OREGON – On Friday in front of an overflow crowd of 1,800 fans at the BlackHawk Center, the 11-man area wrestling contingent got its first taste of how difficult the Oregon Class 1A Sectional was going to be.
The only wrestler to win a first-round match was Tim Hillard of Princeton. The 126-pound sophomore had little trouble of disposing of Adrian Alviar (14-11) of Aurora Central Catholic. Hillard moved his record to 20-20 with a second period pin, after taking a 6-0 lead.
“That was his best match of the year,” Princeton coach Steve Amy said. “Tim’s not much of a guy that shoots on his feet. He’s much better on top but is starting to catch on and looked much better on his feet.”
In the quarterfinals, Hillard drew senior J.J. Whaley of Stillman Valley, one of five defending state champs in the field at Oregon. The result was total domination by Whaley in racking up a 14-1 lead before reversing and pinning Hillard early in the second period.
At 106 pounds, Princeton freshman Luke Marselle (18-17) fell behind 8-0 and was pinned in the second period by Erik Baker (23-11) of Stillman Valley.
Tyler Webster (6-14), another Tiger freshman, was stuck 20 seconds into his match with 26-14 Mark Struck of Harvard.
Drew Pranka (26-13) also went down in the first period, a victim of a pin by Alex Budzisz (31-9) of Wheaton Academy. The same fate befell 285-pound Dylan Williams (5-7), who was pinned at the 1:13 mark by Jake Weltzin (22-7) of state power Lena-Winslow.
“The best kids in the state are here,” Amy said. “We knew it was going to be tough.”
In one of the more controversial matches of the first round, 285-pound freshman John Barnes of St. Bede suffered a third-period pin after leading Nate Getzelman (24-16) of Byron 8-0. The 14-9 Barnes was in complete control until Getzelman put him on his back, and the referee quickly signaled a pin.
“Honestly, that was a bad call,” said St. Bede coach Sean Hobson, who would have won an award for the best-dressed coach in attendance. “His shoulder wasn’t down. We had (Getzelman) on his back two or three times, and there was no call.”
Hobson felt the fact that St. Bede is a newer program may have been influenced the official’s judgment.
“We’re a young team and did not get respect,” he added. “Byron’s more well known, and they’ll get the call over us.”
In an exciting match at 132, James Peacock (23-7) of St. Bede and Josh Wheeler (26-12) of Erie-Prophetstown went back and forth before Wheeler scored a pin at the 5:25 mark. Prior to that, Peacock held a 7-6 lead and nearly pinned his opponent earlier in the third period.
St. Bede’s Adam Hunter (17-11) got down 5-0 against Austin Keller of Morrison at 145, and though he closed to within 7-4, the three-point differential was enough for Keller (15-18) to hold on for the decision. Brendan Zimmerman (15-14), also of St. Bede, struggled against Bobby Lincoln (28-9) of Mercer County and lost 12-0.
Dylon Croisant (19-15) of Putnam County/Hall got a tough draw at 138, facing Austin McPeek (34-3) of Le-Win, ranked No. 2 in the 1A. McPeek was all over Croisant, grabbing a 13-2 lead after one period and pinning him 16 seconds into the second period.
The other P.C./Hall sectional qualifier, senior Lucas Foockle, also had a tough first-round opponent in 28-7 Jon Ricke from Mercer County. Ricke, ranked No. 7 in 1A, pinned Foockle in 3:52 at 170 pounds.
“This is the toughest sectional in the state,” P.C./Hall coach Jerry Kriewold said. “For us, it was like David versus Goliath.”
Saturday morning wrestlebacks were an exact repeat of Friday with Hillard winning one match and losing one, while everyone else lost again.
In a high-scoring affair, Hillard won by major decision over Alex Morley of Sherrard, 22-11. In his next match, against Dakota freshman Nathan Olson (25-13), it was Olson putting the hurt on Hillard’s shoulder and winning 14-0.
“Anytime you get a Dakota wrestler, you know they’re going to be good on top,” Amy said. “In Tim’s first match, he did a good job controlling things with all the rolling around that was going on.”
For Princeton, Marselle, Webster and Williams suffered pins. At 152, Pranka looked to be in trouble, but his opponent, Travis Heck (34-11) of Harvard, made a mental mistake allowing Pranka a takedown to close within 3-2 with a minute left in the match. Pranka purposely allowed Heck to escape in hopes of getting another takedown but was denied, though he did have one good shot with five seconds remaining. The final was 4-2 in favor of Heck.
All three St. Bede wrestlers were pinned, as was Foockle. Hunter stayed off his back, but fell by a 9-5 decision to Ethan Cain of Polo.
Comment on this story at www.bcrnews.com