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Four Jr. Vandals qualify for state

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By Seth Whitehead

Four Vandalia Jr. Wrestling Club members will be traveling to Rockford this week to compete in the IKWF State Tournament, to be held March 6-8 at the MetroCentre.

C.J. Runkel, Seth Purcell, Trever Pyle and Levi Ulmer all qualified for the three-day event by coming away with top-three finishes in their respective divisions Saturday at the Vandalia South Sectional.

The foursome's state-qualifying performances highlighted a strong overall showing by the host team at the VCHS gymnasium.

Ten of the 14 Junior Vandals who competed wound up placing in a tournament that featured 381 wrestlers from throughout the southern portion of the state.

Vandalia placed eighth out of 34 teams with 144 points.

Pyle, Purcell and Ulmer all came away with second-place finishes in their respective brackets, while Runkel qualified for state by placing third in his.

Ulmer will be making his third straight state appearance after putting together a title-match run in the Senior 156 division.

After receiving a bye in the opening two rounds, Ulmer secured another state berth by pinning Collinsville's Shaquille Reveter in two minutes flat. Reveter's teammate, Andrew Altenberger, was able to get a little revenge against Pyle in the title match, however, winning via pin in 2:01.

Pyle clinched a state spot in similar fashion as Ulmer, pinning Carlinville's Austin Shelton 2:12 into their Senior 95 semifinal. Bull W.C.'s Josh Bennett was too tough in the championship, however, as he rolled to a 13-4 major decision victory over Pyle.

Pyle started the day off by pinning Collinsville's Jacob Delisle in the quarterfinals in 1:50 after receiving an opening-round bye.

Purcell pinned Edwardsville's Cameron Throneberry in 2:23 in the Novice 95 quarterfinals before clinching a state spot with an 8-4 semifinal decision Little Redbird W.C.'s Jacob Dabbs.

Cody Torrey of the Jersey Junior Panthers' defeated Purcell in the title bout, however, recording a pin in 2:49.

Runkel booked his state ticket with a pin just 12 seconds into his third-place Novice 89 match against Anna-Jonesboro's Levi Flute.

Runkel suffered an 8-4 semifinal loss to Bulls W.C.'s Brady Pierce following a pin of G.C. Jr. Warriors' Chris Holmes 1:09 into their quarterfinal match.

Fellow Junior Vandals Blake Cripe and Jacob Stewart also had top-three finishes, but both wrestlers had already secured state spots prior to Saturday's sectional.

They will compete in a state competition featuring Midget Division wrestlers next weekend in Danville.

Cripe rolled to the Midget 101 title, as he pinned Saukee Youth W.C.'s Tyler Grimsley just 39 seconds into their championship bout.

Cripe won in similarly dominating fashion in the semifinals, pinning O'Fallon's Nicholas Lambaria in just 40 seconds. He received byes in the first and second rounds.

Stewart took second place in the Midget 156 division, as he pinned Mt. Vernon's Ryan Winders just 31 seconds into their semifinal bout before dropping a 7-0 decision to Murphysboro's Ethan Mathes in the championship.

The Junior Vandals had three other wrestlers barely miss the state cut with fourth-place finishes.

Mt. Vernon's Alex Vosburgh denied Vandalia's Andrew Gaylord a state appearance by recording a pin 1:01 into their Novice 101 third-place match.

Gaylord recovered from a quarterfinal loss via pin to Bulls W.C.'s Collin McClellan by pulling out a 4-3 consolation semifinal decision over Roxana's Bradley Herzberg, but Vosburgh proved too tough in the finals.

Collin Nestleroad also wrestled for a state berth, but fell 8-0 to Mt. Vernon's Trace Carello in their Novice 74 third-place bout.

Nestleroad fell via pin in his opening bout to the G.C. Junior Warriors' Jason Moerlien, but bounced back into state contention with a 14-0 major decision over Roxana's Daniel Larue in the consolation semifinals.

Daniel Edwards suffered a similar fate as Nestleroad and Gaylord, placing fourth in the Senior 115 division.

After winning his opening round bout, 13-6, over Hillsboro's Trey Mohler, Edwards was pinned 2:31 into his quarterfinal match against Bulls W.C.'s Jared Morrow. Edwards bounced back with a vengeance, however, pulling out a thrilling 3-2 decision over O'Fallon's Lavion Mayes in the consolation semifinals.

G.C. Jr. Warriors' Chad Whitford was too tough in the third-place match though, winning by technical fall, 21-5.

Cody Phillips added another fourth-place showing for the Junior Vandals. After receiving an opening-round bye in the Midget 55 division, Phillips fell to G.C. Jr. Warriors' Tyler Moon in the quarterfinals before bouncing back with a pin of O'Fallon's Dylan Reiners 1:40 into their consolation semifinal.

Cooper Secker of the G.C. Jr. Warriors was too tough in the third-place bout, taking a 9-5 decision over Phillips.

Four other Junior Vandals competed in the sectional, but did not place.

Jackson Wehrle fell in his Midget 66 opener, as G.C. Jr. Warriors' John Bass pinned him in 21 seconds. Austin Yuss then took a 9-6 decision over Wehrle in the consolation bracket.

Luke Tessman fell in the opening round of the Midgett 66 division, as O'Fallon's Jarrid Braunagel won a 14-2 major decision.

Adam Lange was pinned by Edwardsville's Gavin McBride in the Midget 108 division's quarterfinals before suffering a tough 4-2 loss to Saukee Youth W.C.'s Wade Thiele in the consolation semifinals.

Kaleb Pierce fell in the first round of the Senior 130 division, as Gillespie's Jason Whitlock pinned him in 2:42.