NORMAL – Minooka’s wrestling team had three different state tournament success stories from Saturday’s Class 3A Normal West Sectional.
Senior Erik Velazquez qualified for the first time, senior K.J. Minor returns after missing out last year and sophomore Carson Oughton is back again.
All three Indians will take part in the state finals competition, which gets underway Thursday at the State Farm Center in Champaign.
Velazquez (38-9) had a little less pressure on him since he advanced to the title mat at 220, where he lost 15-4 to Edwardsville’s Matt Kent.
After opening with an 8-6 win over Lincoln-Way North’s Tyler Hill, Velazquez edged Plainfield East’s Awais Arain 3-1 in overtime in the semifinals.
“We had really close matches the first two times I saw him and this third one was close, too,” Velazquez said of his meetings with Arain. “Making state is a big accomplishment and I know that I’ll have to wrestle tough there.”
Minor and Oughton both lost quarterfinal matches Friday and had to win their first three matches Saturday in order to reach state.
Oughton (35-5) followed up on a pair of pins with a 4-3 victory over Joliet West’s Nick Brown in his semifinal wrestleback at 152 pounds.
Last year’s sixth-place finisher at 145 wound up claiming third place after winning by injury default over Edwardsville’s Chris Prosser.
Minor (35-13) pulled out a pair of decisions at 113 before claiming a forfeit victory over Granite City’s Justin Nelson to earn his state spot.
In his third place match, Minor dropped an 8-2 decision to Plainfield South’s Miguel Silva, who also was beaten in the quarterfinals.
“I’m just excited to be able to go to state again as a senior since this is my last year,” Minor said. “I learned last time not to let being there get on my nerves. I’m just going to go and wrestle since it’s all for fun now.”
Bret Miller won his first consolation bracket match at 126 before dropping a 3-2 decision to Lincoln-Way Central’s Danny Harris.
Chris Hiscock (170) got a win in his opener but then lost in the quarterfinals and suffered a defeat in the consolation bracket.
Nate Vaught (138) and Kenny Kirkland (145) both lost one-point decisions in their first matches and then fell in the wrestlebacks.