LASALLE – Although Morris wrestling coach Jon Lanning had hoped for six sectional qualifiers, there was plenty to like with the four who advanced.
Morris 132-pounder Kenny Baldridge and 160-pounder Trevor Allbert won championships at Saturday’s Class 2A LaSalle-Peru Regional. Dalton Ness made the 220-pound finals, where he gave Cyrano Rayfield of Ottawa a battle before losing 6-3, and Andrew Faught pinned Lincoln-Way West’s Steve Lotz in the third-place bout at 285 pounds to give Morris a fourth qualifier.
Baldridge improved his record to 34-0 by winning both of his regional bouts, though he was in a worse position in the finals against LaSalle-Peru’s Jacob Weaver than he has been in all season. Down 3-0 at one point in the second period, Baldridge got within a point of the lead with a pair of escapes and took down Weaver with 48 seconds left in regulation for a 4-3 victory.
“I just stay positive and know I’m gonna score and know I gotta get that escape before the buzzer went off [in the second period],” Baldridge said. “He gets tired in the third, so I waited and waited, and finally after beating on him in the third, I got the takedown, and I knew I had to ride him from there.”
Allbert also defeated an opponent from L-P in the final. He was in control for the entire bout against Mike Milasuski, winning a 10-3 decision.
It completed a 3-0 day for Allbert, who won a 17-4 major decision over Ryan Bresnahan of Streator and an 8-1 decision over Gabe Montalvo of Lincoln-Way West.
“It feels pretty good, but now I just gotta work toward being a sectional placer,” Allbert said. “There’s some things I need to work on, but overall I think I wrestled pretty well. Taking first, I think that’s amazing.”
Ness pinned his first two opponents – Ashton Mays of Pontiac in 3:52, and Dale Schmidt of Lincoln-Way West in 1:33. Against Rayfield, a second-period near-fall gave Ness a 3-2 lead, but Rayfield went back ahead with a reversal and added to his lead with a third-period takedown.
Every bout Faught wrestled in ended in a pin. He won over Tashaun Hardy of Crete-Monee in 34 seconds, lost to L-P’s Jon Hewitt in 2:32, defeated Max Aicher of Manteno in 1:09 and needed 5:09 to finish off Lotz.
Morris had near-misses at the two lowest weights. At 106 pounds, Tony Menozi was pinned in 1:37 by Jakob Weiss of Ottawa in the third-place bout, ending a 2-2 day. At 113 pounds, Andrew Smith lost a 13-1 major decision to Micah Krueger of Ottawa, ending a 1-2 day.
Ryan Kowalczyk went 2-2 at 170 pounds for Morris, which also had Dominic Byerly go 1-2 at 126, Merrick Hairapetian go 1-2 at 145, Ethan Elleson go 0-2 at 120, AJ Vota go 0-2 at 138 and Emmet Chouinard 0-2 at 152.
“Emmet Chouinard and AJ Vota ran into two tough classes,” Lanning said. “Both those guys were close to 20-match winners.”