Area teams set for individual state wrestling tournament
The seed are set, the wrestling brackets for the IHSA State Finals are up and the area's local grapplers will be headed down to Assembly Hall in Champaign to see how it all unfolds.
For the first time ever, all three classes will be opening on Thursday this year with the finals remaining on Saturday night. When the first whistle sounds that day, nine area wrestlers will have their medal tested.
Some seemingly have tougher paths to take than others but one thing is always certain at this time of the year, nobody's road to the championship is going to be easy.
(Note: All rankings provided by Illinois Matmen)
From the area, Coal City has five state qualifiers this year and Seneca added two others.
For the Coalers, Cody Minnick, Corey Jurzak, Casey Brown, Jake Czaja and Ryan Naples will be there and Seneca will be represented by Sage Friese and Brandon Webb.
Minnick is a sophomore wrestling at the 106-pound weight class. He is currently ranked No. 1 and has a 44-0 record. Minnick will open with senior Josh Schaidle of Eureka. Schaidle is ranked fourth and he has 34-4 record.
No. 2 Anthony Luis of Harvard and No. 3 Braxten Ary of Midwest Central are on the bottom of the bracket and should Minnick win, he will face whoever wins between Brandon McCullough of Erie and Victor Kalaher of Litchfield.
Jurzak is a sophomore wrestling at the 113-pound weight. He is ranked fifth with a 39-4 record and he will be going up against unranked Justin Kinney of Monmouth-Roseville in the opening round.
No. 3 Carlos Gutierrez of Rock Falls is also on Jurzak's side of the bracket with both the No. 1 (Brandon Briggs of North Boone) and No. 2 (Jarid Braunagel of Althoff Catholic) sitting at the top of the tree.
At 120-pounds, Coal City junior Casey Brown is currently 42-3 and he is ranked fourth. He will open with Dylan Donner of Gibson City. Donner is 37-12 and ranked 15th. Both the No. 2 (Jose Abitua) and No. 3 (Nelson Baker) ranks are in the bottom half of the bracket with Brown with the No. 1 seeded Josh Alber of Dakota at the top.
Junior Sage Friese is now 39-2 on the season. He is currently ranked fifth and will meet unranked Jake Wiegand of Knoxville (25-13) at the onset. Should he win, he will then face either No. 2 ranked Jake Snow of Sterling Newman (38-4) or 13th Dalton Snell of Auburn (40-9). Both the No. 3 (Jack Lucie) and No. 4 (Jacob Devolder) ranked players are also on the same side of the bracket as Friese and No. 1 seeded J.J. Whaley of Stillman Valley (39-2) is at the top.
At 145 pounds, Coal City senior Jake Czaja is ranked 10th with a 38-8 record. He will start with unranked Omar Delgado (27-9) of Kewanee and get the winner of No. 2 Brandon Lizer (38-5) and No. 14 Tyler Dagen (34-14). Top ranked Rob Lane of Oreana is 38-1 and also on the same side of the bracket at Czaja.
At 170 is Coal City senior Ryan Naples. He is 27-11 on the season and ranked 11th. he will meet fellow senior Jon Ricke of Mercer County (31-8) who is ranked seventh. The winner will meet one of two unranked opponents in the second round, though both the one and two seeds are also on Naples' side of the bracket. Zach Abney of Pittsville (41-2) is No. 1 and Sean Wetherell of Rock Island Alleman is No. 2.
Finally, at 220 pounds is Seneca senior Brandon Webb. He is currently ranked sixth and he has a 39-7 record. He will open with fourth ranked Tucker Harn of Beardstown (44-4). The winner will face either unranked Bobby Lincoln of Mercer County or No. 5 Kevin Roper (23-2) of Carlyle. Danielle Zimmerman is top ranked and he has a 43-0 record. He's also on Webb's side of the brackets and they could meet in the semifinals. No. 2 Derrick Maisonet of Plano (44-1) is the highest seed on the bottom of the bracket.
Kenny Baldridge of Morris got a top seed but is currently ranked sixth by Matmen. The junior is 36-1 on the season and will face Jake Morgan of Carmel (27-6) in the first round. Morgan is an honorable mention selection by Matmen. On Baldridge's side of the bracket is No. 3 Vince Turk of Montini, No. 4 Leslie Williams of Cahokia and No. 7 Cole Wysocki of Troy Triad. On the top of the bracket are both No. 1 B.J. McGhee of Rock Island (41-1) and No. 2 Grant Sutton (37-2) of Richmond Burton, but they open with each other.
Morris senior Nik Countryman is wrestling at 182 pounds and he is ranked fourth with a 33-6 record. He will open will fellow senior Aeneas White of Nazareth Academy (21-1) who is ranked fifth. If he wins, Countryman will wrestle either No. 2 Jake Turk of Montini (39-8) or Connor Schmidt of Lincoln (31-13). No. 1 Chris Giatras of Lemont (40-1) and No. 3 Bobby Schillinger of Yorkville (40-7) are on the opposite side of the bracket.
Minooka has two at State this year in Carson and Corbett Oughton. Carson is a freshman with a 37-9 record and he is currently ranked No. 11 while Corbett is a senior with a 10-3 record who is ranked sixth.
Carson wrestles at 145 pounds and he opens against Jakada Hull of Marist (26-15), who is honorable mention. If Oughton wins, he will then face the winner of the No. 2 Justin Weber and No. 4 Luke Gruszka bout in the quarterfinals. Top seeded Bryce Gill of Mt. Carmell is also on his side of the bracket.
At 152 pounds, Corbett Oughton will start out with No. 10 Zach Benkovich of Rockton Hononegah (29-6). The winner will then face either No. 4 Mitch Cook of Sandburg (34-8) and Sean Hennigan (31-9) of Niles Notre Dame, an honorable mention selection. Top ranked Brian Murphy of Glenbard North (34-1) also lurks on Corbett's side of the bracket, as does No. 3 Nate Higgins (44-2) of Belleville West. No. 2 Kyle Langenderfer of Lincoln-Way East (39-0) is the highest seed on the top side of the ledger.
Action starts on Thursday with Class A preliminary bouts beginning at 2 p.m. with 2 a.m. coming at 4:30 and 3A at 6.