2A state wrestling: Klein building for future
CHAMPAIGN — On his quest to be the best, Champaign Central’s Brandon Klein found himself wrestling the best.
Now he has a better idea what he needs to do by his senior season next year.
“He’s a better wrestler,” Klein said after dropping a 10-0 Class 2A quarterfinal decision to top-seeded Colin Carr, from Washington, on Friday at State Farm Center.
Klein can get to work on his technique and strength, but one area that caused him trouble Friday is not one he can control.
“I still don’t have the stamina,” said Klein, who missed school on Wednesday with the stomach flu and vomited immediately after his second Friday match. “I probably could have defended him better.”
Klein recovered from the first tournament loss to keep his medal hopes alive, topping Solorio Academy’s Rodolfo Caballero 8-2.
“You have to get over the loss and focus on the next match,” Klein said. “Mentally, it’s good to have a short break. Physically, I would have loved another hour of rest.”
With a win in his first bout today, Klein (33-5) will assure himself of his first state medal. He’s already looking ahead to areas to improve by 2015.
“I need to work harder in the practice room and take conditioning more serious,” he said. “These third periods are killing me.”
Central’s other quarterfinalist, senior Toby Rivera, also went scoreless, dropping a 6-0 decision to Wauconda’s Nate Magiera at 220 pounds. A bruised sternum caused Rivera to default his wrestleback match, which ended his season.
“We felt he could finish in the top four,” Central coach Merle Ingersoll said, “but it hurt him to breathe.”
The coach’s advice for Klein has nothing to do with wrestling.
“I told him to rest,” Ingersoll said. “Rest is more valuable than food or anything right now.”
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Urbana junior Demetrius Jackson (138 pounds) and Mahomet-Seymour junior Kolton Taylor (126 pounds) weighed in Friday with no guarantees that they would set foot on a mat again this season.
They had to watch the quarterfinals to see if the person who’d beaten them on Thursday reached the semifinals. In both cases, their hopes were realized.
“Very tough,” Jackson said. “I was hoping he’d win so I could be a part of what today is.”
Jackson made the most of his second chance and will get to experience competing on the tournament’s final day. Like Klein, he is one win away from a medal thanks to a 9-6 decision against Carmel’s Anthony Swindell.
“I was doubting myself, like ‘It’s over,’ ” Jackson said, “but as Coach (Charles Trabaris) told me, ‘You still have a shot to wrestle at state.’ Getting the first win at state feels amazing.”
Taylor topped Lemont’s Egan Berta 6-4 in his survival match to advance into the wrestleback quarterfinals. In his pre-match speech, M-S coach Rob Ledin focused on one area.
“We talked about the mental aspect,” Ledin said. “Believe in yourself. Be the guy who wants it more.”
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For four area 2A state qualifiers, the season ended Friday without a second chance.
Central’s Riley Staab (106), Danville’s Javeonte Crider (120), M-S’ Derek Grant (170) and Westville/Salt Fork/Georgetown-Ridge Farm’s Tyler Dicken (220) didn’t get added to the wrestleback bracket. Ledin was disappointed that Grant’s senior season ended with Thursday’s 6-3 loss.
“There’s only been one situation (in 43 matches) where he wasn’t in the match,” Ledin said. “He’s had a great season.”
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Bill Billman first reached state as a wrestler at Unity and was the 119-pound Class 1A runner-up in 1980.
He made return appearances as the head coach at both Unity and St. Joseph-Ogden. Now, he is back at state in a third capacity.
Billman, from St. Joseph, is one of the 18 officials assigned by the IHSA to work the 77th state tournament. It’s his debut in the individual tournament, but he worked the dual-team state finals in Bloomington each of the last two years.
He coached state champions at Unity (Terry Bagwell, Juan Molina and Travis Smith) and will be calling some of the championship bouts tonight. He was originally in the Grand March as a competitor.
“I’m not sure how many people can say that,” Billman said. “It has been a goal of mine since I got into officiating. I enjoy it a lot and have just kept working at it.”
Billman likes all three aspects of the sport, but said officiating “is more intense. You have to be on your toes and be patient on your calls.”
This is Billman’s 15th year as a wrestling official. He was a high school head coach for more than a decade.