BLOOMINGTON — Austin Matlock and Caleb Wilson suffered a disappointment Saturday that was even greater than LeRoy’s dual-meet loss in the Class 1A wrestling state quarterfinals.
The defending champion Panthers were ousted by top-ranked Dakota 41-25 at U.S. Cellular Coliseum.
“It’s frustrating that if we’d had a different route, we could have gone further,” Matlock said.
One of Saturday’s quarterfinal winners was Petersburg Porta, a team LeRoy handled 51-19 in the regular season. On another mat, Litchfield edged Vandalia by two points. LeRoy owned a 37-point win against Vandalia.
“We accomplished a lot,” Matlock said, “but once we got here, we thought we’d go a little further.”
A junior, Wilson will use the loss as motivation to avoid a repeat performance in 2014.
“We need to get to the point where no team can take it from us,” Wilson said.
Last year’s LeRoy team was a senior-laden one. It was little consolation to the returnees that most people outside the program considered this to be a rebuilding year.
“No one else thought we could,” Wilson said, “but our team did. This (state) was our goal.”
Matlock posted a major decision (9-0) at 126 pounds. Wilson had a 9-7 win at 160. Three teammates received forfeits: Tate Ruffner (113), Brandon Bodine (170) and Ty Sandy (285).
The team’s seniors — including Ruffner, Matlock and Bodine — completed a stellar career in which they helped the Panthers to a composite 85-6 dual-meet record, including a 17-2 mark this season.
Sophomore Alex Matlock said the team became Dakota fans after the outcome was final.
“If they win, that will make five years in a row that LeRoy has either won state or lost to the team that won,” Alex Matlock said.
That would make the day’s disappointments a little less pronounced.
“We want to say we got beat by the best,” Wilson said.