BLOOMINGTON – Coal City's wrestling team definitely turned in a very good showing in its initial appearance in the Class 2A Dual Team State Championships.
A three-time trophy winner in Class 1A from 2015 to 2018 and a state runner-up in 2016, coach Mark Masters' Coalers won their first two dual meets in Saturday's tournament, which was held at the Grossinger Motors Arena.
But three-time defending champion Washington wasn't quite ready to give up its domination of the state's middle division in recent years. It won seven of the first nine matches to help it build up a 35-12 advantage and went on to capture a 45-21 victory.
"Washington had a lot of firepower and we couldn't match it," Masters said. "The last time we wrestled them we won six, so we just had to find a way to sneak out a few more. They're solid up and down the lineup and I have a lot of respect for those guys and coach [Nick] Miller does a wonderful job over there. Our guys and beat a very good Marian Central Catholic team. We were led by our senior class and those guys did a phenomenal job all year long."
In the finals against the Panthers (22-10), Coal City (38-4) had Evan Rivera (106) and Alex Friddle (132) won by falls, while Ryan Wasielewski (152) pulled out an 8-7 win, David Papach (170) won 11-4 and Daniel Jezik (182) picked up a 9-2 victory.
In a 30-29 semifinal victory over Marian Central Catholic, Trent Akre (120), Friddle and Wasielewski won by fall, Jezik got a major decision and Wills Payton (220), Connor Huston (126) and Brandon Strnad (145) all won decisions. The Coalers captured a 45-20 victory over Niles Notre Dame in the quarterfinals.
Lockport returned to the state finals following a one-year absence, but was unable to secure its fourth Class 3A trophy in five seasons after falling, 34-30, to Oak Park-River Forest. The Huskies (26-4), who made their fifth title appearance in six years and took second place to Montini, won the initial four matches to grab a 20-0 advantage.
Lockport (17-6) got its first win when Tyler Bentley (106) prevailed, 5-3, and Kaleb Thompson (113) recorded a fall in 1:39. OPRF's Jacob Rundell followed with a 4-0 win over Matt Ramos (120), who won this year's state title in that weight class.
Anthony Molton (126) followed with a 7-2 win before the Huskies got a 5-3 win from Joshua Ogunsanya over Mike Kaminski (132). OPRF built a 34-12 lead before Lockport got forfeit wins from Baylor Fernandes (152), Matt Mahalik (160) and Malik Daghash (170).
"I felt all right with the matchup," Porters coach Josh Oster said. "That dual could have broke a lot of ways, and it doesn't really look like from how it started. But they just wrestled better than us. I was okay with how we wrestled since we went out and competed and we lost. The end is always tough, whether it's ending on top or not on top."
In another Class 2A quarterfinal meet, Lemont (24-8) put up a good fight against Washington and was still alive heading into the final match before dropping a 40-31 decision.
After Washington got pins in the first two matches, Lemont won the next three matches as Apollo Gothard (220) received a forfeit at 220, Muhamad Jarad (285) won a 4-2 decision and Evan Schiiffman followed with a 17-3 win.
The Indians' deficit increased following two pins and a forfeit. But Lemont won four in a row as Drew Nash (132) won, 6-1, Kyle Schickel (138) got a fall in 2:38, Grant LaDuke (145) was 9-4 winner and Kyle Zator (152) got a pin in 2:35 to give it a 31-30 lead. But the Panthers responded with a major decision and a fall.
"We put up a good fight, but that's not why we came down here, we came here to win," Indians coach John St. Clair said. "We knew that they had more moves that they could make with their lineup and I thought they did a good job. The dual was a nine-point difference, which is only one match. I asked our kids to fight and scrap and they did that."
In Class 1A, Peotone (15-9) fell behind 20-0 after four matches against defending champion Aurora Christian (23-8). The Blue Devils, making their first state trip since 2014, received forfeits from Gary Hedberg (285), Kevin Hogan (113) and Ethan Walton (120) to close to within 26-18 before the Eagles won four of the final six matches.
Noah Villareal (132) was a 14-5 winner over Paul Keane before Alan Sunday (138) won by forfeit and TJ Chenoweth (145) got a fall in 2:42.