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Seven locals reach medal stand at wrestling finals

CHAMPAIGN — Another wrestling season has concluded for the Morris Redskins, Seneca Fighting Irish and Coal City Coalers, and between the three schools emerged five medalists while Minooka topped the area by having a champion and a fourth-place finisher.

Jake Residori won the Class 3A 170-pound weight class and Corbett Oughton finished fourth at 145 in 3A.

In addition, Kenny Baldridge (113) and Nik Countryman of Morris finishing sixth in Class 2A, both Cody Minnick (106) and Casey Brown (120) were each fifth and Alex Valentine (145) of Seneca was sixth, the later three in Class 1A.

For the senior Valentine, it was a tough way for him to finish his high school career. In the opening round, he injured his shoulder against Jonah Coggeshall of Camp Point Central and it would later prevent him from wrestling his final two scheduled bouts.

After getting by Coggeshall, Valentine beat Joe DeVolder of Orion by a 9-4 decision. Valentine then lost to Mark McDonnell of Morrison by fall in 5:37 to get sent to the wrestlebacks. There, Valentine started the match against Evan Weaver but soon defaulted. He also then defaulted the fifth place bout to Aaron Bonnell of Byron.

It is the second year in a row that Valentine has medaled. He ends the season with a 30-5 record.

"We did have a place winner, which in the history of our program hasn't happened a lot," Seneca coach Todd Yegge said. "Alex placed sixth and he's now a two-time state place winner. There's only been one other Seneca athlete to do that."

Both Minnick and Brown were each making their first appearances at state. Minnick is a freshman who finishes the season 38-7 and Brown a sophomore who ends with a 35-8 mark.

Minnick began with a 9-1 decision over Brandon McCullough of Erie and then beat Chris Worthey of Benton by an 11-1 major decision. Minnick then lost to Brandon Briggs of Poplar Grove 8-4 to get dropped to the wrestlebacks.

In the wrestlebacks, Minnick lost to  Anthony Luis of Harvard 3-1 in overtime before rebounding in the fifth-place bout by beating Jesse Wood of Sandwich 11-4.

"For the most part, I achieved my goals," Minnick said. "I came in wanting to place, then again, I wanted top three or better."

Brown opened with a win by fall in 4:40 over Payton Stifle of Robinson before beating Jeff Casey of Savanna by a 14-4 major decision. Brown was then defeated by Josh Alber of Dakota by technical fall (16-1) in 4:14. In the semifinal wrestlebacks, Brown lost to Ryan Kilroy of Lisle 8-7 before bouncing back to knock off Austin Matlock of LeRoy by a 14-3 major decision.

"It's not quite what we had hoped for. It was one of those situations where we had some tough semifinal matches," Coal City coach Mark Masters said. "The Minnick kid wrestled really well ... Casey ran into a train-wreck of a wrestler in the semifinals in Alber ... but after that they gathered their thoughts and when they came back you saw two dominating performances in the fifth place match."

Valentine was one of four Fighting Irish wrestlers at the event while Coal City was also represented by one other. Minooka had five at state with a sixth, Bobby Zabel, out of the lineup for a violation of team rules.

For Seneca; at 126, freshman Sage Freise (38-8) lost to Zach Martin of Bismarck-Henning by fall in 4:28; at 152 sophomore Tommy Lovett (27-16) lost to Luke Dunn of Monticello by fall in 3:53 and at 195, junior Brandon Webb (30-14) lost to Matt McDonnell of Morrison by a technical fall in 3:41 (18-2). However, unlike Freise and Lovett, Webb got the chance to wrestle back when McDonnell made it to the semifinals. In the wrestlebacks, Webb lost to Kenny Lindsey of St. Joseph-Ogden by a 12-3 major decision.

"I'm really proud of the guys on the team," Yegge said. "We came down with a lot of youth and they came down to learn and to build and move on from it. Learning at a place gives them a lot of experience for the future."

Coal City junior Ryan Naples also was at the event. He lost by fall to Dan Stott of Harvard in :40 but then wrestled back when Stott got to the semifinals. In the wrestlebacks, Naple lost to Sam Wampler of Mt. Carmel to finish the season with a 14-14 record.

For Minooka, sophomore K.J. Minor at 106, senior Jake DeKlerk at 138 and senior Mitch Morris at 182 also were at the event.

"It's exciting when on Saturday you still have four guys who are still wrestling," Minooka coach Paige Schoolman said. "I think our kids wrestled tough. K.J. Minor wrestled extremely well. He took third in our conference (SPC) and was pretty close to placing in the state tournament. Mitch Morris was a match away from placing and Jake DeKlerk lost 1-0 in the first match of the tournament to a kid who placed. And obviously, Residori and Corbett have just wrestled really tough and they've been really tough all week."

Oughton lost the third-place bout to Colin Holler of Sandburg 7-2. In fact he also lost his other bout to Holler, this in the top bracket by a 6-2 count. Otherwise, Oughton opened with a win over Tyler DeMoss of Hononegah 6-2 and in the wrestlebacks beat Nate Pealstrom of West Aurora (injury default), Jeremy Bloom of Deerfield (7-2) and Jordan Rathje of Buffalo Grove (4-0).

Oughton is now 41-5 on the season.

Minor opened the tournament by losing to Kris Williams of Harvey Thornton by fall in 1:21, but he came back to beat Richard Browne of Glenbard North 3-1 in the wrestlebacks. He then was eliminated by Bobby Alexander of Conant, 19-12.

Minor is now 37-14.

DeKlerk (34-14) lost to Greg Jacquez of West Aurora 1-0 and in the wrestlebacks was defeated by Mitch Cook of Sandburg by a 10-1 major decision.

Morris (39-9) opened by defeating Dan Fierro of Glenbard North 6-5 but then lost to Sammy Brooks of Oak Park-River Forest by a technical fall (16-1) in 4:25. In the wrestlebacks, Morris beat Joey Welsh of Hononegah 8-4 before bowing out after losing to Joshua Symbal of Huntley, 9-6.

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