senior Shawn Sparacino (24-0), who beat two-time city champ Brendan Gallo of Taft 11-6 in overtime for the 132 title.

“Me and Gallo have been going back and forth,” Sparacino said, noting Gallo’s overtime win in last year’s Public League finals. “Every time I’ve been training, I’ve been training for him. …

“To go out there and beat someone like Brendan Gallo, it shows my hard work’s paying off.”

Joining We Rachal as a three-time city champ was Bowen senior Cameron White (33-4), who pinned Taft’s Max Garland at 1:53 in the 160 final.

Taft rolled to the team title, 237.5-115 over runner-up Ag. Science. Kelly (73.5), Washington (69) and Bowen (65.5) rounded out the top five teams.

Taft had titles from Julian Valtierrez (39-2) at 106, Amarri Arguelles (26-13) at 113 and Piotr Kruoa (18-2) at 285.

Ag. Science had two champs: Justin Graves (15-1) at 126 and Zian Rosario (16-1) at 182.

Also taking firsts were Kelly’s Alex Flores at 120, Lane’s Steven Yee (26-11) at 145, Bowen’s Zarquez Hunes (30-3) at 170, Simeon’s Darius Allen at 195 and Kennedy’s Jason Joy at 220.

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Written by Mike Clark

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