Geneva's first and only state-wrestling champion will be inducted into the Geneva Athletic Hall of Fame in a unique ceremony Saturday during halftime of the varsity basketball game.
A three-sport athlete who started as a football linebacker for Coach Larry Davis in 1988-89 and on Coach Mike VanDeveer’s track teams in the spring, Soto made his biggest mark in the winter as a wrestler for Coach Jon Schaus.
During his senior season of 1989-90, wrestling at 171 pounds, Soto compiled a record of 36 wins against 5 losses—and peaked at the right time.
During state series competition, he was victorious in regional and sectional matches and then “won it all” with a 10-6 victory over Chad Kelly of Kewanee on the floor of Assembly Hall in Champaign.
While Geneva did have a wrestler who won an AAU state championship in the early 1930s (before formal interscholastic competition), Randy Riotto, Soto became Geneva’s first, and so far only, IHSA state wrestling champion.
Soto went on to serve honorably in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1992 to 2000, rising to the rank of sergeant on a Light Helicopter Attack Squadron, and earning a Navy Unit Commendation Medal.
Soto returned home to the Fox Valley to serve several years as a firefighter for the city of St. Charles. He is presently a paramedic for a private ambulance service and is studying for a degree in nursing.
The 13th annual induction ceremonies for the Vikings’ Athletic Hall of Fame are scheduled for Saturday evening, Feb. 2, 2013, in the school’s main contest gymnasium, during halftime of the Geneva-vs.-Quincy boys’ varsity basketball game, set to tip off at 6 p.m.
Also scheduled to be honored on Hall of Fame Night on Feb. 2 is the 1963 Viking basketball team, which made the Elite Eight and is widely considered Geneva's greatest basketball team of all time. (More on that in a future article.)
The Geneva Community High School Athletic Hall of Fame selection committee, chaired by Athletic Director Jim Kafer, consists of retired Geneva High head football coach Jerry Auchstetter, longtime Geneva journalist Rick Nagel, Hall of Fame inductee and sports psychologist Dr. Peter Temple and former Geneva Republican sports editor and Geneva PA announcer Kurt Wehrmeister.
After the Feb. 2 induction ceremony, and conclusion of the basketball game with Quincy – to which all previously inducted Hall of Fame members are extended invitations – friends and fans will have the opportunity to visit with the 2013 inductees at a coffee-and-cake reception in their honor in the north balcony of Geneva High’s contest gymnasium.