By Anthony Jones
TROY — The first round of the Illinois High School Association boys wrestling tournament saw several Triad Knights earn top placements.
Triad, who was one of eight teams competing at the Civic Memorial Class 2A Regional, finished in third-place as a team. Their tally of 144.5 team points was only bested by the host Eagles and the Glenwood Titans.
No Knight placed higher than senior Colby Crouch, who finished in first-place at 126 pounds. After receiving a first-round bye, he pinned his next opponent in 16 seconds before winning the championship by default.
Four other Knights finished in second place to qualify for the IHSA Sectional meet: Will Kelly, Shane Seip, Brody Smith and Ben Baumgartner.
Kelly started his postseason in the semi-final of the 106 pound division and earned a 17-0 technical fall. In the first-place match, he fell in a 6-2 decision to Tyler Clarke of Glenwood.
At 113, Seip began his way through the regional bracket with a pin in the first round. He later advanced through the semi-final round in a 5-3 decision before taking a fall in the championship match.
Another top finisher, Smith, picked up wins with a second-round fall and a 17-9 technical fall at 132. His lone loss came by way of pin.
Rounding out the Knights’ runner-ups, Ben Baumgartner won his 138 pound semifinal with a 68 second fall. He later fell in a 16-0 technical fall.
All five of Triad’s top finishers advanced to the IHSA Sectional at Mahomet-Seymour, as all top-three finishers do.
“I feel good about our five sectional qualifiers and feel like they can all go up and compete well with a shot to get to the state tournament. We’ll see what happens, but I feel really good about our chances to get multiple wrestlers advanced to the state tournament,” Coach Russ Witzig commented on the wrestlers that extended their postseason.
Several Knights just missed the cut for sectionals with fourth-place finishes.
One of the Knights to narrowly miss qualifying was Landon Busch, he began his 285 bracket with a 67 second win by fall. Busch defaulted the next round due to injury, before scoring a 51 second pin to start the consolation bracket and later losing the third-place match in a 7-3 decision.
At 190, Bobby Patterson dropped his third-place match due to sudden victory. He won his previous consolation matches in two early pins after suffering a pin of his own to open the tournament.
Joseph Tappel also found himself on the wrong side of a first-round pin before responding with a 12-2 major decision. In the 175 pound third-place match, the Triad representative lost in a 15-0 technical fall.
Competing in the 157 pound division, Gavin Woolverton began with a win by 6-3 decision, loss by fall and a 21 second win by fall. He was later pinned in the final seconds of the second-round, sending him to fourth-place.
Starting with a 14-0 major decision, Glen Henry pieced together another fourth-place finish at 120. After losing by a quick fall in the semi-final round, Henry scored a 13-4 major decision in the consolation semi-final and lost his subsequent match by the same score.
Coach Witzig had mixed feelings on the day as a whole, “I think we exceeded our overall expectations as a team and a few of our guys actually wrestled above their seeds. To get 10 guys wrestling in the last round was a pretty good team accomplishment but going 1-9 isn’t the way to finish the day, especially when half of those matches were win or be done to qualify out to the sectional tournament.”