BLOOMINGTON — Three powerful performances propelled the Washington wrestling team to a third consecutive Illinois High School Association dual-team state championship Saturday at Grossinger Motors Arena.

The Panthers overwhelmed all three of their opponents, outscoring their foes by a combined 160-45 score and losing only seven of 40 matches.

After cruising to wins against No. 2 Woodstock Marian in the quarterfinals and No. 8 Chicago St. Rita in the semifinals, top-ranked Washington blitzed No. 9 Cahokia 59-12 in the championship dual.

“I’m excited, I’m relieved, I’m proud,” said first-year Washington coach Nick Miller, who took over when Bryan Medlin stepped down to take a position at the University of Illinois. “Not just winning a state title, but every single one of our seniors went out tonight and won their last match and that’s an awesome feeling.”

Senior Blaize Punke kick-started Washington’s title celebration against Cahokia with a pin in 5:04 of the third period at 145 pounds. There would be six more Panthers pins and 12 total wins against the Comanches.

“Just to go out knowing we’re going to win it, with the group of kids we worked hard with all year, it’s just great,” Punke said. “It’s just like a family."

Senior Dalton Jensen, ranked No. 1 all season at 152 before settling for a third-place medal last weekend at individual state, found redemption with an emotional 4-3 decision against state runner-up Martell Boone.

“I didn’t show up at state, but I showed up today,” said Jensen, who knocked off state champion Dylan Connell of Marian in the quarterfinals. “It’s just mindset. I came ready to wrestle. I wrestle a lot better when I’m wrestling for my team.”

Washington also received pins in the championship dual from Jared Head at 160, Garett Rich at 182, Hayden Jackson at 195, state champion Jace Punke at 285, Abe Hinrichsen at 106 and Brody Norman at 120.

“It’s an awesome feeling to know that all that hard work paid off in a state title,” said senior Tyler Delaware, who won a 7-3 decision after starting the first two duals off with quick pins. “It’s kinda emotional for all the seniors in our last match.”

Washington (27-4) did not miss a beat, after losing two nationally ranked wrestlers and its head coach after last season.

“As much as I could, I tried to downplay all the questions about the change (in head coaches),” Miller said. “In the end, it wasn’t me. It was these guys. I just got to be the guy that kinda stood at the front a little bit. It’s a great coaching staff and a bunch of kids that understood what the standard of this program was and continued to uphold that standard.”

Washington opened the day with a 42-25 victory against No. 2 ranked Marian in the quarterfinals.

Highlights of the dual included quick pins by Delaware (21 seconds at 132), Jace Punke (28-seconds at 285) and Head (47 seconds at 170), as well as a 2-1 tiebreaker victory by Jensen over state champ Dylan Connell at 152. Jensen was awarded a stalling point in the final seconds of the second 30-second tiebreaker period.

Against St. Rita, which Washington beat 49-21 in December, the Panthers won all but two matches, with six pins — including the match clincher by sophomore Dylan Cooper at 285 pounds (in 5:29).

Just like he did in the quarters, Delaware opened the dual with a first period pin — this time in 36 seconds.

Washington won four of the first five matches by pin, as Blaize Punke (1:08 at 145), Jensen (2:57 at 152) and Head (2:21 at 170) followed Delaware.

Another highlight of the dual was a 3-0 decision from Zeke Hulet at 126 against third-place state finisher Tommy Russell. Hulet had lost twice to Russell, the last coming by pin in the individual state quarterfinals.

Class 1A

El Paso-Gridley’s historic season came to an end in the quarterfinals, with a 40-22 loss to No. 3 ranked Coal City.

The Titans (22-10) won six matches, with a pin from coach’s son Grant Sant Amour in the 126-pound final match. EP-G also received a major decision from 170-pounder Neal Downen (12-4), as well as decisions from 106 pound state champ Monte Gregory (12-9), Kain Jackson at 138 (9-3), Dylan Reeves at 182 (10-6) and Ethan Faulk at 285 (10-4).

“It was a great year,” EP-G coach Brady Sant Amour said. “These kids have battled all year. There were times we struggled a little bit to work as a team, but we were up against a very good opponent and I thought we wrestled very well through each weight class.”

Stan Morris can be reached at 686-3214 or smorris@pjstar.com. Follow him on Twitter @stanmorrispjs