Gordon wrestling head coach Grant Hoerr admits the Rams(11-11) were on a seven-year plan when he took over as the varsity coach six years ago. The Rams are doing well in his sixth season after upsetting Walther Lutheran and finishing fifth in the Morton tournament.
“A couple of years ago my goal was to win conference,” Hoerr stated as his team prepares for matches against De La Salle, St Francis De Sales, Urban Prep, and Von Steuben this week. “It wasn’t a five-year plan it was a seven-year plan. I’m happy with the progress we have made. Providence and Montini are established programs. Winning the Catholic League is not a pipe dream. It takes time to build a program.”
A good measuring stick for any Catholic school before the state playoffs is the Catholic League tournament that takes place this weekend at Fenwick.
Gordon won eight straight matches earlier this season.
“I look at it as a great way to prepare for state,” admitted Hoerr who wrestled at the University of Wisconsin. “The Catholic League tournament is equivalent to a sectional. It’s kind of a mini-state tournament.”
Hoerr is hoping the Rams can finish in the top half of the Catholic League this Saturday.
Leading the resurgence is junior Justin Alonzo. Alonzo, who tips the scales wrestling in the 285-lb class, has lost only once this season to Glenbrook North Jreis Sweilem. Alonzo is scheduled to face De La Salle’s James Buss this week before the Catholic League event. The rematch could take place on Saturday in Oak Park.
“He could be state championship material this year,” Hoerr said. “By next year he could definitely be a force to be reckoned with. You wouldn’t want to wrestle him.”
Alonzo is one of the state’s top wrestlers, but he will be challenged by Clifton Central senior grappler Doug Easter and Byron senior Reid Sealby.
Gordon will be in the Class 1A state playoffs at the Walther Lutheran regional. If the Rams win the regional they would advance to the Plano sectional.
The individual state finals will be in Champaign at Assembly Hall in February while the team state titles will be determined in Bloomington at Us Cellular Coliseum.
“I’d be disappointed if we didn’t win the regional,” said Hoerr.
Wrestling went to three classes three years ago. Sterling Newman(1A), Montini(2A), and Glenbard North(3A) won team state titles last year.
Another wrestler to watch this Saturday is Providence’s Eddie Klimara.
One wrestler making headlines from Chicago is Lane’s Max Schmeider who won the individual state title two years ago as a sophomore.
“I think he’s a phenomenal athlete,” said Hoerr. “What he has done in high school is impressive. He didn’t come in with a wrestling background. He was in judo. Freshman year he was a cinderella story.”
Gordon has made great strides in one calendar year. The Rams now have 16 varsity wrestlers after having only nine grapplers last season.
“It’s a competitive room in practice,” said Hoerr. “We go out now and expect to win. We are a respectable program now. We were the bad news bears.”
Hoerr has fond memories of his days wrestling at Wisconsin.
“It was exciting,” said Hoerr who earned a degree in Agricultural Science and worked as a futures trader. “I believe I was wrestling in the best conference in the nation. All of the Big Ten teams are the best in my opinion. It was amazing getting an education doing something you love. It was a great experience.”
Hoerr grew up in Morton, Illinois and wrestled for his high school team.
Hoerr has enjoyed his time at Gordon and want to turn the Rams into one the state’s best wrestling programs.
“I like the energy of a small school,” Hoerr said on being a Gordon Tech Ram. “I know I am in the right place. The kids are great.”
Hoerr believes Gordon is headed in the right direction.
“Of course, I am excited,” added Hoerr. “We are moving down a division to 1A, but the team is getting better. We have kids in the room pushing each other everyday. The progress we are making is exciting to see.”