CHAMPAIGN -- Even though he lost by a major decision, United Township senior wrestler Markus Murphy provided the biggest thrill.|
Nearly midway through a 15-5 loss to top-ranked Urbana senior Cameron Mammen in the Class 2A 170-pound championship bout, Murphy nearly had an improbable pin that brought the Assembly Hall crowd to its feet. Murphy had Mammen on his back for a count by the official seconds into the second period, but he could not complete the fall.
"You know, putting him on his back felt great," said Murphy, the seventh state runner-up in school history. "But getting that pin would have felt even better."
When Mammen completed his undefeated run to the state title, the buzz inside the Assembly Hall did not compare to Murphy's near upset.
"I gave a great show," Murphy said.
Within 10 seconds of the opening whistle, the show belonged to Mammen. In that stretch, he took Murphy down and cradled him to his back. Murphy (29-6) held strong despite being on his back three separate times.
After the first period, he trailed 11-0.
"He dominated that first takedown, then was dominating me on top," Murphy said. "My goal when he was on top was not to get pinned because I didn't want to be that guy."
Seconds after the second period started, Murphy almost was the guy who got the pin.
"I just kept telling myself that he's going to step hard eventually," Murphy said. "As soon as he stepped hard, I was going to go for it. I shot in, l lifted him and put him to his back. I thought I had him pinned, but it didn't go in my favor."
Asked how he could have completed the pin, Murphy said he should have arched his back more and lifted his head.
Mammen eventually escaped and sealed the victory with a third-period takedown.
"I should have stuck him," Murphy said. "That's the only regret I have."
Schuldt, Steward earn medals: For the second time in school history and first since 1972, the Panthers earned three state medals. Senior Tanner Schuldt (152 pounds) and junior Jeronnie Steward (113) joined Murphy as medalists.
Steward was the first to end UT's 11-year medal drought by placing sixth. He opened the day with a 2-0 overtime win over Belvidere North's Riccardo Roman in the consolation quarterfinal before falling to Sterling's Isaac Anderson by a 10-5 decision.
The run ended with an 7-6 loss to Lincoln-Way West's Kyle Ruettiger in the fifth-place bout.
"It's an ending," Steward said. "I really don't wish it's over, but it's over. I said I'd be on the (state) podium, and that's what I did."
A 5-3 win over Chicago Bowen's Bobby O'Banner put Schuldt in the third-place bout, but he dropped a 5-3 decision to Marion's Jon Evetts.
"I gave it my all, and that's all that matters," said Schuldt, who joins Steward as a first-time medalist. "I'm happy with my performance. There were a few mistakes I did here and there, but it was a good season."
Milan, IL Details
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