ROBERT SHIELDS (145, left) and Nick Pretto (152, right) both earned medals during the IHSA 1A Wrestling State Finals this past weekend. Shields wound up earning fourth, while Pretto picked up a sixth. Both wrestlers battled their way through the wrestlebacks to make it to the stand. Free Press photo by Matt Swick.
by Brent Sumner Staff writer
Wilmington entered the IHSA 1A State final with eight wrestlers vying for a top spot in their respective brackets.
Two Wildcats wound up bring home some hardware, as Robert Shields (145) and Nick Pretto (152) finished fourth and sixth, respectively.
"We started wrestling in the first round and didn't do as well as we thought we would," said Wildcat coach Rob Murphy. "We came back strong Saturday morning though, and all of those guys got pulled back in the tournament. We had four guys that if they would have won their last matches, they would have earned medals. Nick Pretto and Bobby Shields did outstanding jobs. They wrestled a lot of ranked guys and beat them."
Shields kicked off his tournament with a win over Glasford's Jake Larson, picking up a major decision (10-1).
In the quarterfinals, Shields faced James Schnerre from Orion, and wound up getting beat 6-3, moving him to the wrestlebacks.
Shields wound up grinding his way through the consolation bracket to reach the third place match.
He picked up wins over Jordan Koester from Pinckneyville (15-3 major decision) and Stillman Valley's Sam Durfey (6-2 decision).
In the semifinals, Shields ran into a familiar opponent, Coal City's Daniel Jezik. He shutout Jezik, 3-0 to advance to the Saturday afternoon finals for third place.
"His semifinal match, he did a great job to get into the third place match," added Murphy.
In the third place match, Shields ran into Schnerre for the second time of the tournament.
Shields lost to him again (9-0 major), but still wound up on the medal stand with the fourth place finish.
Pretto had a rough start in his bracket but recovered nicely. The WHS senior lost his opening match to Dale Ashby from Hoopeston (6-3 decision).
Ashby won the next match, which allowed Pretto to enter the wrestlebacks, where he faced Kaehl VanDalsen from Monticello.
Pretto picked up a second-period pin (2:53), moving him to the following round, where he earned another win over Bowen's Cameron White (5-4 dec.).
"Pretto's quarterfinal of wrestlebacks to put him in the semis was a good match," said Murphy. "He did a nice job and beat a really good wrestler."
Pretto reached the semifinals, but wound up losing to Maxx Fritz from Mt. Olive (6-4 dec.), pushing him to the fifth place match, where he faced Ashby for the second time of the tournament.
Pretto put up a good fight, but got edged 6-5, placing him sixth in the tournament.
Wilmington had six other wrestlers compete in the tournament, but wound up falling just short of placing.
Those wrestlers included: Tyler Rock (106), Matt Nutt (132), Mason Van Duyne (160), James Cox (182), Sam Jones (220) and Josh Jones (285).
"I am just real proud of the eight guys we took down there and wrestled," Murphy said. "They represented Wilmington well, and hopefully we will win the dual team Sectional and go from there."
Sam Jones put up a good fight in the wrestlebacks, and wound up finishing just out of medal contention, but wound up in the top eight.
He defeated Kyle Hammer from Clinton (5-3 dec.) in the wrestlebacks, knocking off the number five ranked wrestler in the state.
The same went for Josh Jones, who finished within the top eight. He picked up a win over sixth-ranked Anthony Enlow from Vandalia with a 12-5 dec.
"Even though those two didn't get on the podium, they had a good tournament and beat some nice wrestlers," said Murphy.
Mason Van Duyne also fell just short, but finished within the top eight, securing a wrestleback win over Mt. Olive's Jonny Darrah (7-2 dec.).
While the eight Wildcat wrestlers were at state, the rest of the roster was here in Wilmington practicing for Tuesday night's dual team sectional against Bowen.
With the individual state tournament over, the focus switched on Monday, with the wrestlers preparing for the team competiton.
"I find that each individual wrestles better, because they aren't just wrestling for their self, they are wrestling for the team," Murphy said. "You usually see in the dual team, the guy that didn't qualify for state, he will come up big and earn a win over a guy that went to state. Those are the heroes of the duals."
The Wildcats traveled to Coal City Tuesday night for the sectional. If they won, check www.freepressnewspapers.com for an update), the Wildcats advance to the quarterfinal rounds which will be held in Bloomington.
The winner will face either Auburn or Anna-Jonesboro at 9 a.m. on Saturday at the U.S. Cellular Colesium
The Coalers wound up sending 11 wrestlers to the state tournament, where they had four earn spots on the medal stand.
Alex Friddle (113), Jake Hiles (120) and Brock Crawford (195) all earned third place finishes, while Daniel Jezik (145) picked up a sixth place.
The Comets wound up sending two to state, Bobby Mann (106) and Gabe Nagel (145).
Neither wrestler advanced out of the opening round, but the two qualifiers doubled Reed-Custer's qualifiers from last year.