ORION — It may have taken 34 years, but in the 35th annual Bob Mitton Invitational, the Orion Chargers are turning winning their own tournament into a habit.
Powered by championships from Logan Lee (in overtime at 220 pounds) and brothers, Noah Schnerre (120 and James Schnerre (145), Orion easily defended its crown Saturday afternoon.
Orion finished with 205 points, 31 ahead of second-place Clinton, Illinois. Alleman took third with 160 followed by Fulton (118) in the 18-team field.
It could not have ended any better for the Chargers with Lee’s bout being the final one in the championship bracket.
Lee, the defending state champion at 220, got a penalty point to tie it up 5-5 late in the final period. He quickly scored a takedown in overtime to end it with the crowd at the Orion gym roaring its approval.
“That’s great,” Orion coach Dan Diamond said. “Excitement for the kids, and especially here in front of the home crowd. The kids have been working very hard. We ended up having nine placers, three champions, five finalists so it just shows we are a very good wrestling program.”
The victory by Lee over Clinton’s Kyle Hammer avenged a loss Lee suffered to Hammer at The Pit tourney in Princeton a year ago.
Lee was awarded penalty point late in the third period to set up the win.
“That helped quite a bit,” Lee admitted. “We were both in kind of a scramble, and he knew he would rather lock his hands than give up the two. I think I would have gotten two (for a takedown) if he had not locked his hands.”
It felt even better with Orion repeating as team champs.
“It’s incredible being able to take this two years in a row,” Lee said. “It’s a really competitive tournament.”
The Schnerre brothers certainly helped.
James Schnerre won the invite title again, this time with a major 12-3 decision at 145.
“I would like to say I was in control,” James said. “But I just relaxed and when he got that first takedown, I just knew I had to dig deeper and work harder. I wasn’t myself at the start.”
His freshman brother, Noah, who wrestled a few bouts later at 120, was all smiles after winning 7-2.
“I was just hoping to place,” said Noah, who agreed his quickness was the edge. “It’s been my thing. I’ve been going quick, working shots, just doing whatever I can to take ‘em down.
“It’s great to win the tournament and also win it as a team.”
Rockridge may have finished eighth with 89.5 points but the Rockets also took home three individual titles with Dallas Krueger (126), Nolan Throne (138) and Collin Schmidt (195). Schmidt prevailed 3-1 in overtime over Fulton’s Eli Pannell.
“That was a good match to have,” said Schmidt (33-2) who took second here a year ago. “It’s a lot of satisfaction coming in here and getting a win. It really puts me on the right path the rest of the year.”
Throne (33-4) beat Orion’s Mason Loete for the second time this season.
“It’s something special because it’s a bunch of teams from our regional,” Throne said of winning his first Mitton title. "We like to have a fun at the Orion tournament since we are rivals.”
Krueger (33-2) dominated early as was his plan, then watched as Evan Myers of Camp Point Central gave him a greater match than the 8-1 final indicated.
“I wasn’t really fearful,” Krueger said.
Fulton brought home championships from the Fleetwood twins, Tyler in a 4-2 thriller over top ranked Stone Engle of Mercer County at 132, and Taylor with a 3-2 overtime win at 285.
Tyler lost to Engle 5-3 earlier this season.
“He’s a tough kid,” Tyler Fleetwood said. “He keeps pressure. So you have to match that. He’s the road block for me to win my (third straight) state title, so I have to get through that.”
Riverdale freshman Bryan Caves won a come-from-behind battle, pinning Alleman senior John West with eight seconds left. He credited his coaches with the game plan to wear West out in the third period.
Alleman’s lone champion was a freshman, too. Billy Taylor pinned his foe with 39 seconds left in the match. All of Taylor’s wins were pins at the tourney.
“This is pretty big. I’ve had a pretty exciting year so far,” said Taylor (33-2).
Kewanee’s Lewis Robinson, as expected, also picked up a title at 152.