The third time was a charm for Mulberry Grove eighth-grader Levi Ulmer last weekend at the IKWF State Championships.
Making his third state-tournament appearance, Ulmer came away with his first career state medal, as his fourth-place finish in the Senior 156-pound division led a contingent of four Vandalia Jr. Wrestling Club members at the state’s annual youth wrestling showcase, held at Rockford’s MetroCentre.
Fellow Jr. Vandals Seth Purcell, Carl Runkel and Trever Pyle also competed at state, but fell in the opening rounds of their respective divisions.
Ulmer, who plans to transfer to VCHS in time to join the Vandals for his freshman season, quickly earned himself a medal by reeling off three straight victories to start the tournament.
He opened state competition in style with a pin of Brawlers W.C.’s Torin Geary in 3 minutes, 29 seconds before taking a 16-2 major decision victory over Morton Youth Wrestling’s Zac Hillman.
Ulmer secured himself a medal by taking a close 9-6 quarterfinal decision over Little Falcons W.C.’s Usman Lutfiyev.
Centralia Elite Rebels wrestler Dylan Reel recorded a pin 52 seconds into his semifinal match against Ulmer, however, before Andrew Altenberger of the Collinsville Raiders topped Ulmer via pin at the 3:56 mark of the Senior 156 third-place match.
Still, it was a breakthrough performance for Ulmer, who had won in the preliminary round his previous two times at state before falling short of a medal.
Pyle, also a state-tournament veteran, was going for his third career medal in his fourth state appearance.
But Harvey Park District’s Nuntreae Jackson denied him the opportunity to add to his hardware collection by taking a 7-3 decision in the Senior 95 division’s opening round.
Purcell and Runkel also suffered quick exits in close opening-round matches.
Yorkville Wrestling Club’s Austin Wolf edged by Runkel in the opening round of the Novice 89 division, taking a 7-4 decision.
Purcell fell by an 8-6 decision against Renegade Wrestling Club’s Tyre Lee in the Novice 95 division before being eliminated by Sycamore Wrestling Club’s Austin Armstrong in the consolation round, 5-0.
The Jr. Vandals Wrestling Club will complete another successful season this weekend at the Midget State Wrestling Tournament (8-10-year olds) to be held in Danville.