Griffet serving notice to rest of Class 2A

Griffet serving notice to rest of Class 2A

MAHOMET — "Hey, you guys." Look out for David Griffet.

Prior to his matches Saturday at the Class 2A Mahomet-Seymour Regional, the 285-pound senior Bulldog donned a shirt featuring a certain character from the 1985 film "The Goonies" uttering that phrase.

"One of my coaches (Craig Acree), he was messing with me and calls me Sloth," Griffet said. "I told him if he bought me the shirt, I'd wear it for regionals and for state. So he did."

Early results with this new piece of garb were positive for Griffet, who avenged two earlier defeats en route to a weight-class crown from the No. 3 seed. Griffet had the Bulldogs' lone individual triumph, lifting them to their fourth consecutive regional plaque.

So is Griffet's new article of clothing officially a lucky one?

"Yeah, I guess now it is," he said with a chuckle. "(Acree) keeps on telling me that — 'You won because of the shirt.' So it's kind of funny."

Of course, it also helps that Griffet is a two-time state qualifier at 220 pounds. But on a day M-S could not find the winning formula in the majority of its title bouts, Griffet's finish was a critical benefit as coach Rob Ledin's crew outlasted runner-up Danville 162.5-150.

"Every year, it's really hard to think about losing your seniors," Ledin said. "You work with them for four years, know them for longer than that. It's definitely a special thing for them to pull this off for themselves (Saturday)."

The Bulldogs were hampered by a number of injuries — to sophomore Noah Schnepper at 113, senior 145-pounder Caleb Grove, senior Lucas Morgan at 160 and junior 170-pounder Clayton Bell. But five second-place displays to complement Griffet's win proved to be enough.

But even before a tight chase for the regional crown, M-S harbored bigger goals.

"It really is just the first step in our goals," Griffet said. "Winning regional is a great thing, but we have our sights set on team state and placing at that. I think we have a lot of work to do, but it's still very possible."

* * * 

Terrence Tetter's assessment that Danville had an "A-plus" day at the regional seems completely justified when you check out the Vikings' results.

Anterrius Turner, Ty'reese Smith and Anthony Turner turned in championship showings at 106, 126 and 132 pounds, respectively, to keep Danville in the team title hunt all afternoon. That, paired with sectional qualifications from Jairontae Crider at 113, Juriah Morris at 120, Deavyn Transou at 145, Kevin Sanchez at 152 and Cruz Perez at 182 left the Vikings coach feeling "tickled."

"We brought over nine (wrestlers), so I wasn't expecting too much," Tetter said. "But we had some good seeds. It was possible. That's what I kept on preaching — just go out there and wrestle. A lot of good things happened, a lot of surprises."

Tetter was especially pleased with his lightweight Turner, who is just a freshman, as well as Morris, a senior who hadn't competed in high school grappling before this season. Overall, he had little to complain about on the day.

"Mahomet is a heck of a program, and it's always nice to push them, compete with them," Tetter said. "Kudos to the kids from Danville. Big heart, went out there and contested, walked with the big dogs — the Bulldogs."

* * * 

East central Illinois' two returning state champions each breezed through regional action in Mahomet, though in different ways.

Centennial senior Justin Cardani — competing at 113 after grabbing the 2A 106 title last season — competed in just one match after receiving a bye and an injury-default triumph. Even though Cardani scored a technical-fall win in the championship event, he couldn't get much rhythm going due to multiple stoppages for a cut on his right hand.

Still, it was a solid tuneup for 2A's top-rated 113-pounder ahead of next weekend's Lincoln Sectional.

"I'm glad about how many shots I took and how I finished and my overall aggressiveness," he said. "I'm really focusing on getting my stamina up and keep trying to push the pace and tire everyone out and score as many points as I can."

Meanwhile, Urbana junior Luke Luffman earned a quick pinfall in the semifinal round before zipping to a shutout technical-fall success in the final. The reigning 2A 220-pound titlist said he's fully recovered from an early-season back injury and looking to get on the mat as much as possible while vying for a State Farm Center return.

"Everything went pretty all right," Luffman said. "I was just coming in here, getting in my offense and overall just wrestling hard."

***

Hayden Copass' freshman season for the Westville/Georgetown-Ridge Farm squad left him with a 37-3 record and the top regional seed at 285. After a semifinal victory, Copass dropped a 10-5 decision to Griffet in a rematch from earlier this year.

Copass' biggest concern after the defeat? Giving Griffet his due.

"I thought I could have shown a little more respect when I had to shake his hand," Copass said. "But I'm content with (the result). I'll get him when it matters."

Copass is the lone team member who attends G-RF, but prior relationships with many of the Tigers made it easy for him to slide into a role on this team. Copass is also in his 11th year of wrestling, so he's well trained in how to come out on top. It's how he got to this point that stands out."1I've always been into WWE, and (my dad) told me I was a wrestler," Copass said. "It turned out to be this, and it just stuck."

***

Polycarp Amosun is in his second wrestling season. The Urbana senior and native of Nigeria is now a regional champion as well.

Wrestling from the 152-pound fifth seed, Amosun took two major decisions and a regular decision en route to a career-best result. The humble athlete deflected all credit to Tigers coach Chuck Tabaris and his staff, as well as teammates such as Luffman and fellow regional champ A.J. Fox (182 pounds).

"I would say this is what I've been working for," Amosun said. "Even if it turned out another way, I'm just happy to go to sectionals. It's been my dream to go to sectionals."

Though this stage will be new for Amosun, he's not worried about nerves or maintaining focus. After a brief celebration for his accomplishment Saturday, Amosun already had more accolades on his mind."Mentally, that's not a problem," he said. "You have to imagine what you want. ... You don't get tired of doing what you want to do. Just keep going for it."