BYRON – Fulton senior Eli Pannell and West Carroll sophomore Ethen Doty entered Saturday’s Class 1A Byron Sectional with undefeated records.
After hard-fought semifinal and finals bouts, both will take those undefeated records with them to the state tournament.
Newman’s Brody Ivey and Erie-Prophetstown’s Gabe Friedrichsen also won individual titles to give the Sauk Valley four sectional champions.
Pannell moved his record to 37-0 with a 2-1 victory over Princeton’s Chase Tatum in the 220-pound title bout. The Steamer senior used a second-period
reversal to take a lead, and held on after Tatum escaped early in the third.
“It was a lot of patience,” Pannell said. “I like to be patient when I wrestle, and wait for my opponent to make the mistake.”
Doty improved to 43-0 at 126 pounds after a 9-5 decision over Aurora Christian’s Cameron Johnson in the finals. However, he had to fight back from a huge deficit in the semifinals against Winnebago’s Carlos Sanchez, ultimately earning an 8-7 decision.
“I had a lot of tough matches along the way,” Doty said. “I was down six points in the semifinals before I came back. All I needed to do was stay offensive and not defensive.”
The 152-pound title match pitted a pair of locals against each other in Ivey and Oregon’s Chase Clark.
Ivey (46-2) grinded out an 8-2 decision in the finals after winning a 12-5 decision over Stillman Valley’s Mason Engelkens in the semifinals.
“I sustained a little bit of an injury in my semifinal match, so I knew I had to be gritty and grind it out,” Ivey said. “[Clark] is a tough wrestler that knows what he’s doing, but it was all about my mentality and telling myself I wasn’t going to lose.”
Clark (43-7) advanced to the state tournament for the first time in his career, bumping up to 152 pounds due to a loaded bracket at 145. He won a 4-2 decision over Rock Falls’ Reiley Dowd in the semifinals, earning his first state appearance.
“We had a bunch of ranked kids at 145 at regionals,” Clark said. “But 152 wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be. Still, not many people knew who I was. To be able to come out of sectionals in my fourth year is amazing.”
Friedrichsen (38-2) rolled to a 17-2 technical fall against Sherrard’s Josh Bynum in the 182-pound title bout. The E-P senior earned a third-period pin against West Carroll’s Eli Dertz in the semifinals. He sustained a minor shoulder injury early in the match against Bynum, and nearly called it quits to preserve himself for state.
“Thankfully my coaches knocked some sense into me,” Friedrichsen said. “They told me I could still win the match.”
Newman junior Kyle Tunink (43-5) lost a 3-2 decision in double overtime to Dakota’s Caleb Alber in the finals at 138 pounds, unable to break free for an escape in the first extra period. However, Tunink’s first-period pin of Aurora Christian’s Zeke Marshall in the semifinals punched his ticket to state.
Oregon’s Andrew Herbst (106 pounds), Jacob Milliman (113) and Noah Paul (132) also advanced to state with third-place finishes.
Herbst (43-2) pinned Stillman Valley’s Donovan Crumpacker in the consolation semifinals, then pinned pinned Lena-Winslow/Stockton’s Zach White in 20 seconds for third.
Milliman (39-6) earned a second-period pin against Mendota’s Ethan Hanaman in the consolation semifinals, then pinned West Carroll’s Briar Nevills (36-10) for third.
Paul (40-6) earned a first-period pin against Winnebago’s Hayden Faworski in the consolation semifinals, then won a 12-3 major decision over Orion’s Noah Schnerre for third.
Rock Falls advanced a pair of fourth-place finishers in 138-pounder Adam Meenen and 152-pounder Dowd.
Meenen (44-12) won a won a 12-3 major decision against Riverdale’s Colton Reiman in the consolation semifinals, but lost 10-4 against Aurora Christian’s Zeke Marshall in the third-place bout.
Dowd (35-16) battled through an array of injuries to advance. He had to receive medical attention in his consolation semifinal against Orion’s Trent Scharpman, but bounced back for a third-period pin. He fell 2-1 in the third-place bout to Stillman’s Engelkens, fighting through being poked in the eye.
“It was crazy,” Dowd said. “There were a lot of kids projected to beat me that I turned around and beat.”
Fellow junior Izaih James (37-14) lost a 7-1 decision to Lena-Winslow/Stockton’s Jason Hermann in the consolation semifinals at 145 pounds.
Newman freshman Will Rude (47-6) took third at 126 pounds after beating Orion’s Ethan Meisenburg 3-0. Rude used a key reversal late in his consolation-semifinal bout against Winnebago’s Sanchez, ultimately winning a 6-4 decision.
Morrison had a pair of third-place finishers in 120-pounder Colton Linke and 220-pounder Riley Wilkens.
Linke (36-7), who had lost to Lena-Winslow/Stockton’s Simon Rillie in the first round, defeated Rillie 10-7 in the consolation semifinals to punch his ticket to state. He then won a 4-2 decision over Sherrard’s Dylan Russell for third.
Wilkens pinned Ottawa Marquette’s Hunter McAlpine in 50 seconds to earn his trip downstate, then won a 7-0 decision over Byron’s Peyton Lind for third.
“It feels great. This was a tough sectional to make it out of,” Wilkens said. “Going against a couple of kids I’ve wrestled before, I had to push myself harder than I ever had.”
Erie-Prophetstown senior Calvin Naftzger captured third place at 170 pounds. Naftzger (29-7) worked for a third-period pin of Orion’s Ray Herd in the consolation semifinals, then pinned Aurora Christian’s Alex Knauf in the first period for third.
Seniors Mat Garrison (24-6, 160 pounds) and Trevor Pratt (29-14, 285) and junior Cameron Abell (25-15, 120) each fell one win short of a state berth for the Panthers.
Amboy junior Avery Shaw finished fourth at 195 pounds. Shaw (22-10) won a 5-1 decision over Alleman’s Zach Pinc in the consolation semifinals, then was pinned late in the first period by Princeton’s Dallas Hill in the third-place bout. Shaw still felt satisfied as the lone Clipper headed to Champaign.
“I put in a lot of hard work, and it all helped out in the end,” Shaw said. “I reached my goal for this season by being a state qualifier. It’s a great honor to be representing Amboy.”
Nevills advanced to state for West Carroll, but Eastland junior Eli Dertz (35-6) came up a win short of qualifying for the Thunder co-op.
Milledgeville junior Marcus McKenna (30-14) lost a 6-2 decision to Lena-Winslow/Stockton’s Case Harmston in the 160-pound consolation semifinals, but walked off to cheers from Polo co-op fans.