CHAMPAIGN -- The bright lights Jon Ricke saw as he took the Assembly Hall floor for his Class 1A state meet opener on Thursday afternoon were nothing compared to what the Mercer County 170-pound senior wrestler experienced six days earlier.|
When Ricke first reached the mat in the Oregon Sectional for the first time last Friday, he was "nervous." State did not offer any butterflies.
All the anxiety was extinguished by simply making it to the state meet. By advancing out of the Oregon Sectional, most felt you were equipped to handle the rigors of wrestling at Assembly Hall.
"It prepared me a lot -- probably more than any other sectional," said Ricke, who earned a third-period fall over Coal City's Ryan Naples in his opener. "I knew if I did well and competed there, I could easily do well here."
One look at the results proved Ricke is correct.
Sixteen local wrestlers survived that sectional. Twelve earned first-round victories on Thursday.
"All you've got to do is make it out," Sherrard 285-pound junior Ben Corlett said. "If you make it out, you've got chances to do something at state."
So far, so good.
Five locals -- Corlett, Ricke, Sherrard freshman Hunter Spenger (106 pounds), Riverdale junior Terry White (182) and Alleman senior Ben West (220) -- each won by fall in their openers. To some, their first-round bouts were less of a challenge than anything they experienced the week before.
"Having two, three close matches up there got me ready for state," West said.
Half of those six matches did not extend beyond the first period.
Those that did not end in fall were not close, either. Erie-Prophetstown 106-pound senior Brandon McCullough had a takedown seconds into the opening bout of the day, setting a tone that continued through 285.
McCullough, Orion senior Joe DeVolder (145) and Mercer County sophomore Tristen Finch (138) and senior Zach Nelson (152) each won by major decision.
"The wrestling matches (at the sectional) helped me," Nelson said.
Still, not every match was a cakewalk.
Sherrard 113-pound sophomore Chance Teel was taken down early before snagging a 13-7 win. Orion junior Jacob DeVolder earned a 9-6 victory in his 126-pound opener. Mercer County senior Devin Morford survived for a 5-3 triumph at 160.
"I had nerves, which really wore me down," Morford said. "But I got it done."
Mercer County (four) advanced the most into today's quarterfinals, but Sherrard (three) and Orion (two) each had its only qualifiers win opening bouts.
Alleman 170-pound senior Sean Wetherell dropped a 5-4 decision in his debut and Morrison senior Calvin Harridge lost his 195-pound match in overtime. Mercer County senior Bobby Lincoln and Riverdale senior Logan Sherman each lost their 220-pound bouts.
Two of the Kewanee Boilermakers' three qualifiers won their state debuts. Bo Walters needed 1:35 to secure a pin in his opener.
"This feels great," Walters said. "I worked all season to get this."
Mark Breedlove tallied a 6-2 victory at 132.
"It's always nice have a tougher match in the first round," Breedlove said. "It was good to adapt to the environment."
Monmouth-Roseville's Justin Kinney (113) and Kewanee's Omar Delgado (145) each lost their openers by decision.
Q-C state quarterfinalists
Class 1AAlleman: Ben West (220); Erie-Prophetstown: Brandon McCullough (106); Kewanee: Bo Walters (126), Mark Breedlove (132); Mercer County: Tristen Finch (138), Zach Nelson (152), Devin Morford (160), Jon Ricke (170); Orion: Jacob DeVolder (126), Joe DeVolder (145); Riverdale: Terry White (182); Sherrard: Hunter Spengler (106), Chance Teel (113), Ben Corlett (285)
Class 2AGeneseo: Hunter Grau (120), Brandon Mizlo (170); Rock Island: B.J. McGhee (120), Chase Wiggins (132), Michael Cole (170); United Township: Jeronnie Steward (113), Tanner Schuldt (152), Markus Murphy (170)
Class 3AMoline: Adarios Jones (285)
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