CHAMPAIGN — The heaviest of weights of the Class 1A state finalists from the Quad-Cities area became the gold standard of wrestling.
Logan Lee, a senior from Orion wrestling at 285 pounds, and Eli Pannell, a senior from Fulton at 220, went back-to-back with titles near the end of the tournament night on Saturday.
Lee capped a 21-1 season that started late because of a football-season spleen injury by scoring two points in the final three seconds for a 7-5 decision over Tyler Elsbury of Byron.
Lee, a two-time champ, gives up weight to every wrestler he faces, but there is never any giving up when he puts on a singlet.
“I know I can toe to toe with most people with strength,” he noted.
With Lee up 4-3 in the third period, the referee gave Elsbury two points at :54 even though Lee still had a hold of his leg. Orion’s coaches questioned the points to no avail. That, though, just made Lee tougher. He got an escape at :48, and with the score tied at 5, he pulled off the takedown with :03 showing.
With a pin in 5:04 over Beardstown’s Chad Grimm, the gold was the icing on a 39-0 season for Pannell in which he had four pins in four state matches.
Pannell’s title comes a year after he placed sixth at 195 pounds. His pin came amid a flurry of fast-paced action in the circle.
“We were battling back and forth,” the Steamer star said. “He’s a tough opponent. I think I wore him out. There was a scramble and I capitalized on it” with the pin.
The Q-C area also added a pair of silvers among the 12 medals harvested by locals. Nolan Throne, a junior from Rockridge, lost a 3-0 decision to Belleville Althoff’s Maxwell Kristoff, and Riverdale sophomore Bryan Caves fell to undefeated two-time champion Brandon Hoselton (49-0) of Prairie Central via a pin.
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The area also picked up a pair of third places, including one by Alleman sophomore Jack Patting.
A fourth-place finisher a year ago, Patting gave himself a couple of hours to feel sorry for himself after Thursday’s opening-round loss in the Class 2A 145-pound weight class Thursday at the State Farm Center.
Then he buckled up and knuckled down for what proved to be the toughest of roads to the podium.
“Five wins in a row! That’s not easy to do!” Alleman coach James Ealy exclaimed after Patting won the third-place match on Saturday afternoon, a 2-1 tie-breaker decision over Jason Hermann of Lena-Winslow.
Patting realized such a towering task shortly after his short-lived pity party for one.
“My goal was to win state, to get the finals,” said the Pioneer two-time medalist in his first two years of high school. “I was feeling pretty sorry for myself after that loss. I knew there would be a lot of pressure to get back to where I finished last year, and I’m proud that I did that.”
Patting (43-7) joined Rock Island’s Victor Guzman (2A, 132) as Quad-Cities wrestlers capturing third-place medals.
There also were two fourth-place medal winners – Erie-Prophetstown’s Gabe Friedrichsen (1A, 182) and Geneseo’s Billy Blasér (2A, 285). On Saturday, Friedrichsen (40-3) won by a technical fall, and then lost a majorly wild major decision, 23-13, to Justin Peake of Johnsburg. Blaser (40-7) got a pin, but then lost a tough one, 3-2, for the bronze.
There are two Q-C wrestlers coming home with fifth-place medals and another pair with sixth-place medals.
Taking fifth were Moline sophomore Charlie Farmer, at 106 in 3A, and Rockridge junior Dallas Krueger, at 132 in 1A.