POLO — On the strengths of its lower weights, Princeton will be sending four wrestlers to this week’s Byron Class 1A Sectional. Tyler Wood (106), Luke Marselle (113), Austin Wetsel (120) and Casey Pierre (182) extended their seasons at least one more week by picking up second or third place finishes at the Polo Regional.
St. Bede had one qualifier in senior James Peacock, who placed second at 132.
Lena-Winslow won the meet with 241 points, easily out-distancing Sterling Newman, who had 126.5. In a close battle for fourth place, Polo (94) edged West Carroll (92) and Princeton (90.5).
Wood, a 23-15 sophomore, used a pin over Carter Funfsinn of St. Bede to win the third-place match. Still, coach Steve Amy wanted more.
“He should have been in the finals,” Amy said. “He made a mistake in the semifinals and got his hips too high.”
Marselle advanced to the title match against Paawan Dandona of West Carroll. Dandona, a senior, got in early on Marselle (18-13 sophomore) and pinned him at the 55-second mark of the first period.
“Luke came out aggressive, maybe too aggressive and was taken down off of that,” Amy said.
In a tight match at 120, Wetsel lost 6-5 to Konnor Smith of Rock Falls. The 27-12 freshman kept it close throughout, but was hurt was an early takedown.
“It was a great match,” Amy said. “One mistake at the beginning caused him to be taken down.”
Pierre, a 10-11 senior, gave the Tigers their final sectional berth with a decisive 16-1 technical fall over Carlos Loyola of Rock Falls.
“I wrestled him in the first round (pin by Pierre) and the second time seemed easier,” Pierre said.
Peacock lost in the 132-pound title match to the younger brother of Quincy Kalkbrenner, freshman Kyle. That makes it four straight trips to the sectional for Peacock, who is still looking for his first berth downstate.
“We’re going to the toughest sectional in the state,” St. Bede coach Sean Hobson said. “Last year, 11 of the 14 state champs came out of there and it will be just as tough. Hopefully, we’ll get a good draw.”
In a surprise, John Barnes of St. Bede, the No. 2 seed at 285 missed out on qualifying for the sectional. Two unseeded wrestlers were in the title match and Barnes and No. 1 seed, Brandon Anderson (25-5 senior) had to wrestle for third. Anderson won in a 32-second pin.
“It’s all about peaking at the right time,” Hobson said.
Two other Princeton wrestlers had chances to advance, but lost in third-place matches. Tyler Webster was pinned by Chase Pokoj of Lena-Winslow at 126 and Luke Hoffman was pinned by another Lena-Winslow wrestler at 170.
At 138, Doran Piper won by a pin but lost twice in the wrestlebacks. Dylan Tyner-Williams also won once and lost twice at 220, to close out his senior year.
Tyler Hammit (145) and Chaz Williams (195) lost their only two matches.
In the toughest weight class of the tournament, 160 pounds, Drew Pranka won his first match by a pin. Then he faced defending state champ Quincy Kalkbrenner of Lena-Winslow, who bumped up from 152 to 160 for the regional.
Kalkbrenner, a 34-2 senior, pinned Pranka on his way to the title. The other two qualifiers were sophomores Brady Rude of Newman and Ethan Cain of Polo, both with a combined record of 64-8.
• At LaSalle: The Hall/Putnam County co-op was unable to qualify anyone from the LaSalle-Peru 2A Regional.
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