OREGON – It was a balanced showing on Day 1 at the Class 1A Oregon Sectional on Friday night, with Fulton and Oregon advancing three wrestlers to the semifinals and Erie-Prophetstown, Morrison and Newman sending two each. West Carroll also had one advance.
“It was as tough of a sectional as we thought it would be,” Newman coach Daryl Dieterle.
The Comets had all five of their wrestlers in the quarterfinals, but only Kyle Tunink (by pin at 120 pounds) and Brody Ivey at 145 made it through. Ivey (41-5) escaped with a 4-3 win.
“That was a close one,” Dieterle said. “Brody never got out of position. The key for him was being aggressive, but patient enough for his shots. Tunink had his way and dominated.”
The biggest disappointment for Newman was 43-3 Cael Sanders losing by a 3-1 decision to Jaycee Gonzales of Aurora Christian at 152. The difference was Gonzales being able to score a takedown off a scramble.
“Cael has the toughest go in the wrestlebacks,” Dieterle said. “It’s such a rough weight class. A guy will be left behind that could place at state.”
Besides Gonzales, one of 10 Aurora Christian advancers to the semis, 152 pounds also has No. 1-ranked Lewis Robinson of Kewanee, undefeated James Schnerre of Orion, and 40-match winner Trystan Altensey of Riverdale. In the wrestlebacks, Sanders will need to get by either Schnerre or Robinson.
In an exciting bout at 170, sophomore Mat Garrison (35-10) of Erie-Prophetstown scored a takedown with 20 seconds left to break a 2-2 tie with Mason Newman of Newman. His 4-2 decision was the fourth win over Newman (30-17) this year, including two by pin.
“As the year’s progressed, he’s gotten better and better,” Garrison said. “The reason I got the takedown was he tried to get a shot in and I was able to get my hips in on him.”
As expected, Garrett Passmore of E-P easily advanced to the semis with a second-period pin over Colin Dvorak of Lena-Winslow, moving his record to 46-0, the best of anyone at the sectional.
“Just getting ready for Saturday,” Passmore said. “You got to have your ‘A’ game on. Now, anyone can beat anyone.”
In one of the marquee quarterfinal matches, Taylor Fleetwood (27-3) of Fulton held on for a 2-1 decision over Tyler Elsbury (34-5) of Byron in a battle of state-ranked heavyweights. Fleetwood needed a third-period reversal and rideout to secure the win over the D-I football recruit.
“If I didn’t ride him out, it would have gone into double overtime,” Fleetwood said. “Since he scored first on me, he would have had his choice in the tiebreaker [third OT].”
With state qualifiers Logan Lee of Orion and Ian Kuehl of Le-Win in the opposite semi, Fleetwood’s road to a return trip downstate gets considerably easier with 17-19 Erik Quinnett of Dakota in the semis.
In a bracket with the three top wrestlers in 1A, returning state champ Tyler Fleetwood of Fulton used an injury default from Polo’s Austin Horn to get into the 132-pound semis. Horn, a regional champ, was injured at practice and will attempt to come back through the wrestlebacks on Saturday.
Besides Fleetwood, 132 has two other state placers in Stone Engle (39-1) of Mercer County and Jared Van Vleet (33-1) of Stillman Valley. In one of the most anticipated matches of the entire day on Saturday, Fleetwood (36-3) and state runner-up Van Vleet will go at it in the semis. The other semifinalist at 132 is Noah Paul (39-4) of Oregon, one of only two wrestlers to beat an Aurora Christian opponent in the quarters.
“Any one of those four could walk away with a [state] title,” Oregon coach Kip Crandall. “If Noah’s on, he’s also going to be tough to beat.”
Fulton’s other semifinalist, Eli Pannell, did what he’s been doing all year, and that is putting foes on their back. With his 27th fall, he advances to face No. 1-ranked Drake Jennings (33-10) of Stillman Valley. With one more pin, Pannell would tie Fulton assistant coach Russ McAllister’s school record of 28 pins.
A pair of Morrison seniors kept their state hopes alive with one-point quarterfinal wins. Augustus Linke (35-10) gutted out a 2-1 decision at 138, and Reilly Dolan held on for an 8-7 win over Le-Win regional champ Jeremiah Hermann at 145.
“To wrestle in Assembly Hall [State Farm Center] in a Morrison singlet means more than anything to me. That and to get on the podium,” said the 43-7 Dolan, who went to state as a sophomore at 145. “I’ve been following my dad [Gregg] around to wrestling meets since I’ve been a little kid.”
In Linke’s rubber match against Mason Loete (34-11) of Orion, it was a first-period takedown that was the difference.
“Both put good rides on,” Morrison coach Tony Wright said. “Gus gritted out a full period rideout in the third.”
Paul was joined by two Oregon teammates, 106-pounder Andrew Herbst and 113-pound Jacob Milliman, who also won in the quarterfinals, giving a much-needed boost to a Hawk program trying to regain its former prowess.
Herbst was in complete control over Colton Linke of Morrison, winning 7-2 in an all-freshman bout, while Milliman, a sophomore, pinned Caleb Alter of Princeton.
“Herbst is technically so sound, he’s never out of position, especially on top,” Crandall said. “Milliman’s aggressive. He’s on when it’s time to go. I like his chances Saturday.”
Freshman Ethen Doty (36-4) of West Carroll won two matches at 120, and will face Tunink (43-2) in the semifinals.