By J. W. Campbell, Sportswriter
Triad will send five wrestlers to the state individual tournament in Champaign-Urbana after earning three thirds and two fourths at the Mahomet-Seymour sectional on Friday, February 8 and Saturday, February 9.
“We had a pretty good tournament as we qualified five wrestlers out of the sectional, which we’ve only done two other times in the last 26 years,” Triad Coach Russ Witzig said. “We also had two wrestlers who were one win away from qualifying, which to me was pretty impressive. To have half of our total lineup still alive in the blood round with a chance to go to state says a lot about our team depth and our kids ability to keep fighting deep into a tournament when their back is against the wall.
“Going into the tournament, I felt like getting five guys out would be a great day. While we would always like more, we are pretty happy with five. I think only two other teams got five guys out to state from our sectional.
“Our kids all gave a great effort even when they ended up on the losing end and did a great job representing our school. Hopefully our kids are motivated to go up to Champaign and compete against the best kids in the state and country. We haven’t had a state placer in a couple of years and we would like to break that drought.”
Among the Knights with third-place finishes in their weight class at the sectional were Chase Hall at 106, Will Hillard at 138 and Garrett Bakarich at 145.
Hall, a freshman with a 32-9 record, won a 10-2 major decision over Cameron Lee of Decatur McArthur in his third-place bout.
Hillard, a junior with a 23-6 record, defeated Hayden Stanley of Mattoon in a 5-2 decision in his third-place match.
Bakarich, a junior with a 38-5 record, pinned his opponent, Chase Overton of Mascoutah, in his third-place contest.
Finishing with fourths in their divisions were Knights Kaleb Port at 182 and Collin North at 220.
Port reached the third-place match by beating Brayden Doyle of Charleston 12-2 in a major decision. In his third-place bout, Port lost to Colin Bybee of Carbondale in an 8-5 decision. The senior takes a 34-8 record into the state tournament.
North, who lost by a fall to Dawson Pruitt of Westville in his third-place match, defeated Connor Sweeney of Rochester by a pin in his previous contest. The sophomore has a 28-9 record heading into the state tournament.
Other Triad wrestlers who competed at the sectional level this year were Tanner Durell at 138, Layne Sparks at 152, Kaden Marmon at 160 and Andrew McElligot at 195.