Ball Upset Highlights Opening Day of Wrestling

By ROB SHERRILL
Illinois Matmen

Everybody hit the mats for the first time Thursday in the first round of the remodeled State Farm Center in Champaign.

Oak Park-River Forest went a perfect 11-for-11 to lead 3A teams. The Huskies got pins from two-time state finalist Jason Renteria (120), Anthony Madrigal (126), two-time state champion Isaiah White (160) and Allen Stallings (220), and Robert Campos (113) added an 11-0 major decision.

Some Huskies, however, were pushed in their wins. Two-time state placewinner Gabe Townsell (132) was penalized for fleeing the mat with four seconds remaining, tying his match against Providence freshman Juan Bazaldua at 3-3. Townsell scored a takedown just seconds into overtime to survive, 5-3. State placewinner Jaime Hernandez (138) had to overcome a 4-1 first-period deficit to beat Lockport freshman Baylor Fernandes, 10-7.

The day was remarkably upset-free, with the biggest upset taking place in the 1A tournament. At 285, Grant Miller of Herscher scored an overtime takedown for a 3-1 victory over defending state champion Quinton Ball of Mercer County.

Dakota and Coal City whetted 1A fans’ appetites for their potential dual-team state final showdown next weekend, each advancing six to the quarterfinals. Belleville Althoff and Wilmington each advanced four.

Carl Sandburg and Montini each won all but one match. The Eagles advanced seven to the quarterfinals and the Broncos six. Louie Hayes (113) scored a pin, two-time state champion Rudy Yates (132) added a first-period technical fall and Patrick Brucki (182) added an 11-3 major decision as Sandburg’s seven winners allowed just a combined 12 points.

Yates’s technical fall was his 30th of the season and the 65th of his career, extending his state records, and it was his 85th consecutive win.

Jimmy Pawelski (126), two-time state champion Dylan Duncan (132) and Will Lewan (138) scored pins for Montini, and Joey Melendez (106) and state champion Real Woods (113) added technical falls.

Marmion Academy advanced five to the quarterfinals and Lockport four.

Chicago Mount Carmel and Washington each advanced 10 to the 2A quarterfinals. The Caravan had six pins Thursday – more than any other team – with Yahya Thomas (126), Jack Mulay (138), Jake Tucker (152), David Riojas (170), Johnny Drozd (182) and Leo Ortiz (220) all picking up falls.

Two-time state champion Randy Menweather led Washington with a 22-second fall and Dylan Thurston (132), Ethan Reel (145) and state champion Jacob Warner (182) added technical falls.

Marian Catholic advanced eight to the quarterfinals, with state runnerup Kordell Norfleet (170) scoring a pin, two-time state placewinner Jose Champagne (160) a technical fall and freshman Travis Ford-Melton (106) a 12-3 major decision to stay unbeaten.

Lincoln-Way West had four quarterfinalists.

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