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Dixon comes up one step short of state

Dukes’ road ends

SANDWICH – Dixon knows what it is like to compete at the Class 2A Dual Team State Tournament.

Come Saturday, Coal City will as well.

The Coalers, a 1A powerhouse competing up a level for the first season, handed the Dukes a 46-21 defeat Tuesday night at the Sandwich Dual Team Sectional. Coal City (36-3) will now take on Niles Notre Dame at the dual team state tournament on Saturday in Bloomington.

Dixon (17-3), which placed third at state 2 years ago, was bidding for its second trip to state in 3 years.

“I give Coal City all the credit,” Dixon coach Chris Bishop said. “They’re tough. There’s a reason they’re in this position. We always say as the season goes on, guys or teams are not getting easier. They’re getting harder. Coal City came out and followed its game plan well, but so did we.

“We had our shots and didn’t make it tonight, but that’s OK. I’m still proud of them.”

Coal City won eight of the 13 contested bouts, with Alex Friddle, one of two individual state champions in the lineup for the Coalers, receiving a forfeit at 132.

Dixon was in it for a while. Riley Riggen began the match with a decision at 220 pounds, and Hakeem Banks won at 106 to tie it up at 6-6.

Coal City followed with a major decision from Zach Finch at 113, a pin from 120-pounder Trent Akre, and another pin from Connor Huston at 126 to go up 22-6, then Friddle got his forfeit to make it 28-6.

The Dukes then fought back a bit. Senior 138-pounder Colten Bishop needed a mere 40 seconds to pin Brandon Strnad to make the score 28-12.

“I was prepared,” Colten Bishop said. “I was supposed to wrestle the kid [Friddle] who won state at 132, and I was all amped up for that.

“But Coach ended up bumping me up to 138,” Colten Bishop added. “I just used all of that energy and went out there and did my job. It was nice to go out with a bang.”

Dixon 145-pounder Bryce Christiansen followed with a pin of Lane Kutemeier in 1:47, and the Dukes sliced the deficit to 28-18.

In the next bout at 152 pounds, the Dukes’ Gable Hale held a 5-4 lead after one period against Ryan Wasielewski, who placed third this past weekend at the state tournament. Wasielewski, however, got Hale to his back early in the second period and won by pin in 2:30 to increase Coal City’s lead to 34-18.

The Coalers clinched the win when 160-pounder Ashton Harvey took a 7-2 decision from Matt Lohse. It made the team score 37-18 with just three bouts remaining.

“Dixon came out and wrestled extremely well,” Coal City coach Mark Masters said. “They won some 50-50 matches at 106 and 220, and it was up in the air. But we were able to get the job done, and I was happy we were able to do that.”

Dixon’s final win came from 170-pounder Hunter Pate, who took a 7-1 decision against David Papach.

At 182 pounds, the Dukes’ Clint Schielein put up a battle before falling 8-6 to Daniel Jezik, a state champ this past weekend.

“It’s a good note to end on, being a senior and only being two points behind a state champ,” Schielein said.

In the final bout, Coal City’s Gage Leake won by pin in 4:43 against Finn Brandon.

For the Dukes, it wrapped up a season full of mostly highs and a few lows. The highlight was winning a regional on their own turf back on Feb. 2.

“This team has driven me crazy at plenty of points, but at the same time, I love ‘em to death and I’d do anything for ‘em,” Schielein said. “I’m glad to have all of these people on my team.”

Coal City, which placed second at 1A state in 2016 and third in 2015 and 2018, will be making its first appearance in 2A, and Masters likes his team’s chances.

“If we can continue to wrestle the way we have, we should be OK,” Masters said. “We’re not overly confident, but I feel good about how we’re wrestling. Hopefully we can win that first match, and that would be huge for us. It’s our first year up [in 2A], and it may be our only year up. If we can win that first match, we’ll get a trophy, and we’d be ecstatic about that.”

Washington, which crushed Sycamore 59-9 in the other match at Sandwich, is on the other side of the bracket.

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