Silver was the color of the night, with a final flash of gold, for Washington at the Class 2A individual state wrestling tournament.
The Panthers highlighted a total of 13 Journal Star-area medalists with nine trips to the podium, including four seconds and one first, at the State Farm Center.
Washington junior Jace Punke provided the gold, with a title at 285 pounds. The Panthers also earned a quartet of runner-up finishes — from Abe Hinrichsen (106), Joey Cape (113), Tyler Delaware (132) and Jared Head (160).
Washington ended with nine medals, receiving two thirds (Blaize Punke at 145 and Dalton Jensen at 152), a fourth (Garrett Rich at 170) and a fifth (Zeke Hulet at 120).
“As far as our guys effort, I’m super proud right now,” Washington coach Nick Miller said. “They did a great job today. The worst feeling you can have is to think maybe I could have done something else and none of our guys are going to walk away with that feeling tonight.”
Notre Dame sophomore Tristan Daugherty earned his second consecutive third-place medal at 113 and junior teammate Leo Mushinsky settled for fourth at 138. Peoria High senior Marques Cox added a sixth at 285.
Jace Punke (41-4), top ranked all season, closed out the night with a 9-6 decision against Mahomet-Seymour senior David Griffet. Punke scored four takedowns and an escape, while only allowing five escapes and a penalty point.
“I knew in this sport the bigger dog wins the fight and I just knew I had to go out there and set the pace and send him back down and not want to fight anymore,” said Punke, who led 5-2 after two periods.
Jace Punke added to a sixth-place finish as a freshman and third as a junior with the third title for the Punke family. Dack Punke won a pair of championships before heading to Missouri.
“I just knew I had to stay in solid position,” Jace Punke said. “I got to my offense early, set the tone, let him loose and let him know I was ready for a battle.”
In one of the better matches of the night, Bloomington senior Savion Haywood fought off a late deficit and edged Delaware 7-5 in the 132-pound title bout. The battle was the third of the postseason between the two top ranked wrestlers in the weight class, with Haywood winning the last two.
Delaware led 5-2 after a takedown with 1:25 left in the third period, but Haywood scored an escape seconds later then was awarded a pair of stalling points in the final minute to send the match into sudden victory.
Both wrestlers, who will be teammates at Old Dominion next year, battled with chances to grab the match-winner in overtime. Haywood finally took Delaware down with six seconds left off a restart. Delaware collapsed from exhaustion after the match and needed medical attention before coming out to get his medal.
“That was tough,” Miller said. “He wrestled his heart out. I’ve never seen him as exhausted as he was after that match. There was no shame in that effort. They wrestled so hard.”
Head (39-6) fell behind 11-0 early in the second period and dropped a 14-8 decision to top-ranked Alex Cramer of Crystal Lake Central (46-1). Head took Cramer down and almost got the pin with a five-point move in the second.
Hinrichsen (40-4), who knocked off the No. 2 ranked wrestler in the quarterfinals, lost a 17-2 technical fall in the 106-pound finale to top-ranked Joliet Catholic freshman Dean Hamiti (42-4).
Cape (39-6) battled two-time champion and unbeaten Justin Cardini (46-0) of Champaign Centennial to a 6-3 decision in the 113-pound finale.
After a fourth loss to eventual state champion Cardini in the quarterfinals, Daugherty (42-6) powered to his second third-place medal in as many years. Daugherty won major decision twice, before a 4-0 victory against Anthony Shickel of Oak Forest in the 113-pound third-place bout.
“All last night I was just trying to focus on getting my head back right for today, because I knew if I didn’t get my head right I would not have finished where I did this year,” Daugherty said.
After a 1-0 win in the consolation semifinals to secure a medal, Mushinsky (43-5) scored a takedown with three seconds left to force overtime but could not get an escape in the ultimate tie breaker period against Jake Viloria of Chicago St. Rita.
Blaize Punke (42-3) earned his third medal with an 8-3 decision against Peter McKusker of Pontiac in the third-place match.
“It wasn’t what I wanted, but coming off that loss, it was just knowing what the next right thing was to do," Blaize Punke said.
Rich battled back from a 6-1 deficit before losing 8-7 to Stevie Silva of Manteno in the 170-pound third-place match.
Peoria High’s Cox (35-7) won his first match 5-4 to secure a medal, but lost his last two to finish sixth. The medal is the fourth in six years for the Lions, after a 33-year drought.
Galesburg’s Robert Castellano (33-8) finished fourth at 195, after getting a 5-3 sudden victory win in the wrestleback semifinals.
Stan Morris can be reached at 686-3214 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @stanmorrispj