LEROY — The reason for the wrestling season arrives this weekend, as the IHSA postseason action begins, with the eventual quest of all grapplers being an appearance on the podium at the State Farm Center for the state tournament on Feb. 16-18.
For Monticello High School wrestlers, it starts in LeRoy this Friday at the area Class 1A regional. Eleven teams will be represented, with the top three from each weight class advancing to the sectional round in Clinton on Feb. 10-11. The top four there will get their chance at state hardware in Champaign.
“Our goals are to get as many individuals to qualify for sectionals as possible. We are in a tough regional, but our wrestlers have the skills to compete and earn a spot at sectionals,” said MHS coach Andy Moore.
He admits it won’t be an easy task in a regional that includes several strong squads. Teams assigned to LeRoy in the initial postseason round are Bismark-Henning, St. Thomas More, Clinton, Decatur Lutheran, LeRoy, Monticello, Rantoul, St. Joseph-Ogden, Olympia, Unity and Warrensburg-Latham.
“Unity will be the team to beat at regionals,” Moore said. “There are a lot of other teams that have several quality wrestlers that will add to the difficulty in each weight class as well.”
Also at stake is a shot at the dual team title. Teams with the highest point totals at regional advance to the team sectional Feb. 21. The top two from each sectional wrestle for the team crowns Feb. 24-25 at Grossinger Motors Arena in Bloomington.
Regular season finale
MHS finished out its regular season at Oakwood, where they lost to the host team 72-6 but battled tough with Bismark-Henning before dropping the match 40-34.
Against B-H, Dawson Sheets took a win by fall in just 19 seconds at 145 lbs., while Marissa Miller also pinned her opponent early in a mere 45 seconds at 105 lbs. Drake Weeks also won by fall at 132 lbs.
Adding victories for the Sages were Gavin Ridings by majority decision (12-1) at 138 lbs., Russ Brown by decision (9-4) at 160 lbs. and Preston Bettinger by decision (14-8) at 126 lbs.
Monticello did not get a win among the matches to hit the mat versus a strong Oakwood team. Hank Dunn scored the teams points with a forfeit win at 220 lbs.
The Sages do not have any regular season matches on their schedule, as they prepare for this weekend’s regional competition.
“We will continue to refine skills this week, we will amp up some conditioning, and we will attempt to heighten the confidence and mental side for the postseason,” Moore added.