Armetta retiring a winner
CHAMPAIGN — Austin Armetta secured a prominent place in school and family history Friday night.
The Mahomet-Seymour senior wrestler said no matter what happens today in the state finals at the Assembly Hall, it won't change his thoughts on the future.
He plans to retire as a wrestler this evening.
"I'm still sticking to that decision," he said.
He will conclude his career in the sport with either a first-place or a second-place medal draped around his neck.
Armetta made sure there was no question about his advancement to the title bout in Class 2A at 160 pounds, posting a pin against fourth-ranked Brett O'Kane, from Richmond-Burton, in 5:17 of their semifinal bout.
"It's a dream come true to be in the Grand March," said Armetta, whose pin was the 76th of his career and moved him into a tie for third all time on the M-S charts.
"I'm definitely peaking at the right time," Armetta said. "I'm having the best matches that I've had all year."
With his berth in the finals, he surpassed the wrestling achievements of his older siblings. Ryan Armetta had a third-place finish at state (2001). Aaron Armetta captured a fifth-place medal (1999). Both were in attendance Friday at the Assembly Hall.
"They're both inspirational people in my life," Austin Armetta said.
M-S coach Rob Ledin, who has directed the Bulldogs for six years, plans to give up his spot in the Grand March tonight to assistant coach Aaron Fancher, a two-time state champion for the Bulldogs (1989 and 1990). Fancher will escort Armetta.
"He has been my assistant, a loyal assistant, since I've been here," Ledin said. "He was a two-time state champ. I'm going to let them have the moment."
For the state championship, Armetta will face the only person who has beaten him in 39 matches this season. He lost a 15-11 decision to Washington's Dylan Reel before starting his 16-match winning streak.
"I'll have to push him hard the first period," said Armetta, who is seeking to become the 21st athlete from M-S to win an individual wrestling crown.
Ledin expects more of what he has seen throughout the tournament from Armetta.
"Austin comes 100 percent every time," he said.
The other area athlete in a 2A semifinal, Urbana junior Cameron Mammen, suffered his first loss. He fell to fifth-ranked Eric Kirkman, from Lemont, 6-4. After yielding an escape six seconds into the final period, Mammen was unable to secure a tying takedown, like he did in two comeback wins at sectional.
Mammen is 28-1 for the season and is guaranteed of a top-six finish at state.
In reaching the semifinals, Armetta and Mammen had dominant performances, winning matches without allowing a point.
Armetta blanked sixth-ranked Mark Kirkman, from Lemont, 6-0, and Mammen registered a 17-0 technical fall (in 4:36) against Montini's Conor Winel.
Joining Armetta and Mammen in action today are two other local Class 2A standouts. Seniors Nate Volk (152), from Champaign Central, and Archie Williams (182), from Centennial, extended their seasons by regrouping after quarterfinal losses to follow up with pins in wrestleback action.
Both could wrestle as many as three times today. With one more win, however, they will assure themselves of a state medal. Centennial last had a medalist in 1984.
Volk's fall against Lincoln-Way East's Josh Ruettiger in 4:25 was his 22nd of the season.
Williams was tied with Galesburg's Jonathon Mixon, 2-2, when he got a second-period takedown and pin in 3:41. The fall raises his school-record season total to 27 and his school-record career total to 68.
Williams credits last year's state experience with enabling him to respond favorably to his quarterfinal setback.
"Last year, when I couldn't be the champion, I wanted to give up and wasn't that focused," said Williams, 2-2 at state as a junior. "This year I want to place, and I felt I was in control."
He earned his final takedown and pin following a throw.
Chargers coach Ed Mears didn't need to do a pep talk.
"I told him, 'You're here to medal,' and he said, 'Yes, Coach, I know,' " Mears said. "He was more offensive (against Mixon) and went after it. He wants to get on that podium."
Three of the area's eight Class 2A competitors had to accept a one-and-done fate. Centennial's Darren Wynn (126) and Deonte Adams (195) and Champaign Central's Brandon Klein (170) didn't get an opportunity to wrestle back when the individual who beat each of them in the first round failed to reach the semifinals.
Klein finished his freshman season with a 27-15 record. He held a 14-1 edge against opponents on pins.
Wynn, a junior, ended 36-5. Three of his losses, including the one at state, were by one-point margins. Adams, a senior who carried a 13-match winning streak into state, wound up 32-7. He also dropped three one-point decisions for the season, including his lone match at state.
Mahomet-Seymour's Tyler Moxley (120) gave up two first-period takedowns in his Friday wrestleback match against Rich East's Scottie Bonds and was eliminated following an 11-5 loss. His first state loss was to Fenwick's Matt Garelli, who advanced to the title match.
Moxley completes his junior year with a 31-13 record. He needs 24 wins next season to reach 100 for his career.