Smith: Minnick beats two-time champ to get to top of podium
CHAMPAIGN — Coal City junior wrestler Cody Minnick was officially the first state champion from the area on Saturday. Wrestling at 113 pounds, Minnick became the first Coalers' titlist since David Hanley in 2010 by defeating Brandon Briggs of North Boone by a 3-2 score.
Minnick would later be joined by Morris' Kenny Baldridge (132 pounds at Class 2A) at the top of the podium and three others from the area would also achieve All-State status by medaling. Minnick's teammates Cory Jurzak at 126 pounds and Casey Brown at 132 pounds each were second and Seneca's Tommy Lovett was sixth.
Here's a look at the local performances down at the State Farm Center in Champaign at the University of Illinois.
Coal City — Cody Minnick — 113 pounds
To win his first title ever, Minooka had to beat a two-time defending state champion in the process. Briggs had previously won the Class 1A titles at 106 and 113, respectively, in his freshman and sophomore seasons before losing to Minnick (46-1) 3-2 in the finals on Saturday.
"Cody going in against a two-time state champion, it shows his caliber. Especially after last year when he came in here undefeated," Coal City coach Mark Masters said. "Things didn't work out for him then. I can tell you that Cody stayed in good position the whole tournament. He attacked his offenses. He had a great tournament. He wrestled real well. I've come to expect that out of him."
Minnick said the championship went about as expected.
"It played out exactly how I thought it would," he said. "Dominating on my feet and escaping out from bottom. It was perfect."
Minnick defeated Alec Henzie of Dakota 10-4 in the semifinals.
"No words can describe this. I can't explain it," Minnick said. "All of the hard work and all of the time I have put in during the offseason. It's all paid off."
Coal City – Corey Jurzak – 126 pounds
Jurzak (33-4) lost the title to Caleb Micho of Rockford Lutheran 9-6 but not before watching a late lead dissipate in the finals.
"It's mostly disappointing. I came into the finals match hoping I could win it. I was pretty confident ... twenty seconds and I was up by one," Jurzak explained. "I was in on a single, he caught me and he got me in a cradle and got me on by back. It was a five-point move with a reverse and back points."
Jurzak defeated Andrew Wenger of Dakota 8-3 in the semifinals.
Coal City – Casey Brown – 132 pounds
For the second straight year, Brown (43-4) lost to Dakota's Josh Alber in the finals with Alber getting the Coal City by a 16-5 count on Saturday.
"Going in, I was looking forward to the rematch to see if I could beat him but I didn't have much luck," Brown said. "He's really good with his takedowns and he has a really good tilt."
After beating Brown, Alber became the first undefeated and four time state champion in IHSA history.
"Casey was wrestling the All-Universe kid in Alber," Masters said. "It's one of those situations where he went out and competed at a high level but things just didn't work out."
Seneca – Tommy Lovett – 182 pounds
Lovett (36-11) became just the fifth wrestler for SHS to medal at the state event and achieving All-State status.
"Tommy had an outstanding tournament and he really showed a lot of guts and heart to come back and wrestle at all on Saturday after dislocating his jaw and knocking a few teeth loose in the semifinal match," Seneca coach Todd Yegge said. "He fought hard all tournament and I give him a lot of credit in showing his heart and determination despite the injury."
Lovett lost the fifth-place bout to Colton Reed of Tolono Unity 19-5 but had gotten an 11-8 win on Saturday in the wrestlebacks against Dexter Fierro of Wilmington.
The rest of the MDH field
In addition to the five All-Staters, seven others from the area were down at state and had varying levels of success.
Morris 170 pounder Trevor Allbert (32-10) defeated Matthew Wheeler of Harvard by fall in 3:36 in the wrestlebacks before losing to Rigo Fraire of Sandwich by fall in 5:34.
Seneca 126 pounder Sage Friese (40-4) lost to Interstate Eight Conference nemesis Brandon Malone of Herscher in the quarterfinal wrestlebacks by a 7-2 score. Previously in the wrestlebacks Friese defeated Luke Roach of Illini Bluffs by fall in :58.
Coal City 106 pounder Joey Rivera (39-11) got to the wrestlebacks by going 1-1 where he lost to Trevor Bullington of LeRoy 15-4.
Coal City 170 pounder Riley Kauzlaric (33-15) Minooka 113 pounder K.J. Minor (35-14), Minooka 152 pounder Carson Oughton (35-6) and Minooka 220 pounder Erik Velazquez (38-10) all lost their first round matches.