CHAMPAIGN — The Quad-Cities area will have four shots at Class 1A state wrestling championships, and will be going to battle with four of its very best.
Two of those have spotless records. Riverdale sophomore Bryan Caves will take a 37-0 record to the 195-pound finals. Fulton’s Eli Pannell heads to the 220-pound championship with a 38-0 mark.
And the other two will be seeking gold with just one blemish. Tonight will be capped with Orion’s Logan Lee making the most amazing recovery from a third-degree lacerated spleen suffered during the football season to having a shot at a wrestling title. With just 12 matches heading into regionals, he now is 20-1. He won his semifinal with a 52-second pin.
There, too, is Nolan Throne, Rockridge’s stellar junior at 145 pounds. He hopes to put a first-place wrap on what now stands at a 39-1 record.
There were thank yous all around as they looked at how they got there and hope to go one better.
“I’m very blessed to have this opportunity,” said Lee, a senior who is heading to the University of Iowa on a football scholarship. “I’m just trying to use the gifts that God gave me to the best of my ability.
“I’m looking forward to this opportunity. My coaches and practice partners have done an unbelievable job in preparing me for this level.”
Lee will face Byron junior Tyler Elsbury (40-3) for the 285 title.
Something will have to give when Pannell goes against Beardstown’s Chad Grimm, who is 42-2. Both are seniors and both went pin-pin-pin to get to the 220 championship.
Throne said his motivation came from a teammate who lost a heartbreaker minutes before he battled in his 145-pound semifinal.
The Rockets junior won after his close friend, classmate and wrestling room partner Dallas Krueger lost a hard-to-take, 3-2 decision to Althoff’s Anthony Federico. At one point in the match, Krueger was awarded two takedown points as the wrestlers were going off the mat, however those were taken away. Even after a coaches’ conference, the points were not re-awarded.
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Throne will face 44-4 Maxwell Kristoff of Althoff for the title.
Also dropping to a medal-round wrestleback was Erie-Prophetstown’s Gabe Friedrichsen. Friedrichsen (38-3) fell to 30-3 Clinton top seed Micah Downs in a 182-pound semifinal. Downs won with a 12-5 decision.
Just four of 10 Quad-Cities area wrestlers in Class A survived first- and second-round wrestlebacks on Friday, putting each within a win of earning a state medal, no worse than sixth: Jack Patting of Alleman at 145 pounds, Steven Speaker II of Mercer County at 170 pounds, Colton Linke of Morrison at 120 pounds and Riley Wilkens of Morrison at 220 pounds.
Rocky's Myers, Geneseo's Blaser battle back: Rock Island’s Michael Myers and Geneseo’s Billy Blaser, both seniors, were bummed by first-day state tournament wrestling losses on Thursday. Instead of caving to the IHSA Class 2A wrestleback pressure on Friday, though, they thrived.
Now both stand just one victory from receiving a state medal.
Myers, a 126-pounder who lost his quarterfinal match on the first day in a tiebreaker, came back on Friday to masterfully pull off a 7-3 decision over Delano Walker of Chicago St. Patrick.
Blaser, who finished fourth in the state at 285 pounds a year ago, is trying to conquer a different path to the podium in his final year. After losing his first state match 7-3, he bounced back on Friday to win twice.
More intriguing in 2A, though, came in a semifinal loss. Coaches in the RI camp thought Victor Guzman, at 132 pounds, would have to injury default his way to a sixth-place medal after winning his quarterfinal with a badly injured left elbow. Not only did Guzman return to wrestle in the semifinals, in the rematch of a loss from earlier this season to 48-0 Alex Friddle of Coal City, but he wound up going the distance in a 9-0 major-decision setback.
Moline's Farmer falls in semis: Moline sophomore Charlie Farmer topped DeKalb's Ben Aranda in the 106-pound quarterfinals to avenge his only loss of the season to that point but fell to top-seeded Aurora Marmion's Diego Sotelo in the semifinals in a 7-3 decision.
Farmer was Moline’s only quarterfinal winner among four. Isaac Martinez (132), DJ Parker (170) and Cobie Underwood (285) each lost decisions to be wrestleback-bound, and then lost their first match there to end their seasons.