Runkel advances to championship semifinals; will place at state

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Blankenship, Dagen to wrestle again on Saturday morning

By Andrew Harner

Vandalia senior C.J. Runkel will place at this year's individual state tournament, and junior Dalton Blankenship and senior Tyler Dagen will be looking to join him.

Runkel defeated Wilmington's Nick Hawkins, 5-4, in Friday morning's championship quarterfinals, and will wrestle again on Friday night at 7 p.m. in the semifinals.

With the victory, Runkel is assured of at least sixth-place in the tournament. His semifinal opponent will be Quincy Kalkbrenner of Lean-Winslow, who beat Runkel, 5-1, in the championship bout of the Litchfield Tournament.

In the other semifinal, Plano's Wes Brown will meet East Alton-Wood River's Zac Blasioli.

Blankenship (145) got a spot in the wrestle-backs after Jake Snow – who beat Blankenship in the preliminaries – advanced to the championship semifinals.

Blankenship won by injury default against Chicago-Bowen's Kendall Gibbs, and will wrestle El Paso's Gabe McKinley in the wrestle-back quarterfinals on Saturday morning. That round begins at 9 a.m.

Blankenship pinned McKinley earlier in the season.

Dagen (152) lost his championship quarterfinal bout on Friday morning, falling 6-2 to Durand's Gabe Lenox.

He then avenged two losses from earlier in the season by beating Wilmington's Andrew Liaromatis, 4-3, in overtime. He will meet Mercer County's Curtis VanWinkle in the wrestle-back quarterfinals on Saturday morning.

Blankenship and Dagen would each be assured of at least sixth-place with a victory on Saturday morning.

The other five wrestlers who lost in Thursday's first round did not get a spot in the wrestle-backs, because the opponent who beat them did not advance to the semifinals.