Canton edges LeRoy/Tri-Valley for PORTA Avery Invite title

By Curt Herron – For the IWCOA

There’s nothing quite like seeing a quality tournament featuring some of the state’s top teams and individuals that has its outcome determined in the late stages of the competition.

But when the tournament title isn’t settled until the final moments of the last match, it’s definitely tremendous excitement for the winning team and bitter disappointment for the losers.

That was the scenario that unfolded at PORTA’s Rex Avery Invitational where Canton and  LeRoy/Tri-Valley were going toe-to-toe with one another throughout the place matches and the final outcome wound up being settled in the 285 championship match.

After Canton’s Connor Williams won 2-1 in an overtime tiebreaker over LeRoy/Tri-Valley’s Tate Sigler in the 285 title match, Canton had 211.5 points while LeRoy/Tri-Valley had 209.5 points in the 32-team competition, which was held in Petersburg.

Leading the way for coach Zach Crawford’s champion Little Giants were title winners Jacob Hardesty (106), Danny Murphy (190) and Connor Williams (285) while Maddux Steele (113) took second, Grant Kessler (215) placed third, Jack Jochums (132) finished fifth, Aden Greene (157) was sixth and Mason Bilbrey (126) took eighth place.

“After going back and forth with LeRoy, which is a great program and they have been for years, and then coming down to the heavyweight match and ending it in that fashion, it’s awesome,” Crawford said. “We graduated a huge class with a lot of leadership and a lot of good wrestlers. But this young group of kids has really stepped it up and filled the shoes of the people before them and that’s what we ask for, is for them to just do their job and wrestle hard and outcomes will come into your favor eventually.

“Last February in Bloomington, it was a little uneasy like, where are we going to be next year. But the kids put in work in the weight room and in the offseason. In preseason, we kind of knew what we were going to be, and they just continue to show. It’s like every team that we’ve had in the last five to 10 years in Canton, it’s family. They have each others’ backs at all times, no matter what. They’re in each others’ corners cheering and words of encouragement at all times. It’s just a culture that they’ve really perpetuated in Canton. It’s a family and we’re going to do it for each other.”

Top performers for coach Brady Sant Amour’s runner-up Panthers were champions Brady Mouser (113), Colton Prosser (138) and Jacob Bischoff (215) and second-place finisher Tate Sigler (285). Kobe Brent (132) and Connor Lyons (165) took third, EJ Chaon (120) finished fourth, Jim Chaon (126) and Bo Zeleznik (157) placed seventh and Connor McLaughlin (144) took eighth place.

PORTA (156) took third place, Mt. Zion (141) was fourth, Shelbyville (137.5) finished fifth and Orion (129.5) placed sixth. Monticello (121.5), Cumberland (113.5), Litchfield (109.5) and Auburn (105.5) rounded out the top 10 teams in the invite.

PORTA coach Jeff Hill, a 2011 inductee into the IWCOA Hall of Fame and the state’s all-time leader in dual meet wins, was proud to once again host the Avery Invite, which has long been one of Illinois’ top early-season tournaments for Class 1A teams.

“We added a couple of teams,” Hill said. “Tremont got back in and Lawrenceville wanted in, so we let them in. We had 31 teams and I figured that Canton and LeRoy would be right up there. We were hoping to be in the mix, but we have a little work to do. We’re right in the middle of the state so we try to get as many teams from down south and up north. And we’ve been doing it for a long time so we think it’s a fairly decent tournament. We added a couple of teams and still got done at 7:30 in a one-day tournament.”

Mt. Zion coach Dave Klemm, recipient of a Lifetime Service Award from the National Wrestling Hall of Fame-Illinois Chapter in 2012 and an IWCOA Hall of Famer, was pleased with his team’s strong showing.

“I’m excited for these kids,” Klemm said. “I’ve got a bunch of young kids that are working really hard and this is a great tournament to let us know early on where we are and where we have to go. Our kids stepped up and did a nice job. We like to think that we’re on the rise but every other team is fighting for the same thing. Now we’ll go home and watch video and find out what they did wrong and fix it so we’ll do even better next time.”

Shelbyville had two champions, Kaz Fox (150) and Ryne Peavler (157). Other title winners were Warrensburg-Latham’s Logan Roberts (120), Auburn’s Joey Ruzic (126), St. Joseph-Ogden’s Holden Brazelton (132), Cumberland’s Owen McGinnis (144), Tremont’s Bowden Delaney (165)

and Mt. Zion’s Vincent Fiore (175).

PORTA had three second-place finishers, Zach Bryant (120), Jacob Vogel (144) and Justin Zimmerman (157). Orion also had three individuals who placed second, Mason Anderson (150), Nolan Loete (165) and Maddux Anderson (190).

Also taking second place were Monticello’s Ezekiel Young (106), Ridgeview/Lexington’s Danny Tay (126), Farmington’s Keygan Jennings (132), Tremont’s Mason Mark (138), Lawrence County’s Kasen Ochs (175) and Kewanee’s Alejandro Duarte (215).

Beside the 285 finals, some of the other closest title matches were Hardesty edging Young 4-3 at 106, Brazelton getting past Jennings 1-0 at 132, Prosser prevailing over Mark 3-2 at 138, Mouser winning 4-2 over Steele at 113 and Murphy beating Maddux Anderson 7-5 at 190.

Individuals who also won Avery Invite championships last year were Bischoff, Brazelton, Fox, Mouser, Roberts and Ruzic. 

Roberts had the most team points with 32 while Delaney, Fox and Ruzic were next with 31.5 points. Peavler collected 31 points, Murphy scored 30, Brazelton and McGinnis had 29.5 points apiece, Hardesty and Mouser both scored 29 points and Fiore finished with 28.5 points while Bischoff, Prosser and Williams all had 28 points. Ruzic had the most total match points with 54. 

Here’s a breakdown of the champions and weight classes at PORTA’s Rex Avery Invite106 – Jacob Hardesty, Canton

PORTA’s Rex Avery Invite finals began on a good note for eventual champion Canton and the individual who was kicking off that start was a newcomer to the team, freshman Jacob Hardesty, who captured a 4-3 decision over Monticello’s Ezekiel Young in the 106 title match. One of three title winners for coach Zach Crawford’s champion Little Giants, Hardesty (14-2) opened the competition with a fall, followed with an 11-0 major decision and then won with a fall in 3:18 over Litchfield’s Rilynn Younker in the semifinals.

“It’s a really big deal, especially knocking off one of the best kids in the finals, it’s a big win for me,” Hardesty said. “This was my first meet and there’s a lot of great wrestlers here. I hope we can win this meet. We have really good wrestlers that are pushing you in practice every day and making you better. I like the grit that we have on our team, wanting to push to do better and the coaches pushing us and wanting to win and to be better than we were last year. I want to make it to the state tournament.”

The only finalist for coach Andy Moore’s Sages, Young (8-1), recorded three falls to earn his spot on the 106 title mat, which was assured by a pin in 1:13 over Lawrence County’s Drew Seitzinger in the semifinals. Younker won by fall in 3:28 over Seitzinger to claim third place, Monmouth-Roseville’s Bawi Thang got a pin in 1:27 over Mt. Zion’s Vincent Baker to claim fifth and Cumberland’s Peyton Groves won by fall in 5:41 over Orion’s Tyler Olson to take seventh.

113 – Brady Mouser, LeRoy/Tri-Valley

Realizing that every head-to-head matchup between LeRoy/Tri-Valley and Canton would be very important, Brady Mouser gave coach Brady Sant Amour’s Panthers a big boost when he captured a 4-2 decision over Canton’s Maddux Steele in the 113 championship match. Mouser (7-1), a junior who went 44-5 last season and fell one win shy of a medal at 106 at the IHSA Finals, was the first of three champions for coach Brady Sant Amour’s second-place finishers. Mouser recorded two falls before claiming a 12-1 major decision in the semifinals over Litchfield’s Vincent Moore.

“We’re working really hard and I feel like we’re one of the hardest working programs in the whole state,” Mouser said. “It’s all from hard work in the mat room every day and running in the mornings together. I feel like we’ve got a real camaraderie built and it’s just good to see us come out and compete like this. I’m cutting a little bit of weight and hopefully I’ll be wrestling at 106 later in the year. It’s a tough cut but I know that it’s going to be worth it. I have goals and I’m going to set my mind to it. It’s about improving every year, Last year, I was in the blood round, and I don’t want to be back there. That’s the goal, to put yourself in a place to be successful. We have some good leaders and it’s not all about how you wrestle, it’s about if you can build each other up and I think we do a great job of that.”

Steele (12-4), a sophomore for coach Zach Crawford’s Little Giants who went 43-10 last year and placed fifth at 106, opened with a win by technical fall and got a fall in the quarterfinals before advancing to the113 title mat after Riverton’s Harrison Lott was unable to go and had to forfeit. Moore won by medical forfeit over Lott to take third. Kewanee’s Kingston Peterson won by fall in 5:21 over Shelbyville’s Colin Wells to finish fifth and Monmouth-Roseville’s Caleb Dillard took seventh with a fall in 1:45 over Hillsboro’s Landon Bandy.

120 – Logan Roberts, Warrensburg-Latham

After making his state debut and winning a match there to cap a 38-8 season a year ago, Logan Roberts looks to take the next step and do something that’s been done just five times by five different individuals at Warrensburg-Latham, and that’s getting a state medal. The lone finalist for coach Garrett Knock’s Cardinals is off to a good start with a 9-0 record after recording a fall in 3:07 over PORTA sophomore Zach Bryant in the 120 finals. The junior won all four of his matches by fall, which included a pin in 1:41 in the semifinals over LeRoy/Tri-Valley’s EJ Chaon. As the only champion to record four falls, he led all competitors with 32 team points.

“I eventually want to be a state champion, but I’ve got to place first,” Roberts said. “I really do think that I’m in the top three this year. It’s the extra things out of the room. You always have to do extra training by yourself, working out and keeping your conditioning all the way up. Our 126-pounder, my twin brother Kaden, and our 132-pounder, Charlie Wittmer, they both push me. You have to be confident. You always have to go in there wanting to win and you can never be hesitant. You always have to work through everything, one match at a time.”

Bryant (14-4), one of three of coach Jeff Hill’s Bluejays who reached the title mat, won two of his first three matches by fall, including a pin over Mt. Zion’s Mason Gray in 2:35 in the semifinals. Gray won a 12-2 major decision over Chaon to claim third place. Cumberland’s Sawyer Welbaum took fifth after getting a pin in 2:37 over Auburn’s Drayven Hamm, who was a state qualifier in 2023. And Monticello’s Luke Andruczyk placed seventh with a fall in 0:53 over Litchfield’s Creed Robinson.

126 – Joey Ruzic, Auburn

After going 53-2 a year ago and capturing a Class 1A title at 120 and posting a 26-0 record enroute to a championship at 113 in 2022, Joey Ruzic is focused on being a three-time title winner as well as Auburn’s first three-time IHSA medalist. As a freshman, he went 32-3 and took third at 106 in the IWCOA Finals, giving him a 111-5 career record entering this season. The lone finalist for coach Matt Grimm’s Trojans took top honors at 126 with a fall in 4:46 over Ridgeview/Lexington’s Danny Tay. Ruzic (10-0) got falls in his first two matches and then won by technical fall in 4:41 over Warrensburg-Latham’s Kaden Roberts in the semifinals. He had the most total match points with 54 and tied three others for second in team points with 31.5.

“It’s a process, Ruzic said. “They can come at me all they want, I’m ready,” Without them (his coaches and teammates), I could do none of this. They help me out along the way, for sure. I just have to keep staying consistent and I’m doing the right things. I just have to keep doing it and get the end result that we want.”

Tay (7-1), a senior, was the lone finalist for coach Jeremy Lopshire’s Ridgeview/Lexington co-op Mustangs. After recording opening-period falls in his first two matches, Tay won a 12-0 major decision over Tremont’s Chase Stedman in the semifinals. Roberts won a 6-2 decision over Stedman for third place. Orion’s Cole Perkins took fifth with a 14-7 decision over Cumberland’s Logan Aaron. And LeRoy/Tri-Valley’s Jim Chaon won by medical forfeit in 2:00 over Canton’s Mason Bilbrey to finish seventh.

132 – Holden Brazelton, St. Joseph-Ogden

Holden Brazelton definitely experienced a special sophomore season a year ago when he went 49-3 and took third place at 132 in the IHSA Finals after going 44-6 and placing sixth at 120 in his debut campaign. Now the junior sets his sights on not only joining Wesley Kibler as the second Spartan to win three state medals but also to join Griffin Meeker and Kibler as the school’s only state champions. Brazelton won a thriller in the 132 finals, edging Farmington’s Keygan Jennings 1-0 in a clash of two-time IHSA medalists. Brazelton (9-0), the lone finalist for coach Bill Gallo’s Spartans, opened with a win by technical fall and then won two falls, with the last one coming in 1:16 over LeRoy/Tri-Valley’s Kobe Brent in the semifinals.

“I didn’t know in the tournament that I’d meet him, but I’d meet him at some point,” Brazelton said. “He’s a good kid, a returning state finalist and I beat him 1-0. I was trying to hide some of my tricks a little bit and almost got into trouble toward the end of the match, but I got the job done, and that’s all that matters. We have a lot of young kids on our team and they’ve learned a lot. We had a lot of placers today and I’m super proud of them. They put me to work in the wrestling room, and I’m putting them to work and you could tell that it’s paying off in this tournament.”

Jennings (9-1), a senior who went 35-2 last season and was state runner-up to Carlyle’s Tyson Waughtel at 113, posted a 44-4 record and placed sixth at 113 in 2022 and went 27-5 and finished fifth at 106 in 2021 at the IWCOA Finals. Jennings, the lone finalist for coach Jacob Durbin’s Farmers, won his first two matches by fall and then captured an 11-1 major decision over Shelbyville’s Bodee Fathauer in the semifinals. Brent, who was a state qualifier last season, took third by medical forfeit over Fathauer, who also qualified for state a year ago. Canton’s Jack Jochums took fifth place with a 9-4 decision over Warrensburg-Latham’s Charlie Wittmer. Monmouth-Roseville’s Alejandro Morales placed seventh with a fall in 3:14 over Sacred Heart-Griffin’s Kenneth Lockhart.

138 – Colton Prosser, LeRoy/Tri-Valley

As the tight race between the top two teams in PORTA’s Rex Avery Invite reached the middle of the final round, Colton Prosser’s dramatic 3-2 decision on a late reversal against Tremont’s Mason Mark looked like it might have a big impact on which ultimately prevailed. Prosser, who saw a 31-win season end with a 9-2 loss to Mark at the Clinton Sectional, got a measure of revenge when he prevailed in the final seconds to become one of the three title winners for coach Brady Sant Amour’s Panthers. Prosser (7-0), a senior, won his first two matches by fall before winning 8-6 over Cumberland’s Brayden Olmstead in the semifinals.

“The end of the match reversals are the best ones,” Prosser said. “And the last-second takedowns are the best ones. And to help put our team in first place, that’s even better. It was a tough bracket and both of our semifinal matches were close. I knew I couldn’t let him get the legs in, I had to go right then, that was my only chance, so I just scrambled and put the switch and got the reversal. It’s all of the guys getting along really good and coach pushes us real hard and we’ve all been wrestling together since we were young. It’s the same guys that I grew up with, so it makes it even better when we win.”

Mark (10-2), who went 44-8 last season but failed to place during his first trip to state, won his first two matches by fall before capturing an 8-7 decision over Farmington’s Bradie Ellis in the semifinals to become one of two finalists for the Turks, who are coached by IWCOA Hall of Famer TJ Williams. Olmstead claimed third place with a fall in 3:25 over Ellis. Kewanee’s Benjamin Taylor took fifth after pinning Hillsboro’s Gaven Vollintine in 0:59 and PORTA’s Logan Baker took seventh with a win by technical fall in 4:56 over Pittsfield’s Hunter Harrison.

144 – Owen McGinnis, Cumberland

Owen McGinnis capped a successful freshman season by going 42-9 and qualifying for the IHSA Finals last year but he went 0-2 there. The Cumberland sophomore obviously wants to accomplish more this season and is off to a good start after improving to 12-0 after winning by technical fall in 2:55 over PORTA’s Jacob Vogel in the 144 finals to become the lone champion for coach Ash Edmonds’ Pirates. McGinnis won his first two matches by fall before winning a 9-2 decision over Havana/PORTA’s Mike Minor in the semifinals.

“I think we should have another good season,” McGinnis said. “We get in there and we put in the work. I’d like to get a medal this year.”

Vogel (14-3), was one of the three members of coach Jeff Hill’s Blujays to reach the finals. The senior advanced with three pins, with the last of those in 1:26 over Shelbyville’s Nate Sanders in the semifinals. Minor took third with a fall in 2:41 over Sanders, Lawrence County’s Trevor Loy pinned Beardstown’s Luis De La Cruz in 2:35 to take fifth and Hillsboro’s Treyton Kuhl won by fall in 3:06 over LeRoy/Tri-Valley’s Connor McLaughlin to place seventh.

150 – Kaz Fox, Shelbyville

Kaz Fox gave Shelbyville the first of the consecutive titles that it won at 150 and 157 when he won by technical fall in 5:36 over Orion’s Mason Anderson in the 150 title match. Fox (10-2), a senior who went 39-12 last year and qualified for state, followed two first-period falls with a pin in 3:13 over Ridgeview/Lexington’s Payton Campbell in the semifinals. His teammate, Ryne Peavler, also won by technical fall to capture the 157 championship, giving coach Caleb Duckett’s Rams two champions.

“We work hard at every practice and it pays off when you win tournaments like this,” Fox said. “You just have to keep going, you can’t stop. I’ve been lifting a lot and working on my conditioning outside of practice. Everyone is good at state, so it matters who shows up.”

Anderson (10-3), a senior who went 38-10 a year ago but was unable to advance from the rugged Oregon Sectional, was one of three second-place finishers for coach Zach Nelson’s Chargers. He won three falls and then got a win by technical fall in 4:34 in the semifinals over Litchfield’s Braxton Kieffer. Campbell won a 7-3 decision over Kieffer to take third place, PORTA’s Cael Cotner won by fall in 3:54 over West Hancock’s Evan Carel for fifth and Mt. Zion’s Jordan Weter took seventh with a pin in 0:53 over Havana/PORTA’s William Cook.

157 – Ryne Peavler, Shelbyville

Ryne Peavler combined two wins by technical along with two pins to help him dominate the field at 157 and join teammate Kaz Fox, who took first at 150 just before him, as one of two champs for coach Caleb Duckett’s Rams. Peavler (12-0), a sophomore, defeated PORTA’s Justin Zimmerman by technical fall in 4:25 in the finals. After an opening pin, he won by technical fall in the quarterfinals and then advanced to the 157 finals with a fall in 3:24 over Monmouth-Roseville’s Gabe Ortiz-Mora. Peavler went 35-12 in his freshman season but was unable to advance from the Carterville Sectional.

“There’s a lot of potential on our team this year,” Peavler said. “We had a few other people place outside of first. Last year in my freshman year, I came out here seventh, so for me to go first in my sophomore year is pretty great. Some people say that if you put all of this time in the summer, it makes it all so good, but in some ways, it kills me, too. So I just did what I wanted to do and do what I love and work when I really wanted to work. Plus, I’m a runner, I do cross country, too, so I kept working in the offseason. It’s one of the amazing things you can do because it keeps up your endurance.”

Zimmerman (11-4), who also is a sophomore, was one of three of coach Jeff Hill’s Bluejays who reached the title mat. After opening with a fall, he won two close decisions, including winning 6-4 over Monticello’s Gavin Ridings in the semifinals. Ridings won a 10-3 decision over Ortiz-Mora to finish third, St. Joseph-Ogden’s Coy Hayes won by fall in 4:14 over Canton’s Aden Greene for fifth and LeRoy/Tri-Valley’s Bo Zeleznik took seventh by forfeit over Havana/PORTA’s Jamarion Thomas.

165 – Bowden Delaney, Tremont

Bowden Delaney has definitely built an impressive resume in his first two seasons at Tremont, going 42-6 last season and 35-7 in 2022 and qualified for state appearances each year. Now the Turks junior looks to follow in the footsteps of graduated teammates Cooper and Lucas Wendling and Payton Murphy to become the 11th individual from his program to win a medal at the IHSA Finals. Delaney is off to a 12-0 start this season after capturing top honors at the Avery Invite at 165 by recording a fall in 1:58 over Orion’s Nolan Loete. The lone champion for the Turks, who are coached by IWCOA Hall of Famer TJ Williams, he earned his spot in the finals by recording two pins and then getting a win by technical fall over LeRoy/Tri-Valley’s Connor Lyons in the semifinals.

“I’ve put in a lot of offseason work and I have great partners in the room, waking up every morning at 5:30 and getting there and going to workouts after school, so there’s a lot of effort that’s going into it.,” Delaney said. (Having TJ Williams as a coach) It’s great. Not only does he help you because he knows everything about the sport, but he’s also there to work with you and he pushes you. I know a lot, but he’s there perfecting it. We have great teammates, great coaches and great partners. I think we have a good year ahead of us, it’s just knocking off the rust. It’s the beginning of the year but we’ve big tournaments coming up like ABE’s Rumble and PIT, it’s going to be great. It’s the relationships. We’re all in there grinding and making sure that we’ll get better. And outside the wrestling room, we’re all hanging together, so everything works out well.”

Loete (12-3), one of three individuals from coach Zach Nelson’s Chargers to reach the title mat, fell short of a state trip a year ago at the rugged Oregon Sectional. He recorded three pins to advance to the 165 title mat, winning by fall in 3:37 in the semifinals over Havana/PORTA’s CJ Welbourne. Lyons won by technical fall in 3:36 over Welbourne to take third, Hillsboro’s Zander Wells got a fall in 1:01 over Cumberland’s Grant Keyser to finish fifth and Monticello’s Russ Brown placed seventh after winning by fall in 3:02 over Shelbyville’s Jaden Miester.

175 – Vincent Fiore, Mt. Zion

Vincent Fiore admits that he doesn’t have a great resume to date, but the Mt. Zion senior is excited about this season’s possibilities under the guidance of his coach, Dave Klemm, a 2012 recipient of the Lifetime Service Award from the National Wrestling Hall of Fame – Illinois Chapter and IWCOA Hall of Famer. Fiore improved to 11-0 after winning the title at 175 with a 9-4 decision over Lawrence County’s Kasen Ochs. Fiore opened with a pin, got a win by technical fall and then won an 11-2 major decision over PORTA’s Cam McCoy in the semifinals.

“I had never even won a high school tournament before this,” Fiore said. (Dave Klemm) “He’s probably one of the best coaches out there in 1A and coach TJ (Williams) at Tremont is great. Coach Klemm, I’m very thankful for him, he’s one of the reasons that I’ve had some success the last couple of years. It feels great. I feel like I’ve always been the hardest worker in the room. In every tournament and every goal the past three years, I’ve come up just short. I lost in the blood round at sectionals twice. It’s all finally starting to come together and the hard work is starting to pay off.”

Ochs (6-1), a senior who was the only champion and finalist for coach Samuel Hyre’s Lawrence County team, which consists of athletes from Lawrenceville and Red Hill, used three-straight falls to reach the 175 title mat, which was capped by his pin in 3:58 over Sacred Heart-Griffin’s Cason Lyons in the semifinals. McCoy captured an 8-6 decision over Lyons to claim third place, Canton’s Gus Lidwell won with a fall in 1:09 over Litchfield’s Jayden Ellinger to finish fifth and Monmouth-Roseville’s Landon Montroy took seventh place by medical forfeit over Tremont’s Ty Fuller.

190 – Danny Murphy, Canton

As Canton was battling with LeRoy/Tri-Valley to determine which team would take top honors at the Avery Invite, the Little Giants received a huge boost when Danny Murphy captured a 7-5 decision over Orion’s Maddux Anderson in the 190 title match. Murphy (15-1), a senior who qualified for the IHSA Finals last season, was one of three title winners for coach Zach Crawford’s Little Giants, which included two in the final three weight classes. Murphy got pins in his first three matches, winning by fall in 0:40 over Pittsfield’s Tucker Cook in the semifinals.

“I think why I did good today was because of coach (Zach) Crawford and our other coaches,” Murphy said. “This is not a team, it’s a family.”

Anderson (15-1), a junior who went 40-14 and was a state qualifier a year ago, was one of three second-place finishers for coach Zach Nelson’s Chargers. Anderson won each of his first three matches with pins, recording a fall in 0:48 over Mt. Zion’s Keller Stocks in the semifinals. Cook took third place after getting a fall in 5:50 over Stocks, Auburn’s Joey Barrow got a pin in 1:05 over PORTA’s Russell Mattson to claim fifth place and Heyworth’s Jarrod Fulcher won with a fall in 0:32 over Williamsville’s Anthony Beckman to finish in seventh place.

215 – Jacob Bischoff, LeRoy/Tri-Valley

Jacob Bischoff enters his senior season at LeRoy/Tri-Valley with the opportunity to do something that only six others from the program have accomplished, being a two-time medalist. Bischoff went 42-11 and took sixth at 220 and now looks to move up on the awards stand and possibly compete for a title, something that only three Panthers have done. One of three champions for coach Brady Sant Amour’s team that fell just short of taking first at the Avery Invite, Bischoff (8-0) won the 215 title with a 14-7 decision over Kewanee’s Alejandro Duarte. He opened with two falls and then won 7-2 over Canton’s Grant Kessler in the semifinals.

“We worked hard,” Bischoff said. “All of the morning runs and the extra practices that we put in. We’re a very close team so that’s a good thing. It’s just a lot of hard work and determination. The coaches really want it for the team and they show us how to be good teammates and how to care for each other and to be better men. I just have to work hard and don’t give up and give it all, that’s really just it.”

Duarte (9-2), a junior who went 34-10 last year and fell one win shy of earning a trip to the state finals, got three-straight pins, which included a fall in 2:49 over Orion’s Aiden Fisher in the semifinals. Duarte was the lone finalist for coach Charley Eads’ Boilermakers. Kessler took third after pinning Fisher in 4:00, Ridgeview/Lexington’s Hunter Tillotson won by fall over Litchfield’s Tristan Staggs to finish fifth and Mt. Zion’s Carson Thornton won by fall in 3:32 over Warrensburg-Latham’s Jack Kerley to take seventh place.

285 – Connor Williams, Canton

It doesn’t get any better than seeing two competitors meeting for a title with their teams also battling for top honors in a tournament, but that’s just what played out in the Avery Invite’s 285 finals between Canton’s Connor Williams and LeRoy/Tri-Valley’s Tate Sigler. Not surprisingly, the clash exceeded six minutes and Williams won 2-1 on a tiebreaker to give coach Zach Crawford’s Little Giants the title. Williams (15-0), a sophomore, collected two falls before capturing a 1-0 decision over Beardstown’s Chunk Dailey in the semifinals.

“I was nervous because it came down to me,” Williams said. “I was amazed because I’ve never been congratulated like this before. Credits to my coach because he was like, ‘you’ve still got a full gas tank.’ I’ve got to thank Asa Reed for getting me into the position that I’m in. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be as successful as I am right now. He’s the one that pushed me in practice. I like the respect that we have for each other and the family-type of bonding.”

Sigler (6-2), a junior, was one of four finalists and just missed being a fourth champion for coach Brady Sant Amour’s runner-up Panthers. He opened with a fall and then won two decisions, including a 7-3 win over Mt. Zion’s Remington Hiser in the semifinals. Hiser pinned Dailey in 1:30 to claim third place, Shelbyville’s Andre Townsend won by fall in 1:17 over Monticello’s Brandon Peters to finish fifth and Williamsville’s Matthew Crouch got a pin in 1:57 over Monmouth-Roseville’s Gavin Bell to take seventh place.

Championship matches for PORTA’s Rex Avery Invite 

106 – Jacob Hardesty (Canton) D 4-3 Ezekiel Young (Monticello)

113 – Brady Mouser (LeRoy/Tri-Valley) D 4-2 Maddux Steele (Canton)

120 – Logan Roberts (Warrensburg-Latham) F 3:07 Zach Bryant (PORTA)

126 – Joey Ruzic (Auburn) F 4:46 Danny Tay (Ridgeview/Lexington)

132 – Holden Brazelton (St. Joseph-Ogden) D 1-0 Keygan Jennings (Farmington)

138 – Colton Prosser (LeRoy/Tri-Valley) D 3-2 Mason Mark (Tremont)

144 – Owen McGinnis (Cumberland) TF 2:55 Jacob Vogel (PORTA)

150 – Kaz Fox (Shelbyville) TF 5:36 Mason Anderson (Orion)

157 – Ryne Peavler (Shelbyville) TF 4:25 Justin Zimmerman (PORTA)

165 – Bowden Delaney (Tremont) F 1:58 Nolan Loete (Orion)

175 – Vincent Fiore (Mt. Zion) D 9-4 Kasen Ochs (Lawrence County)

190 – Danny Murphy (Canton) D 7-5 Maddux Anderson (Orion)

215 – Jacob Bischoff (LeRoy/Tri-Valley) D 14-7 Alejandro Duarte (Kewanee)

285 – Connor Williams (Canton) TB 2-1 Tate Sigler (LeRoy/Tri-Valley)

Team standings for PORTA’s Rex Avery Invite

1. Canton (211.5), 2. LeRoy/Tri-Valley (209.5), 3. PORTA (156), 4. Mt. Zion (141), 5. Shelbyville (137.5), 6. Orion (129.5), 7. Monticello (121.5), 8. Cumberland (113.5), 9. Litchfield (109.5), 10. Auburn (105.5), 11. Lawrence County (96), 12. Warrensburg-Latham (92.5), 13. Tremont (90.5), 14. St. Joseph-Ogden (86.5), 15. Monmouth-Roseville (81), 16. Kewanee (80), 17. Ridgeview/Lexington (78), 18. Sacred Heart-Griffin (55), 19. Havana/PORTA (51.5), 20. Farmington (51), 21. Beardstown (50.5), 22. Hillsboro (47), 23. Knoxville (45), 23. Pittsfield (45), 25. West Hancock (43), 26. Deer Creek-Mackinaw (42), 27. Riverton (33), 28. Williamsville (28), 29. Heyworth (26), 30. Monmouth United (15), 31. Carlinville (11), 31. Peoria Heights (11).

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