There’s a much different look as to where the area’s Class 1A wrestling teams will be competing in their sectionals, as opposed to what happened a year ago.
Last year, all of the Class 1A teams from the area were at a sectional site that wasn’t that far away from them in Pontiac.
But just as teams in Class 2A and 3A will be hitting the road for long trips to get to their sectionals, this year’s Class 1A sectionals not only feature competing again in the class, but has teams heading to three different distant sites Friday and Saturday.
Coal City, Peotone, Reed-Custer and Wilmington have to travel to the South Side of Chicago to take part in the Bowen Sectional. There they’ll face several Chicago schools and programs from the north and west suburbs and the Kankakee area.
Dwight will go up against teams from throughout the width of central Illinois at the Olympia Sectional, that takes place in Stanford, which is not far from Bloomington-Normal.
And Seneca has to head north to the Oregon Sectional, where it meets up with northern Illinois schools ranging from the Chicago suburbs to the northwest corner of the state.
Coal City has the most sectional qualifiers with 12, while Reed-Custer has 10, Seneca nine, Peotone seven, Dwight six and Wilmington five.
In Class 1A, coach Mark Masters’ No. 6-ranked Coal City team joins wrestlers from Reed-Custer, Peotone and Wilmington at the Bowen Sectional in Chicago. Seneca is in the Oregon Sectional, and Dwight is competing at the Olympia Sectional in Stanford.
Leading the way for the Coalers is Daniel Jezik (43-1), who is ranked
No. 2 at 195 pounds. He’s a three-time medal winner, two-time finalist and won a state championship last season.
Other ranked Coalers are Evan Rivera (34-5) at 106, Zach Finch (32-10) at 126, Connor Huston (29-4) at 138 and David Papach (25-5) at 160. Huston placed at state in 2018, while Rivera and Papach are returning state qualifiers.
Also in the mix for the Coalers are Mataeo Blessing (30-15) at 113, Ashton Harvey (24-6) at 170, Gage Leake (31-2) at 220 and Logan Miller (27-12) at 285. Harvey qualified for state last year.
State-ranked individuals from Reed-Custer feature returning state qualifier Noah Curl (35-10) at 182 and Kody Marschner (31-7) at 195. Other Comets in the mix include Ryan Tribble (38-5) at 113, two-time state qualifier Bobby Mann (38-9) at 120 and Adell Gamboa (35-4) at 138.
Peotone’s only ranked individual is Paul Keane (38-1) at 120, who was a state champion in 2018 and took second last year and in 2017. Other Blue Devils who could advance include Marco Spinazzola (24-8) at 126, Sam Bierdon (32-6) at 170 and returning state qualifier Logan Hartnett (31-12) at 195. Wilmington’s Jack Narine (24-8) at 145 is a two-time placewinner.
Dwight has one ranked individual, Daniel Gutierrez (41-5) at 145, who qualified for state last year. Dillon Sarff (41-4) at 126 and Cade Enerson (40-8) at 160 also qualified a year ago, and Malaki Slaughter (25-10) at 220 and Logan Hatfield (35-12) at 285 also are in the picture.
Some of Seneca’s best hopes are Luke Sangston (36-10) at 106, Jaden Casey (34-11) at 113, Ben Virgo (35-9) at 120, Feiner Owen (36-9) at 126, Brett Yegge (32-13) at 138, Joey Hatz (37-7) at 152 and Gavin Mason (30-12) at 220.