BYRON – While snow was falling outside on Saturday night, Snow was rising up inside Byron High School.
Newman senior Jake Snow, along with teammate and fellow sectional champion Bryce Ivey, will lead a contingent of 10 area wrestlers who survived the meat grinder that is the Class 1A Byron Sectional. Their next stop will be the state tournament, which begins Thursday at State Farm Center in Champaign.
Leading the way is Snow, who began his high school career with a state title in 2011 at 112 pounds. He hopes to conclude it with a title at 145, and took a step in that direction by capturing his second sectional title.
In the finals, he rolled to a 12-3 decision against Dakota's Greg Krulas. The key sequence was at the end of second period, when Snow (36-1) scored a takedown and 3-point nearfall to seize a 7-2 lead. He executed a textbook cradle, and only the second-period buzzer prevented a likely pin.
"A cradle takes a lot of arm strength out of you," Snow said. "It's a hard move to get, but if you learn the technique that [assistant] coach [Brock] Rude taught us – he taught us to pick him up and then drop him, and that's what I did – it ended up working out well. I almost got that pin at the end of the second period."
The major decision was actually Snow's closest bout. He won by pin in the quarterfinals and technical fall in the semifinals.
Ivey survived a pair of close decisions in his first two bouts, then drew Byron's Danny Falconer in the finals. Ivey broke a 2-2 tie with an escape midway through the second period, then scored another one with 30 seconds remaining in the third period to take a 6-2 decision.
"I don't want to give away all of my secrets," Ivey said, when asked about his penchant for getting reversals, "but that's always part of the plan. To be a great wrestler, you're always told you have to escape from great wrestlers. To get an escape or a reversal, you can't just hang out on bottom all period. That definitely boosted my confidence, knowing I could do that."
It is the first sectional title for Ivey (35-1), who placed third at the Oregon Sectional a year ago.
"They both wrestled extremely well today," Newman coach Steve Davis said. "Jake, he can still open up some more. Bryce, he was extremely smart in his match. He just doesn't make too many mistakes, and that's why he's able to stay on top."
Coming up just short in his quest for a title was Rock Falls' Lucas Newburgh, who dropped a 1-0 decision to Riverdale's Terry White in the 195-pound finals. After a scoreless first period, White won the coin toss for the second period and chose down. He escaped right away to score what turned out to be the only point of the bout.
Newburgh was in the down position for the third period, but was unable to escape for the tying point.
"I really need to get moving on bottom, and work harder, I guess," Newburgh said.
Newburgh (31-9) had qualified for sectional as a sophomore and a junior, but will now be making his first trip to state. He secured that by taking a 3-1 overtime decision against Orion's Noah Bridgewater in the semifinals. Newburgh scored a takedown with 7 seconds remaining in OT to win it.
"It's awesome just to qualify, that's all I really wanted," Newburgh said. "Of course I wanted to win this, but I'm content with qualifying. Now my goal is going to state and placing."
The top four finishers in each weight class move on, and seven other area wrestlers each punched their tickets to state. Earning third-place finishes were Polo's Ethan Cain and Erie-Prophetstown's Nick Williams.
Cain (35-5) gained a 3-0 decision against Morrison's Austin Keller (37-13) in the 160-pound third-place bout, while Williams (31-7) was a 3-1 winner against Mooseheart's Joe Feemorlu at 170 pounds.
Fourth-place finishers included Newman's Elias Edmondson (34-19) at 138 pounds, Oregon's Dominic Marchetti (28-14) at 145, Morrison's Austin Shoup (27-7) at 182, and Oregon's Tyler Blume (26-14) at 195.
Coming up one bout short of competing for third place and a state tournament berth were West Carroll's Paawan Dandona (113), Jeff Casey (126), Devon Saunders (160) and Brandon Anderson (285); Erie-Prophetstown's Grady Todd (132) and Josh Wheeler (138); Morrison's Joe Eads (106); Oregon's Corey Grady (138);Amboy's Jason Bontz (152); Newman's Brandon Ahlgrim (152); and Polo's Jacob Cain (195).
Newman: Elias Edmondson (138), Jake Snow (145), Bryce Ivey (170)
Rock Falls: Lucas Newburgh (195)
Polo: Ethan Cain (160)
E-P: Nick Williams (170)
Oregon: Dominic Marchetti (145), Tyler Blume (195)
Morrison: Austin Keller (160), Austin Shoup (182)