CHAMPAIGN — Both Morris wrestlers Nik Countryman and Kenny Baldridge took a step up at the IHSA Class 2A Tournament on Saturday. One year removed from each gaining All-State status while finishing sixth at the same event, the Redksins duo each wound up fourth this time around.
"I'm very proud of both of them. They both worked very, very hard. Anytime you get down on this floor, anything can happen," Morris coach Jon Lanning said. "Both of them wrestled to the best of their abilities in every one of their matches. They did a great job. We won some close ones and we lost some close ones, but that's the way it goes down here.
"Obviously their goal this year was to get into the state finals. They didn't quite make it there but it was very, very close."
In Class 3A, senior Corbett Oughton also finished fourth and all are two-time state placers. Baldridge, a junior, and Countryman, a senior are the third and fourth multiple individual medal winners in Morris Community High School history behind Seth Bonic and John Dergo (three time) and Oughton is the sixth in Minooka history behind Brian Bokoski, Larry Grote, Mark Mitchell (three time), Jake Residori and Russ Weil.
"There's not too many guys who have medaled more than once. Nik ended up in the top ten wins in school history, and maybe even the top five," Lanning said. "I couldn't be prouder of Nik. He's worked hard and through a number of injuries. He really listened to everything we told him to do. I know coach (Matt) Sidel and I couldn't be prouder of that young man.
"Kenny beat a lot of good kids along the way. He beat one of the kids that is in the finals tonight. Nik's goal from the beginning was to make the podium and to get to stand on it and he did. It's a great way for him to finish his senior year."
Morris — Kenny Baldridge — 120
Baldridge finishes the season with a 39-3 record.
In the opener, Baldridge defeated Jake Morgan of Mundelein by a 5-1 decision and then beat Leslie Williams of Cahokia by fall in 3:28. In the semifinals, he lost to Vince Turk by a 3-1 count.
In the wrestlebacks, Baldridge beat Grant Sutton of Richmond-Burton 1-0 before losing to Williams 3-1 for third place.
"I wish I had done better, but I got fourth and I can work from there. Hopefully, I'll do better next year. I want another chance to win it," Baldridge said. "I need to work on my defense a little bit more and setting up shots to win the big matches. It is what it is, but I'd have rather been in the finals."
Morris — Nik Countryman - 182
Countryman finishes the season 37-8 after going 4-2 at State.
He opened with a win by fall in :57 over Aenas White of Nazareth before losing to Jake Turk of Montini by fall in 5:16.
In the wrestlebacks, Countryman beat Conner Schmidt of Lincoln by fall in 3:58 and Armond Hollins of Freeport 4-0. Countryman then beat Bobby Schillinger of Yorkville 3-2 in the semifinal wrestlebacks before losing to Chris Giatra of Lemont 7-4.
"I feel proud that I was able to get fourth in the State. I feel all right. My goal was to get into that match," Countryman said. "I ended up beating a big rival (Schillinger) of mine to get there. In the last couple of seconds, I threw him and got two. That ends our matches together. Last year I beat him three times and this year beat me three times. Our seventh match was to get into the third and fourth place match.
"I felt I wrestled very well," he added of his overall performance. "I was very aggressive throughout the whole state tournament. I thought I looked good, it was just that some things didn't go our way."
Minooka at 3A
In addition to Corbett, freshman Carson Oughton also medaled at state by getting sixth.
"I think they both wrestled really well. Carson had a real solid tournament for a freshman. He definitely upset a few kids as far as who people expected to win in certain matches. He beat a returning All-State kid in the quarterfinal wrestlbacks, he beat a returning place-winner," Minooka coach Jeff Charlebois said. "I was real happy with everything he did with the exception of the medal match. In that bout he wrestled like a freshman. He made a few mental mistakes. He did the kind of things that he was doing earlier in the year, that you hadn't see this tournament. I don't know if it was the weight of the situation or what it was.
"Last week Corbett saw Langenderfer and this week he sees Murphy in the semis. He had a great bracket to wrestle through. He wrestled real well and he wrestled smart. The Cook kid is a heck of a kid out of Sandburg. That was a real nice win for him against a returning place winner. He got himself in the wrestlebacks and he sees a kid he wrestled last week. Realistically Corbett probably wrestled tight in that situation. He probably needed to wrestle Higgins more open like he did in the sectional situation. Overall, for a kid who missed a month and a half with a dislocated elbow, for him to be that ready and come back and finish fourth at the State wrestling tournament, there's not a bad thing to say about it."
Minooka — Corbett Oughton — 152
Oughton finishes the individual season at 13-5 after going 3-2 at the event.
He opened with a win by tech fall (15-0) over Zach Benkovich of Rockton Hononegah and he then beat Mitch Cook of Sandburg 4-3. In the semifinals, Oughton lost to Brian Murphy by an 11-2 score.
In the wrestlebacks, Oughton beat A.J. Villareal of Lyons 8-2 before losing to Nate Higgins of Belleville West by a 2-1 count for fourth place.
"The goal, as always, was to win the tournament, but placing is always nice. At the beginning of the season when I got hurt, I didn't know how long I'd be out or even if I'd make it down here. So its nice to get back down here and to get All-State honors," Oughton said. "Technically, I think I had a pretty good weekend. I let my last match get away from me. I'd really like to have that one back. Other than that, I think I wrestled pretty good."
"It's been awesome down here. Carson placing as a freshman is awesome. He's got three more years ahead of him. He'll probably surpass my accolades and everything, and that's going to be fun to watch. I know I'll be back here every year, watching him and cheering him on."
Minooka — Carson Oughton — 145
Carson finishes up the individual season at 41-11 by going 3-3.
He opened with a 3-2 win over Jakada Hull of Marist before losing to Wistin Weber of Stevenson 9-1.
In the wrestlebacks, Carson beat Luke Gruszka of Schaumburg by fall in 5:04, beat Coord Wiseman of Barrington 3-2, lost to Austin Schoen of Roselle 8-4 and lost to Justin Maslow of Darien 3-1.
"Not bad. I wish I could have done a little better in my last match, but for a freshman wrestling in the 145-pound class, I'm not going to complain about that," Carson said. "I've set the bar very high. There will be pressure but it depends on how you look at it. I look at is as a challenge and the chance to shock some people. I don't think many people were expecting much out of me coming into this tournament, but I did what I could and some good things happened."