By Mark Jurgena
COLLINSVILLE — It was a historic weekend across the state as the IHSA hosted their first-ever set of girls wrestling regionals in their third year of hosting a state series.
Previously the state only hosted a sectional round to qualify for state. This year it has become a two-step process to get to the state championships.
Four of the five Collinsville wrestlers who took part in the West Frankfort regional placed high enough to qualify for the Peoria (Richwoods) Sectional the second weekend of February.
Edwardsville won the team regional title far outdistancing the field with 237 points while Belleville West was second with 103. The Kahoks took third with 83 points which was one ahead of fourth place Goreville.
There were 33 schools represented at West Frankfort.
Collinsville had one regional champion in Taylor Dawson at 130 pounds. The two-time state medalist (a runner-up and third place finish) won all three of her matches by pinfall to move her record to 41-0 on the season.
“Taylor looked phenomenal, she makes a statement every time she steps on the mat,” said Collinsville coach Jordan May.
In her opening match, she pinned Rachel Richey of Robinson at the 3:39 mark. In that bout, Dawson had 12 takedowns and was close to a tech fall prior to finishing the match.
That win was the 100th of her career. She has 88 against female competitors and 12 against males.
Her semifinal opponent was Joelene Nappier-Feth of Marion who finished the weekend with a 33-11 mark. Dawson dispatched her at 1:27.
Finally, in the title bout, she beat Olive Linhorst of Edwardsville at the 2:40 mark. Linhorst advances to the sectional as well with her 25-10 record.
“Taylor was being pretty offensive while the girl from Edwardsville was being pretty defensive,” started May. “Then Taylor opened up her arsenal and the girl couldn’t defend her moves.”
At 135 pounds, Kahok freshman LeAnn Cory upped her season record to 28-7 after her runner-up finish.
She started with a 15-second pin of DJ Tucker of Marion.
She needed a sudden victory decision to advance to the finals. During SV she beat Audrey Barnes of Granite City 10-8.
“She had a very, very good match, probably one of the best matches I’ve seen this season from any of our wrestlers,” said May. “It was very exciting, very suspenseful and definitely kept me on the edge of my coaching chair.”
In the finals she fell to Natalie Beaumont of Toldeo (Cumberland) via pinfall at 51 seconds. Beaumont is now 13-1 on the year. It was the second time this year Beaumont beat Cory.
Kahok Hannah Jones moved to 25-9 on the season with a third place finish at 170 pounds.
In her opener, she beat Lily Browning of West Frankfort in 38 seconds.
“Hannah came out and looked like a takedown specialist,” said May. “I’ve been really encouraging takedowns in the room and a lot of girls are taking a liking to taking their opponents down.
“Hannah got a couple of good takedowns then she decided to pin her opponent and that’s what she did. Every move she had planned she did.”
She fell to defending state champion August Rottmann of Highland at the 1:12 mark in her next match. Rottmann took third in state two seasons ago.
Jones moved to the wrestlebacks where she beat Anna Dodson of Salem at the 1:28 mark then pinned Cynthia Macke of Campbell Hill (Trico) at the 5:03 mark.
Emma Ford advanced at 125 pounds after her sixth place finish. She has a 16-11 record on the year.
She fell to Ariel Board of Gorville by pinfall at 3:20 in her opener before beating Charlie Bono of Litchfield via pinfall at 5:02.
As she continued through the bracket she pinned Lucy Baldwin of Waterloo in 40 seconds, then Avery Smith of Red Bud in 39 seconds.
Finally, she faced Board again falling by pin at 2:36.
Claire Dudley competed at 110 pounds but fell to Hayden Williamson of Anna-Jonesboro at 3:19 and Delaney Measimer of Carbondale at 1:43.