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Geneseo sends three wrestlers to individual state; Rocks send two
PREP WRESTLING | ROCHELLE 2A SECTIONAL

Geneseo sends three wrestlers to individual state; Rocks send two

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ROCHELLE — Five local wrestlers fought tooth and nail to qualify for the IHSA Individual State meet on Saturday after winning through the infamous “blood round” at the 2A Rochelle Sectional.

Anthony Montez (113) and Luke Henkhaus (126) of Geneseo each punched their tickets to state in the wrestleback semifinals and ended with third place finishes. Montez and Henkhaus will be joined at the state tournament by teammate Logan Tuggle who placed fourth in 138.

Aoci Bernard (120) and Victor Guzman (132) from Rock Island also qualified for state with fourth place finishes.

Montez was prepared for his consolation semifinal, also called “blood round,” after going through the same process last year.

“I felt nervous going in to the match, but got settled in to the rhythm after a few seconds,” Montez said. “I kept thinking back to last year and that experience definitely helped me out this time.”

Montez won his wrestleback semifinal by a 5-1 decision over Riley Hanson from Ottawa and then took third place with a 10-1 major decision over Shay Korhorn from Joliet Academy.

Henkhaus, a Maple Leafs senior, was happy to finally be able to go to state in the last season of his high school career.

“This is literally everything I have been working toward over the past four years,” Henkhaus said. “All of that hard work with the team and practice paid off and that match meant everything.”

The lone Geneseo senior to qualify to state, Henkhaus had an 8-1 decision over Logan Kuhel-Trimmer of Joliet Academy to advance to state and took the third place sweetener with an 11-6 decision over Shawncy Toombs of Peoria Richwoods.

Not only will Henkhaus metaphorically be bringing his fellow seniors with him to state, he wanted to have Cade Hornback with him as his wrestling partner.

“Cade had a tough match in the wrestlebacks and wasn’t able to qualify with me,” Henkhaus said. “But I want him there with me to be my wrestling partner and to help me out. I want to get as much of the crew to Champaign as we can.”

Hornback faced Abraham Hinrichsen in the wrestleback semifinals and lost an 11-1 major decision. Hinrichsen is ranked third in the state at 120 for Class 2A.

Bernard continued his unlikely story and advanced to state with a 7-6 decision over Alex Crawford of Sycamore before Hinrichsen defeated him by a 15-0 technical fall in the third place match. Just a few weeks ago, Bernard thought that his season might be over due to a concussion and two seizures. Instead, the Rock Island sophomore is headed to state.

“It feels amazing to have come this far,” Bernard said. “Last year I didn’t even make it out of the regionals but this shows how hard I have been working. I couldn’t have done this without the rest of me team, who I look up to and are like mentors to me.”

Bernard took the deciding point in his wrestleback semifinal in the waning seconds of the match, something he hopes he doesn’t have to do again.

“That match was nerve-wracking and took a lot out of me,” Bernard said. “I’m still not back to the peak condition yet and needed to push for six whole minutes. I wanted to avoid the sudden victory period and get it over with quickly.”

Guzman was disappointed with his sectional performance despite qualifying for state with a 3-1 sudden victory win against Drew Kested of Sterling, but he set high goals for his final trip down to state as an individual.

“I just have one goal, to be at the top of the podium at the end,” Guzman said. “It’s my final year, I need to push hard and go out with a bang.”

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