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It's been a busy week of highs and lows for the Vandalia wrestling squad. It looks as if the worst is over, as it picked up two big conference wins and had a great showing at the prestigious Princeton Invitational on Saturday.
Vandalia was carried by the strength of its middle weights on Tuesday night against East Alton Wood River. Trevor Pyle, John Vosholler, Trevor Alstat and Zack Jackson all won their matches over the Oilers, solidifying the 48-27 victory.
Jacob Whalen (215) and Marcus Mosley (285) also picked up hard-fought wins.
Vandalia's match against Carlinville was an impressive win for the Vandals, as they won nine of their final 10 matches, the only loss being a forfeit at the 171-weight class.
A. J. Gaylord, wrestling at 112, fell behind in the first period 2-0, but was able to rally in the second and third, and pin his opponent with 30 seconds remaining in the match.
Vandalia dropped two straight matches before it went on its run.
Alstat made weight at 130 and benefited from a forfeit. Vosholler then picked up a quick pin at the 135 weight class and Vandalia was on a roll. Johnson and Alex Foster were able to rack up some points before getting pins in the second periods of their matches, and Levi Ulmer picked up a 16-0 win over his 160-pound opponent.
A forfeit by Vandalia at the 171 weight class didn't impede its progress, and Chris Knebel, Anthony Fladelend and Mosley finished out the match strongly for the Vandals. Mosley's pin came just 21 second into the first period.
Vandalia cruised to an easy 59-20 victory over the Cavs.
The dominating wins give the Vandals two big conference victories, and starts to push last Wednesday's 40-22 loss to Roxana out of the minds of fans.
Tuesday night's match also gave Coach Jason Clay a chance to tweak his lineup and give some of the younger wrestlers some more mat time and give the veterans some rest after the tumultuous week.
"We were trying to work a few guys in there tonight and trying to get some more guys some experience," Clay said. "We're a little bit overscheduled on duals, so a couple of our regulars sat out tonight. But it's good to get newer guys in there."
Vandalia is back on the mat Thursday at Litchfield, as it faces Litchfield and Highland at 6 p.m.
On Saturday, the Vandals will host a quad, starting at 10 a.m.
Just like basketball has its highly-anticipated holiday tournaments, wrestling has the prestigious Princeton Invitational.
"I though we wrestled better up there (than at Roxana)," Clay said. "Guys like Alex Foster and Jacob Whalen and Levi Ulmer are stepping up and leading the charge. They all had really good weekends and all have been wrestling really well. And that showed at the Princeton Tournament."
The four-hour trek up to Princeton was well worth it for the Vandalia wrestling team, as Ulmer came away with first-place honors in the 160-pound weight class. Ulmer is Vandalia's fourth champion in the 11 times it has gone to the invitational.
Ulmer's win came in a hard-fought battle that came down to a 8-4 decision over Branson Cain of Riverdale.
Whalen took home third-place honors in the 215-pound weight class. He won a low scoring match, 3-0, against Reid Shelby of Byron.
Pyle (125) and Foster (152) placed fifth in their respective classes.
Vandalia placed eighth overall out of 31 teams with a score of 93.5. Litchfield, the only other conference team at the event, tied for 26th with 41.
At the Roxana Triangular in Belleville last Wednesday, Vandalia was upset by conference foe Roxana.
Vandalia won just five matches against the Shells.
Vosholler (135), Daniel Edwards (145), Brenden Cripe (160), Ulmer (171) and Whalen (215) were the only Vandals able to pick up wins in the 40-22 loss.
Vandalia had more success against Belleville East, but it was still a nail-bitter, as the Vandals edged out Belleville, 33-29.
Vandalia had only three pins in eight wins. Vosholler, Edwards, Ulmer and Whalen were all able to pick up their second wins of the day. Pyle, Justin Hill, Jake Harris and Foster rebounded from Roxana and finished the night at 1-1 as individuals.