Ulmer takes individual sectional title to lead five Vandals into this weekend's state tournament

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By Andrew Harner

ROBINSON – In a wildly entertaining championship match on Saturday, Vandalia senior Levi Ulmer outlasted one of the best 195-pound wrestlers in Illinois to win an individual sectional championship.


By winning, Ulmer became the fifth Vandal of the day to qualify for this weekend’s individual state tournament.

Battling Kenny Lindsey – a senior from St. Joe-Ogden who is ranked No. 1 in the class by www.illinoismatmen.com – Ulmer needed both overtime tiebreaker periods to clinch the victory, taking the bout, 4-3.

Ulmer and Lindsey were tied, 1-1, at the end of three periods, and neither wrestler scored any points in the 60-second overtime.

With about 10 seconds left in the first 30-second tiebreaker period, Lindsey secured a reversal to take a 3-1 lead, but Ulmer was able to escape his hold with about four seconds left to go to the second tiebreaker down by one.

Lindsey had control at the start of the second tiebreaker, but Ulmer was able to get a reversal in that 30-second period to win the bout.

“I had to dig deep,” Ulmer said, “but it came more from anger than anything.”

Since the start of the season, Ulmer has been motivated by his desire to win a state a championship, and he believes he is still a top contender.

To get there, Ulmer could have a tough battle in the quarterfinals, where he would likely meet Matt McDonnell, a senior from Morrison who has a 39-1 record this year.

“I’m going for it,” Ulmer said. “There’s not (many) highly-ranked kids that I haven’t beat this year.”

In the first round, which begins on Thursday at 2:30 p.m. in Assembly Hall in Champaign, Ulmer will meet Chad Kirkhove, a senior from Sherrard who has a 34-8 record.

Other qualifiers for Vandalia are senior Daniel Edwards (152), senior Dayin Godberson (182), sophomore Seth Purcell (145) and freshman Dalton Blankenship (132), marking the second straight year that the Vandals have had five qualifiers.

“I’m proud to be taking four guys with me, because they all deserve it,” Ulmer said. “I’m especially proud to be bringing Dalton Blankenship.

“For a freshman to qualify is just awesome.”

Blankenship has a tough draw in the opening round, however, facing Andy Rodawold, a junior from Wilmington with a 33-2 record.

Arguably the biggest surprise among the group is Purcell, who placed fourth at the sectional tournament after pinning his opponent in the consolation semifinals.

Purcell has been a regular contributor throughout the season, but his 17 wins on the season are the fewest among Vandalia’s qualifiers.

But what he doesn’t have in statistics, he makes up for in practice.

“He’s a coachable kid,” said coach Jason Clay. “He listens to what we say, and he really tries to go out there and do what we say.”

Purcell also has a very tough first-round bout, meeting Mark McDonnell, a senior from Morrison with a 22-1 record.

Edwards – who qualified last season – returns after placing second at the sectional. He did not wrestle in finals as a precaution, since he had a concussion early in January.

In the championship semifinals, Edwards had little trouble in defeating Keegan Gardner from West Frankfort, taking the match, 10-5.

“The plan the whole time was to get him to the finals and default,” Clay said. “If he gets hurt now, then it hurts us a lot (due to the team wrestling next week).”

Edwards will battle Sean Liaromatis, a junior from Wilmington who has a 34-7 record, in the first round.

Godberson has been one of Vandalia’s most consistent wrestlers throughout the season, and he continued showing that on Saturday, taking third at the sectional.

He lost in the championship semifinals, but won his first bout in the wrestle-backs, before winning the third-place match by injury default.

Godberson’s 37 wins lead the Vandals, and on Thursday he will battle Dakota Richards, a senior from Porta who has a 35-7 record.

Sophomore C.J. Runkel placed fifth at the sectional, and he will be an alternate at 138 pounds.

Next Tuesday, the Vandals will wrestle at home at the dual team sectional tournament, meeting Herrin at 6 p.m.

Earlier in the season, Vandalia drubbed Herrin, 55-21, but Clay said that both teams will likely feature a different lineup at the sectional.

If the Vandals win, they would advance to the state tournament, where they would face either Harvard or Lena-Winslow at 9 a.m. next Saturday at U.S. Cellular Coliseum in Bloomington.

The other match at Vandalia will feature Litchfield and Monticello.

Sectional results
Ryne Lipsey (106)
•Won in quarterfinals by fall at 4:27
•Lost in semifinals by fall at 2:55
•Lost in consolation semifinals by fall at 1:16
Tyler Dagen (126)
•Won first-round match by fall at 4:26
•Lost quarterfinal match, 9-7
•Won first-round consolation match, 16-8
•Lost in consolation quarterfinals, 8-6
Dalton Blankenship (132)
•Lost in quarterfinals, 5-2
•Won first-round consolation match by fall at 1:23
•Won in consolation quarterfinals by fall at 3:46
•Won in consolation semifinals by fall at 5:25
•Lost third-place match, 7-6
C.J. Runkel (138)
•Won in quarterfinals, 8-0
•Lost in semifinals, 9-8
•Lost in consolation semifinals, 9-4
Seth Purcell (145)
•Won first-round match, 9-3
•Won in quarterfinals, 8-2
•Lost in semifinals by fall at 3:36
•Won in consolation semifinals by fall at 2:59
•Lost third-place match by technical fall at 3:56
Daniel Edwards (152)
•Won in quarterfinals by default at 1:33
•Won in semifinals, 10-5
•Lost championship match by default
Dayin Godberson (182)
•Won in quarterfinals by fall at 1:06
•Lost in semifinals, 19-7
•Won in consolation semifinals, 8-3
•Won third-place match by default
Levi Ulmer (195)
•Won in quarterfinals by fall at 3:42
•Won in semifinals by fall at 3:20
•Won championship match, 4-3 (OT)
Anthony Fladeland (285)
•Won first-round match by fall at 3:58
•Lost in quarterfinals by fall at 0:30
•Won first-round consolation match by fall at 2:28
•Lost in consolation quarterfinals by fall at 0:51