SENECA — Coal City and Seneca may both have hoped for more finals qualifiers than they ended up with at the Class 1A Seneca Wrestling Regional on Saturday.
Once the finals had been determined, however, both teams could be pleased with how the action played out.
All 11 local wrestlers that made the championship and third-place bouts at the regional qualified for next weekend's Plano Individual Sectional. Coal City had champions in the three lowest weights and four overall. Of the seven Coalers that made the final round, six won their last bouts.
"I am (happy) with the final round," Coal City coach Mark Masters said. "The three Cs (Cody Minnick, Corey Jurzak and Casey Brown), they've done an outstanding job all year. They were all (Interstate Eight) conference champs and now they're regional champs. ... Jake Czaja took care of business as well."
Seneca split in the finals, but since both of its losses came in championship bouts, all four Fighting Irish finalists moved on. The one Irish champion, 126-pounder Sage Friese, avenged an I-8 Tournament loss to Brandon Malone of Herscher with the title on the line.
"We had five seeded in the top three, so it could have been better, but the kids that got (to the finals) did what they were supposed to do," Seneca coach Todd Yegge said. "This is one of the toughest, if not the toughest, regionals in the state. It lived up to that. There was a lot of great wrestling, and I'm proud of the guys and the way they competed."
Minnick rolled through the 106-pound bracket, pinning Spencer Leake of Seneca in 1:58 and Jakob Weiss of Marquette in 1:21 in the second and third rounds. He ended his day by claiming a 7-1 decision over Zach Lorek of McNamara.
"The first two kids I have wrestled before — the kid from Seneca and the one from Marquette — but I had never faced (Lorek) before," Minnick said. "I didn't know exactly what to expect so I went in trying to be aggressive, and I felt like I was. ... I feel good about going into Plano at 41-0."
Jurzak wrestled just twice at the regional, and both wins were by technical fall. The final scores were 18-3 against Plano's Tyler Scanton in the semis and 16-1 against Wilmington's Colin Weis in the finals.
"It was the cradles, mostly. The two cradles were huge for me," Jurzak said. "It feels good to win."
Brown also needed just two wins for his title. He pinned Myles Mendoza of Plano in 2:39 in the semis and finished with a 5-0 decision over Austin Headrick of Wilmington.
"I faced (Headrick) at conference and beat him (12-2). After that, I wrestled him at a dual and I only won by two or three points," Brown said. "I was able to stay in the center of the mat. I knew he likes to take things to the edge."
Friese fell behind Malone 2-0 by the end of the first period but rallied to tie the score at 2-2 in the second. In the third, Friese nearly had an escape before time expired. He bounced back from that to take down Malone in overtime for a 4-2 decision victory.
"You have to be prepared for anything. You never know what is going to happen," Friese said of overcoming the near-escape. "I knew it would be a close match. I wasn't expecting overtime, but you have to be prepared for it."
Czaja, at 145 pounds, was the final area champion. His day included a 27-second pin of Zach Russell of Seneca, a 4-2 decision over Aiden Wifheft of Herscher and a 15-7 major decision over Zach Tomac of Plano.
"This was the fourth time we had wrestled. At the Plano (Reaper Classic), I only beat (Tomac) by four (8-4), so it was good to win by more this time," Czaja said. "I know Brian Czyl from Lisle will be at the sectional. I lost to him at conference so I'm happy I get another shot at him."
The area had second- and third-place finishers at 171 pounds. Ryan Naples of Coal City made the finals by pinning Jon Costain of Reed-Custer in 3:15 and Dayton Coyle of Seneca in 5:19 before losing a 10-1 major decision to Sean Liaromatis of Wilmington in the finals. Coyle, who started with a 7-5 overtime win over Matt Fritz of Herscher, bounced back from his loss to win a 14-2 major decision over Riley Miller of Clifton Central and a 9-2 decision over Alex Rodriguez of Plano in the third-place bout.
Seneca 160-pounder Tommy Lovett finished second, pinning Beau Gabel of McNamara in 3:39 and winning 7-5 over Brandon Allen of Dwight before losing a 7-2 decision to Wes Brown of Plano. Also second was Seneca 220-pounder Brandon Webb, who pinned Kenton Clayburn of Coal City in 3:27 and Dalton Smith of Clifton Central in 4:43 before being dealt a 12-5 decision loss in the finals by Derrick Maisonet of Plano.
The final local sectional qualifier was Coal City 195-pounder Jake Frost. He pinned Marquette's Jibril Church in 1:57, was pinned by Wilmington's Nick Vancurra in 3:49 and won a 1-0 decision over Reed-Custer's Cody Barron before winning by fall in 5:05 over Herscher's Kenny Winebaugh in the third-place bout.
Jonah Lamboley of Seneca earned two wins at 182 pounds during the regional, while Coal City 132-pounder Jonah Englert and Seneca 138-pounder Gary Wantroba each won once.
The Coalers finished fourth with 139.5 points and Seneca was sixth with 79 of the 10 teams. Plano won the team title with 182.5 points, edging Wilmington's 174.