Reavis’ Nick Gomez, committed to college for football, makes call on wrestling. ‘I’d be excited about that.’

Senior Nick Gomez is a three-sport athlete for Reavis, and his passion for wrestling has him considering taking on multiple sports in college.

Gomez, who played quarterback for the Rams, has signed with Wisconsin-Platteville to continue his career in that sport, most likely as a defensive back.

But he’s not sure he’s quite ready to walk away from the wrestling mat.

“I’m planning to double major in criminal justice and forensics, and college football is a year-round thing,” Gomez said. “So, it’d be a challenge, but I don’t really want to stop wrestling.

“I love being inside the wrestling room. If I can make it work to do both, I’d be excited about that.”

It’s no wonder Gomez doesn’t want to stop wrestling. He’s having a breakthrough season that continued Saturday when he won the 144-pound title at the Class 3A Downers Grove South Regional.

Reavis coach Charlie Manning, who started coaching Gomez in the Little Rams program when he was 4 years old, is thrilled.

“He didn’t have a lot of success as a kid, but he kept grinding and showed up, year in and year out,” Manning said. “He’s not the most talented wrestler, but he’s always put in the work.

“It’s really good to see him have success.”

Gomez, who has a 34-7 record this season, said wrestling has always been a natural fit for him.

“My mom signed me up for football first, and she noticed I enjoyed hitting,” he said. “It was flag football, so you’re not supposed to hit, but I was still doing it. She decided to sign me up for wrestling, and it just clicked for me. I really enjoyed it.

“Wrestling is getting me ready for everything else to come. Say that in the future, I’m looking to get a job and I fail at first, since I’ve got wrestling under my belt, I’m not going to give up. Wrestling keeps me ready for the world.”

Gomez will try to keep his momentum going at the challenging Hinsdale Central Sectional this weekend. Qualifying for state would be a huge success.

“That’s the dream,” he said. “That’s the goal. To be able to finish in Champaign and end it on a good note, I’d love to do that.”

‘Proud dad moment’

Growing up, Jalen Byrd watched his dad, Tyrone, coach wrestling teams at Lincoln-Way East and then Lincoln-Way Central.

“I always wanted to be one of my dad’s wrestlers when I was younger,” Jalen Byrd said. “I knew I wanted to be a part of his team, be an ally with him and have some kind of accomplishment with him in my corner.

“This is a step in the right direction.”

That step for Jalen, a sophomore at Lincoln-Way Central, was winning the 144-pound title at the Class 3A Rich Township Regional.

But he almost never had that chance. Before the regional, Jalen (21-4) had been out nearly seven weeks with a hand injury. He was cleared to wrestle just a day before the meet.

“It was good to get him back on the mat,” Tyrone said. “We took an extra precaution just to be careful with a little extra cover on the hand, but to see him navigate it was great.

“I’m proud of him for sucking it up. I told him it didn’t have to be pretty, he just had to get it done, and he did. Proud dad moment, for sure.”

Super six

Six area teams won regional titles and advanced to the dual team sectionals, which will be held Feb. 20.

In Class 3A, Lincoln-Way East and Joliet Catholic will square off at a site to be determined, while Mount Carmel will take on Marmion at Downers Grove South. In Class 2A, Brother Rice will host Oak Forest. In Class 1A, De La Salle will take on host Coal City.