CHAMPAIGN – Jake Kaecker picked a good time to post a milestone victory.
The AFC senior opened the Class 1A state wrestling tournament on Thursday with a 5-1 decision over Stephon Gray of Chicago Corliss. It was the 100th career win for Kaecker (30-4).
He collected 18 wins as a freshman, then had win totals in the upper 20s as a sophomore and a junior.
"I got off to a slow start my freshman year, so it was never really a goal," Kaecker said. "Then, in my junior year, I realized I could do this. It's a nice thing to get."
Kaecker celebrated his feat by eating, by his estimation, 4 pounds of pizza, after weighing in Friday morning.
Stayin' alive: Seven local wrestlers who lost in the quarterfinals Friday morning kept their hopes alive for a medal by winning their wrestleback matches later in the day.
In Class 2A, Dixon 138-pounder Kylian Lally took an 8-6 decision from Jermaine Pryor of Carbondale. Lally had dropped an 18-6 major decision to Chris Garcia of Montini in quarterfinals.
Sterling 285-pounder Curtis Lilly won by pin in 2 minutes, 24 seconds against Leon Harmon of Chicago Brooks. Lilly fell in the quarterfinals, 5-0 to Highland's Tanner Farmer.
In Class 1A, Erie-Prophetstown 106-pounder Brandon McCullough won a 10-1 major decision over Eureka's Josh Schaidle. McCullough was pinned in 2:23 by Coal City's Cody Minnick in the quarterfinals.
Rock Falls 113-pounder Carlos Gutierrez took a 12-1 decision from Clifton Central's Kenton Knorr. Gutierrez lost a 6-5 decision to Beardstown's Antonio Quintana in the quarters.
Newman 126-pounder Jake Snow won a 9-3 decision from Knoxville's Jake Wiegand. Snow fell by the same score to Seneca's Sage Friese in the quarterfinals.
West Carroll 132-pounder Zach Hartman needed just 58 seconds to finish off LeRoy's Peyton Roop. Hartman dropped an 11-5 decision to Wilmington's Andy Rodawold in the quarterfinals.
Newman 138-pounder Stephen Adamecz gained a 14-1 major decision over Hope Academy's Jonavan Huggins. Adamecz was pinned by Quincy Notre Dame's Gage Stephens in 3:33 in the quarterfinals.
Dropping wrestleback bouts and getting eliminated from the tourney were Newman 152-pounder Bryce Ivey and Oregon 195-pounder John Brink.
Morrison 195-pounder Calvin Harridge was eliminated after dropping his preliminary bout to Dwight's Anthony Bauer 8-7 in overtime. Bauer lost his next bout, eliminating Harridge.
Hall of Famer: Morrison's Dan Drosopoulos was one of 19 men honored by the Illinois Wrestling Coaches and Officials Association as members of the 2013 hall of fame class. They were recognized before the semifinal round on Friday night.
"I think it's just awesome," Drosopoulos said.
Hard at work: Roy Snyder of Rochelle, formerly of Mount Morris, is among the mat officials working the state tourney. It is Snyder's 13th state wrestling final, seven of which have been individual tourneys.
At next week's dual team state tournament in Normal, Don Mekeel of Sterling and Ryan Mekeel of Chicago will be mat officials. It will be the first father-son combination to work a state wrestling finals.