GENESEO – There’s nothing easy about making it to the state wrestling tournament, and wrestlers from Dixon and Sterling found that out the hard way Saturday afternoon.
Just two Dukes (Bryce Christiansen and Hunter Pate) and one Golden Warrior (Jason Farnham Jr.) from an original contingent of 14 moved on by finishing in the top four of their respective weight classes at the Class 2A Geneseo Sectional.
The state tournament will be held Thursday, Friday and Saturday at State Farm Center in Champaign.
Christiansen (34-7) was the lone area finalist and ran into one of the toughest customers around in the form of Nick Termini, a defending state champion from Burlington Central. An Old Dominion recruit, Termini needed just 31
seconds to finish off
Still, the day was a good one for Christiansen. He was a 5-3 winner against Washington’s Donnie Hidden in the semifinals to secure his first state berth.
“It’s about experience,” Christiansen said. “It’s my first time here, and it’s the payoff for working hard and putting in the time.”
Pate (38-4) began his day by getting pinned by Freeport’s Major Dedmond in the 170-pound semifinals, so his trip to state was earned in the consolation bracket.
He went straight to the wrestleback semifinals, or the blood round, where a state berth was on the line against Sycamore’s Zak Kozumplik.
Pate scored takedowns in the first two periods and opened the third with a reversal to go up 6-0. It then got better for Pate, as he got Kozumplik to his back and won by pin in 4:42.
“I was really excited,” Pate said. “Hard work pays off, and that’s what happened in the end.”
In the third-place bout, Pate was locked in a tense battle with Coal City’s David Papach. After a scoreless first period, Pate rode out Papach in the second until getting called for locked hands with 1 second on the clock.
Pate escaped early in the third period to tie it up 1-1, and it stayed like that until 4 seconds remained. Pate then took down Papach with a bull rush for the winning points.
“I was just waiting for my opening,” Pate said.
Dixon lost three bouts in the blood round. Hakeem Banks (27-6), the Dukes’ 106-pounder, was pinned in 1:59 by Coal City’s Evan Rivera.
At 182 pounds, Clint Schielein lost a 7-2 decision against Peoria Central’s Damar Bradford. Schielein (31-6) gave up a takedown with 3 seconds left in the second period to go down 2-1, and never recovered.
At 195 pounds, Finn Brandon dropped a 5-3 contest to Robby Bates of Morris. Bates got a takedown and two back points in the first period, then held off a late charge by Brandon (25-12).
The highlight for Sterling was the performance by Farnham, who placed fourth at 220 pounds. Farnham began his day by getting pinned in the semifinals by Burlington Central’s Josue Ferro, but he rebounded with a 6-1 victory against Coal City’s Gage Leake in the blood round.
Farnham (29-12) scored three takedowns in that bout, and a key was his hand positioning. At the urging of assistant coach Kevin Heller to “comb his hair,” Farnham kept his hands higher and away from grabby opponents.
“Coach has been telling me all tournament to comb my hair, because every time go for a shot, I get locked up,” Farnham said. “They don’t get a hold of my arm, so I can get my shots easier. It worked, obviously.”
Early in the bout against Leake, Farnham went in for a shot and got a nasty cut above his right eye. He eventually had a gauze wrap around his head to stop the bleeding. It worked well enough to complete the bout against Leake, but it was decided to forfeit the third-place bout against Washington’s Gabe Robison.
Farnham had pinned Robison in 1:13 of a quarterfinal bout Friday night.
Three more Golden Warriors came up empty in blood round bouts.
At 132 pounds, Brayden Porter (33-13) was pinned in 5:16 by Rock Island’s Victor Guzman. Sterling 138-pounder Mauricio Garcia (27-10) lost 17-2 to Rochelle’s Eddie Villalobos. And at 160 pounds, Nick Simester (24-18) fell 8-5 to Sycamore’s Colton Berg.
Dixon: Bryce Christiansen (145); Hunter Pate (170)
Sterling: Jason Farnham Jr. (220)