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E-P wins team title as 8 advance; 4 Steamers move on

Panthers back on top

EDGINGTON – Eight years ago, the Erie-Prophetstown wrestling co-op enjoyed its finest season, one that saw the Panthers go all the way to the Class 1A state quarterfinals.

But before Saturday afternoon, Erie-Prophetstown had not had a subsequent opportunity to lift a postseason team trophy. All of that changed in a tightly-contested race at the Rockridge Regional.

Led by senior Garrett Passmore’s individual title at 160 pounds, the Panthers scored 150 points to edge Mercer County by three for their first regional team title since 2010. Orion placed third with 129 points, with Alleman fourth with 113 points.

“We’ve been working hard for this,’’ E-P head coach Tod McCullough said. “We told them that we needed to come in and have each kid do his job, and then see what happens. We had a lot of kids step up today.’’

Five of McCullough’s wrestlers reached the championship round, with Passmore capping a golden day by pinning Sherrard’s Steele Gustafson at the 2:44 mark of a match the E-P standout dominated from start to finish. Passmore’s three regional wins upped his season record to 44-0.

“Right now, I’m not thinking about the record, just the opponent that’s in front of me. I take it day by day,’’ Passmore said. “Every day is a new day, and anyone can beat you. I’m focusing on one goal, and that’s to be on top of the podium at state.’’

Joining Passmore at next weekend’s Oregon Sectional will be runners-up Cameron Abell (113 pounds), Chris Bonnell (120), Mat Garrison (170) and Lucas Carey (220). Also, out of the five Panthers to wrestle in the third-place matches, four advanced with wins.

Fulton, which placed seventh out of eight teams with 80.5 points, did crown a pair of champions in 195-pounder Eli Pannell and 285-pounder Taylor Fleetwood.

In a battle with top-seeded Collin Schmidt of Rockridge, Pannell went to overtime with his opponent for the second time in three meetings. Two weeks after losing to Schmidt in the Bob Mitton Invitational finals at Orion, Pannell evened the score with a 5-4 victory, scoring an escape point in the fourth overtime for his first regional title.

“Fatigue was definitely a factor,’’ Pannell said. “I just had to push a lot, and dig down deep.’’

Meantime, Fleetwood went up against reigning 220-pound state champion Logan Lee of Orion in the 285-pound title bout. Opening up a seven-point lead in the second period, last year’s state runner-up was able to hold on and earn a 10-9 decision for his second straight regional crown.

“My weight class at Oregon is pretty stacked. It’s going to be very tough,’’ Fleetwood said, “but it’s nothing I can’t handle.’’

At 132 pounds, Taylor’s twin brother Tyler Fleetwood squared off with Mercer County’s Stone Engle for the third time this season. Two weeks after beating Engle in the Mitton Invite finals, Fleetwood forced overtime with a takedown late in the third period, then traded escape points with Engle in the OT sessions.

Ultimately, Engle came out on top, scoring a takedown in the fourth OT to earn a 6-4 decision and avenge his only loss of the season.

“Stone’s a good kid; we’re really good friends. That was a hell of a match,’’ Tyler Fleetwood said. “To have a rematch [at Oregon], that would be cool. I’d love to wrestle him again, but we’ll see how it plays out.’’

Also advancing for the Steamers was 170-pounder Tony Heinitz, who won beat Orion’s Ray Herd 5-1 in the third-place bout.

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