PLANO – Coal City’s success at lower weights has been a recurring theme in the past few years, and that may never have been more evident than Saturday.
By the time the first five finals bouts at the Class 1A Plano Wrestling Sectional were complete, the Coalers had four champions. A second-place finish from 170-pounder Riley Kauzlaric gave Coal City an area-high five qualified wrestlers for this week’s state final tournament at the State Farm Center in Champaign.
Sophomore Joey Rivera was not even in the lineup for the Coalers at the 2013 Plano Sectional. He earned their first championship Saturday by defeating Drew Sonnefeldt of Lisle 12-9 in the 106-pound finals. The win completed a 3-0 sectional for Rivera.
“Wrestle my style, and every mistake he made, capitalize off it,” Rivera said of his approach against Sonnefeldt. “I didn’t feel very good [when down 2-0 early] considering I wrestled better against him earlier this season, but I just couldn’t let that get to me and keep wrestling.”
At 113 pounds, Coal City’s Cody Minnick pinned every wrestler he faced during a 3-0 tournament. He was leading Jeff Chan of Lisle 8-2 before getting Chan on his back with just 25 seconds left in regulation.
“I just worked him, I broke him down and just ran it, I guess,” Minnick said. “Just feels pretty good. Makes me pretty happy, all of your hard work starting to pay off.”
Corey Jurzak of Coal City was a 5-0 winner over Marc Rodriguez of Gordon Tech in the 126-pound finals. Jurzak also won two prior bouts at the sectional.
“Mostly ride tough on top and get on bottom’s my main goals,” Jurzak said of his approach against Rodriguez.
The closest finals bout involving a Coal City wrestler came at 132 pounds, where Casey Brown made a second-period escape against Austin Headrick of Wilmington stand up in a 1-0 victory. Brown won his first two sectional bouts by fall.
“I’m tough on top and I’m top on bottom, so I just kept the pace going, mainly,” Brown said. “My practice partners, too, Cody and Corey, they definitely push the pace with me, and then [third-place finisher] Shawn [Wollenweber is] a tough competitor, and me and him have gone back and forth this year.”
Kauzlaric pinned three opponents to earn a shot at top-seeded Kyle Betourne of McNamara in the 170-pound finals. Though Kauzlaric lost by major decision, 14-6, he did manage a third-period takedown.
Two Coalers were one win away from making the third-place bout and advancing to state. At 138 pounds, Jonah Englert went 3-2 but was pinned by eventual fourth-place finisher Shawn Swiderick of Walther Christian in 5:43 to end his run. Alex Medina bounced back from an opening-round loss at 145 pounds to win two straight before he was eliminated with a 6-0 loss to Kendall Gibbs of Bowen.
Coal City 195-pounder Jake Frost won two bouts, but was defeated 3-2 and eliminated by Ryan Berman of Wilmington, who went on to finish third. Bryan Stopka, at 152 pounds, and Brian Harris, at 220, both won their opening bouts for the Coalers before bowing out with two losses.
“Jonah Englert and Alex Medina, who were alternates to get in, were actually in the semifinal wrestlebacks. They were one win away from being state qualifiers,” Coal City coach Mark Masters said. “Jake Frost had a phenomenal tournament. ... He’s improved immensely. I was real happy with that.”