By JARED BELL
Ethen Doty doesn’t usually have a lot to say.
A 126-pound sophomore on the West Carroll wrestling team, Doty isn’t very talkative by nature.
“I usually don’t get too many words out of him,” West Carroll coach Jeff McIntyre said. “He’s quiet and reserved, and sometimes it’s hard to tell if he won or lost.”
Despite his quiet nature, Doty let his performance speak for itself at last weekend’s Class 1A Byron Sectional.
In the same bracket as Aurora Christian junior and two-time returning state champion Cameron Johnson, Doty upset Johnson by a 9-5 decision in the title match to highlight his tournament and capture a sectional title.
The win got everyone else talking.
For all he accomplished last week, Doty has been selected as this week’s GO EARN IT Wrestler of the Week.
“He’s usually a very, very quiet kid and normally it’s hard to get any words out of him,” said Andrew Doty, Ethen’s father and volunteer coach. “But after that match, I couldn’t shut him up. He was talking all night – and not just about the match, but in general just talking.”
An Eastland High School student who wrestles as part of the West Carroll coop, Doty had quite the successful junior high career as he won back-to-back unbeaten IESA state titles.
After he spent last year adjusting to high school wrestling and placed fifth in 1A 120 pounds, Doty has traversed this season unbeaten and is ranked No. 2 at 1A 126 in the current Illinois Matmen rankings.
On Saturday at the sectional, Doty overcame a 7-1 deficit in his semifinal by scoring the last seven points to pull out a thrilling 8-7 victory to set up the No. 1 vs. No. 2 title match against Johnson.
Having been pinned by Johnson in last year’s state tournament, Doty tied the match at 4 but cut Johnson with nearly 100 seconds remaining to fall behind 5-4.
However, with the match on the line, Doty scored the go-ahead takedown and five-second near fall as the five-point move gave Doty a thrilling 9-5 victory.
“Ethen gave an interview right after that match, and I would say he was almost scared and not really wanting to wrestle (Johnson),” Andrew Doty said. “After getting pinned in last year’s semifinals, I think the pressure was there for sure and I think the pressure was there the whole sectional, but he went out against Cam and wrestled an unbelievably cool, calm and smart match.”
The victory also set up a favorable state bracket for Doty, who received the No. 1 ranking by the IHSA in the 1A 126-pound bracket. According to the Illinois Matmen rankings, the No. 1-, No. 3-, No. 4- and No. 6-ranked wrestlers are all on the other side of the bracket.
“Looking at the bracket, it did a world of good to win that match,” McIntyre said. “We hope that we can bring back a state title, but he really has to focus on and win one match at a time, as ridiculous as it sounds. If you start looking too far ahead, someone is going to take it away from you.”
If Doty wins, he’d be the first state champion in West Carroll coop history and the first Eastland wrestler to win a state title.
“If he won, it would be unbelievable and it would be amazing,” Andrew Doty said. “I don’t know if he’s thought about it yet – I hope it’s one match at a time – but it could really open up some doors for him.”
No matter what happens this weekend, Doty is already a winner as he won this week’s GO EARN IT Wrestler of the Week award. He was one of seven finalists selected and won with 562 votes and 29 percent of the vote.
“The school really got behind him,” McIntyre said. “I believe the Ag teacher put it on the bulletin board, ‘Vote for Doty for Wrestler of the Week.’ I think they also made an announcement over the PA system in school. It was great to see the support.”
2018-19 GO EARN IT Wrestlers of the Week:
2/3: Three-sport athlete Bryce Shelton peaking at the right time
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
GIPHY App Key not set. Please check settings