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Blankenship leads three placers at state tournament

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By Andrew Harner

Vandalia junior Dalton Blankenship's fourth-place finish on Saturday led Vandalia's three placers at the Illinois High School Association individual state tournament.

Blankenship lost in the championship preliminaries to Jake Snow, the eventual champion at 145 pounds, but made an impressive run through the wrestle-backs at the State Farm Center on the campus of the University of Illinois, winning three bouts before falling to Litchfield's Seth Newkirk by fall at 1:52 in the third-place bout.

It was Blankenship's first state medal in three trips, after he went winless in the past two tournaments.

Senior C.J. Runkel, who won two bouts in the 160-pound championship bracket before falling to eventual champion Quincy Kalkbrenner in the semifinals. In the wrestle-back semifinals, he lost to Jared Packer, but defeated Zac Blasioli in the fifth-place bout to earn his first state medal.

Senior Tyler Dagen won one match in the 152-pound championship bracket, and also made a nice run through the wrestle-backs to reach the medal podium.

After opening the wrestle-backs with an ultra tie-breaker overtime win against Andrew Liaromatis, he advanced to the wrestle-back semifinals before taking another loss.

That still put him in the fifth-place bout, but he was defeated by Keegan Gardner, 6-2, to earn a state medal in his second trip to Champaign.

The Vandals continued their season on Tuesday, when they will battle Shelbyville at the dual team sectional in Litchfield. Wrestling begins at 6 p.m., with the winner advancing to Saturday's dual team state tournament at the U.S. Cellular Coliseum in Bloomington.