Alleman, Mercer County wrestlers get double-dose of Champaign


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Posted Online: Feb. 13, 2013, 8:34 pm
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By Daniel Makarewicz, danmak@qconline.com
During his introduction on senior night last month, Mercer County 152-pound senior wrestler Zach Nelson made a point of having his Twitter handle revealed.

Appropriately, he goes by @allwesawwasgold.

"Football," Nelson said when asked why he chose that handle. "But I'm thinking about changing it to something about wrestling."

That may not be necessary.

Three months after helping the Mercer County football team win the Class 2A state championship at Memorial Stadium in Champaign, Nelson can earn a repeat performance across the street at the Assembly Hall this weekend. The two-time state wrestling finalist joins Tristen Finch, Devin Morford, Jon Ricke and Bobby Lincoln who look to win another title.

"It's an awesome opportunity," Nelson said. "Hopefully, I can get two golds and make it be the 'golden' year."

For two Alleman wrestlers, they look for redemption.

Seniors Sean Wetherell and Ben West were starters on the Alleman football team that reached the Class 4A state championship game. The run ended with a 43-18 loss to Rochester, a finish that still is frustrating.

"Don't get me wrong -- it was great to play in that game," said West, a first-time state qualifier and 220-pound sectional runner-up. "But it was a tough feeling walking off with second place. One of the first things that entered my mind was making sure I got another shot to do this in wrestling. Hopefully, I have a different result."

No matter what happens, this weekend provides another memorable experience.

"These are stories you can tell the rest of your life," Ricke, a 170-pound qualifier, said. "Not everyone gets this chance. To make it to state and do great things, that's something you can talk about the rest of your life."

Wetherell already has an interesting story to tell down the road. He just hopes this chapter has a better ending.

In less than a calendar year, Wetherell reached state championship games in both football and baseball. Each time Wetherell appeared in those contests, the Pioneers lost.

Given a third chance to be a champion, he is not focusing on it being the charm. Instead, Wetherell reflects on why he gets another opportunity.

"Hard work does pay off," Wetherell said.

For everyone involved, that is true. Each of them craved a double-dose of Champaign.

"Going into football, we knew we had a chance to do something special," West said. "With wrestling, I had a tough way to end the season last year. I worked hard in the offseason to put myself in a position to do well."

Winning a football state title and individual wrestling state championship is nothing new as Morrison twins Mark and Matt McDonnell did it last year. However, those are the only two local athletes who have accomplished.

Five will vie to add to that distinction, with two more hoping to add to the medal count.

Some, though, already will have jewelry with them in Champaign.

"When I walk into Assembly Hall," Nelson said, "I'll definitely be wearing my state ring."

A new Twitter handle could come when he walks out of Assembly Hall.













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  Today is Saturday, April 19, the 109th day of 2014. There are 256 days left in the year.

1864 -- 150 years ago: Miss McCorkindale has opened millinery rooms over Gimbel's dry goods store, where she offers a choice lot of millinery goods, which she will manufacture to order.
1889 -- 125 years ago: The little South Park Presbyterian chapel celebrated it first Easter decorated with flowers for an afternoon worship service attended by a large congregation.
1914 -- 100 years ago: The Wennerberg Chorus of Augustana College has returned from a 2,000-mile tour in the Eastern states and Illinois.
1939 -- 75 years ago: Col. Charles Lindbergh has stated that he is convinced that Germany's air force is equal to the combined sky fleets of her potential European foes.
1964 -- 50 years ago: Small gas motors may be permitted on boats in the lake to be built in Loud Thunder Forest Preserve. The prospect was discussed yesterday at a meeting of the Rock Island County Forest Preserve Commission.
1989 -- 25 years ago: The annual Dispatch/Rock Island Argus Spelling Bee continues to be a family tradition. Ed Lee, an eighth-grader at John Deere Junior High School, Moline, is the 1989 spelling bee champion from among 49 top spellers in Rock Island, Henry and Mercer counties. He advances to the competition in Washington, D.C. Runnerup was Ed's sister, Susan.






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