Wrestling Caps off Historic Season as IHSA Champs


Elizabeth Boersma

The Caravan wrestling team after winning a team state title, February 26th, 2022.

Not many outside of the inner circle of the Mount Carmel wrestling team knew how great of a season that the wrestling Caravan would have, but head coach Alex Tsirtsis and the student-athletes knew that this season had the potential to be special. 

The season that the Caravan wrestlers had this year can only be described as historic. Mt. Carmel had quite possibly the best home dual meet it has ever had and the best overall state postseason it has ever had. 

Due to the nature and difficulty of the sport, the wrestling team is an extremely tight knit group, and also great synergy amongst the wrestlers. The team has also had plenty of time to bond, since many of the athletes have been teammates since elementary school. Similarly, coach Alex Tsirtsis has been coaching many of the wrestlers on the team since well before they entered high school.

Another reason the team is so close is how much the team traveled. The Caravan went across the Midwest to wrestle some of the best teams in the country– Iowa, Ohio, Michigan, as well as all over Illinois. 

The team spent over two weeks-worth of nights in hotels this year, and faced off against nationally ranked teams in half of their meets. The Caravan also finished the season ranked in the top 20 nationally. 

With the competition schedule of the wrestling team running from November 24, 2021 to February 26, 2022, the season is one of the longest in IHSA sports. The team put in a lot of hard work both before and during the season, and it definitely paid off. 

The Caravan wrestlers took home the fourth team state championship in program history, and the first since 1994. The Caravan also tied the school record for individual state champions with four wrestlers taking home weight class titles senior Ryan Boersma, a heavyweight; junior Sergio Lemley, who wrestled 126; sophomore Colin Kelly, a 160-pounder; and freshman Seth Mendoza, who wrestled at the lightest weight class, 106. Boersma and Lemley are now two- and three-time state champions, respectively.

The Caravan also won the IHSA dual meet state championships, beating DeKalb 32-27 in the finals. The match against DeKalb was down to the wire, with the Barbs leading 27-26 going into the final match, but Lemley capped off his and the Caravan’s fantastic season with a pin in the second period, solidifying the championship and sending DeKalb home with a second place finish. 

Mendoza and Boersma also pinned their opponents, while Colin Kelly recorded a technical fall. Seniors Elliott Lewis and Michael Kelly and sophomore Damian Resendez also won for the Caravan. The Caravan beat Libertyville 46-27 in the quarter final match and Prospect 48-21 in the semifinal match to reach the title round. The Caravan finish this amazing season with a 13-3 record, with two losses being to out-of-state and nationally ranked opponents. 

Coach Tsirtsis said he’s very proud of the team. “The dedication and hard work that these guys have put in is unmatched,” said Tsirtsis. “For wrestling being an individual sport, we have some great teammates.”