No double for Dooley
CHAMPAIGN – So he didn't win back-to-back state titles. Doesn't matter, Kyle Dooley is still the best wrestler in Monticello history. The 150-pound senior dropped the 152-pound championship match 4-0 to Coal City's Chase Odeen, bringing to an end a stellar career.
He won a school-record 150 matches to just 11 defeats, and finished second, first and second in consecutive years at the individual state meet. That's the kind of stuff most guys dream of.
"I'm pretty proud of everything that I've accomplished," Dooley said. "I can look back on my career and be proud of the things I've accomplished."
Expectations were high for Dooley coming into the season, and he said he felt the pressure. He signed with Illinois in November and was ranked No. 1 in his weight class for most of the season. Having that kind of reputation to live up to can be pretty daunting for a teenager.
"Definitely, guys look forward to facing you," Dooley said. "Did it matter that I was signed with Illinois, did it make him automatically win? No," Dooley said. "But I'm sure (Odeen) wanted to prove himself to other colleges and I've got to give all the credit to him. He's a good wrestler."
Odeen, a junior, is so good that he handed Dooley (42-2) his only losses of the season. At the Princeton Invitational, Odeen picked up a last-second takedown and beat Dooley 4-3. So Odeen now can go around saying he's a superior wrestler than the guy that's moving on to Illinois next season, right?
"No. Not at all," Odeen said. "He pretty much controlled the match at Princeton. I got lucky and the only place I beat him was on the scoreboard. Beating a state champ is huge and he's great. He's going to do well (at Illinois)."
Said Dooley: "He got the better of me basically all year."
Even in his two wins this weekend, Dooley wasn't pleased with his showings. He went ahead 9-1 in his semifinal match but gave up six straight points before escaping with a 10-7 win. Monticello coach Andy Moore chalked up the late breakdowns to nerves.
"I think he has a lot of pressure," Moore said. "He's trying to repeat and he's just nervous trying to do what he can do to impress (Illinois) coach (Mark) Johnson and all the fans. He has a lot to live up to."
That he moved up two weight classes from 140 as a junior wasn't the reason he lost, Dooley said. He'll likely compete at 157 when he gets to college, so this season was a way for him to get used to wrestling bigger, stronger opponents.
"I kind of just decided to let my teammate have (145)," Dooley said. "It (152) would sort of be a new challenge for me and I'm glad I went (152). Staying there kept me a little bigger and I didn't want to wrestle at 145."
Next, Dooley will take some time off before he jumps into training for his collegiate career. Johnson was on hand to watch Dooley and four other future Illini, and Dooley is looking forward to the next challenge in his career.
"I'm pretty excited about that," he said. "As soon as I can I want to get into one of those practices, but I don't think I can do that until this summer. But I want to get in there, start butting heads with those guys and try to get a little head start."
But for now, he has that record-breaking career to look at and feel some pride.
"Obviously I'm pretty disappointed, but looking back on it I had everything I could have wanted," Dooley said.
LeRoy's Tyler Wilfley was the only area wrestler to win his final match of the weekend, defeating Shelbyville's Nate Bly 7-0 in the third-place match at 130. It was a good way for the junior to go out, especially after losing 6-0 in the semifinals.
"I feel like being able to bounce back like I did was important," Wilfley said. "I just wanted to end the year on a good note and I feel like I wrestled a good match in the semifinals, so I'm happy."
That he won so handily in the third-place match came as a bit of a shock to Wilfley, who finished the season with a 36-4 record.
"I knew I just had to wrestle my match and take it to him and be aggressive," he said. "I just wanted to make him wrestle my match and I felt like I did that pretty well."
Two guys with plenty of state finals experience, St. Joseph-Ogden's Lukas Graves and Unity's Dustinn Brown, had up-and-down days Saturday.
Graves, who came in ranked third at 140, dropped his semifinal match 1-0 to undefeated Zach Wilson of Benton – the eventual champion.
Brown dropped his semifinal bout to Dakota's Seth Milks, the same wrestler who has beaten him at state for three straight years now.
Brown won his next match to claim a spot in the third-place match at 119, but an injury he suffered in the bout against Milks hampered him during his bid to finish in the top three.
"I hurt my wrist real bad earlier today," Brown said. "During one of my breaks I actually threw up a couple of times. I knew I wasn't 100 percent, but I wanted to go wrestle my last high school match."
Despite the injury, Brown almost prevailed in the third-place bout against sophomore Jake Miller of Murphysboro. He came back from a 2-0 deficit and led 6-5 going into the third period before his wrist started to bother him. He lost 9-6.
"I wasn't expecting to be able to move as quick or be as strong as I was earlier in the day," Brown said. "I thought I had a really good chance. A 100 percent Dustinn Brown, I think would have tore that kid up."