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Individual state wrestling preview

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By Andrew Harner

106 –Trevor Philpot

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•Year: Freshman
•Regional finish: First
•Sectional finish: Fourth
•Season record: 27-18

•Preliminary bouts
-Byron's Brady Wilsie (36-2)
-Herscher's Anthony Rink (36-5)

-Peotone's Chase Emerson (18-15)
-Benton's Oliver Davis (31-7)

-Lisle's Drew Sonnefeldt (25-8)
-Monticello's Nick Tankersley (25-8)

-Mercer County's Drake Stirn (36-13)
-Gibson City's Hunter Lowry (26-5)

-EAWR's Drew Sobol (34-4)
-Plano's Jake Krotz (22-21)

-Quincy Notre Dame's Ashton Meyers (31-3)
-Dakota's Dillon Swift (30-11)

-LeRoy's Trevor Bullington (15-3)
-Rockford Lutheran's Zac Schrank (34-4)

-Vandalia's Trevor Philpot (27-18)
-Coal City's Joey Rivera (38-9)

•Philpot's prelim: Vandalia's lightweight got a tough draw after finishing fourth at the Robinson Sectonal, getting paired up with Coal City's Rivera, the No. 2 seed. The two matched up during a dual at the St. Thomas More New Year's Challenge, with Rivera beating Philpot by fall in 1:08. Philpot has improved since then, but getting past Rivera, a sophomore, will be no easy task. Both wrestlers will be making their state debut.

•Who Philpot’s seen: Philpot has wrestled against four of the 106-pound state qualifiers during the season. Other than Rivera, Philpot has three times been pinned by Tankersley (4:58 in a dual, 1:24 in the sectional quarterfinals and 1:58 in the third-place bout at sectionals), twice lost to Sobol (0:48 at the Civic Memorial Tournament and 6-1 at the Princeton Tournament) and once lost to Krotz (2-1 in dual at the New Year's Challenge.

•Philpot's take: "At the beginning of the year, I wasn't very confident that I was going to make it. I've had my confidence boosted up by wrestling Chaston (Womack) a lot (in practice)."

113 – Chaston Womack

•Year: Sophomore
•Regional finish: First
•Sectional finish: Second
•Season record: 34-11

•Preliminary bouts
-Coal City's Cody Minnick (42-1)
-Rockford Lutheran's Austin Grant (29-13)

-Normal-University's Dylan Carey (30-12)
-Vandalia's Chaston Womack (34-11)

-LeRoy's Alex Matlock (26-8)
-Monticello's Logan Knisley (35-4)

-Kankakee-McNamara's Hunter Voigt (10-11)
-Dakota's Alec Henze (28-11)

-Roxana's Jeremy O'Gara (36-5)
-Herscher's Ken Demarah (26-14)

-Byron's Nolan Baker (39-5)
-Lisle's Jeff Chan (29-5)

-North Boone's Brandon Briggs (27-3)
-Walther Christian's Jonah McGinnis (23-8)

-Murphysboro's Steven Bastien (25-16)
-Warsaw's Will Lucie (31-1)

•Womack's prelim: Womack should have a competitive preliminary bout on Thursday. Carey, a freshman regional champion, finished third at the Olympia Sectional, getting beat 15-0 in the championship semifinals by Lucie, the No. 2 seed at 113. Womack, also a regional champion, placed second at the Robinson Sectional to No. 3 seed O'Gara. Give Womack the edge based on experience for a potential third match with No. 1 Minnick, a junior who is a two-time state placer with nine career losses.

•Who Womack’s seen: Womack was pinned in the third period by Minnick during a dual at the St. Thomas More New Year's Challenge in late December, but he improved on that during the Princeton Tournament, with a 6-1 loss. He also fell to Knisley, 7-4 in overtime, during a dual, and has lost three times to O'Gara (13-1 in a dual, 3:56 at the Litchfield Tournament and 2:31 in the sectional finals). Womack has defeated Bastien twice, winning 9-0 in a dual and 16-0 at Litchfield. Additionally, he beat 106-pound qualifier Drake Stirn by fall.

•Womack's take: "I'm continuing doing as well as I can. I need to not be as nervous. I'm really hungry for a win."

•State history: Womack held an early lead in his state debut last season before getting pinned by Byron's Brady Wilsie in 5:13. He has acknowledged that nerves got the better of him on the big stage.

120 – Ryne Lipsey

•Year: Junior
•Regional finish: First
•Sectional finish: Fourth
•Season record: 37-10

•Preliminary bouts
-Althoff's Jarid Brunagel (36-0)
-Gibson City's Cameron Schwing (33-7)

-Mercer County's Preston Adams (27-15)
-Plano's Tyler Whitten (23-19)

-Dakota's Printice Walls (28-8)
-Chicago Bowen's Cory Wilson (30-3)

-Vandalia's Ryne Lipsey (37-10)
-Monmouth-Roseville's Justin Kinney (37-2)

-Kankakee-McNamara's Zach Lorek (23-8)
-Sherrard's Jacob Hast (38-9)

-Illini Bluffs' Jake Worms (35-6)
-Cumberland's Nathan Day (38-2)

-Peoria Heights' Tanner Coleman (29-5)
-Argenta-Oreana's Zach Whitsel (34-6)

-River Grove-Guerin's Juan Reyes IV (29-5)
-Byron's Nelson Baker (38-0)

•Lipsey's prelim: Lipsey's debut at the state tournament will be a tough one. The Vandalia junior is paired against fourth-seeded Monmouth-Roseville senior Justin Kinney, a three-time state qualifier who has twice defeated Lipsey this season. In a dual at the St. Thomas More New Year's Challenge, Kinney pinned Lipsey in 3:23, but Lipsey improved in a second meeting at the Princeton Tournament, a 17-4 loss.

•Who Lipsey’s seen: Outside of Kinney, Lipsey has battled three others in his bracket. He defeated Whitten, 18-3, during the New Year's Challenge, but took losses to Braunagel (17-2) and Whitsel (1:10) at the sectional tournament.

•Coach Clay's take: “It’s good to see him get over the hump. He has done a really good job for a kid who just started wrestling in high school.”

145 – Dalton Blankenship

•Year: Junior
•Regional finish: First
•Sectional finish: Fourth
•Season record: 41-6

•Preliminary bouts
-Sterling Newman Central Catholic's Jake Snow (36-1)
-Vandaila's Dalton Blankenship (41-6)

-Chicago-Bowen's Kendall Gibbs (31-4)
-Prairie Central's Paul Garcia (27-8)

-Plano's Abel Gonzalez (32-10)
-El Paso's Gabe McKinley (29-13)

-Oregon's Dominic Marchetti (28-14)
-Benton's Daniel Krug (31-7)

-St. Joseph-Ogden's Griffin Meeker (35-3)
-Chicago Hope Academy's Jonavan Huggins (31-6)

-Litchfield's Seth Newkirk (38-7)
-Dakota's Greg Krulas (30-10)

-Shelbyville's Wyatt Fox (35-6)
-Rockford Lutheran's Connor Waugh (34-10)

-Deer Creek-Mackinaw's Taylor Thomas (27-8)
-Lisle's Benjamin Buchelt (34-3)

•Blankenship's prelim: A tough performance at sectionals leaves Blankenship against the No. 1 seed. Snow's only loss this season came to state title-contending 138-pounder J.J. Wolfe of Dakota. Not only that, Snow has a wealth of experience in Champaign, winning a state championship as a freshman and taking third as a junior. Even with a loss, Snow should advance far enough for Blankenship to get a chance to come back through the consolation bracket.

•Who Blankenship’s seen: Blankenship has fared well against several wrestlers in the 145-pound field. He pinned Gonzalez and McKinley during matches at the St. Thomas More New Year's Challenge, and also owns a 6-5 win against Fox. Blankenship is 2-1 on the season against Newkirk, winning 5-2 and 7-6 before dropping an 8-2 matchup in the third-place match at sectionals. Blankenship also lost there to Krug, 4-2. Blankenship additionally beat 152-pound qualifier Curtis VanWinkle of Mercer County, 13-3.

•Coach Clay's take: “He drew Snow in the first round, but if you want to be a state champ, you have to beat everyone. We’ll wrestle him right out of the gate and see what he has, and I think Dalton can go with him. Hopefully, we’ll be in the match in the third period with a chance to pull it out.”

•State history: A two-time state qualifier, Blankenship is still seeking his first victory in Champaign. As a freshman, he lost 18-2 and 10-1 in his two matches, and as a sophomore, he fell 5-1 in his only bout.

152 – Tyler Dagen

•Year: Senior
•Regional finish: First
•Sectional finish: Fourth
•Season record: 34-13

•Preliminary bouts
-Dakota's Carver Jones (37-1)
-Peotone's Kody Goberville (24-10)

-West Frankfort's Keegan Gardner (36-5)
-Beardstown's Daniel Guzman (22-8)

-Shelbyville's Adam Hudson (39-2)
-PORTA's Christian Kolb (39-9)

-Byron's Jacob Elsbury (31-10)
-Plano's Zach Tomac (39-9)

-St. Joseph-Ogden's Austin Hedrick (22-1)
-Vandalia's Tyler Dagen (34-13)

-Wilmington's Andrew Liaromatis (42-8)
-Durand's Gacob Lenox (30-3)

-Chicago-Corliss' Stephon Gray (24-4)
-Mercer County's Curtis VanWinkle (30-13)

-Herscher's Austin Renshaw (29-18)
-Monticello's Dylan Knisley (35-3)

•Dagen's prelim: Dagen will face a former state placer in the first round of his second state tournament. Hedrick is a three-time state qualifier, finishing fourth last season, and the senior has four individual tournament championships to his name this winter. Dagen is a pesky wrestler, but getting by Hedrick will be a tall task. He should see action in the consolation bracket with a loss.

•Who Dagen’s seen: Dagen has wrestled many of the individuals in his bracket, but he hasn't been able to earn a win against a state qualifer. Liaromatis has beaten Dagen 6-5 and 2-1, Gardner has beaten Dagen 4-2 and 6-1, Hudson has beaten Dagen 14-3 and 5-1, and Knisley beat Dagen, 12-3. It's reasonable to assume, however, that something has got to give for Dagen in his final state tournament. He also pinned 160-pound qualifier Austin Keller during the season.

•Coach Clay's take: On the sectional wrestle-back semifinal match: "Dagen rode (Litchfield's Caleb) Thompson tough and scored his point on bottom, and then rode him for the third period. If Tyler can wrestle like that, he can beat a lot of people.”

•State history: Dagen finally broke through and qualified for state as a junior last season, and he battled to a 4-0 loss to the eventual fourth-place finisher. He was pinned in the wrestle-backs.

160 – C.J. Runkel

•Year: Senior
•Regional finish: First
•Sectional finish: First
•Season record: 40-7

•Preliminary bouts
-Lena-Winslow's Quincy Kalkbrenner (37-2)
-West Frankfort's William Lenzini (30-11)

-Peotone's Nick Goberville (21-14)
-Olympia's Chase Thurman (32-5)

-Wilmington's Nick Hawkins (39-11)
-PORTA's Jesse Setzer (31-11)

-Morrison's Austin Keller (37-13)
-Vandalia's C.J. Runkel (40-7)

-Prairie Central's Sam Schuler (38-5)
-Reed-Custer's Billy Marquardt (15-12)

-EAWR's Zac Blasioli (34-6)
-Dakota's Jared Packer (27-13)

-Monticello's Jacob Burton (30-7)
-Polo's Ethan Cain (35-5)

-Tremont's Cole Lenington (25-4)
-Plano's Wes Brown (43-1)

•Runkel's prelim: It would be hard to find a better place in the bracket for Runkel to start than where he was placed. If Runkel is able to get by Keller in the first round, he will be matched up against an opponent who he beat earlier in the season. And while a trip to the semifinals isn't that simple, Runkel's chances are looking good. First-time qualifier Keller was pinned by Runkel's teammate, Tyler Dagen, during a dual at the St. Thomas More New Year's Challenge, and Runkel beat Setzer and Hawkins during the season. If he makes the semifinals, it likely would be a rematch of the championship bout of the Litchfield Tournament, when Kalkbrenner was a 5-1 winner.

•Who Runkel’s seen: In addition to those mentioned above, Runkel has wins against Lenzini (16-1), Blasioli (5-4 and 3-2) and Burton (9-6 and 7-5). Runkel has twice lost to Brown (4-2 and 6-3).

•Runkel's take: "It comes in handy having experience on people. You’re mentally more prepared, and you’re naturally in position instead of guessing what to do.”

•State history: Runkel qualified for state as a freshman, but hasn't been back since, missing the cut as a sophomore and losing his junior season to injury. In his lone state bout, Runkel was a 5-1 loser.

170 – Seth Purcell

•Year: Senior
•Regional finish: First
•Sectional finish: Second
•Season record: 39-4

•Preliminary bouts
-Kankakee-McNamara's Kyle Betourne (24-0)
-Macomb's Tyler Arnold (29-4)

-Roxana's Luke Curtis (27-18)
-Byron's Danny Falconer (37-5)

-Vandalia's Seth Purcell (39-4)
-Erie's Nick Williams (31-7)

-Westmont's Adam Ferrell (28-12)
-El Paso's Hunter Sant Amour (34-4)

-Sterling Newman Central Catholic's Bryce Ivey (35-1)
-Monticello's Mike Redwinski (25-13)

-Bismarck-Henning's Jarod Noel (38-7)
-Coal City's Riley Kauzlaric (33-14)

-LeRoy's Caleb Wilson (27-6)
-Reed-Custer's Jonathan Costain (25-16)

-Mooseheart's Joe Feemorlu (13-4)
-Shelbyville's Lucas Duckett (41-2)

•Purcell's prelim: Purcell has a good shot to win his preliminary bout, meeting up with first-time qualifier Williams. With a win, Purcell would potentially set up an exciting quarterfinal bout against Sant Amour, who Purcell beat 2-1 during a dual at the St. Thomas More New Year's Challenge.

•Who Purcell’s seen: Purcell has actually missed his chance to wrestle several of those in his weight class, as three times a 170-pounder was bumped up to face teammate Jake Stewart at 182 pounds. Two of them – Curtis and Redwinski – lost to Stewart during the season, and the other, Kauzlaric, picked up a 14-10 win. Purcell later pinned Redwinski (1:13) at sectionals, and has split matchups with Duckett, winning 3-1 early in the season and losing 7-4 in the sectional finals.

•Coach Clay's take: "He’s a competitor and takes losing hard, but he’ll be focused and ready to put some people on their back. He has to create some offense on his feet, and he knows it. I feel like he is in a good spot (in the bracket).”

•State history: Purcell qualified for state as a sophomore, falling 12-2 to the eventual state champion in the first round. In the consolation bracket, he took a loss by fall in 3:44.

195 – Bobby Bradley

•Year: Sophomore
•Regional finish: First
•Sectional finish: Thrid
•Season record: 39-9

•Preliminary bouts
-Plano's Derrick Maisonet (45-0)
-Murphysboro's Drew Hopkins (28-8)

-St. Joseph-Ogden's Wesley Kibler (30-6)
-Rock Falls' Lucas Newbaugh (31-9)

-Quincy Notre Dame's Jeffrey Haley (31-3)
-Rockford Lutheran's Austin Barnhart (29-10)

-Peotone's Tom Ruffino (29-8)
-Monticello's Matt Baker (28-5)

-Riverdale's Terry White (24-0)
-LeRoy's Lane Windstrom (28-8)

-Vandalia's Bobby Bradley (39-9)
-Walther Christian's Pierre Pelley (14-5)

-Carterville's Joe Behan (33-4)
-Wilmington's Ryan Berman (25-13)

-Oregon's Tyler Blume (26-14)
-Dwight's Anthony Bauer (31-5)

•Bradley's prelim: In a battle of first-time qualifiers, Bradley, a sophomore, and Pelley, a senior, should wrestle an exciting bout. Pelley is light on matches this season, while Bradley has more than doubled his win total from a year ago. A win would likely setup a quarterfinal bout against the undefeated White.

•Who Bradley’s seen: Bradley has seen a pair of his bracket-mates multiple times this season, with mixed results against both. He is 2-2 against Hopkins, winning 4-3 in the sectional quarterfinals and then again 3-1 in the third-place bout. Hopkins earned 4-1 and 3-2 wins during the season. Bradley beat Baker, 5-3, at the Princeton Tournament, but lost 10-2 in the sectional semifinals, and Bradley also has a 4-3 win against Berman.

•Coach Clay's take: “He is a lot bigger and stronger than last year. When you are physically stronger and feel stronger, you get more confidence. Here lately, he has maybe gotten a little defensive in close matches, but I feel like he is a kid who has worked hard for this.”