After a long winter season of competing as a wrestler, the final results are usually indicative of the work that gets put in throughout. Nobody knows this more than Coal City 80-pound wrestler Alex Friddle as the seventh grader won his second consecutive IESA state title this season.
Friddle heads up a grade school class, that also includes Minooka 215-pound eight grade state champion Derek Wentworth, who had superb finishes to the winter season at the Convocational Center held on the campus at Northern Illinois University.
Friddle was one of three wrestlers for the Warriors who placed this year with Danny Norton finishing second and Ryan Wasielweski third.
"Alex started this year's tournament with a repeat in mind," Coal City coach Branden Petersen said.
As mentioned, Friddle was also a 2013 state champion, but it didn't get any easier for him this time around. Facing another undefeated wrestler in the finals in Matthew Templeton, Friddle never led the entire match before pulling off a reverse with three seconds left to win the match 2-1.
"Templeton had the answer for everything Friddle threw at him," Peterson said. "Until he scored the reversal to seal his second championship."
Friddle, who ended the season at 33-0, opened up at state with a 15-1 win over Marlowe's Sam Spencer. In the quarterfinals he defeated Ryan Gardner of Bloomington, 4-1, and in the semifinals, he beat Josh Schrank of Rockford Lutheran, 7-2.
"Alex worked extremely hard all season long. He is a very well-rounded kid, who takes pride in everything he does," Petersen said. "He is a captain of our team and a leader in the classroom. He sets his mind to something and accomplishes his goals. In three trips to state, Alex has only lost one time, and that was to Joey Rivera (an IHSA state qualifier in 2013) from Coal City, when he was in fifth grade."
Norton got all the way to the finals where he lost to Martell Boone of Cahokia, 6-2. Previous to that, he defeated Angel Solis of Clinton Rosette, 9-1, knocked off Jonathon McCullough of Bloomington, 5-0 and in the semifinals, bested Tyler Padilla of Libertyville Highland, 7-2.
"Danny had a great middle school career with 119 wins," Petersen said. "He finished his impressive eighth grade season with a 31-1 record."
Wasielewski (39-5) was third just one year, after finishing fifth for the Warriors. He got a first-round win over Nolan Throne of Taylor Ridge, 13-0, before losing to Cam Wodocheck of O'Fallon, 11-2. In the wrestle backs he defeated Azael Martinez of Romeoville Lukancic (9-2) and Harley Justus of Leroy (12-1) before beating Joey Borrelli of Peotone (7-2). For third place, Wasielewski beat Kage Leab of Canton, 5-0.
"Losing early at state is a difficult thing to overcome," Peterson pointed out. "The coaches are extremely proud of the way Ryan finished the state tournament."
Minooka's Wentworth also captured a state title, winning the championship over Valentino Mendoza of Johnsburg by fall in 1:37. He had previously defeated Toby Hernandez of Beardstown by fall in 3:28, Cole Bahan of Bloomington, 2-1, and Tyler Ward of Lake in the Hills by fall in 1:59.
Wentworth's teammate at 135 pounds, Jared Moreno, was second. He lost the title to Garrett Passmore of Erie by fall in 1:57. Up until that point he had defeated Jacobe Schmerbach of Clinton Rosette, 3-1, Steele Gistafson of Sherrard, 7-2 and Luke Schobe of Clinton, 3-0.
Nick Daniel of Minooka was fourth at the 90-pound class. He lost his last match to Quincy Bland of Glendale Heights Glenside, 9-2. Daniel started the tournament with an 8-3 win over Matt Joyce of Prospect Heights MacArthur and Cam Lee of Litchfield, 4-2, before beating Connor Siddons of Lake in the Hills Marlowe by fall in 1:43. In the semifinals he lost to Spencer Welter of Fox Lake Stanton, 7-4.
Channahon's Jerad Price at 185 pounds was second. He lost the championship to Garrett Branson of Mattoon by fall in 2:50. Before that, he had defeated Tommy Pickett of Quincy, 12-2, in the semifinals, Collin Schmidt of Taylor Ridge Rockridge, 3-1 and Quintin Janney of Island lake Matthews by fall in 17 seconds.
Rounding out the area's medalists was Shabbona's Conner Shaw. He finished fifth with a 41-3 record after defeating Peyton Berry of Yorkville, 5-1, for fifth place. Shaw opened the tournament by defeating Jack Henry of Bloomington, 4-3, but was then sent to the wrestlebacks when he lost to Milo Johnson of DeKalb Huntley, 5-3. Shaw opened the wrestlebacks by beating R.J. Vazquez of Antioch, 8-2 and Kyle Quinn of New Lenox Liberty before Johnson walked over him to wrestle for third because of previous victory.
"I am truly proud of Conner and how he conducted himself at the state tournament," Morris coach Matt Mazgay said. "Even when faced with adversity, he remained calm and focused on his goal. That is the type of wrestler he is. Conner exemplified hard work, focus, and sportsmanship all year."
Nick Gantt of Troy out of Shorewood was sixth.