By Anthony Jones
Since 1974, Fritz Nemsky’s state championship in wrestling has sat alone in the record books at Triad high school.
The heavyweight’s title from 48 years ago finally had company this past weekend, as sophomore Colby Crouch brought home the IHSA Class 2A 120 pound division crown.
Before he arrived at his title match, he marched through the three opponents in his path with relative ease, earning two quick pinfalls and an 8-5 decision.
Across the mat from him in his title bout was Peyton Cox, a freshman from Washington.
Crouch started in an early hole by going down 0-2, but finished round 1 with a 3-2 lead. He extended his advantage to 4-2 after the next period.
The third and final period provided plenty of drama, as Cox flipped Crouch for a takedown to tie the bout at 4-4 with less than 30 seconds left.
Even with the limited time on the clock, Triad Head Coach Russ Witzig felt confident that his grappler would pull out the win, “I never thought he was in trouble, nobody has been able to hold him down all year. Colby wrestles a very open style that gives up some points but allows him to be able to score a lot quickly.”
Just 15 seconds later the star sophomore proved his coach right and appeared to score a two point reversal, but the officials ruled it was only a one point escape because Cox had gotten out of bounds just in time.
Back in the lead at 5-4, Crouch knew just what he needed to do in the final moments of the match, “We went out of bounds and I looked at the clock as it showed 15 seconds left and I knew I had to stay and hand fight, which I ended up doing to capture the win.”
The win made Crouch only the fifth individual to win an IHSA state title, joining the likes of the aforementioned Nemsky, Erin Wykoff, Elizabeth Hampl, and Adam Nelson.
“It feels good to know I’m now included in the elite group of people in the history of Triad High School, but I know there is still plenty of work to do to come back better and stronger to capture another title next year”, the recently crowned champion said of his achievement.
Crouch was not the only Triad wrestler to hit the IHSA State Finals mat this past weekend, while both Collinsville and Highland had a representative on the big stage.
Senior Chase Hall was of the other Triad Knights competing at the final individual meet of the year. He won in short order in his opening bout, pinning his opponent in just 29 seconds. The rest of the tournament was not so fortunate for the talented grappler
“I feel bad for Chase cause he lost 3-2 to the eventual runner up and got banged up a bit and lost 3-2 again in the blood round. He has been a mainstay for us over the last couple years and has won over 100 matches and is a multiple time state placer,” Coach Witzig said of Hall.
Jordan Clines, the other competitor for Triad at the State Finals also wrapped up a season that impressed Coach WItzig, “Clines was one of our guys on the bubble of advancing past the Sectionals. He wrestled really well to get to State and stepped up for us. At the end of the season, he had won 32 matches and had a great year for us.”
Representing the Collinsville Kahoks at the state meet was 170 pounder Austin Stewart. He dropped his first match 14-0 in a major decision, but battled his way through the consolation bracket.
His first match in wrestlebacks finished with a pinfall victory shortly into the second period. A 7-6 decision win followed, inching him closer to medaling. Unfortunately his run through the consolation ended in his next bout, dropping a tight 5-3 decision to finish in eighth place.
The lone Highland Bulldog at the State Finals was Ben Mitchell, competing in the Class 2A 160 pound division. He dropped his first bout via an 8-7 decision and subsequently was eliminated after a 7-2 loss in the consolation bracket.