CHAMPAIGN – The only drama left for Josh Alber was if he would finish off his final individual state tournament career with a pin.
He didn't, but the Dakota senior put on a clinic in disposing of Coal City's Casey Brown 16-5 in the 132-pound finals at the Class 1A State Wrestling Tournament on Saturday at State Farm Center.
Alber put the wraps on a 44-0 senior season, and also lifted his career record to 178-0, with four state championships. He is the only undefeated, untied wrestler in IHSA history.
Ex-Newman standout Mike Mena had the previous benchmark, with a 157-0-1 career record from 1989-92. The tie came against Riverdale's Joel Stockwell in Mena's first bout his junior season.
Alber will have a chance to add to his total in team competition next week. The Indians will be heavy favorites to handle Lena-Winslow in the Rock Falls Dual Team Sectional on Tuesday. After that, there will likely be three more bouts at the team state tournament next weekend in Normal.
"This is unexplainable," said Alber, who will continue his wrestling career at Northern Iowa. "I've still got some dual matches left, but the big pressure is off now, and I can just have fun. It's just such a huge relief. It was almost like it was in control of me, and now I'm free."
Alber recorded six takedowns, a reversal, and two back points against Brown, and allowed only five escapes – all of them the easy variety. He eschewed one final takedown in the final seconds of the bout to mug for a large throng of Dakota supporters, who rose to their feet.
When the bout was complete, everyone in the State Farm Center crowd gave him a standing ovation.
"I didn't even know my left hand from my right hand," Alber said. "It was just pure emotion. I'm glad everybody stood up for me. I feel I'm the people's champ, and that was a really great moment."
Alber was one of three four-time state champions crowned on Saturday. Marmion's Johnny Jimenez won a 126-pound title in Class 2A, while Glenbard North's Jered Cortez won a 3A crown at 132 pounds.
Alber defeated both of those wrestlers over the course of his career – Jimenez twice, and Cortez once.
"Being 1A, people are always going to talk about my competition," Alber said, "but people can also say I beat two of the greatest four-time champions of all time."