DANVILLE — As a 5-year-old, Damarion Moore held a distinct idea of what he’d be signing up for.
When the Danville freshman’s father, Reggie, asked his son if he wanted to wrestle, there was no hesitation.
“I thought he was talking about WWE,” said Moore, referencing a scripted professional product. “I told him, ‘Yeah,’ and I just started wrestling. I got beat up for a long time.”
No script exists in amateur grappling. At least, there isn’t supposed to be.
But Moore is writing a storybook first chapter to his high school career, which continues Friday in the 113-pound bracket for Moore during the two-day Class 2A Mascoutah Sectional.
The prep newcomer boasts a 36-3 record on the campaign, one of his three defeats coming via a 10-5 decision to Bloomington junior Chad Bellis at last weekend’s 2A Mahomet-Seymour Regional.
Moore was that tournament’s No. 2 seed. Bellis was the No. 1 — in addition to currently being the top-rated 2A 113-pounder by Illinois Matmen and the defending 2A state champion at 106.
“I feel all right,” Moore said. “It’s cool. ... Seed doesn’t really mean nothing to me. It’s how I wrestle.”
So far during the 2019-2020 season, that assessment has been positive more often than not.
One of Moore’s other two setbacks came versus Bloomington’s Carson Nashida, Illinois Matmen’s No. 2 2A 106-pounder. And Moore owns several impressive victories to offset the quality losses.
Among them are triumphs versus ranked 1A foes like Gage Reed of Oakwood/Salt Fork, AJ Wagner of St. Joseph-Ogden and Cade Keepes of Mt. Carmel. Yet it was at the Lincoln Holiday Tournament in late December that Moore really hit his stride.
Moore won the 113 title in a 24-team field, his last two victories coming by an 11-4 decision over Antioch freshman Anthony Streib and third-period fall against Rock Island junior Manny Limon.
“After ... I knocked him off,” Moore said of the title win versus Limon, “I saw how he was wrestling. I was like, ‘Dang, he’s cold.’ Then I beat him, and I was like, ‘I can go far with this.’”
Illinois Matmen lists both of those victories as “notable” outcomes for Moore — a feeling that could apply to the majority of Moore’s first high school stint.
“I didn’t think I was going to do bad,” he said, “but I didn’t think I was going to be doing this good (either).”
Moore wasn’t awarded a cake walk through the M-S Regional, drawing Centennial freshman Nick Pianfetti and his 19-7 record to begin. After a 20-5 technical fall win in that quarterfinal, Moore moved into a semifinal with Morton sophomore Cory Hoyle and his 32-4 record.
A near fall in the match’s closing seconds gave Moore the final points he needed to pick up a 7-6 decision.
“I’m good on my feet,” Moore said. “Unstoppable to get up when I’m on the bottom, and when I’m on top, I can hold people down.”
Overcoming Bellis (44-3) in the championship round proved too big a hurdle for Moore on that day. He could earn a rematch with Bellis in Saturday’s sectional final, though Moore just needs a top-four sectional showing to advance to his first-ever state showcase.
Aiding him in that mission are a bevy of Viking teammates who compete at heavier weights: sophomores Raquel Townsend and Dalton Wells at 126 and senior Jose Juarez at 132.
What’s it like working with a 12th-grader to whom Moore gives up quite a few pounds?
“(He makes) me move faster,” Moore said. “He’s stronger, so I’ve got to work.”
That’ll also be true in Mascoutah, where Moore again wasn’t provided an easy path through his weight class.
He’ll open with a first-round tilt against Decatur MacArthur freshman Shaundell Watson (16-7). A win would land Moore a quarterfinal date with Chatham Glenwood freshman Thomas Vansacik (25-9. Morton’s Hoyle is a potential semifinal opponent as well.
“It’d mean a lot to me (to advance),” Moore said. “I really want to go to state.”
Asked if he’d purchase a WWE championship belt to celebrate that accomplishment, Moore laughs.
“Nah,” he said. “I’ll probably get money from my Pops.”
Taking the next step
Eighty-six local wrestlers are slated to compete in sectional action, which takes place Friday and Saturday across the state. Here’s who made the cut, with a top-four sectional finish earning state qualification and a trip to State Farm Center in Champaign next week:
CLASS 2A MASCOUTAH SECTIONAL
Centennial — TJ Easter (Fr., 132); Roger Edwards (Sr., 145); Carson Gates (Sr., 285).
Champaign Central — Carter Hall (Soph., 120); Dalton Hall (Sr., 160).
Danville — Damarion Moore (Fr., 113); Dalton Wells (Soph., 120); Eliseo Perez (Jr., 152); Dominic Perez (Sr., 170).
Mahomet-Seymour — Noah Schnepper (Sr., 126); Braeden Heinold (Soph., 132); Logan Petro (Soph., 138); Chance Decker (Sr., 145); Gage Granadino (Jr., 152); Brennan Houser (Fr., 160); Colton Crowley (Fr., 182); Mateo Casillas (Fr., 195); Daniel Renshaw (Jr., 220); Seth Buchanan (Sr., 285).
Urbana — Andre Hunt (Soph., 220).
CLASS 1A OLYMPIA SECTIONAL
Bismarck-Henning/Rossville-Alvin/Armstrong-Potomac — Marshall Gudauskas (Sr., 145); Jacob Akins (Sr., 160).
Clinton — Isiah Reynolds (Fr., 106); Tylor Fair (Fr., 120); Evan Deavers (Sr., 126); Deegan Eveland (Jr., 132); Kaedyn Sloat (Soph., 170); Brett Reeves (Sr., 220).
Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley/Fisher — Cale Horsch (Jr., 126); Cole Maxey (Sr., 132); Kaden Gream (Jr., 152); Braylen Kean (Soph., 170); Calen Ragle (Sr., 182).
Hoopeston Area — Justin Jones (Soph., 145); Abel Colunga (Soph., 182).
LeRoy/Tri-Valley — Josh Sexton (Jr., 106); Ethan Matlock (Jr., 120); Owen Gulley (Jr., 138); Ty Baxter (Jr., 160); Grant Sant Amour (Jr., 170); Darek Wiggins (Jr., 195); August Osborne (Fr., 285).
Oakwood/Salt Fork — Reef Pacot (Fr., 106); Gage Reed (Jr., 113); Joe Lashuay (Soph., 132); Connor Hutson (Jr., 138); Tate Johnson (Jr., 160); Colby Smiley (Sr., 182); Josh Miller (Jr., 195); Caide Borden (Sr., 220).
Prairie Central — Braiden Travis (Jr., 106); Corbin Moser (Sr., 145); Logan Deacetis (Jr., 170); Brandon Hoselton (Jr., 195); Josh Woodrey (Jr., 220).
Rantoul — Keddrick Terhune (Soph., 152); Colby Cornwell (Sr., 195).
Ridgeview/Lexington — Coby Windle (Jr., 126); Billy Tay (Jr., 132); Colton Tay (Sr., 145); Evan Antonio (Soph., 182).
St. Joseph-Ogden — AJ Wagner (Jr., 113); Isaiah Moore (Soph., 126); Isaiah Immke (Jr., 145).
St. Thomas More — Jason Palmberg (Sr., 113); JD Sexton (Sr., 152).
Westville/Georgetown-Ridge Farm — Craig Johnson (Fr., 170); Rylee Edwards (Soph., 182); Dawson Pruitt (Sr., 220); Hayden Copass (Jr., 285).
CLASS 1A VANDALIA SECTIONAL
Argenta-Oreana/Maroa-Forsyth — Makail Stanley (Sr., 160).
Monticello — Caleb O’Linc (Fr., 113); Jacob Trent (Sr., 126); Austin McConaha (Sr., 132); Ethan O’Linc (Sr., 138); Kaleb Reid (Soph., 152); Matt Kerr (Sr., 182).
Unity — Tavius Hosley (Soph., 113); Ben Gavel (Jr., 126); Peyton Holt (Jr., 138); Pate Eastin (Jr., 160); Connor Eastin (Sr., 170); Micah Downs (Sr., 182); Cade Scott (Sr., 195); Grant Albaugh (Soph., 220); Logan Wilson (Sr., 285).