PRINCETON — A who’s who in Class 1A wrestling in the state of the Illinois will be on hand for the 51st annual Lyle King Princeton Invitational Wrestling Tournament, beginning Friday at Prouty Gymnasium.
There are 21 teams ranked among the field of 34, including the top four ranked teams in 1A — Dakota, Plano, Porta and Monticello. Dakota is the defending 1A State champ, Porta finished fourth. Class 1A runner-up Mercer County and third place Litchfield also return.
The No. 1 ranked wrestler in Class 1A will appear in 11 of the 14 weight classes. There are no fewer than seven ranked wrestlers in any weight classes, topped by 11 at 113 and 182. The field also includes eight grapplers who are ranked in Class 2A.
Five PIT wrestlers are defending state champions: Josh Alber of Dakota (1A, 132), Anthony Luis of Harvard (2A, 113), Carver James of Dakota (1A, 145), Derrick Maisonet of Plano (1A, 195) and Josh Wallick of Gibson City (1A, 285). Another, Nelson Baker (120) of Byron, won state in 2012 while Jake Snow (145) of Newman won state in 2011. Alber won another state crown in 2011.
Add in the fact that Alber will attempt to become the first four-time state champion in the rich history of the PIT, and wrestling fans will be in mat heaven,
“This year’s PIT is as loaded as it has ever been,” PHS coach Steve Amy said. “Anytime you bring the top four returning state placing teams to one place the competition is going to be great. We will have those teams trying to stay on top and have everyone else trying to knock them off.”
Leading PHS hopefuls are juniors Vlad Stephanov (220, 7-5) and Drew Pranka (160, 0-0), sophomores Tyler Wood (106, 9-6), Luke Marselle (113, 8-7) and Luke Hoffman (170, 8-4) and freshmen Austin Wetsel (126, 13-4).
Filling out the Tiger lineup are senior Casey Pierre (182, 5-4), juniors Drew Pranka (160, 0-0) and Starr Mecum (152, 1-6), sophomores Tyler Webster (120, 5-7), Drew Carpenter (132, 3-7) and Chaz Williams (195 4-6) and freshmen Doran Piper (138, 3-7), Tyler Hammitt (145, 0-8).
Area teams joining in the mix are Dixon, Chillicothe IVC, Ottawa, Rock Falls and Sterling Newman. Other teams competing include Rock Island Alleman, Byron, Clinton, Coal City, Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley, Harvard, Illini Bluffs, LeRoy, Litchfield, Manteno, Mercer County, Monmouth-Roseville, Monticello, Morrison, Olympia, Orion, Palos Heights Shepard, Pittsfield, Plano, Reed Custer, Riverdale, Rockridge, Roxana,Vandalia and Wilmington.
Dakota defeated defending champ Wilmington 190-171.5 for first place a year ago in the PIT. Most Outstanding Wrestlers were Dakota’s Alber (lower weights) and Zach Nelson of Mercer County (upper weights).
Matches will begin at 4:30 p.m. Friday. On Saturday, matches will begin at 9 a.m., with the matches for tournament finals beginning at 5 p.m.
Tournament passes will be sold on Friday evening, adults cost $10, students and senior citizens cost $7. Admission per session is $4 for adults and $3 for students and senior citizens. Children ages kindergarten and under will be admitted free.
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