Five Vandals placed Saturday at the prestigious Princeton Invitational, helping VCHS edge out Byron for fifth-place in a field featuring a ‘who’s who’ list of Illinois wrestling programs.
Senior Matt Shroyer led the way, claiming the title in the 189-pound division, helping the Vandals move up two spots from last year’s seventh-place finish in a field that included four of the state’s top 10 Class A teams.
Still, the Vandals left the 25-team extravaganza feeling they could have made a bigger statement.
‘Fifth place is pretty respectable,’ Vandals coach Jason Clay said, ‘but they don’t think they wrestled real well. They were kind of passive, not aggressive enough.
‘It is a tough tournament, don’t get me wrong. But even against tough kids, we need to be aggressive. We need to be the attacker.’
Harvard – ranked 22nd in Class AA – took the team title with 201 points, edging defending Class A champ Wilmington (191).
Dixon (142) placed third, followed by Petersburg PORTA (132.5) and the Vandals (114.5), who edged Byron by a half a point.
Shroyer reeled off a perfect 4-0 record in the tournament, pinning Harvard’s Zach Zittlow 5 minutes and 39 seconds into the championship match, running his record to 20-1 on the season. Prior to his title victory, Shroyer advanced to the finals with a 3-2 decision over Addison Driscoll’s Tom Radich.
‘He had a good tournament, he wrestled real solid,’ Clay said.
Shroyer opened the tournament with back-to-back pins against Manteno’s Mike Tovo (3:11) and Princeton’s Joe Staton (3:02)
Shroyer placed third at the tournament last year in the 171-pound division, narrowly missing the finals. Shroyer’s lone setback this year came in the title match of the Mascoutah Invitational. He also won the title at the Civic Memorial Invitational earlier this season.
Shroyer became the third Vandal to win an individual title at the Princeton Invitational since the team first entered the tournament in 2002. Jo-E Smith won the 152-pound title last year, while Chris Cox took the 145-pound title in 2005.
Senior Nate Stone came close to becoming the fourth Vandal to win a PIT title, as he placed second in the 285-pound division.
Stone advanced to the finals by winning a 4-3 decision over Harvard’s Jake Pribble. Prior to the semis, he won via fall over Orion’s Mitch White (1:31) and took a 9-0 major decision over IVC’s Chris Green.
Stone lost a close 3-1 decision against PORTA’s David Devine in the championship match, however, falling to 19-3 on the year.
‘The last 10 seconds of the match, he made a shot attempt to try to take the kid down,’ Clay said. ‘The kid countered it, and got the two with about three seconds to go in the match. That was a real good match between ranked kids, and hopefully we’ll get a rematch in a couple weeks when we see them again.’
Cody Pyle placed fourth for the second time in as many seasons, doing so in the 140-pound division this year after competing in the 125-pound class a year ago.
Pyle picked up a pair of major decisions over Ottawa’s Josh Williams (15-3) and Wilmington’s Bryan Evans (18-5) before getting pinned by Byron’s Eric Celletti in the semifinals.
He bounced back with a 6-4 win over Quentin Smith, but fell to Orion’s R.J. Emerick in the third-place match.
‘Cody really wrestled well,’ Clay said. ‘He was in a really tough weight; the three kids ahead of him were all state qualifiers.
‘I thought he wrestled hard and battled. That’s Cody’s best characteristic – he’s a battler.’
A year after placing third in the 103-pound division, Josh Eller placed fifth in the 112-pound bracket.
The senior opened up the tournament with decisions over Ottawa’s Chris Downey (4-2) and Harvard’s Brian Lovell (7-0) before falling to Litchfield’s Chance Davidson (6-0) and Wilmington’s Garth Cartwright (4-3).
Eller closed the day on a positive note, edging Addison Dricoll’s Chris Heading, 1-0, to improve to 16-5 on the year.
Adam Bowling and Curtis Hemminghaus added seventh-place showings for the Vandals in the 145- and 160-pound divisions, respectively.
Bowling suffered just his second loss of the season in his tournament-opener, as Dixon’s Colin Brinkmeier edged the Vandals senior 7-5 in overtime.
Bowling battled back with three consecutive wins before suffering a heartbreaking 3-2 loss to David Scott.
Bowling closed out the day with a 10-6 win over Orion’s Noah Wikle in the 145-pound division’s seventh-place match, moving his record to 20-3 on the year.
‘He lost a couple close matches,’ Clay said. ‘He lost the overtime match after being up most the way. I credit the kid for coming at him. Then he lost another close match to, again, another high-caliber wrestler.
‘But, you know, Adam wasn’t his best, and he knows it. He wasn’t as aggressive as usual. But I thought he looked real good tonight (against Carlinville and East Alton-Wood River).
Hemminghaus split his first four matches before taking a 9-5 decision over Rock Falls’ Odin Spinka in the seventh-place match of the 160-pound division.
Vandalia 70, Carlinville 9
Vandalia 53, EA-WR 13
The Vandals returned home in dominating style, moving their dual meet record to 12-1 with a pair of convincing victories.
‘We worked on turning up the intensity tonight,’ Clay said. ‘We wanted to be the aggressor.’
The night’s marquee matchup featured Shroyer against Oilers standout Kyle Hanner, a two-time Class AA state qualifier who went up a weight class to take on Shroyer.
The match was closely contested throughout, as Shroyer’s first-round takedown proving crucial in a 3-0 win.
‘Matt had a nice ankle pick there and scored a takedown,’ Clay said. ‘It was a nice match for him.’
Other highlights for Vandalia included a pair of wins for Zach Ledbetter in the 119-pound division – including a come-from-behind 11-8 decision over EA-Wood River’s Jared Leach – and dominating wins by technical fall for Bowling (145) and Walton (171) against the Oilers. Hemminghaus and Eller also recorded a pin against EA-Wood River, while Jake Harris and Tyler Vosholler had pins against Carlinville.
Last Wednesday’s Triangular
Vandalia 53, B’ville East 18
The Vandals had little trouble with the Class 2A Lancers, taking 11 of 14 matches, including four pins.
Alex Foster needed just 56 seconds to pin Tony Ngyuen in the 125-pound match, while Pyle won by fall in 2:29 against Taylor Hunter in the 140-pound match.
Stone continued to dominate in the 285-pound division, pinning Zach Webber in 3:40, while Jake Etcheson pinned Zach Meyer in 3:28 in the 152-pound match.
Vandalia 55, Roxana 18
The Vandals shelled their SCC rivals, as Stone and Foster led the way by recording pins.
Stone needed just 2:32 to dispose of Trent Weston, while Foster pinned Brad Perry in 4:42.