Highland advances four to IHSA wrestling sectional meet

A full day of wrestling last weekend gave the Highland wrestling team some positive results and gave a few grapplers a chance for a berth in the IHSA Class 2A meet.

Highland’s wrestling team trekked to Triad High School on Saturday and the Bulldogs turned in a decent showing at the Class 2A Regional meet placing 6th in the team standings and qualifying four individuals for the Class 2A Mahomet-Seymour Sectional next weekend.

Highland scored 97.5 points to finish sixth in the field. Chatham-Glenwood won the meet with 232 points followed by Civic Memorial (209), Triad (144.5), Jacksonville (113.5), and fifth place Rochester (107). The Bulldogs finished ahead of Jerseyville (25) and Taylorville (17).

“I feel pretty good there (at sixth) because we weren’t too far behind Triad and I think they finished fourth and we were right there with them. So, yes I was pleased with the boys’ performance,” Ohren said.

Tyson Rakers (150 pounds), Thomas Mitchell (175 pounds), Ethan Greenwald (190 pounds), and Ashton Zobrist (215 pounds) all qualified for sectionals.

Rakers had a great day winning the 150-championship with an 11-4 win over Joe Reif of Jacksonville. “He dominated the match and he was up for it and wanting it,” Ohren said. He took charge of it and never looked back.

After losing in the semifinals, Mitchell finished strong at 175 pounds beating Joseph Trappel of Triad by tech fall to win the third-place match. It was a big win for Mitchell.

“It was a big win,” Ohren said. “It was a big win for the team and for him that advanced him on and he had wrestled him earlier in the day too but there are no walkovers so you gotta wrestle to win, so yeah, he looked good.”

Greenwald turned in a strong outing as he finished second after losing the Wiezorek of Chatham-Glenwood by fall in the 190-pound championship match.

“Ethan looked really good considering it’s only his second year wrestling and he enjoys it and has a good partner to work with too,” Ohren said.

Zobrist was the Bulldogs’ final qualifier of the day as he was bested 4-2 by Oliver Cooley of Jacksonville in the 215-pound title bout.

“We were down in the hole there and then all of a sudden the last period, he just kicked it in and got the two points and so that made him go through,” Ohrn said. “He looked good considering he was giving up a bit of weight and it was his decision to go there, so we’re backing him no matter what. That kid was the fifth-ranked wrestler in Illinois so you lose to him 4-2, that’s isn’t a bad day.”

The only downside of the weekend for Highland was Gavin Merkle and Dalton Balint failing to qualify. Merkle had his qualifying bid ended by losses to Civic Memorial’s Avery Jamie in the 113-pound semifinals and then Conner Carroll of Rochester in the 113-pound consolation semifinals.

“I think he lost to the number one seeded kid and the number two seeded kid,” Ohren said. That was a tough weight class.”

Balint finished fourth in the 126-pound class after losing the third-place match to Owen Ottino of Chatham-Glenwood. “I was just hoping he would come back and get the third spot,” Ohren said. “He tried.”

As the Bulldogs prepare for the IHSA Class 2A sectional at Mahomet-Seymour on Saturday, Ohren is hoping to get at least two of his four grapplers through to the IHSA Class 2A individual meet at State Farm Center in Champaign on Feb. 15-17.

“They gotta have their game face on,” Ohren said. “Tyson’s probably got the easiest road right now because he’ll have a bye but those other guys have got to win their first match and that’s the whole key. You win your first match and that keeps you on the winner’s side (of the bracket).”