CHAMPAIGN – Lena-Winslow's Ty Harmston thought his bout with Rock Falls' Shawn Skinner was going to be a walk in the park.
Instead, Skinner almost walked away with a Class 1A 195-pound state championship.
Skinner threw a mighty scare into Harmston before dropping a 6-4 decision at the state wrestling tournament that concluded Saturday at Assembly Hall.
It was a far cry from a week ago, when Harmston pinned Skinner in the second period of their Oregon Sectional title bout.
"I beat him so handily last week," Harmston said, "and I admittedly probably had a little bit of an overconfident mindset coming into this match. That contributed to the closeness of the match."
Skinner (38-4) led 4-3 after the first period, racking up a reversal and takedown along the way, before the tide turned in an instant. Harmston (40-1) picked up Skinner and slammed him to the mat, just out of bounds. No points were awarded, no penalties were assessed, but Skinner definitely came out on the short end of the exchange.
"It took a lot out of my lungs," Skinner said. "I was coughing a lot, and I've been having problems with my back the whole tournament. That didn't help anything at all. It obviously wasn't a slam, or the refs would have called it. You're not supposed to leave it in the refs' hands anyway."
Harmston escaped 10 seconds into the third period to tie the score at 4-4, then took the lead on a takedown with 1:24 remaining in the bout. Fending off the kind of offensive attack the tall, powerful Harmston brings to the table finally took its toll on Skinner.
"It was something I lacked in the practice room," Skinner said. "Not a lot of people get shots on me like that, so I don't get a lot of practice at sprawling against people with his length. He's got great technique, and he got to me. He knows how to work his body, and he's a good wrestler for that."
The final straw for Skinner came with 13 seconds left. He was attempting to escape, and nearly had it, but was engulfed by Harmston and flung to the mat again. He barely moved the remainder of the bout.
"That was like the final blow," Skinner said. "I hit the ground, and all energy was lost. My muscles went dead. I tried to keep fighting, but the better wrestler came out on top, I guess."
It's the first state title for Harmston, who was a runner-up to Kankakee McNmara's Channing Dolliger at 220 pounds in 2012.
"It feels good to get over that little hump," Harmston said.
Skinner, meanwhile, was disappointed to not finish off what he considered was an attainable goal. It's just a step, however, in what he wants to accomplish in the sport.
"A high school state championship is a big part of someone's life," Skinner said, "and I got second. I'm hoping to move forward in college, and hopefully they keep wrestling in the Olympics. That's my main goal. I'd like to be an Olympian. Overall, being an Olympian is probably worth a lot more than being a high-school state champion."