Sheley, Warner win Geneseo titles
BY SHANNON HEATON
GENESEO -- The younger one felt the relief; conversely, the elder statesman experienced the joy.
For Geneseo sophomore Adam Sheley, it was relief after dealing with the expectations of repeating as a Geneseo Bi-State Invitational champion. At the same time, for senior Ryan Warner, winning a title for the first time was all about the newness of winning his favorite tournament.
Their wins at 112 and 140 pounds, respectively, plus a fourth from Lucas Cropp at 145 and a fifth from heavyweight Chris Brooks, helped the Maple Leafs finish seventh with 98.5 points at the 16-team, two-day tournament.
"We had a lot of younger guys win matches for us this weekend, which helped score points for us," said Leafs coach Jon Murray. "We didn't place as high as (last year), but we got nice wins."
Sheley (29-1) had a four-pack of great wins, bagging two more on Saturday in dominating fashion. In the semifinals, he needed five minutes and 22 seconds to win by technical fall (15-plus points) against UT's Raul Jimenez, and a lot less time than that in the finals against Cedar Rapids Kennedy's Nick Everhart, pinning him with his first takedown move in 56 seconds.
"I didn't want to settle for anything less than first," said Sheley. "I had a tough final match, at least I thought it would be. But everything just fell into place. It's a relief, it's very gratifying. I'm glad I won."
Warner's been trying for four years to win a championship, but never could string together the wins before. He struggled a bit in the semifinals, beating Providence's Jake Beechy 6-5, but showed a bit more offensive firepower in the title match, dominating early in a 6-3 decision over Granite City's Tyler Carney.
"It's great to finally get it done. I've been watching this one since fifth grade, sneaking out of school to watch it, and to finally win it, it's incredible," said Warner (16-1). "It's not really a relief, because this is a fun tournament. People talk about it all the time, talked about making the finals. But once I got there, I just wrestled my matches."
Cropp added a fourth at 145 and Brooks took fifth at 285 after having to fight his way through the consolation rounds. Both were 1-2 on the day.
"I've just got to watch the tape and improve on my mistakes," said Cropp of being pinned twice in the first period. "(Wrestling in the consolation brackets) is so much harder because you know you've got two more matches upcoming, where if you make finals, it's just one and you get time to rest."
Like Geneseo, United Township (ninth, 79.5 points) had five placewinners, led by its trio of upper-weight wrestlers -- Robert Cooney (189), Christopher Owens (215) and C.J. Mason (285) -- who all finished fourth.
Cooney had a tough day, getting pinned in the first period and later losing by major decision to a pair of future Big 10 wrestlers, St. Rita's Jerome Ward (verbal commitment to Illinois) and North Scott's Brodie Ambrose (verbal to Iowa).
"It's always hard to lose, but you learn a lot," said Cooney of his fourth-place finish. "I need to get used to wrestling against faster people on the mat. Today, I saw two of them, so I've got to get used to it."
Owens had to fight his way through the consolation brackets to take fourth.
"It's hard," Owens said of trying to balance not knowing whether he'd earn a medal with being excited about still being alive to wrestle. "You spend time thinking about which moves you'll go out and try when you wrestle. I still get next year to hopefully come back and take first."
Mason, too, had to fight his way through the wrestlebacks to earn a medal. This tournament was tougher than his previous three, all of which he won.
"It shows me that I'm not invincible, that there are a lot of things I need to work on," said Mason. "I also need to pick up on my strength. All of this is just going to better prepare me for regionals."
The trio of fourth-placers were augmented by seniors Raul Jimenez (112) and Nick Meyers (152), both of whom placed sixth in their respective weight classes.
Moline had just one medalist when the dust cleared, as senior Felipe Villagomez (130) finished fifth.
"Things didn't go as well as I had hoped, but it feels good to place," said Villagomez. "It's a shame I cannot be back, but it's a good stepping stone towards regionals."
St. Rita won its second consecutive title and third in the last four years behind a solid Saturday morning session, outpointing Minooka 205-192.5, with Providence third at 179.5 and Iowa City West, the tournament's first-day leader, fourth with 172.
"We're trying to get the kids more fired up for these Saturday morning sessions," said St. Rita coach Dan Carroll. "At Dvorak (last month), we didn't wrestle as well as we could have."