2018 All-Area wrestling | Meet the first team

2018 All-Area wrestling | Meet the first team

Justin Cardani

Sr., 113 pounds, Centennial

WHY HE MADE IT: The two-time Class 2A state champion and N-G Wrestler of the Year capped his prep career in style, cruising through the 113-pound division with an undefeated record of 46-0. He'll suit up for Illinois coach Jim Heffernan's program.

A FEW OF MY FAVORITES: I need concert tickets to see Drake. ... Before I compete, I eat a Jimmy John's Slim 1. ... In my dream career, I would be a college wrestling coach. My favorite TV show is "SpongeBob SquarePants." ... If I could have dinner with any three people from any time period, I would pick God, my future grandchild and my great-grandfather.

THREE ITEMS ON MY BUCKET LIST: Win an Olympic gold medal, skydive and a road trip to California.

Ren Dazey

Sr., 132 pounds, Oakwood/Salt Fork

WHY HE MADE IT: The repeat All-Area first-teamer collected a 42-5 record en route to a Class 1A state berth and won his preliminary match for the fourth straight season.

A FEW OF MY FAVORITES: I need concert tickets to see Migos. ... Before I compete, I eat Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. ... In my dream career, I would be a major business owner. ... My favorite subject to study in school is social studies. ... My favorite athlete is Nate Diaz. ... My favorite TV show is "Rick and Morty." ... If I could have dinner with three people from any time period, I would pick Elon Musk, Donald Trump and Steve Jobs.

THREE ITEMS ON MY BUCKET LIST: See the world, make $1 million and skydive.

Ezra Elliott

Jr., 126 pounds, Hoopeston Area

WHY HE MADE IT: After missing out on the state tournament last season, Elliott followed up on his freshman-year qualification by grappling to a Class 1A semifinal this campaign, boasting a 34-2 record.

A FEW OF MY FAVORITES: Before I compete, I eat a sub sandwich, some golden Oreos and a Pedialyte. ... In my dream career, I would be coaching wrestling or starting a career in MMA. ... My favorite athlete is Thomas Gilman or Yoel Romero. ... If I could have dinner with any three people, I would pick Conor McGregor, Selena Gomez and Kevin Hart.

THREE ITEMS ON MY BUCKET LIST: I want to be remembered long after I die, I want to accomplish my goals and I want to enjoy every day and improve.

A.J. Fox

Sr., 182 pounds, Urbana

WHY HE MADE IT: In his second straight year making the trip to State Farm Center, Fox made it one step further in his Class 2A bracket by advancing to the state championship bout and finishing with a 42-2 ledger.

FROM FOX, AFTER HIS STATE FINAL: "It's going to mean just keep grinding," Fox said after falling to Morris' Cody Baldridge by a 9-3 decision. "I never won anything. I never won state or anything like that. So it just keeps that chip on your shoulder, makes you want to grind and get better. It's not like it's going to make you want to relax.

"It was a great day. It's still a great day. It didn't come out the way I wanted it to ... but it's still a good day."

Jake Frost

Sr., 182 pounds, Unity

WHY HE MADE IT: Though he was ultimately upset early in his Class 1A bracket, Frost still impressed with a 42-4 record while making his second consecutive appearance at the state tournament.

A FEW OF MY FAVORITES: I need concert tickets to see The Weeknd. ... Before I compete, I eat oranges, bananas, granola bars and Gatorade. ... In my dream career, I would be an accountant for Bill Gates. ... My favorite subject to study in school is accounting. ... My favorite athlete is Bryce Meredith. ... My favorite TV show is "South Park." ... If I could have dinner with any three people from any time period, I would pick Kevin Hart, Chris Pratt and Baker Mayfield.

THREE ITEMS ON MY BUCKET LIST: Get NCAA wrestling championships tickets, get a mini fridge for college and get a tattoo.

David Griffet

Sr., 285 pounds, Mahomet-Seymour

WHY HE MADE IT: Affectionately known as "Sloth" by his Bulldog teammates, Griffet rumbled to a Class 2A state title bout while notching a 45-7 record and qualifying for his third straight visit to State Farm Center.

A FEW OF MY FAVORITES: I need concert tickets to see Shinedown. ... Before I compete, I eat Jimmy John's or Subway. ... In my dream career, I would be an NFL owner. ... My favorite athlete is Kyle Snyder. ... My favorite TV show is "The Office." ... If I could have dinner with any three people, I would pick George Washington, Julius Caesar and Ronald Reagan.

THREE ITEMS ON MY BUCKET LIST: Watch the NCAA wrestling finals live, go to Comic-Con and go to the Super Bowl.

Dalton Hall

So., 160 pounds, Champaign Central

WHY HE MADE IT: Despite dealing with a shoulder injury throughout the campaign, Hall moved on to state for the second time in as many years and raced to a Class 2A semifinal while going 34-4.

A FEW OF MY FAVORITES: I need concert tickets to see Lil Yachty. ... Before I compete, I eat grapes. ... In my dream career, I would travel the world. ... My favorite subject to study in school is art. ... My favorite athlete is Michael Jordan. ... My favorite TV show is "The Flash." ... If I could have dinner with any three people from any time period, I would pick Ana Cheri, Lil Yachty and Will Smith.

THREE ITEMS ON MY BUCKET LIST: Skydiving, scuba diving and cliff jumping.

Cale Horsch

Fr., 106 pounds, Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley/Fisher

WHY HE MADE IT: Representing the Bunnies as part of this co-op, the first-year high school grappler surprised by advancing to a Class 1A state final and tabulating a 41-4 record on the year.

A FEW OF MY FAVORITES: I need concert tickets to see Chance the Rapper. ... Before I compete, I eat peanut butter and jelly with a Gatorade or water. ... In my dream career, I would be a large-animal vet. ... My favorite subject to study in school is science. ... My favorite athlete is Kyle Dake. ... My favorite TV show is "Friday Night Lights." ... If I could have dinner with any three people from any time period, I would pick Walter Payton, Baker Mayfield and Marcus Mariota.

THREE ITEMS ON MY BUCKET LIST: Skydive, scuba dive and go to the Savanna.

Brandon Hoselton

Fr., 195 pounds, Prairie Central

WHY HE MADE IT: Following in the footsteps of brother Drew, Brandon knocked off a bevy of more experienced prep athletes en route to a Class 1A state championship while securing a 46-3 mark on the mat.

FROM HOSELTON, AFTER HIS STATE FINAL: "It feels pretty good," he said after upending Clifton Central/Iroquois West's Justin Coggins with a pinfall at 3 minutes, 26 seconds. "That what we've been hoping for all year. I hope to keep winning next year, keep the tradition going.

"I was just so excited. That's probably the happiest I've been in my life."

Drew Hoselton

Sr., 170 pounds, Prairie Central

WHY HE MADE IT: Hampered by an illness entering the state tournament, the elder Hoselton persevered to become a Class 1A champion in his fourth and final attempt, racking up a perfect 47-0 ledger in the process.

FROM HOSELTON, AFTER HIS STATE FINAL: "Last year I was hoping for the same thing, but this year I wanted to win it," he said after knocking off Lena-Winslow's Rahveon Valentine by a slim, 1-0 decision. "It didn't matter what happened (in the past).

"I'm like, 'All right, last match for me.' I had to give it my all. That's it."

Luke Luffman

Jr., 220 pounds, Urbana

WHY HE MADE IT: The future Illini made sure an early-season back injury wouldn't be his undoing, cruising through his Class 2A bracket to repeat as titlist while running up a 19-0 campaign record.

A FEW OF MY FAVORITES: I need concert tickets to see Luke Bryan. ... Before I compete, I eat Scooby Doo fruit snacks. ... In my dream career, I would own a club wrestling team and train high school athletes.

THREE ITEMS ON MY BUCKET LIST: Tour Europe, learn how to do a backflip and learn how to play guitar.

Peter McCusker

Jr., 145 pounds, Rantoul

WHY HE MADE IT: The Eagle doesn't just stand out because of his red hair. McCusker zoomed to his second straight state appearance behind a 47-4 record and advanced to his Class 2A bracket's semifinal round.

A FEW OF MY FAVORITES: I need concert tickets to see The Strokes. ... Before I compete, I eat carbs — usually pasta. ... In my dream career, I would pioneer new uses of technology.

THREE ITEMS ON MY BUCKET LIST: Skydive, visit another continent and fly an airplane.

Cody Miller

Sr., 220 pounds, Bismarck-Henning/Ross-Alvin

WHY HE MADE IT: He may be a bit of a jokester off the mat, but the future Coe (Iowa) College grappler is all business in his sport. Miller nabbed a second consecutive runner-up finish in his Class 1A bracket while going 48-2.

A FEW OF MY FAVORITES: I need concert tickets to see Post Malone. ... Before I compete, I eat nothing. ... In my dream career, I would coach wrestling. ... My favorite subject to study is biology. ... If I could have dinner with any three people from any time period, I would pick Steve Jobs, Mila Kunis and Alexander the Great.

Anthony Turner

Jr., 132 pounds, Danville

WHY HE MADE IT: In his third state appearance in as many seasons, Turner garnered the top seed in his Class 2A bracket before experiencing an early setback, but he still concluded with a 41-3 record.

A FEW OF MY FAVORITES: I need concert tickets to see Logic. ... Before I compete, I eat a turkey sandwich and granola bar and drink 8 ounces of water. ... In my dream career, I would win an Olympic gold medal.

THREE ITEMS ON MY BUCKET LIST: Win high school state, graduate from college and win NCAA nationals.