Mammen perfectly marvelous
MAHOMET — On a Saturday when 14 individuals stood atop the awards podium after winning their weight classes in Mahomet-Seymour's Class 2A Regional, Urbana's Cameron Mammen stood alone.
The 170-pound junior is the only one with an unbeaten season record.
He was hardly the only individual champion with a compelling story, however. Central's 152-pound Nate Volk ran his winning streak to 29 matches in a title-bout showdown between two 30-match winners. Centennial's Deonte Adams, competing in a weight class 16 pounds above where he weighed in, held an 8-0 edge on takedowns over three opponents while capturing the 195-pound crown.
"Last year, I didn't make it to sectional," Adams said. "This year, I'm trying hard to make it to state."
Despite weighing in at 179 pounds, he doesn't see himself at a competitive disadvantage.
"I wrestle the big guys on my team all the time," said Adams, who won the Big 12 Conference title a week ago at 182 pounds.
Volk's championship-match win was over an opponent from Bloomington, Alex Alvis, whom he has beaten four times this season.
"He knows what I'll do," said Volk, who altered a part of his strategy. "In the past, I was more reactive. This match, I was shooting more."
All of his points in a 4-2 decision were on takedowns.
Volk and teammate Julian Anastasia (132) each earned two-point wins in the finals. Anastasia fell behind M-S' Luke Hopper 6-2 in the first period before regrouping for an 11-9 triumph.
"You want to say, 'it's over,' when you're down in the first period, but that's when it's time to fight and give everything," Anastasia said.
He and the Maroons had to cope mentally after seeing 160-pound teammate Indy Whalen carried out on a stretcher after suffering a semifinal neck injury against Armetta.
"It sticks in your mind," Anastasia said. "You think if it happened to him, something terrible could happen to anyone. It's unfortunate for him. He had improved and had a great chance to advance."
Mammen, 23-0, pinned his way to the finals with two sub-30-second pins and then earned a 17-2 technical fall win over Central's Brandon Klein. He had no difficulties with his competition to start the postseason, nor was there any trouble when he stepped on the scales.
On a day he could have made weight at 172, he was 5 pounds under.
"And I eat as much as I want," he said. "I'm pretty comfortable at this weight."
Entering the sectional at Mount Zion — where the state's top-ranked 170-pounder will be in the 12-person field — Mammen was pleased to have a dominating final match, registering four takedowns and three near-falls.
"I wrestled him in my first match of the season, when I wasn't in shape (after returning from a football injury)," he said. "Today, I had a lot of vengeance."
M-S' Austin Armetta also had plenty of drive to succeed in the 160-pound class, His 5-2 win over Normal West's Zach Nohns capped a prep career when he never lost at regionals.
"He keeps getting closer and closer," said Armetta after improving to 4-0 against Nohns this season.
Despite a career with 123 varsity victories, Armetta is closing in on the end of his competitive career.
"This (year) is it," he said.
Though he was the only four-time regional champ among the area winners, Centennial junior Austen Schott (113) captured his third in a row. Schott competed at 120 pounds the majority of the season, even though he started the year weighing 118. He collected regional pins against individuals who wound up in second and third place.
Regional team champion Bloomington qualified 11 individuals for sectional. Runner-up Centennial advanced eight, third-place Mahomet-Seymour six, fourth-place Central five, sixth-place Urbana three, eighth-place Westville/Salt Fork/Georgetown-Ridge Farm one and ninth-place Rantoul one.
Other area titlists were M-S' Kyle Heller (145) and Urbana's Josh Pratt (220).
Schott and Pratt were two of five champions to post pins in the finals. Of the five with pins, Pratt was the only one with a fall over the top-seeded wrestler in his weight class.
"I'd heard about him, but had never wrestled him," said Pratt, a junior who took up wrestling in eighth grade.
Central's Jack Rossi took advantage of an IHSA change-of-policy last year that requires all matches to be contested, even if the two individuals had met previously in the same tournament.
Rossi lost his regional opener to Bloomington's Austin Riddle, 5-2, but then was matched up with Rossi in the third-place bout at 138 with a sectional berth at stake only for the winner. Rossi turned the tables with a 3-0 decision.
"If I didn't have the second chance, he would have made it to sectional," said Rossi, who also lost to Riddle last week by a point.
Rantoul's Taylor Duitsman, a 106-pound senior, upset second-seeded Joey Schott, from Centennial, 1-0 in the semifinals. Duitsman was pinned in the finals, but by then he already clinched his advancement.
"I knew no matter what I was going to sectionals and that's what I was striving for," Duitsman said.
The Eagles had no regional entries in the three weight classes following Duitsman, meaning he is obligated to face larger opponents in practice.
"This year, I wrestle our 132-pounder, and coaches," he said. "I think the previous years have helped a lot. We had solid teams (in the lower weights)."
M-S' Parker Overmyer, a 195-pound junior, was scoreless in the first 5:50 of his 6-minute opening match with Bloomington's Blake Armstrong, a 23-match winner. In the final 10 seconds, Overmyer scored a takedown and near-fall to rally for a 4-3 triumph.
"It shows the value of fighting until the end," M-S coach Rob Ledin said.