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Five of eight Vandalia wrestlers qualified for the individual state tournament in front of a home crowd on Saturday at the Illinois High School Association Individual Sectional Tournament.
Senior Justin Hill (125) and junior Levi Ulmer (171) each won sectional championships, and senior John Vosholler (140), junior Daniel Edwards (152) and freshman C.J. Runkel (135) each placed third in his weight classes to advance.
“I thought we’d get anywhere from two to five,” said coach Jason Clay. “I thought five if we wrestled great, and with all those guys, I didn’t know which, but I thought we’d get at least two.”
The individual state tournament will be held on Friday and Saturday at Assembly Hall on the campus of the University of Illinois in Champaign.
Hill, who Clay considers to be one of the team’s hardest workers, defeated junior Jake Walters of Auburn for the second straight week.
At last week’s regional meet in Shelbyville, Hill pinned Walters in 1:39. He nearly had the same result on Saturday, taking Walters down 1:39 into the match and immediately holding him in a near-fall.
He could not secure the pin, however, and had to continue battling Walters into the third period.
Hill (37-9) increased his lead to 16-3 with a near-fall 5:20 into the match, and he pinned Walters four seconds later to earn a first-round bye at the state tournament.
He has one previous state appearance, which came when he was a sophomore. That year, he was eliminated in the first round, so he is guaranteed to improve on that finish this year.
Ulmer (40-6) also had a rematch from his regional championship bout, which he lost to Cumberland senior Clay Wilson, 6-2.
The sectional championship match was stopped in the first round, however, because Wilson was briefly knocked unconscious after hitting his face on the mat.
“A win is a win, but you want to beat him on the mat,” Clay said.
Wilson and Ulmer could meet at state tournament, but that would only be in the championship bout, and Ulmer said he would welcome another opportunity to do battle.
Vosholler’s third-place finish at 140 pounds was respectable, considering how loaded that weight class was on Saturday.
First-place finisher Dalton Brown, an undefeated senior from Shelbyville, was the state runner-up last year, and Damon Wilson, a senior from Benton who defeated Vosholler, 7-4, in the second-round on Friday, will be making his third appearance in the state tournament.
Vosholler (37-10) had to wrestle six times to secure his spot at the state tournament.
“That was one of the best weights at the sectional,” Clay said. “I always worry when we have to re-wrestle a kid from Friday.”
Vosholler met Herrin's Zach Lindsay in the third-place bout, pinning him in 37 seconds.
On Friday, Vosholler beat Lindsay, 15-1.
In the wrestle-back bracket, Vosholler pinned all four opponents in 1:09 or less.
Last season, Vosholler also advanced to state by coming through the third-place bracket. At state, he lost in the first round.
“It was fun this year, and I put in a lot of work,” he said, adding that he hopes to place at state this season.
Edwards – who was an individual regional champion last weekend – lost in the championship quarterfinals, 6-3, to Roxana junior Tyler Floyd. In his first wrestle-back match, however, it appeared Edwards’ season may have been over.
With 59.7 seconds remaining in the second period, Edwards landed face-first on the mat and did not get back up.
He used up almost all of his injury time with the trainers, but he came back to the match and defeated Slater Stifle, a junior from Robinson, 6-3, to earn a chance to secure a state tournament berth.
Against West Frankfort's Brad Bozic in the third-place match, Edwards (37-9) pushed his lead to 10-0 just 2:37 into the bout. By the end of the period, Edwards led 14-2, and he secured a technical fall in 4:42 to advance to state for the first time.
Edwards had defeated Bozic in the championship semifinals with a pin at 2:30.
Another first-timer is Runkel, who followed up his individual regional championship last weekend with a third-place finish at the sectional tournament.
He trailed early, falling behind 4-0 to Lawrenceville senior Kramer Sweeten after 2:22 of wrestling, but he rallied to tie his bout at four after two periods.
There was a brief thought in Runkel’s mind that he was going to miss the state tourney, but he quickly dashed that idea.
“It ran through my mind, but I said, ‘No, I’m going to give it my all,’” he said.
Runkel (32-14) secured a takedown with 23 seconds left in the bout to earn the 7-4 victory.
“That’s a testament of what we’ve been talking to him about,” Clay said. “His work ethic has picked up a lot, and he’s learned if you work hard, it’ll pay off.”
Runkel took a tough loss to West Frankfort's Hadin Restivo in the championship semifinals, nearly securing a pin in the second period, only to lose 7-4.
He won a narrow 6-4 decision against Anna-Jonesboro's Forrest Palis in the wrestle-back semifinals.
"I'm proud of him because we wrestle him in practice, and he's really improved," Vosholler said.
Freshman Tyler Dagen (119), junior Dayin Godberson (189) and junior Anthony Fladeland (285) also wrestled at the sectional.
Dagen showed promise, wrestling all the way to the semifinals of the wrestle-back bracket, where he fell to Zach Zvonar, a sophomore from Carlyle, by fall at 1:44. He was 3-2 at the sectional.
Godberson earned an 11-1 decision in his first match on Friday night, but he would not win again, falling in the first-round of wrestle-backs on Saturday to finish 1-2.
Fladeland was mired in a tough weight class and won one bout in both the championship and wrestle-back brackets.
A schedule for all of this weekend's action is available on the IHSA's website, at http://www.ihsa.org/activity/wr/2010-11/web/1ahome.htm.
*C are championship bracket bouts
*W/B are wrestle-back bouts
Tyler Dagen (119)
•C First round – def. Brad Herzberg, Roxana, by fall at 3:00
•C quarterfinals – lost to Kody Wright, Harrisburg, by fall at 1:50
•W/B first round – def. Justin Weinbrecht, Carmi White County, by fall at 1:21
•W/B. second round – def. David Baragiola, EAWR, by fall at 5:02
•W/B semifinals – lost to Zach Zvonar, Carlyle, by fall at 1:44
Justin Hill (125)
•C quarterfinals – def. Corson Anderson, Litchfield, by fall at 0:58
•C semifinals – def. Frank Parola, Benton, 3-2
•C finals – def. Jake Walters, Auburn, by fall at 5:24
C.J. Runkel (135)
•C quarterfinals – def. Clinton Evard, Benton, by technical fall at 4:04
•C semifinals – lost to Hadin Restivo, West Frankfort, 7-4
•W/B semifinals – def. Forrest Palis, Anna-Jonesboro, 604
•W/B finals – def. Kramer Sweetwen, Lawrenceville, 7-4
John Vosholler (140)
•C first round – def. Zach Lindsay, Herrin, 15-1
•C quarterfinals – lost to Damon Wilson, Benton, 7-4
•W/B first round – def. Mason Nichols, Roxana by fall at 0:58
•W/B second round – def. Bryar Pruett, Pittsfield, by fall at 0:50
•W/B semifinals – def. Keegan Gardner, West Frankfort, by fall at 1:09
•W/B finals – def. Zach Lindsay, Herrin, by fall at 0:37
Daniel Edwards (152)
•C quarterfinals – def. Brad Bozic, West Frankfort, by fall at 2:30
•C semifinals – lost to Tyler Floyd, Roxana, by fall at 3:29
•W/B semifinals – def. Slater Stifle, Robinson, 6-3
•W/B finals – def. Brad Bozic, West Frankfort, by technical fall at 4:44
Levi Ulmer (171)
•C first round – def. Bobby Simmons, Carlinville, by technical fall at 3:35
•C quarterfinals – def. Sam Wampler, Mt. Carmel, 5-1
•C semifinals – def. Kefren Hunter, Carterville, by fall at 2:29
•C finals – def. Clay Wilson, Cumberland, by injury default
Dayin Godberson (189)
•C first round – def. Josh Tharp, West Frankfort, 11-1
•C quarterfinals – lost to Frank Hollo, Litchfield, 12-0
•W/B first round – lost to Tanner Wingert, Olney, 13-6
Anthony Fladeland (285)
•C first round – def. Adam Myer, Roxana, by fall at 3:59
•C quarterfinals – lost to Tanner Crum, Mt. Carmel, by fall at 3:59
•W/B first round – def. Brandon Vessels, Lawrenceville, by fall at 1:09
•W/B second round – lost to Coltyn Pease, Pittsfield, by fall at 0:48