CHAMPAIGN - The Vandals struggled offensively in dropping all four preliminary bouts in the championship bracket at the individual state wrestling tournament.
Battling at Assembly Hall on the campus of the University of Illinois last Thursday, none of the Vandals who qualified for the event were able to come away with a victory, and only one of them ever had a lead.
“On Sunday, I said to them, ‘On the way home on Saturday, I was telling myself that I am not good with our season ending like this. We need to redeem this’” Clay said. “‘We need to go to team state and get a trophy’”
The quartet took his words to heart at the team sectional, with three of them recording pins to help the Vandals qualify for the team state tournament.
Junior Tyler Dagen (145) was the only Vandalia wrestler who got to wrestle more than once in Champaign, earning a spot in last Friday’s consolation bracket, but he would lose 5-4 to Coal City’s Jake Czaja.
Dagen earned that spot after his first-round opponent, Dakota’s Brandon Lizer, the eventual fourth-place finisher, made the championship semifinals.
Against Lizer, Dagen was unable to create any offense, getting taken down in 12 seconds, but he only lost the bout, 4-0.
Dagen rode tough in the second period, not allowing Lizer to turn him to his back, but when Dagen was awarded control at the start of the third period, Lizer reversed his hold in just three seconds.
The other three Vandals in the event only got one match after the wrestlers who beat them in the championship bracket each lost in the championship quarterfinals.
Freshman Chaston Womack was the closest to winning, even though he was pinned in 5:13 by Byron’s Brady Wilsie at 106 pounds.
The two seemed evenly matched throughout the bout, as it took 1:42 for Womack to get a takedown for the first points, and the score wouldn’t change in the second period.
Wislie had control at the start of the third period, however, and he slowly broke down Womack and got the pin.
Wilsie lost to Zach Lorek in the championship quarterfinals.
At 138 pounds, sophomore Dalton Blankenship was assessed two penalty points for stalling in dropping his bout to Sterling Newman Central Catholic's Stephen Adamecz, 5-1.
Neither wrestler scored in the first period, and though Blankenship had control in the second period, he was given two stalling penalities, the second coming with 11 seconds left. Adamecz then escaped his hold five seconds later.
Blankenship scored an escape with 56 seconds remaining in the bout, but he was taken down again in the final seconds.
Adamecz lost to Gage Stephens in the championship quarterfinals.
At 160 pounds, senior Zach Jackson couldn't get past North Boone's Tyler Westlund in a 9-2 loss in his first appearance at the state tournament.
Jackson scored both of his points on escapes, one in the each of the first two periods in a match that was otherwise controlled by Westlund.
Westlund lost Kye Reczek in the championship quarterfinals.