Mammen, Moxley nab third straight state berths
MATTOON — Cameron Mammen and Tyler Moxley hit the trifecta Saturday.
Austen Schott and Darren Wynn were in repeat mode.
All four senior wrestlers are headed back to familiar territory. They are among 10 area Class 2A athletes who earned state tournament berths with their performances at the Mattoon Sectional.
For Urbana’s Mammen and Mahomet-Seymour’s Moxley, it will be the third straight appearance at state. For Centennial teammates Schott and Wynn, this marks their second year in a row as qualifiers.
“It’s my last run at it,” Schott said. “I’ve got to make everything count.”
The 126-pound Schott pinned his way through his sectional bracket for the second consecutive year.
Sectional champions are assured of a top-four seed at state. Schott said there was added significance to his title-bout matchup with Carbondale’s Camron Halton.
“I took it as my first match at state,” said Schott, who built a 6-0 lead before posting the pin in 3 minutes, 40 seconds.
Schott and Mammen were two of four sectional champs at Mattoon who pinned all three of their opponents during the two-day competition. Unscored upon for the postseason, Mammen recorded the first takedown and registered first-period pins against each of his 170-pound opponents.
“In the state series, I’m looking to dominate,” said Mammen, who needed three seconds to collect his semifinal takedown.
His total mat time for the sectional was 3:02. His 59-second pin in the finals was the 14th of the season in less than a minute for the unbeaten Mammen, who is seeded first among 16 qualifiers for the state meet.
“He looked crisp and clean and didn’t take anything for granted,” Urbana coach Charles Trabaris said.
Moxley is one of a half-dozen M-S wrestlers to qualify for state three times since the school was elevated from Class 1A to 2A. For the 126-pounder, it capped a 3-for-3 showing for years he was in the varsity lineup for the postseason.
“When I got beat out by a teammate as a freshman, I didn’t expect to make it to state three times,” said Moxley, who took up the sport as a 4-year-old.
Following a Friday loss, Moxley had to win three consecutive wrestleback elimination matches Saturday to extend his season. The clincher was a pin against a 30-match winner that advanced him into the third-place match.
“This year was the hardest,” Moxley said. “My senior year. My last hurrah. I had a lot of emotions running through me.”
The 132-pound Wynn joined Mammen and Schott as the area’s sectional titlists. Wynn is 38-1 overall, but he’s unbeaten against wrestlers his weight.
In the finals he yielded the first takedown to Springfield’s Randall Taborn but rallied for an 8-3 triumph.
“You’ve got to learn (when falling behind) to wrestle like it’s 0-0,” Wynn said.
Chargers coach Ed Mears accepts responsibility for Wynn’s lone loss. At midseason he had him compete two weight classes above where he certified and went against an opponent who won the 145-pound sectional crown at Mattoon.
“We’ve tried to get him quality matches, and he was up for the challenge,” Mears said.
Schott’s dominance included keeping his semifinal and championship-bout opponents scoreless. Mears said the senior’s dominance is a reflection of his strength, not the caliber of the opponent.
“That was a quality kid he pinned in the second quarter in the finals,” Mears said.
Overall, state-ranked M-S had the most state qualifiers among area schools (four). Centennial and Urbana had two apiece. Champaign Central and Danville each advanced one wrestler.
Moxley was one of three Bulldogs who won by pin in the match that guaranteed their advancement. Kolton Taylor (113) and Cody Hooper (132) ended their matches early.
The fourth M-S state qualifier, Derek Grant (152), lost a one-point semifinal decision but bounced back to place third. Of the contingent, only Moxley has competed at state during high school.
“The feeling is indescribable,” Hooper said. “I’m on cloud nine.”
He didn’t feel extra pressure in the match that could have ended his season and prevented him from reaching the 30-win mark.
“I have to thank my dad for that,” Hooper said. “He told me it was just another match.”
His biggest improvement from his sophomore year, he said, is “listening to the coaches because they can coach you through any situation.”
Grant said he was “disappointed” at not placing higher, but added, “Still for the day, I’m satisfied.”
To make sure his first sectional loss wasn’t followed by another, he said the key was “keep my head straight, keep my focus and keep attacking.”
Taylor’s season is ending much better than it began. Weight issues sidelined him early, and then he missed more matches due to an injury. Since last February, he has been on a mission.
“When I saw Tyler Moxley wrestle at state last year, that’s all I wanted to do,” Taylor said.
M-S coach Rob Ledin believes each of his qualifiers can make a deep run at state.
“They are battle-tested with the schedule we faced, and I’d like to think they all can get on the awards stand,” Ledin said. “It’ll take three solid days of practice, and some refining, but that’s our goal.”
Other area qualifiers are Central’s Toby Rivera (195), Danville’s Javeonte Crider (113) and Urbana’s Alex Lynch (182).
“Ever since my freshman year, I told myself I wanted to make it to state,” said Lynch, who placed third at his weight, “but I didn’t know how difficult it was. To qualify is a pretty big thing.”
Rivera was the runner-up at 195, dropping a 3-1 decision to Big 12 rival Austin Weltha, whom he’d split two matches with previously.
The big picture was all that was on his mind after his second-place performance.
“To make it to state is the greatest feeling,” Rivera said. “Freshman year I was fourth (when just the top three qualified), and sophomore year I hurt my shoulder and didn’t get to wrestle in the postseason."
Danville’s Crider was also a second-place finisher.
“It’s a big accomplishment,” he said. “I feel like I have a lot ahead of me the next four years. I was a little nervous because I was one of the youngest in my bracket, but I was excited.
“To me, this means I have a lot of potential.”
Crider’s loss in the finals was to a junior. He was the only freshman at Mattoon to qualify at 113 pounds.
Cameron Mammen, Urbana
The state’s top-ranked Class 2A 170-pounder has ended all five of his postseason matches by getting the first takedown, followed by a first-period pin. His elapsed time for those matches is 3 minutes, 43 seconds. Mammen is 29-0.
Ty Sandy, LeRoy
A two-time individual state qualifier, the 220-pound junior was one of the three sectional champions at the Olympia Class 1A Sectional to win by pin in the finals. Sandy hasn’t lost since the postseason started.
Tanner VanDalsen, Monticello
The 195-pound senior, a first-time state qualifier for the Sages, was the school’s lone sectional champion. He held on for a two-point win in the title match against a person he beat by three points in the regional finals.