CHAMPAIGN – Three was the magic number for Jacob Milliman, Noah Paul and Chase Clark of Oregon, and Adam Meenen of Rock Falls at the IHSA State Wrestling Tournament on Saturday at State Farm Center.
Each earned third-place medals in Class 1A, and each did it the hard way by winning three wrestleback bouts in 1 day.
The 113-pound Milliman was the first to take third, following a 7-4 victory against Belleville Althoff’s Shawn Minick. Milliman led 4-0 through two periods, but gave up a takedown and two back points midway through the third period to tie it up.
Minick chose to cut Milliman (43-6) loose with 40 seconds to go, and Milliman followed with a clinching takedown 20 seconds later.
“Since I lost in the first round, I just wanted to bounce back and see if I could do better than last year,” said Milliman, who took home a fourth-place medal as a sophomore.
In the wrestleback semifinal, Milliman scored a reversal in the last second to eke out a 4-3 win against Chicago Hope’s Giovany Armira. Milliman pinned Kankakee McNamara’s Blain Christie in 4 minutes, 33 seconds in the wrestleback quarterfinals, the so-called “blood round” that guarantees a medal of some sort.
At 132 pounds, Paul took third following a wild 11-10 win against McNamara’s Andrew Steffes. The key move was a neck wrench that resulted in a takedown and three back points that turned an 8-5 deficit into a 10-8 lead, and Paul hung on from there.
“I felt it coming the whole match,” Paul said of the neck wrench. “He would tilt a little bit, but he would veer out of it. I was lucky enough to hit it finally.”
Paul (44-6) won a 10-6 decision against Rockridge’s
Dallas Krueger in the wrestleback semifinals, and a 12-9 bout against Auburn’s Caleb Nix in the quarterfinals.
The third Oregon wrestler to take third was 152-pounder Chase Clark, who needed just 1:53 to polish off Westmont’s Curtis Green in the third-place bout.
“He tried to step up, and I was going to hook my leg in and get that turk,” Clark said. “I knew once I got him flat, I had him.”
Clark (45-8) pinned Seneca’s Jackson Beene in 4:33 of their wrestleback semifinal, and won a 5-2 decision against Mt. Carmel’s Nate Critchfield in the quarterfinals.
“It’s amazing, seeing how I was predicted to not even make it to this point of the tournament,” Clark said. ”It’s an amazing feeling knowing that I outdid everyone below me.”
Rock Falls’ Meenen had a huge turnaround in his 138-pound third-place bout against Aurora Christian’s Zeke Marshall. Meenen trailed 4-0 after an early takedown and two back points by Marshall, but fought back with a reversal to trail just 4-2 after one period.
Meenen tied it up with a takedown with 1:13 left in the second period, and parlayed that into a pin at the 5:18 mark. Meenen credited his conditioning.
“A lot of my opponents have been gassing, and I had a good gas tank, so I just keep the pressure on always, and attack, attack, attack,” Meenen said.
Meenen (47-12) survived a squeaker in the wrestleback semifinal, which he won 8-6 in overtime against Caleb Alber of Dakota. Alber led 6-4 and was desperately trying to hang on at the end of the third period, but Meenen scored a tying takedown at buzzer – a move that was confirmed after a brief conversation between the two mat officials.
In the OT, Meenen scored the winning takedown with 19 seconds remaining.
In the quarterfinals, Meenen also had a close call, but seized a 12-10 decision against Beardstown’s Lalo Munoz.
Oregon 106-pounder Andrew Herbst and Erie-
Gabe Friedrichsen each earned fourth-place medals.
Herbst lost a 4-2 decision to Ridgeview’s Billy Tay in the third-place bout. Tay had the only two takedowns.
Herbst (45-4) edged Althoff’s Matthew Minick 3-2 in the wrestleback semifinal, and was a 13-3 major decision winner against Dakota’s Maddux Blakely in the quarterfinals.
Friedrichsen (39-4) bypassed the wrestleback blood round after reaching the tournament semifinals on Friday night. He was a 17-2 technical fall winner against Prairie Central’s Jake Woodrey in the wrestleback semifinals, but then fell 23-13 to Johnsburg’s Justin Peake in the third-place bout.
Morrison 120-pounder Colton Linke placed sixth after going 1-2 on Saturday. In the blood round, he earned a 9-6 win against Dakota’s Lucas Sutherland to secure himself a medal.
That medal ended up being a sixth-place one after Linke (37-9) fell 15-5 to Aurora Christian’s Nate Orosco in the semifinals, and 2-1 to Mt. Carmel’s Dayton Hall in the fifth-place bout.
The lone Class 2A wrestler to make the medal round was Dixon’s Hunter Pate, who also went 1-2 on the day to place sixth.
Pate (41-7) pinned Lake Forest’s Chase Waggoner in the blood round, then was beaten 8-1 by Brother Rice’s Dominic Murphy in the wrestleback semifinals.
In the fifth-place bout, Pate fell 8-2 to Mascoutah’s Caleb Grau. Pate trailed just 4-2 late, but gave up a takedown and two back points in the waning seconds after attempting a desperation move.
Newman 126-pounder Will Rude (46-8) and Morrison 220-pounder Riley Wilkens (35-10) were each eliminated in the blood round. Rude lost 2-1 in overtime against Eureka’s Asher Wiegand, while Wilkens fell by pin in 5:24 to Carlyle’s Dale Allen.
Third place: Jacob Milliman (Oregon, 113); Noah Paul (Oregon, 132); Adam Meenen (Rock Falls, 138); Chase Clark (Oregon, 152)
Fourth place: Andrew Herbst (Oregon, 106); Gabe Friedrichsen (Erie-Prophetstown, 182)
Sixth place: Colton Linke (Morrison, 120); Hunter Pate (Dixon, 170)