CHAMPAIGN — Moline senior Isaac Martinez vowed to himself to give 100 percent for all six minutes of each match as he closes out his high-school wrestling career at the Class 3A State Tournament at the State Farm Center.
Good thing, because 5 minutes and 50 seconds wouldn’t have gotten the job done in the tournament’s first round on Thursday evening.
Down 3-1 and in the final half minute against sophomore Andrew Lira of Huntley, Martinez knew anything less than 100 percent would send him into today’s wrestlebacks. With 10 seconds left, he got a takedown and scored three back points at the buzzer to pull off an improbable 6-3 decision.
“It was scary,” Martinez admitted of that final period. “I mean, it’s my senior year, and I knew I wasn’t going to let that happen without 100 percent the whole six minutes."
It was that same kind of excitement for the Maroons from their “super 6,” with three others — Charlie Farmer, Jayden Terronez and Cobie Underwood — advancing to the quarterfinals at 106, 152 and 285 pounds, respectively.
Andrew Burkeybile (120) and DJ Parker (170) will be in the wrestlebacks after first-round losses, still with hopes of all-state status. For the first time ever, Illinois has a full double-elimination state tournament.
All Rock Island junior Victor Guzman wanted to do was to show those at the wrestling state tournament that he was what he called “the top dog” of his Class 2A 132-pound weight class.
After tearing a “Tommy John” elbow tendon in his first-round match, Guzman likely will finish sixth, get a medal and earn all-state status on Saturday. To those who watched him go on to win his quarterfinal match, 6-4 in overtime Thursday night, there is no question that being called top dog is an incredible understatement.
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With his left arm heavily wrapped and basically rendered useless, Guzman was determined to give it a try against Michael D’Orazio of St. Francis in the quarters. Trailing 4-3 as the final seconds ticked away, Guzman managed an escape, then got a takedown in overtime for a 6-4 win and a guaranteed medal.
Rock Island coach Joel Stockwell says they would evaluate Guzman’s situation overnight and in the morning, but you could sense he would be shocked if Guzman would be able to continue.
Guzman was the only Rocky wrestler to earn a semifinal berth. His teammates, Manny Limon at 113 and Michael Myers at 126, had lost just before he took to the mat. Both of those will be in today’s wrestlebacks, needing to win two to get a medal on Saturday.
Geneseo's Anthony Montez, at 106 pounds, and Billy Blaser, at 285, will have a long road to the medal rounds after first-day losses in Class 2A State wrestling.
Montez lost a 13-7 decision to Sean Conway of St. Patrick. Blaser, a fourth-place finisher in 2018, lost a 7-3 decision to Hayden Copass of Westville. Both will need to win three matches today and Saturday to get to medal matches.
In 1A, the 132-pound class has the potential to be an all-Quad-Cities area title match.
At opposite ends of the brackets, Mercer County’s Camden Whitenack and Rockridge’s Dallas Krueger both won a pair of first-day matches to reach the 126-pound semifinals. Both are guaranteed a medal and all-state status.
There will be seven from the Quad-Cities area in today’s 1A semifinals, each guaranteed no worse than sixth place.
Joining Whitenack and Krueger are Rockridge's Nolan Throne at 145 pounds, Erie-Prophetstown's Gabe Friedrichsen at 182 pounds, Riverdale’s Bryan Caves at 195 pounds, Fulton’s Eli Pannell at 220 pounds, Orion's Logan Lee at 285 pounds.