CHAMPAIGN -- Seeded third in the 132-pound bracket, Rock Island senior wrestler Chase Wiggins was 30 seconds away from a possible defeat in his state debut.|
Wiggins then went on a dramatic ride.
Needing to ride out Bensenville Fenton junior Andy Santana in the ultimate tiebreaker on Thursday afternoon, Wiggins held his ground. By riding the final 30 seconds, he gutted out a 3-2 victory in the opening round of the Class 2A state meet at the Assembly Hall.
"I can't underestimate people just because of what they did in previous tournaments," said Wiggins, who earned the third seed based on winning the Rochelle Sectional title. "I've got to wrestle every match like it's my last."
From the start, Wiggins, one of eight local Class 2A state quarterfinalists, appeared in control with a quick takedown. He then allowed Santana a free escape, but struggled mustering any offense in the final two periods.None of the shots Wiggins attempted produced points.
"I was in deep five times," Wiggins said. "He was a lot stronger than I thought he was. I kind of underestimated his strength. I can't do that."
Neither scored in the first overtime, but Wiggins rode out Santana in the first half of the second one. Wiggins, though, could not escape in his portion of the 30-second frame, forcing the ultimate tiebreaker.
Wiggins chose top. Thirty seconds later, he finished there.
"I'm feeling relieved I got out of that match with a win," Wiggins said. "But it's not good enough."
B.J. McGhee certainly felt good after his 120-pound first-round bout. The top-ranked Rocky senior controlled second-ranked Richmond-Burton sophomore Grant Sutton from start to finish in his 6-3 win.
It was the second time this season McGhee beat Sutton.
"I wrestled really well," McGhee said. "I was really supposed to meet that kid in the finals. That's not what happened. He wrestled a tough match, but I feel really good."
All six points were scored on three takedowns, with McGhee surrendering three on free escapes.
"My offense was working really well," McGhee said. "All he tried to do was stay back and tried to get what he could. I kept my takedowns really smart."
After his first-ever state win, 170-pound junior Michael Cole gave Rocky three quarterfinalists. Cole rolled past Hampshire senior Travis Keeling, earning an 11-0 major decision.
"I've been thinking about this all year. It's good to know the hard work is paying off," Cole said. "I knew I could be a contender. I'm getting better and better each match."
One year after having zero state qualifiers, United Township has three quarterfinalists. All three winners -- 113-pound junior Jeronnie Steward, 152-pound senior Tanner Schuldt and 170-pound senior Markus Murphy -- snagged close victories.
Murphy, seeded third in his bracket, earned a 3-1 win over Oak Park Fenwick senior Dubem Ikedionwu. The bout was sealed with Murphy's second-period takedown that put him ahead 2-1.
"The first match is always the hardest one. I had a lot of nerves, tension," Murphy said. "I need to open up a lot more. I should have beaten him a lot more than I did."
In his state debut, Schuldt used a second-period escape and takedown to build a 3-0 lead over Mahomet-Seymour's Derek Grant. That ended up being the final.
"I had a good mindset," Schuldt said. "My goal was to control the match the whole time."
Despite surrendering an early reversal, Steward rode put Danville's Javonte Crider in the second period to preserve a 4-3 lead. Steward then scored three points in the third period to get a 7-3 victory in his first-ever state bout.
"I wasn't really nervous," Steward said. "Last week at sectionals, I lost because I was nervous. I calmed things down. I wasn't nervous at all. If anything, I was confident."
In its two victories, Geneseo needed some last-second heroics. Brandon Mizlo advanced with a 12-11 win over Lombard Montini's Michael Maduko in a 170-pound bout. Mizlo scored a two-point takedown with three seconds left in regulation.
"That was great," Mizlo said. "This is special. I knew I had to gut through and keep pushing."
A back-and-forth bout ended in Hunter Grau getting an 11-9 overtime win over Johnsburg's Branden Peshek. Grau won the 120-pound match with an early overtime takedown.
"I had to get that win," Grau said. "I had to fight."
Geneseo's Ryan Pitra (152 pounds) and Rocky's Jean-Louis Sawadago (145) and Keith Lawrence (195) all dropped their first-round bouts. Today's quarterfinal bouts will determine if the trio reaches the wrestlebacks.
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