Home / News / Zion-Benton’s Ileen Castrejon named girls wrestler of the year

Zion-Benton’s Ileen Castrejon named girls wrestler of the year


Ileen Castrejon set a new standard for Zion-Benton wrestling in her senior season. But she would say that she didn’t do this alone.

Immediately after winning the first state championship in program history on Feb. 24, Castrejon wanted to celebrate with coach Hal Lunsford and his staff.

“It felt good to know that everyone was happy for me,” he said. “I continued wrestling. When I started, I was just doing it for fun. My coaches pushed me. I even wanted to quit after third grade, but my coaches encouraged me. Without them, especially without coach Hal, I would not have made it to state or won.

“My coaches helped me not only in wrestling, but in everything in life and school. They have always been there for me in everything. “My coaches are truly like family to me.”

2023-24 News-Sun Girls Wrestler of the Year Castrejon (25-1) became a three-time state medalist with a 2-1 win over Lakes junior Josephine Larson in the 190-pound title match at Grossinger Motors. Arena in Bloomington.

Castrejon, which finished third with 170 points last season and second in the Illinois High School Association rankings with 170 points, said Lunsford: first state meet She said she worked tirelessly to become a champion for girls two years ago and the entire program helped her achieve that.

“I have great assistant coaches,” Lunsford said. “We really tried to create a family atmosphere in our practice room. Ileen received great support from her teammates and coaches. Everyone was trying to make him win the state. He had a very strong desire to become a state champion.

“She has been our favorite girl since we started the girls program.”

Zion-Benton’s Ileen Castrejon (left) wrestles against Lakes’ Josephine Larson in the 190-pound lightweight championship match at the state meet on Saturday, Feb. 24, 2024, at Grossinger Motors Arena in Bloomington. (Vincent D. Johnson / News-Sun)

Zion-Benton assistant Daniel Alaniz said he has known Castrejon “probably his whole life” and has watched him develop mental and physical toughness over the years.

“He went through a lot of hardships in his life,” Alaniz said. “Many things tried to push him down and knock him out, but he kept moving. “He has shown tremendous resilience in his life and in wrestling.”

This includes this season. Castrejon had a lingering knee injury that cost him a good portion of the first two months, and he was concerned his chances of winning a state championship were beginning to fade. Going from 170 to 190 was one of the reflections of the injury. But Lunsford said Castrejon took advantage of the unexpected leave.

“He was out for five weeks but I think the injury changed his mentality,” Lunsford said. “He needs to look at things differently. The grind of hard training and making sure he gained weight was too much for him. It was mentally challenging. So his injury put everything on pause and allowed him to regroup. His attitude changed in the practice room, too.”

Castrejon said wrestling at 190 helped him refocus.

“My confidence came from wrestling,” he said. “It took the pressure off me.”

But he faced a learning curve in the heavyweight class.

“I had to adapt to their style of wrestling,” he said. “I was trying to do all these shots on the older girls, but it wasn’t working. They were also much stronger than the 170. I trusted my coaches and my training. My self-confidence has increased a lot.”

Castrejon won tournament titles at the Berman Holiday Classic in Palatine, the Dundee-Crown Invitational and the Lake County Invitational. Lunsford said he became a different wrestler in the second half of the season and started to look forward.

“We had a lot of conversations, many of them not about the sport of wrestling, but about life, mental toughness, colleges and its ups and downs,” Lunsford said. “He is anxious about college and being the first person in his family to go to college. This was a little scary for him. He was excited but nervous.

“I’m really happy to be his coach. It’s been a great journey. He feels at peace with everything now.”

Indeed, Castrejon said the state title opened new doors for him. He plans to wrestle for Team Illinois in March and compete at national meets in Virginia Beach, Virginia, and Fargo, North Dakota.

“That title also influenced how I think about wrestling,” he said. “This motivates me to do more.”

Bobby Narang is a freelance reporter.


About yönetici

Check Also

Meet the 2023-24 Aurora-Elgin men’s basketball all-District team

[ad_1] Players from Waubonsie Valley, West Aurora, Oswego East and Class 1A state finalist Aurora …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Watch Dragon ball super