Repeat performance for Washington
The Panthers are champions again.
The Washington wrestling team won the Mid-Illini Conference championship for the second year in a row, completing another perfect season.
The Panthers had 16.5 points for the season, combining their 6-0 dual record with a first-place finish in the seven-team league tournament.
“It was good,” WCHS head coach Bryan Medlin said. “We wrestled really well and won some matches we possibly weren’t supposed to win.”
Washington outscored runner-up East Peoria, 199.5-182, to maintain their spot atop the M-I.
The Panthers won 6-of-9 matchups with the Raiders, including 3-of-4 title bouts.
“We knew East Peoria is always going to have a solid program,” Medlin said about the battle with the Raiders, who have a feeder school with an Illinois Elementary School Association program. “It was exciting. We knew it was fairly close early.”
A Washington athlete placed first in seven of the 14 weight brackets. Each will be a first-team all-conference honoree.
Seniors Derek McIntosh, Trevor Mileur, Brandon Rice and Jacob Lamb, junior Dylan Reel and sophomores Austin Wileman and Colton Gladwell all claimed individual championships.
Rice and Reel recorded their third M-I titles.
“Up through 160, we went undefeated in finals,” said Medlin. “Everybody wrestled well.”
McIntosh (25-6) pinned Matt Weber of Metamora in the 125-pound semifinals before a 7-0 victory against Canton’s Bryce Vaughn.
Mileur (24-6), a first-year Panther, won a hard-fought 130 battle with Jesus Rivera of East Peoria, 13-8, before Morton’s Jaren Glascock defaulted due to injury.
In 135, Rice (32-5) pinned Wyatt Mulligan of Canton, then racked up 24 points in a technical fall of East Peoria’s Drew Foster in the final.
Lamb (21-12) upset top-seeded Tyler White of Metamora in the semifinals in 152, 11-7, then capped off a 3-0 day with an 8-3 decision against East Peoria’s Kaleb Gross.
Reel (37-1) faced little resistance in 160. He pinned his two foes — East Peoria’s Shawn Hall and Marcus Miller of Metamora — in the first period.
Wileman (23-14) pinned Canton’s Dillon Lee, then outscored Austin Harper of East Peoria in the 103 title match, 7-4.
Gladwell (26-9) gave the Panthers four consecutive crowns from 125 to 140 with a 6-5 win over Morton’s Zach Deaton that followed a pin of Nate Gamez in the semifinals.
Washington’s Keil Dossett (18-20), a junior, pinned Nick Gurdian of Morton on the way to second-place distinction in 189.
Senior Dylan Koonce (6-8) upended East Peoria’s Billy Newport, who entered with 19 wins, to take the runner-up position in 285.
Dan Massengill (18-10), a senior, was third in a competitive 171 bracket, winning his last two bouts by pin.
Sophomore Travis Rice (20-18) and senior Trevor Craig (17-20) were fourth-place recipients in 112 and 145, respectively.
Postseason: Washington takes part in the first leg of the Illinois High School Association Class 2A postseason at 9 a.m. Saturday.
“We’re excited to be at this point,” Medlin said. “They’ve worked really hard to get here.”
The six 2A Mid-Illini schools are joined at the Notre Dame Regional by Richwoods, Central, Manual and the host Irish of the Mid-State 6 Conference.
The Panthers won their first regional championship a year ago.
Another tussle with East Peoria is expected.
Even with weather issues possibly cutting into regular practice time this week, Medlin is not worried.
“They have proven to me they want this more than the coaching staff,” he said of the wrestlers. “They’re willing to put the time in at home.”
Medlin said the team is healthier now than it has been all season.
Junior Mason Wright, a two-time state qualifier, returned to practice and is expected back in the line-up, likely at 152.
“I hope we win the regional this weekend,” said Medlin.
Since the team members spend so much time together, they have a family-type bond, Medlin said. They do not want to let each other down.
The top three individuals in each weight class advance to the Feb. 11-12 Rochelle Sectional.
The regional champion proceeds to the Feb. 22 LaSalle Dual Team Sectional.