Is Tony Cassioppi the greatest NIC-10 wrestler ever?
Hononegah's Tony Cassioppi turned a competition into a coronation, pinning all four of his opponents in the IHSA 3A 285-pound weight class in under two minutes to claim his second straight IHSA state title.
The NIC-10 has a storied tradition of wrestling excellence. Since 1965, 23 wrestlers have won 27 state titles.
Only three though have won multiple state titles - Cassioppi, Grant Miller also of Hononegah and Harlem's Cal Ferry.
Let's size them up.
- Three-time NIC-10 champion (2016, 2017, 2018)
- Three-time state qualifier (2016, 2017, 2018)
- Three-time state medalist (3rd in 2016, 1st in 2017 and 2018)
- Perfect 100-0 over final two years (52-0 in 2017, 48-0 in 2018)
- Has committed to wrestle in college at Iowa
- Three-time NIC-10 champion (2001, 2002, 2003)
- Three-time state qualifier (2001, 2002, 2003)
- Three-time state medalist (1st in 2001 and 2003, 3rd in 2002)
- Undefeated in 2003 (44-0)
- Wrestled briefly for Ohio State
- Three-time NIC-10 champion (1999, 2000, 2001)
- Three-time state champion (1998, 1999, 2000)
- Undefeated his final three seasons (1999, 2000, 2001)
- Wrestled for the University of Illinois.
There's not a lot separating the three. Miller was one of the top recruits in the country his senior year at Hononegah. Ferry went 151-5 in his four years, including winning his final 124 in a row. Cassioppi is a nationally ranked wrestler in freestyle and Greco Roman and spent his last summer competing in places like Peru - not the city, the country.
Perhaps college will be what separates Cassioppi from Miller and Ferry. Miller was so fed up with wrestling that he stopped after one season at Ohio State. Ferry was tiring of the sport by his senior year of high school. The reason he didn't win a fourth state title was because he was suspended by Harlem before the state tournament for violating school rules. At Illinois, he was an occasional fill-in for the wrestling team.
Cassioppi at first committed to Northwestern and changed his mind last summer to go to Iowa, which is one of the most storied programs in college. The Hawkeyes have won 23 national titles since 1975.
If Cassioppi can crack the Iowa lineup, that would put this question to bed.
Photo is from Illinoismatmen.com