Banner Day For Northern
|Northern Illinois Sports Beat http://www.northernillinoissportsbeat.com
Northern Illinois had not quite seen a showing at it did last year at the IHSA Individual State
Final Meet at Champaign's Assembly Hall.
Eleven of the 14 contested weight classes last year in Class 1A were all won by area
athletes, the best showing of representation in area history.
This year's efforts at Champaign put last year's extraordinary effort in second place. Last
year proved to be no fluke as all but two Class 1A weight classes were won by area athletes
Northern Illinois continued its dominant streak at the State Finals with Newman leading the
way; three of last year's team champion wrestlers won individual state championships. Byron
had a pair of champions, as did Morrison. Other schools represented at the top of the Class
1A podium included Dakota, Harvard, North Boone, Sandwich and Stillman Valley.
Illinois Route 17 proved to be the southern geographical standard when it came to small
school wrestling in Illinois, as the other two champions came from Braidwood Reed-Custer
and Kankakee Bishop McNamara.
All 14 weight classes in Class 1A had an area wrestler or two competing for a state
In addition to the Class 1A dominance, two area wrestlers won titles in Class 2A and one
other area wrestler won Class 3A gold.
Newman's three state titles added to the 30 the program had won in the past 35 years.
After being injured during last year's individual tournament run, Brian Bahrs (26-4) won his
second state title with a 3-2 decision victory over Mercer County's Zach Nelson at 152
pounds. Bahrs won the 152-pound state title as a sophomore in 2010.
Newman senior R.J. Troye (29-3) finally got the best of Dakota senior Jake Apple (31-1) in
the championship bout at 182 pounds. Troye handed Apple his first loss of the year with an
8-5 decision win. The title is Troye's first – something his older brother Nate wasn't able to
accomplish in three straight title bouts from 2003-05.
Fellow Comet senior Maxx Hubbard (42-2) won his first state championship after finishing
second at 132 pounds last year. Hubbard scored a major decision victory over Wilmington's
Andy Rodawold in this year's title tilt at 132.
Elsewhere in the Three Rivers, Morrison won two state titles as well – both from within the
McDonnell household. The wins came three months after Morrison's football team won this
year's Class 2A state championship, with both kids on the roster.
At 145 pounds, Mark McDonnell (26-1) capped his career with his second straight state title
and fourth straight top three finish. He defeated Stillman Valley's Talon Paul (30-4) with a pin
with four seconds left to go in the first period. Last year, Mark was the first Mustang wrestler
since Pat Hamilton in 1996 to win a state title.
Twin brother Matt (43-2) marked the Mustangs' third state title in the past two years. Having
never medalled at the meet before, Matt took home the 195-pound championship with a 6-2
decision victory against Lena-Winslow/Stockton's Logan Staver (39-5).
Byron took home a pair of individual championships as well on Saturday, adding two more to
its total of eight in program history.
Nelson Baker (37-8), in his first state final medalist finish, had little problem with Toldeo
Cumberland's Nathan Day in the 113-pound title bout. Baker scored a fall in 1:06 to claim the
title. On the opposite end of the 1A festivities, senior Reid Sealby (43-1) claimed his first title
in his second final four appearance at 285 pounds. Sealby needed overtime to get past
Pittsfield's Coltyn Pease, winning 5-1.
Further adding onto school history was North Boone's Brandon Briggs (33-3) at 106 pounds.
Last week, Briggs became the first North Boone wrestler in history to qualify for the state
tournament. He made the three-day experience worth it and continued winning all the way to
the state championship. Briggs defeated Kankakee McNamara's Kyle Simpkins with a third-
period pin in 4:56.
Dakota's Josh Alber kept his unbeaten streak alive with his second state championship. The
Indian sophomore defeated Newman's Garrett Webb with a 7-2 decision to claim the 120-
pound title. Alber ended this season with a record of 43-0 and is unbeaten in 80 high school
matches. The last area wrestler to start off with an unbeaten record in his first two season
was Richmond-Burton's Jordan Blanton (2005-06). Alber's title was the 27th in Dakota history.
Stillman Valley's J.J. Whaley (39-2) won his second straight state title and netting his third
straight podium finish. Whaley, last year's champion at 125 pounds, took home the 126-
pound title by defeating Wilmington's Trent Lyons with a 3-2 decision. Stillman Valley now
has 20 state titles as a program.
Sandwich's Alphonse Vruno (37-0) took home his second state title, adding to his triumph in
2010 in Class 2A. Vruno, who finished in second place last year at 119 pounds, took home
the 138-pound title with a 4-3 championship bout decision win over LeRoy's Justin Meyers.
Like Stillman Valley, Sandwich also now has 20 state titles as a program.
Harvard's Dan Stott (44-3) was the only other area 1A wrestler other than Briggs to taste the
state championship feeling for the first time. Stott, who had back-to-back third-place finishes
in the past two years, won the 170-pound championship in overtime. Several overtime
sessions were taken, but Stott finally pinned down Herrin's Drake Holland after 8:15 of
competition. Stott became Harvard's eleventh state champion in the program's illustrious
Two more area wrestlers came up short in their title bids. Winnebago's Trace Englekes (9-1)
lost his first match of the year at 160 pounds, after being on the receiving end of the winning
takedown from Reed-Custer's Billy Chancey. Also, Lena-Winslow/Stockton's Ty Harmston
(39-5) fell in a 10-5 decision to Bishop McNamara's Channing Dolliger at 220 pounds.
Sycamore's Austin Culton (35-4) and Richmond-Burton's Jack Dechow (34-0) were the only
area wrestlers to win state titles in Class 2A.
Culton made school history by becoming the program's first state champion. Eighteen
Spartans have won medals in the past, but Culton's winning effort at 152 pounds topped the
list of accomplishments. Having never medalled before in the State Finals, Culton made
history by defeating Lemont's Jake Kaminsky in the championship bout with a 2-1 decision
Dechow became the Rockets' sixth state champion after back-to-back years of runner-up
finishes. He had another runner-up effort on the gridiron three months ago. But now the Rich-
Burt senior can add the ultimate honor to his list of accomplishments. Dechow defeated
Bloomington's Stephon Rudicil with a pin with seven seconds left in the opening period.
Rock Island's Barlow McGhee (43-2) and Yorkville's Seth Gonzealez (39-7) fell short in their
Class 2A title bids. McGhee fell to Aurora Marmion's Johnny Jimenez in the 113-pound title
bout by a 4-2 decision. Gonzealez and Vernon Hills's Jeremy Brazil went to overtime in the
285-pound bout, but was on the wrong end of a winning move by Brazil in a 4-2 decision
loss. Gonzealez was the only area finalist to come out of the fourth qualifying spot of the
sectional – in the first year the IHSA restructured the brackets to make that happen.
Harlem's Jordan Northrup (41-3) became the second straight Huskie to win a state title, after
Derek Elmore won at 119 last year. Northrup became the fourth state wrestling champion
from Harlem, joining current head coach Cal Ferry (three titles from 1998-2000) and Bob
Maddock (1980). In the 113-pound championship bout, Northrup defeated Chicago Marist's
Mark Duda 5-4.
Northrup's title was also the area's second Class 3A title since the sport expanded to three
classes in 2009.
Nineteen additional Class 1A area wrestlers took home medals.
Placing third in Class 1A were LeWin/Stockton's Gunner Wenger (106), Plano's Jose
Villarreal (120), Dakota's Carver James (126), Lena-Winslow's Austin McPeek (132) and
Quincy Kalkbrenner (138), Plano's Wes Brown (160) and Lutheran's Mike Andrukaitis (170).
Placing fourth were Harvard's Anthony Luis (106), Erie/Prophetstown's Mitch Mallary (113)
and Dylan DeShane (182), and Riverdale's Mitch Keppy (285).
Placing fifth were Byron's Aaron Bonnell (145), Harvard's Nathan Cowan (182), Stillman
Valley's A.J. Dobson (220) and Newman's Jake Walls (285).
Placing sixth were Sandwich's Jesse Wood (106), IVC's Riley Beard (113), Seneca's Alex
Valentine (145) and Stillman Valley's Jake Wold (170).
Twenty additional Class 2A area wrestlers took home medals.
Placing third in Class 2A were Rich-Burt's Cameron Kennedy (120), DeKalb's Doug Johnson
(126), Rich-Burt's Garrett Sutton (138), Yorkville's Connor Bass (145) and Rich-Burt's Brett
Placing fourth were Sycamore's Kyle Akins (113), Burlington Central's Omar Awad (170) and
Sycamore's Jake Davis (195).
Placing fifth were Rich-Burt's Grant Sutton (106), Rock Island's Ignace Hakizimana (120) and
Darius Henderson (132), Yorkville's Clayton Bass (152), Geneseo's Olver Newton (195) and
Sterling's Curtis Lilly (285).
Placing sixth were Kaneland's Stephen Gust (106), Morris's Kenny Baldridge (112), Central's
Johnny Major (145), Rock Island's Kyle Kerres (152), Morris's Nik Countryman (182) and
Freeport's Trey Pempilton (195).
The only other Class 3A medalist from the area was Harlem's Zac Denny, placing fifth at 120.
Postseason team competition kicks on Tuesday with eight area teams competing in the team
sectional round. If they win their one match, they will advance to the IHSA Team State
Tournament which takes place on Saturday at U.S. Cellular Coliseum in Bloomington.
In Class 1A, Sandwich will take on Chicago Ida Crown at the Coal City Sectional, while
Newman and Mercer County tangle at the Oregon Sectional right next to the Lena-
Winslow/Stockton and Harvard match.
In Class 2A, Sycamore will host Rock Island with Yorkville and Washington wrestling nearby.
In Class 3A, Harlem makes the trip to Wheeling to take on Winnetka New Trier.
Reach us at Northernillinoissportsbeat@yahoo.com. --- Talk about what's written on our
C o d y' s
C o l u m n s
|Those Who Know
High School Sports
Know about NISB!
12 of 14 Class 1A titles to area athletes.
Two Class 2A champs.
One Class 3A champ.
North Boone's Briggs, Sycamore's Culton make
Newman wrestlers win three, Byron two, McDonnell