There are few sectional wrestling champions like Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley/Fisher’s Hunter Lowry. He’s a senior at the lightest of weights, 106 pounds.
Lowry also suffered a severe high ankle sprain in late December that had Falcons coach Josh Carter fearing the worst.
“I thought his season might be over,” Carter said.
On a day when the season officially ended for all but 16 individuals in each weight class, Lowry is one of the survivors. He was one of two GCMS/Fisher athletes to win Class 1A sectional titles Saturday at Stanford Olympia. Defending state champion Josh Wallick (285 pounds) was also triumphant.
“Hunter had the best tournament of his high school career,” Carter said. “Hopefully that will continue. He’s wrestling with a lot of confidence and heart.”
Lowry was not only sidelined six weeks — returning in time for the regionals — but he also had to maintain his weight to have a spot in the lineup on the state-ranked team.
“I’m proud of all our guys’ efforts, but seeing him do what he did (beating two other regional champions in order to advance), and seeing his smile, really made me feel good,” Carter added.
Besides the GCMS/Fisher duo, four other area athletes emerged as sectional champs at Olympia. Only sectional champs are seeded for the state meet, which starts at 1 p.m. Thursday at State Farm Center.
St. Joseph-Ogden had winners in back-to-back weight classes with Griffin Meeker (145 pounds) and Austin Hedrick (152 pounds). Prairie Central’s Tyler Bergstrahl (138) was triumphant, as was teammate Sam Schuler (160).
Bergstrahl pinned three of his four opponents and defeated three regional titlists en route to his victory. He was one of the two sectional champs who were not regional champions. He was one of the three pinners in the finals.
Wallick pinned his way to the finals and then won by default over PC’s Brett Bennett, who suffered a shoulder injury in the semifinals.
Among area schools at Olympia, LeRoy had the most state qualifiers (six). GCMS/Fisher had three, Bismarck-Henning two and Oakwood/Armstrong-Potomac one.
“We’re happy with the six we got,” LeRoy coach Doug DeWald said. “Our guys are in the right frame of mind.”
One Panther who stood out was 195-pounder Lane Lindstrom.
“He was about .500 last year (finishing 23-19) and has really turned it around,” DeWald said. “As a freshman and sophomore, wrestling at 182 and 195, there is a big physical maturity difference, and he took his lumps. He was able to withstand it and stay in the game mentally.
“He went to the practice room to train and get himself better and tougher. He was able to endure and fight through it. It takes a lot of courage to do what he has done.”
Class 1A at Robinson
Monticello’s Sages took nine wrestlers to the Robinson Class 1A sectional tournament.
Seven of them kept their seasons alive by qualifying for state, including champions Dylan Knisley (152), Brendan Menacher (182) and Matt Baker (195), a freshman.
A team that was unbeaten in dual meets used the disappointment of not advancing in that series as motivation for the sectional.
“I think that drove each individual to put more focus on themselves,” Monticello coach Andy Moore said.
Entering sectionals, Moore’s concern was that he’d had his team do too much during the week.
“I was a little concerned about our training methods,” he said, “thinking we might have worked them too hard and had some muscle soreness, but they were able to compete at a high level.”
Fourth-ranked Knisley, in particular, needed to be sharp. His route to the title went through opponents ranked third, fifth and sixth.
Menacher and Knisley are the Sages’ repeat state qualifiers along with Logan Knisley (113) and Jacob Burton (160).
Menacher hasn’t lost this season, but Moore said the senior “received a wakeup call” in the semifinals when eventual third-place finisher Cody Wall, from Mount Carmel, took him down and briefly had him on his back.
“He regained his composure and fought out of it,” Moore said, “but it gave him the reality that everyone is dangerous.”
Argenta-Oreana qualified four athletes for state, including unbeatens Nate Jozsa (138) and Tyler Ortmann (285). Unity’s advancers were Chad Hinton (132) and Colton Reed (182).
Class 2A at Chatham
Five area schools emerged with state qualifiers, led by Champaign Central which advanced three individuals and produced the lone area champion, Toby Rivera (220). Teammates Riley Staab (105) and Brandon Klein (170) also advanced.
Mahomet-Seymour will be represented at state by Kolton Taylor (126) and Derek Grant (170). Danville’s Javeonte Crider (120) will return to state, bouncing back from his first loss to win four wrestlebacks. Also advancing were Urbana’s Demetrius Jackson (138) and Westville/Salt Fork/Georgetown-Ridge Farm’s Tyler Dicken (195).
St. Joseph-Ogden’s Griffin Meeker was atop the podium for 145-pound wrestlers at Olympia’s Class 1A sectional. He was also the lone freshman at the Olympia site to win his weight class and assure himself of a top-four seed at state.
Champaign Central’s Toby Rivera played football at 200 pounds. The senior competed in some wrestling matches at 195. However, for the postseason he opted to bump up to 220. He now has a sectional title to go with his regional crown.
One of a kind
Since Vermilion County schools Westville, Salt Fork and Georgetown-Ridge Farm formed a joint co-op in 2010, the program has been unable to get a state qualifier in Class 2A until senior Tyler Dicken (195 pounds) made the first breakthrough.
Area state qualifiers
ARGENTA-OREANA — Zach Whitsel (120), Sr.; Nate Jozsa (138), Sr.: Deven McBride (220), Sr.; Tyler Ortmann (285), Sr.
BISMARCK-HENNING — Jarod Noel (170), Jr.; Whalen Rockwell (182), So.
GIBSON CITY-MELVIN-SIBLEY/FISHER — Hunter Lowry (105), Sr.; Cameron Schwing (120), Sr.; Josh Wallick (285), Sr.
LeROY — Trevor Bulington (106), Fr.; Alex Matlock (113), Jr.; Tyler Walsh (126), Jr.; Caleb Wilson (170), Sr.; Lane Lindstrom (195), Jr.; Ty Sandy (220), Sr.
MONTICELLO — Nick Tankersley (106), So.; Logan Knisley (113), So.; Dylan Knisley (152), Sr.; Jacob Burton (160), So.; Mike Redwinski (170), Jr.; Brendan Menacher (182), Sr.; Matt Baker (195), Fr.
OAKWOOD/ARMSTRONG-POTOMAC — Antonio Alvarez (132), Jr.
PRAIRIE CENTRAL — Tyler Bergstrahl (138), Jr.; Paul Garcia (145), So.; Sam Schuler (160), Jr.; Brett Bennett (285), Sr.
ST. JOSEPH-OGDEN — Griffin Meeker (145), Fr.; Austin Hedrick (152), Sr.; Wesley Kibler (195), So.
UNITY — Chad Hinton (132), Jr.; Colton Reed (182), Jr.
CHAMPAIGN CENTRAL — Riley Staab (106), Jr.; Brandon Klein (182), Jr.; Toby Rivera (220), Sr.
DANVILLE — Javeonte Crider (120), So.
MAHOMET-SEYMOUR — Kolton Taylor (126), Jr.; Derek Grant (170), Sr.
URBANA — Demetrius Jackson (138), Jr.
WESTVILLE/SALT FORK/GEORGETOWN-RIDGE FARM — Tyler Dicken (195), Sr.