Tough draw 'irrelevant' to Vandals

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By Andrew Harner

Each year, many clamor for the Illinois High School Association dual team sectional and state wrestling tournaments to be seeded, as opposed to the current system, which sets state matchups with a blind draw.

That debate has come to Vandalia again this season, as the Vandals would have to face the No. 1 team in the state in the first round if they advance to team state.

Coach Jason Clay and his wrestlers, however, don’t see the potential first-round challenge of facing Dakota as an assured early end to the season.

“Our goal all year has been to win state, so if you are going to win state, you have to beat everybody,” Clay said. “The draw is irrelevant. It doesn’t matter.”

Overall, the bigger problem is that Vandalia and Monticello could meet in the team sectional, even though both teams are perceived to be among the state’s top six squads.

After wrestling to a tie that was broken on the eighth tie-breaking criterion last Saturday, that potential sectional matchup should be an exciting one.

But if they match up, both teams will have wrestled a season that proves they deserve in the state tournament. But only one will advance.

The geography of the regionals (Shelbyville and Vandalia), however, does make a matchup between the champions of those regionals  logical.

Regardless of all of that, the Vandals still have their sights set in the same position as they’ve been all season long.

“We have to win our regional, win dual team sectionals, go to dual team state, beat Dakota, win our semifinal match and win our final match,” he said. “That’s what we’re focused on.”

The dual team sectional will be held at Litchfield on Tuesday, Feb. 25, and dual team state is held at the U.S. Cellular Coliseum in Bloomington on Saturday, March 1.