GABE NAGEL (left) and Bobby Mann will be heading down to Champaign on Thursday to compete in the IHSA 1A State Championships. Nagel (145) qualified for state with a third place finish, while Mann (106) earned second place. Photo by Brent Sumner.
by Brent Sumner Staff writer
Reed-Custer saw improvement in its wrestling program this past weekend, as the Comets advance two individuals to the state competition in Champaign.
That is up from last year, where the Comets had only one state qualifier.
"We doubled our number from last year, so hopefully that is a trend going up the right way," said Reed-Custer coach Jeff Sukley. "We have no seniors, so we had two sophomores and one junior here today that didn't get out. Sectional qualifiers this year, they could get out next year. We are feeling pretty good about where we are at."
Freshman Bobby Mann (106) and junior Gabe Nagel (145) both placed within the top four, securing a trip to the big stage.
At 106, Mann kicked off his competition in the Coal City Sectional with a win over DePaul's Kasim Quinn in the opening round with a :36 pin.
He advanced to face Phillips' Amonti Johnson, who he defeated with another pin (3:28).
In the semifinals, Mann ran into familiar opponent, Tyler Rock from Wilmington. Rock defeated Mann in the Regional with a first-period pin, but this time Mann got the best of his opponent.
"Things that had been said previously took a little different tone after experiencing the Regional against Rock," Sukley added. "He cleaned it up, and he is coachable. He bounced back, and he doesn't make the same mistake twice."
He won with an 8-3 decision, advancing to the final against top-seeded Pauley Keane from Bishop Mac.
Mann wound up losing by a late pin (4:37), but will be making his first trip to IHSA State as a freshman.
"I told Mann to be happy with where he was," Sukley said. "I know he wasn't happy with how it ended against Keane. That is the number one state ranked kid, so it is good to have something to go by going into state. We have a couple days to do things, and he should be a little looser now, being a freshman qualifying for state."
Nagel will also be making his first trip to state, as he earned third place in his 145 weight class.
He started out against Mitchell Evans, who he defeated with a 6-0 decision to advance against Cuba Johnson, where he picked up another decision (5-2).
Nagel put up a good fight against Coal City's Daniel Jezik in the semifinals, but wound up losing by one point (2-1 decision), as he moved to the wrestlebacks.
He picked up a win over Walther's Will Carr (14-3 major) to move to the third place match, where he faced Amos Willis from Hope Academy.
Nagel defeated Willis with a 6-2 decision, clinching third place, and rounding out the wrestlers advancing to state.
"Gabe has worked extremely hard the last couple of years," Sukley said. "It is a nice feeling to have a kid that has been working that hard, and see it pay off for him. I expected him to qualify, but you never know from day-to-day with high school kids. He had a good shot to get out, and he proved it today."
Other wrestlers that competed for Reed-Custer, but missed the cutoff, include: Ryan Shepherd (152), Shane Milburn (170) and John Carroll (285).
"We thought all five had a good shot where they were starting out," said Sukley.
The two wrestlers that did advance will now prepare for the state finals, which will kick off on Thursday. The preliminaries will start at 1 p.m., with the quarterfinals and first-round wrestlebacks starting on Friday at 8:30 a.m.
The Grand March and championship matches will be held on Saturday, starting at 5 p.m.