After a long hiatus, the Aces wrestlers returned to action on Jan. 23 at Walther Christian High School in Melrose Park where the Aces took second place at the Chicago Prep Conference Wrestling Championships. ICJA was led by junior standouts, Meir Cohen (138) and Ray Goltz (145), who took first place in the tournament. Cohen pinned his Walther Christian opponent in the first period. Goltz went the distance with his Walther Christian foe and earned an 11-2 major decision. Their CPC Tournament victories should put them in good stead for the upcoming Regional Champions on Feb. 2.
Taking second place were Seniors Binyomin Krohn (160) and E.J. Halpert (170), Sophomores Enon Gurvich (113), Bentzy Osgood (132), and Ezra Landman Feigelson (152), and freshmen Amitai Kakon (106), Aytan Czako (120), Charles Moscovich (182), and Avi Seruya (285). The CPC title was won by the host school.
The team headed to regionals after Shabbat on Feb. 2, the only IHSA regional tournament that is held on Sat. night so that ICJA wrestlers can compete. Coach Doug Klein says, “We have been attending regionals for over a dozen years, and it is important for all to be aware of how this came to be and what its significance is. Simply put, it is not ultimately about wrestling. It is about civics and patriotism and the virtues of Modern Orthodoxy.”
For the first 15 years that Coach Klein coached wrestling, the IHSA dutifully assigned Ida Crown to a regional which we could not attend, and ICJA was listed on the tournament results as a “No Show.” However, given the short duration of the tournament, it was apparent to Coach Klein that the regional tournament could just as easily be held on a Saturday night without truncating the competition. Coach Klein waited until the team was strong enough to include several wrestlers who would qualify for sectionals and then made a written request of the IHSA to move ICJA’s assigned regional to Saturday evening. Although this initial request was denied, Coach Klein enlisted the help of Senator Ira Silverstein and agreed that the team would spend Shabbat near the tournament site so as not to delay the proceedings any longer than necessary.
In advance of the 2007 regionals, the IHSA granted our request, and the Lisle IA Regional was rescheduled for our benefit, and the rest is history.
ICJA took 3rd place in the 2007 tournament and generally finishes 2nd or 3rd in the region. In 2012, the team won the region and represented Ida Crown in the Illinois State Team Championships as one of the top 16 squads in the entire state.
Like every year since 2007, the Aces gathered for a wrestling Shabbaton Feb. 1 in a hotel close to the tournament with a Sefer Torah and Shabbat meals together as a team.
Coach Klein says, “We have engendered the respect of the entire wrestling community in the State of Illinois. Wrestling fans in downstate Illinois–who may not know a single Jew personally–are now aware that there is one regional in the Chicago area that starts on Saturday night because there is a Jewish school which not only wrestles, but observes the Sabbath. When the IHSA announced its decision, the forum on the website dedicated to Illinois high school wrestling was aglow with positive comments from across the state.