OREGON -- When Alleman 170-pound senior wrestler Sean Wetherell trudged off the sectional mat last February, he did so with a disqualification after unsportsmanlike conduct.|
An admitted "grownup" walked off the mat this time with complete control.
Wetherell said his 8-1 victory over Dakota junior Dylan Lydon in the Class 1A Oregon Sectional quarterfinal at the Blackhawk Center was "night and day" different from his previous experience. In so many ways, that statement was prophetic.
From the opening whistle to the hand raise, Wetherell was in control. On top of that, he controlled his emotions.
Considering how the bout began, that was a challenge.
"Coming into that match, it was the same ref (as last year)," Wetherell said. "Small world."
Once the deja vu escaped his mind, Wetherell meticulously worked his shots and moves before completing a takedown by turning a single-leg into a sweep with the first period winding down. An escape, takedown and three back points turned the lead into 8-0 entering the second period.
Other than an escape, Wetherell did not surrender a point.
"I'm best when I'm on my feet, physical and pushing the tempo," said Wetherell, who meets Winnebago junior Sean Ward in today's semifinals. "I did exactly that. I worked different takedowns I normally work, which is good. I'm excited about that."
All of the success came in spite of Wetherell, ranked third in the Illinois Best Weekly poll, facing an unorthodox opponent.
"He was a 'square' wrestler, and normally I have trouble against those kids," Wetherell said. "All week, I worked on how to wrestle those wrestlers and get different finishes."
Wetherell got a different finish, allowing him to move past a frustrating finish to his last sectional experience. Now comes the ultimate takedown as he needs a semifinal win to book his first-ever state trip.
"I've wrestled good kids all year and tight matches," Wetherell said. "I feel like I'm in better shape and a different wrestler."
Spengler impressive in debut: Sherrard 106-pound freshman Hunter Spengler walked to a semifinal berth with back-to-back pins in his first two sectional bouts.After opening with a first-period fall in the first round, he pinned Dakota's Dillon Swift early in the second period to move one step closer to state.
"I'm really surprised," Spengler said. "But my hard work all season has gotten me this far."
Erie-Prophetstown senior Brandon McCullough sits on the opposite side of the semifinal bracket after earning an 8-1 quarterfinal win over Stillman Valley's Erik Baker.
"It's a great and nervous feeling," said McCullough, who reached the semifinals for the first time in his career. "I'm happy that I'm here, but I'm nervous. Hopefully, the nerves don't get the best of me."
An unexpected surprise came from Morrison 145-pound sophomore Austin Keller. Entering the sectional with a 14-17 record, Keller snagged decision wins over Peru St. Bede's Adam Hunter and Harvard's Isaiah Rudd in the first round and quarterfinals, respectively, to reach the semifinal.
In the second win, he trailed by four points in the third period before getting a 9-6 win.
"I didn't even think I'd make it to sectionals. I wasn't even seeded at regionals," Keller said. "It's great."
Riverdale 182-pound junior Terry White continued his perfect season with a 4-3 quarterfinal win over West Carroll's Jacob Klein. White secured a takedown with 16 seconds to break a 2-2 tie.
"He almost got me," White said, "but I pushed through it and took him down."
Mercer County sends four into the semifinals, with Tristen Finch (138 pounds), Zach Nelson (152), Jon Ricke (170) and Bobby Lincoln (220) all advancing. Orion's Jacob DeVolder (126) and Joe DeVolder (145) reached the semifinals as well.
Chance Teel (113), Jacob Hast (120) and Ben Corlett (285) round out the Sherrard semifinalists. Erie-Prophetstown's Seth Montgomery (160) and John Butts (195), Morrison's Calvin Harridge (195) and Alleman's Ben West (220) also earned semifinals berths.
Kewanee trio advances: The Boilermakers send three individuals into the semifinals at the Class 1A Stanford Olympia Sectional. Bo Walters (126), Mark Breedlove (132) and Omar Delgado (145) won by fall, decision and fall, respectively, to reach the semifinals.
Monmouth-Roseville's Logan Millizer advanced into the semifinals at 182 pounds.