Class 2A wrestling: Central's Klein toughs it out
CHAMPAIGN — Only after Champaign Central’s Brandon Klein had wrestled the last of his 39 matches was the rest of the story revealed.
The 182-pound junior will undergo surgery Wednesday.
It’s news that the Maroons kept silent for fear that opponents would try to take advantage of his injured shoulder.
The news is something Klein has lived with for more than two months. He suffered the torn labrum on his left shoulder three weeks into the season.
“He had a decision to make,” Central coach Merle Ingersoll said.
The choice was made easier because a torn labrum in his right shoulder resulted in surgery a year ago and ended Klein’s sophomore season before Christmas.
“He showed a lot of courage,” Ingersoll said. “He didn’t want to sit out another season.”
Klein competed at the highest of levels. He finished with a 2-2 record at the IHSA state finals and a 33-6 season mark. In the Saturday match that would determine whether he or Bremen’s Javier Soto would earn a medal, Klein scored a buzzer-beating escape to force overtime, but then gave up a takedown with 18 seconds left as Soto prevailed 5-3.
“I gave everything I had to get the escape,” said Klein, who battled a stomach flu all week. “I had nothing left.”
His frustrations were magnified because his training schedule was altered and reduced due to the injury, and yet he was within reach of a state medal.
“After every competition, we’d take a day or two off,” Ingersoll said.
“I ice it every day,” Klein said. “It changed the way I wrestle. I can’t take shots because the pressure of people on top of me is too much.”
For a time, Klein wore a shoulder strap, but he discarded it.
“It drew too much attention to the shoulder,” Ingersoll said.
Klein’s losses were to individuals who placed first and sixth.
Klein was one of three area juniors in Class 2A who finished one win from reaching the medal round.
Urbana’s Demetrius Jackson (138 pounds) built a 6-2 lead against Crystal Lake Central’s Logan Lundelius before he was pinned in 3:52.
Jackson left the mat with a smile on his face.
“I’m thankful I had a chance,” he said. “So many have worked hard for years and dreamed of making it to state. I’ve only wrestled three years, and I made it. It’s amazing.”
Urbana coach Charles Trabaris said “his journey has been something special. He had a great three-day tournament.”
Jackson finished 1-2 at state and 29-8 overall. His two losses were to opponents who placed fourth and sixth.
“It was tough to see him lose when he was winning 6-2, but he went out the way we’ve talked,” Trabaris said. “We preach ‘Wrestle your match.’ He was aggressive and competing.”
Jackson originally tried wrestling as a freshman at the urging of Tigers football coach Nathan Watson. He’s glad he did.
“I’ve kept improving,” Jackson said.
Mahomet-Seymour’s Kolton Taylor (126 pounds) spotted fifth-ranked Kyle Ruettiger, from Lincoln-Way West, a 5-0 first-period lead before pulling within two points in what turned into a 7-4 season-ending loss.
“It’s great being here and being one of the top 16,” Taylor said. “My practice partner, Cody Hooper, and my coaches made me better. That’s where I give the credit.”
Taylor ended 1-2 at state and 37-9 for the season. The individuals who beat him placed third and fifth.
“I had bad technique in the first period (against Ruettiger), but overall it has been an awesome weekend,” Taylor said.
Proud coach. Argenta-Oreana’s Gary Cook was not just happy by the performance of his state qualifiers, two of whom earned medals.
When he wasn’t matside, Cook was reminiscing with four of his former athletes who are head wrestling coaches. Two of them — Tom Leslie at Olney East Richland and Andy Moore at Monticello — also had state placers in Class 1A. The other two, his son Andrew (at Oswego) and Bryan Smith (at Bradley-Bourbonnais) each had qualifiers in Class 3A.
Champion pinner. Crystal Lake Central junior Andrew Marsden dominated his 195-pound Class 2A division. All four of his matches ended with pins. Three of them occurred in the first period, including his semifinal and title-bout wins. Marsden is 43-2.
Only two other athletes pinned their way to the finals. In 2A, Montini’s Xavier Montalvo did so at 170 pounds. In 1A, Byron’s unbeaten senior, Nelson Baker did so at 120 pounds. Baker’s pin in the finals (51 seconds) was his quickest at state.
Tough class. Across the board, the 285-pound division (formerly known as heavyweights) was considered the state’s premier weight class in all three divisions. Rob Sherrill, who ranks high school wrestlers for W.I.N. magazine, said six different Illinois preps had entered the national rankings throughout the season, including Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley/Fisher’s two-time titlist Josh Wallick.
The marquee matchup in the finals came in 2A, where defending Illinois champion Tanner Farmer, from Highland, took on 2013 Pennsylvania champion Michael Johnson, from Lombard Montini. Farmer, a Nebraska football recruit who didn’t allow a point in his four state bouts, pinned Johnson in 2:25.
Someone had to lose. The lone 3A title match in which both finalists were unbeaten came at 195 pounds. Both athletes can say they never lost a match this season in regulation.
Lake Forest’s Regis Durbin (41-0) needed four overtimes to get past Lockport’s Tyler Johnson (51-1), 3-2.
In 1A, the only showdown between unbeatens was also at 195 pounds, where Plano’s Derrick Maisonet (49-0) topped Riverdale’s Terry White (27-1), 10-4. There were no unbeaten matchups in 2A.
Four in a row. Aurora Marmion’s Johnny Jimenez (126) won his fourth consecutive state title in Class 3A, handling Glenbard North’s Jon Marmolejo 5-1 in the finals. Also in 3A, UI recruit Jered Cortez finished his 4-for-4 feat. The 132-pounder from Glenbard North topped Lincoln-Way Central’s Joey Nelson 3-1 but needed three overtimes to win.
Also at 132, but in Class 1A, Dakota senior Josh Alber maintained his four-year unbeaten streak. His 16-5 win in the finals against Coal City’s Casey Brown was his 175th in succession and was greeted by a standing ovation.
Saturday was a historic night in the 77th IHSA state wrestling tournament at State Farm Center. It marked the first time that three four-time champions were crowned on the same night. The list of those who were 4 for 4 in winning state titles:
NAME SCHOOL YEARS (WEIGHTS)
Mark Ruettiger Providence New Lenox 1978 (98), 1979 (112), 1980 (119), 1981 (126)
Joey Gilbert Tinley Park Andrew 1986 (126), 1987 (132), 1988 (132), 1989 (135)
Mike Mena Sterling Newman 1989 (112), 1990 (119), 1991 (125), 1992 (125)
Joe Williams Chicago Mount Carmel 1990 (135), 1991 (145), 1992 (152), 1993 (160)
T.J. Williams Chicago Mount Carmel 1993 (135), 1994 (140), 1995 (145), 1996 (145)
David Douglas Luther South (1), Thornridge (3) 1994 (112), 1995 (119), 1996 (130), 1997 (135)
Chase Beebe Lombard Montini 2000 (103), 2001 (112), 2002 (125), 2003 (130)
Conor Beebe Lombard Montini 2002 (103), 2003 (112), 2004 (125), 2005 (125)
Mike Benefiel Lombard Montini 2004 (119), 2005 (140), 2006 (152), 2007 (171)
Albert White Chicago St. Rita 2004 (135), 2005 (140), 2006 (145), 2007 (152)
Seth Milks Dakota 2006 (103), 2007 (112), 2008 (119), 2009 (130)
Josh Alber Dakota 2011 (103), 2012 (120), 2013 (120), 2014 (132)
Jered Cortez Marmion (1), Glenbard North (3) 2011 (112), 2012 (120), 2013 (126), 2014 (132)
Johnny Jiminez Aurora Marmion 2011 (103), 2012 (113), 2013 (120), 2014 (126)