LeRoy’s DeWald establishing state culture in program
Wrestling season began before Champaign Central’s Toby Rivera got started, but it won’t end without him.
“Toby wasn’t going to wrestle this year,” Central coach Dan Warner said.
A football standout, Rivera originally planned to devote his offseason energies to bettering himself in that sport.
“After the second match of the year, he approached me with the request to come out,” Warner said.
He didn’t hesitate to accept the two-year veteran back. Rivera’s season is lasting longer than any teammate.
He is the only Central athlete to qualify for the state tournament, which starts its three-day run on Thursday at the UI Assembly Hall.
The junior is one of 16 contestants in the Class 2A 195-pound class.
Rivera was the sectional runner-up at his weight, 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 finish.
“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 wrestle in the postseason.”
Rivera is 26-6 this year and, Warner said, “his only losses came to state-ranked opponents.”
He was given honorable mention status this week in The Illinois Best Weekly’s pre-state rankings.
New LeRoy tradition
Just one year ago, coach Doug DeWald’s LeRoy program won the first team state championship in school history, prevailing in the dual-team format. However, one first has eluded DeWald in his tenure.
LeRoy has not had an individual champion in 29 years. The first — and thus far, the only — titlist was heavyweight Ron Oliver in 1984.
In every other aspect, DeWald has raised the bar of excellence during his seven-year tenure. Before his arrival from Iowa, LeRoy had totaled 21 state-qualifiers. During his regime, counting the seven Panthers who have advanced this year, LeRoy has added 39 more qualifiers to that total, with 38 of those coming during the past six seasons.
Danville freshman Javeonte Crider received a second chance of sorts to stay in the winner’s bracket of his 113-pound weight class at Mattoon’s 2A sectional. He was losing in the quarterfinals, 7-4, when his opponent used up his injury time and was unable to continue, resulting in a default win for Crider.
In the semifinals, Crider showed his superiority, winning 13-1 to secure his first state berth. He enters state as a sectional runner-up and with an honorable mention notice from The Illinois Best Weekly.
“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. His season record is 23-4.
Sages have a shot
Two of Monticello’s state competitors have a chance to move up on the school’s all-time records list. Senior Tanner VanDalsen has 39 wins at 195 pounds.
The career record-holder for wins is former UI athlete Kyle Dooley (42).
Zach Armstrong has pins in 28 of his 34 wins at 220 pounds. The one-season mark for pins by a Monticello athlete is 32, held by Ross Combes.
Already No. 1
Centennial’s Austen Schott isn’t a state champion, but the Chargers’ 126-pounder broke the school’s season record for takedowns earlier in the postseason. Third-ranked in the state in Class 2A at his weight, Schott has 132 takedowns, nine more than previous record-holder Peter Haydel.
Schott also has 127 career wins, which means his next one will break the tie for the top spot at Centennial, which he shares with Danny Rolando.
Schott can be on the move in other categories as well. His 69 career pins are second to the 70 by 2012 state-placer Archie Williams (who recently qualified for the junior college national tournament) and his 282 career takedowns are five fewer than the record total Sam Ferguson amassed during his time at Centennial.
More than Mammen
Urbana’s Cameron Mammen has been the state’s top-ranked Class 2A 170-pounder from the preseason to the postseason, but senior classmate Alex Lynch is proving that the Tigers have more than one quality wrestler.
Competing at 182 pounds, Lynch is a first-time state-meet competitor.
“Ever since my freshman year I told myself I wanted to make it to state,” said Lynch, who placed third at his weight in sectionals, “but I didn’t know how difficult it was. To qualify is a pretty big thing.”
When St. Joseph-Ogden’s Austin Upton compiled a 17-15 varsity record as a freshman, few would have predicted he’d win more than 75 percent of his matches by graduation.
Yet, Upton has rebounded nicely. After a 41-2 start to his senior year, the state’s fourth-ranked Class 1A 170-pounder has a career mark of 124-39.
His lone losses this season are to athletes seeded first and second, respectively, at state.
Upton has 23 pins this year, three behind teammate Austin Hedrick, a state-qualifier at 152.
Chet McClure is the first four-time state-qualifier from Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley/Fisher’s program. The team advanced four wrestlers to state. McClure and the others, Cameron Schwing, Dylan Donner and Josh Wallick, all have at least 100 career wins. ... Bismarck-Henning’s first four-time state-qualifier, 285-pound Morgan Supergan, will raise the school’s career record total for wins with each additional victory. He enters state with 153, eight more than the previous mark. ... LeRoy’s Caleb Wilson set the school single-season escapes record as a sophomore with 52. Now a junior, he has shattered the career mark (which was 123 by Brian Roberts). Wilson has 133 escapes, including 47 more this year. He is a two-time state-qualifier. ... Mahomet-Seymour senior Tyler Moxley (126) has reached the 30-win mark for the third year in a row. With 113 career victories, he’s 23rd on the school’s all-time list. He has 83 takedowns.