By JARED BELL
Illinois Matmen

Bryce Shelton is busy.

A four-sport athlete last year and a three-sport athlete this year, the Woodstock Marian sophomore is always doing something.

“I just like to be involved in a lot of sports,” Shelton said. “It keeps me busy.”

Busy and successful.

Despite a slow start to this season as he transitioned from football to wrestling, Shelton has taken off over the last few weeks.

“A lot wrestlers are predominantly a one-sport athlete so they don’t miss a beat, but for him it took some time to get his timing and everything back,” said Marian coach David Silva, who said he thought Shelton took it to the next level at the Batavia tournament in mid-January. “He’s worked very hard in the room, and it was no surprise for me he was ready for the regionals.”

Ready is an understatement.

In the most important part of the season, the 138-pound sophomore rose to the occasion as he helped the Hurricanes win a Class 2A regional team title and, in the regional title match, he defeated top-seeded and two-time state place winner Trey Piotrowski of Prairie Ridge to claim a regional championship.

It was a great week in a great season and, for all he did last week, Shelton is this week’s GO EARN IT Wrestler of the Week.

“It was a great tournament,” said Shelton, who said wrestling is his favorite sport. “I went in with a good game plan and just had to take it one match at a time. During the week, I was working hard in the practice room.”

The victory over Piotrowski was revenge after Shelton lost to Piotrowski – who was ranked No. 3 in the GO EARN IT Illinois Matmen 2A 138 rankings – earlier this season.

“We wrestled before,” Shelton said, “so I knew I had to work the center of the mat because when I wrestled him on the edges earlier this season it just didn’t go my way.”

With the victory, Shelton – who wrestled at 120 pounds last season – will receive a first-round bye for the sectional as he looks to qualify for his second state tournament.

“We’re hoping that little bit of success last week gives him the confidence he needs to get down state and be on the podium, which I know is his goal,” Silva said.

Shelton topped seven other finalists to win this week’s Wrestler of the Week award. He received 27 percent of the vote, or 712 total votes.

“I told a few people about (Bryce being a finalist),” said Silva, who nominated Shelton for the award. “We have a Twitter page and I told a few influential people to get the word out there, and it worked. A lot of people campaigned for him and it was cool to see, but Bryce refused to ask people to vote for him. He had the mindset, ‘If people wanted to vote for me then great, but I’m not going to ask for it.’”

It turned out to be a winning formula.

“I was checking every hour,” Silva said. “I hate losing at anything, so I felt like it was a little competition within a competition.”

Shelton still has work to do to accomplish his goals with two more individual tournaments left this season, but he’s on the right path to achieve his goals.

“If I could get on the podium and do well at state, it would just feel great,” Shelton said. “If I get down to state, I want to place as high as I can. No matter what happens, I couldn’t have done any of this without the help of my family, coaches and wrestling partners.”

2018-19 GO EARN IT Wrestlers of the Week:
1/28: Anthony Enlow aiming to cap off season with a state title
1/21: Sincere Bailey turning it up as postseason nears
1/13: Montini’s Peter Christensen scores impressive win at Beat the Streets Brawl
1/6: Colton Drousias claims both individual and team titles at the Cheesehead
12/30: Seeds don’t matter to Montini’s Dylan Burnoski
12/16: Mikey Caliendo knocks off defending state champion
12/9: Kyle Schickel wins state-ranked showdown
12/2: World Champion Matt Ramos chasing elusive state title
11/25: Luke Rasmussen off to a great start