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PIT off to a big bang with heavyweights

Talk about your big bang theories.

The finals of the Lyle King Princeton Invitational Wrestling Tournament got off to a resounding start with the heavyweights wrestling into overtime. Josh Wallick of Gibson City outlasted Junior Nunez of Plano 3-2 with the crowd on its feet in appreciation of both grapplers efforts.

“It’s been a long time since we had a standing O at the PIT,” said Randy Swinford, former longtime PHS coach turned PIT director.

“I mixed the weight classes around and tried to get some exciting ones in there. Heavyweight wasn’t supposed to be as exciting as it was. Every time I seem to put it first, it’s the most exciting match but that’s good,” PHS coach Steve Amy said.

One of the most exciting matches of the night came at 195 pounds, where the PIT finals showcased a rematch of last year’s 1A state title bout at 192 pounds. The rematch turned into a replay as Derrick Maisonet of Plano bested Daniel Zimmerman of Dakota by the same 3-2 score he tallied in Champaign.

• Dakota repeated as PIT champion with ease, beating out Byron by 90 points 270.5 to 181.5. The Indians had three individual champions.

The top area team finisher was sixth-place Sterling Newman (133). Princeton came in 31st (23) in the 33-team field.

• The top finisher for Princeton was junior Drew Pranka, who finished eighth at 160 pounds. Becoming eligible to wrestle Saturday for the first time, he opened by winning both of his matches Friday evening by fall, defeating Rockridge’s Garret Petreikis (0:39) and Dakota’s Jared Packer (2:32).

He dropped his last two, falling to Olympia’s Chase Thurman 5-4 in the match for seventh place.

“First time out, wasn’t quite where we wanted to be,” Amy said.

The only other Tiger wrestler to advance to Saturday’s second day was freshman Austin Wetsel. He also went 2-0 Friday, including a 7-3 decision over No. 4 ranked Dalton Brito of Roxanna. He lost by fall (2:17) to Colin Weis in the quarterfinals and to Chuck Jacobsen of Monmouth-Roseville by major decision in the wrestlebacks.

“He didn’t look himself today (Saturday). I don’t know what was going on, but he didn’t look himself. He’s got to go back to work and continue to get better,” Amy said.

Sophomore Luke Hoffman won his first match Friday, defeating Dixon’s Bryce Schafer by fall (4:24). He lost his next match and finished the tournament with a 2-2 record.

Other records for PHS wrestlers for the tournament were Tyler Wood (106, 1-2), Luke Marselle (113, 0-2), Tyler Webster (120, 0-2), Drew Carpenter (132, 0-2), Doran Piper (138, 0-2), Tyler Hammit (145, 0-2) and Casey Pierre (182, 0-2),

“We had some guys make some mistakes that cost them some matches. We’ll try to fix those matches come regional and sectional matches,” Amy said.

* Mat reunion: There was a meeting of former state tournament competitors at the scorer’s table Saturday, Aaron Christiansen of Princeton and Olympia coach Pete Cleary. They tangled in 1995, Cleary wrestling for El Paso, who defeated Christiansen for third place at 145 pounds.

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