LeRoy/Tri-Valley rallies to win Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley Regional in final match

By Curt Herron – for the IWCOA

The Class 1A Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley Regional definitely lived up to expectations as three of the state’s top 11 teams in the class, No. 6 Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley/Fisher, No. 7 Olympia and No. 11 LeRoy/Tri-Valley, squared off to not only see see how many individuals they could advance to the Olympia Sectional but also which team would move on to the LeRoy Dual Team Sectional to see if then could win a dual meet there and qualify for the IHSA Dual Team Finals.

Things were tight through the semifinals with the hosts holding a narrow lead over LeRoy/Tri-Valley with Olympia still very much in the mix and things remained tight the rest of the way as only eight points separated the three teams entering into the final three weight classes. 

The host Falcons watched in dismay as LeRoy/Tri-Valley kept closing the gap and the Panthers, who featured many individuals who competed in the IHSA Dual Team Finals last season, only trailed 192-189.5 after they got a title win from Jacob Bischoff at 215 while the Falcons were unable to win a third-place match at that same weight class.

So in a scenario that happened a few other times throughout the state on Saturday, the title would be determined in the 285 championship between LeRoy/Tri-Valley junior Tate Sigler and Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley/Fisher senior Aydin Cornell.

Following a match that was tough throughout and still in doubt until the final whistle, Sigler ermerged with a 2-1 decision over Cornell to give LeRoy/Tri-Valley the title by a 193.5-192 margin. Olympia scored 180 points and took third while University High (120.5) was fourth and Pontiac (103) placed fifth in the 11-team tournament in Gibson City.

During a key stretch from 138 until the end of the competition, the Panthers went 5-1 in place matches, with five of those being on the title mat, and they won two matches by fall, one by a major decision and two others in narrow decisions.

As a result, coach Brady Sant Amour’s Panthers will get to compete in their own dual team sectional on  February 20 against Canton, who also edged a host team in a close team race when it got past PORTA by a 226-221 margin in Petersburg. The other dual meet that day will feature Unity going up against Peoria Notre Dame, which won its first regional title in the program’s history. The Panthers hope to make a return trip to the IHSA Dual Team Finals.

Leading the way for champion LeRoy/Tri-Valley were title winners Brady Mouser (106), EJ Chaon (120), Colton Prosser (138), Connor Lyons (157), Jacob Bischoff (215) and Tate Sigler (285) while Brock Owens (144) took second place and Bo Zeleznik (165) finished third, giving the title team eight individual sectional qualifiers.

Brian Roberts, LeRoy/Tri-Valley’s assistant coach and a LeRoy graduate, was understandably impressed by his team’s strong finish but also wasn’t that surprised by it.

“First, hats off to Gibson City, they’re tough and they’re a well-coached team,” Roberts said. “This is a tough regional and both Gibson and Olympia were ranked in the top 10 and they’re two good programs. But sometimes you just have to be prepared for the opportunity to arise and that’s kind of what we talk about in our program, is being consistent, being dependable and being prepared. And when you’re consistent, dependable and prepared, it allows you to take advantage of opportunities when those opportunities come around.  

“We saw them last week at the tournament, and they beat us by 20 points. So our whole conversation today was that everybody’s got to score points and everybody’s a part of it and that every point matters. These guys did a wonderful job of getting ready for every single round and it seemed like as the day went on that we wrestled better. You can talk about mentality and mindset, and that’s what we’re talking about. Like winning matches that people don’t think you can win or keeping it close and giving yourself the opportunity. The kids want to be successful and they put in a lot on their own individually in the mornings. A group of them wake up and run every day. And when you put in that amount of sweat, it’s hard to lose and it’s hard to give up, and I think that’s the best thing.”

Top performers for coach Cody Moody’s second-place Falcons were champions Shawn Schlickman (132) and Aiden Sancken (190), runners-up Carson Maxey (150), Cooper Miller (165), Lincoln Eastin (175) and Aydin Cornell (285) and third-place finishers Gage Martin (120) and Hudson Babb (126).

One week earlier, Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley/Fisher claimed top honors over LeRoy/Tri-Valley in the Heart  of Illinois Conference Tournament by a 199-179.5 with most of the same teams in the field as the regional, with the exception of Olympia, University High and Pontiac.

So even though Moody’s team had a 15-point lead at one point during the final round, he realized all too well that both LeRoy/Tri-Valley and Olympia weren’t going down without a fight.

“It was absolutely heartbreaking today, coming down to the last match,” Moody said. “The heavyweight match was one that we had not calculated winning, so he did everything that we asked and got the pins that we needed. It was tough getting a draw like this with a regional stacked with three of the top 10 teams, or in my opinion, three of the top five teams in central Illinois. I really like Olympia’s and LeRoy’s programs and I respect and enjoy their coaches  and so today, even though we lost by an inch, it was fun. Competing against those top two teams today was really fun. There’s a lot of rivalry there, but it’s a good rivalry.

“Falling short of the team goal today and that was sad, but we’ve got to shift gears as a coaching staff and still get those guys ready to try to accomplish their individual goals. The seniors have been working, not only four years, but their entire lives, through kids club and middle school and high school. They’ve had their sights set on standing on the podium and it’s our job to help them get there this year.”

Turning in the best showings for coach Josh Collins’ third-place Olympia Spartans were first-place finishers Dylan Eimer (113) and and Bentley Wise (150) while Austin Kisner (120), Kelton Graden (157) and Nolen Yeary (215) took second place and Cooper Phillips (138) placed third.

Other regional champions were Ridgerview’s Danny Tay (126), University High’s Ethan Lowe (144), Tremont’s Bowden Delaney (165) and El Paso-Gridley’s Dominic Ricconi (175). Also finishing in second place were Pontiac’s Aidan Scholwin (106) and Kooper Wiles (113), University High’s Nolan Lowe (126), Prairie Central’s John Traub (132), Tremont’s Mason Mark (138) and El Paso-Gridley’s Ryden Barker (190).

Individuals with the best records following the regional include Bowden Delaney at 165 (39-1, .975), Jacob Bischoff at 215 (39-2, .951), Brady Mouser at 106 (39-2, .951), Dylan Eimer at 113 (26-2, .929), Danny Tay at 126 (38-4, .905), Aidan Scholwin at 106 (26-3, .897), Aiden Sancken at 190 (31-4, .886) and Ethan Lowe at 144 (37-5, .881).

Shawn Schlickman had the most team points with 27.5 while Cooper Lyons was next with 27 and then there was a three-way tie with 26 points between Jacob Bischoff, Danny Tay and Bentley Wise. Ethan Lowe had 25.5 team points and EJ Chaon, Bowden Delaney and Dylan Eimer all finished with 24 team points.

Gage Martin had the most total match points with 36 while Domonic Ricconi was next-best with 33 points. There were eight individuals who had three falls with Bo Zeleznik getting his pins in 3:49 and EJ Chaon needed 3:50 to pull off the same feat. Olympia beat out Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley/Fisher 208-204 for total match points and the Falcons edged the Panthers 19-18 for the most pins.

Note: Because this story couldn’t be posted until Saturday, I’ve included updated results through the Olympia Sectional semifinals since 12 of the regional champions and five others who took second or third place also advanced to the semifinals. Then another roundup of the Olympia Sectional will run some time next week.

Seventeen individuals from Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley Regional advance to Olympia Sectional semifinals, including 12 champions

If anyone had any doubts about how challenging the Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley Regional was, they saw an impressive display from many of the individuals who are featured in the regional story that follows.

Twelve of the regional champions and five others who took second or third won quarterfinals matches on Friday to earn spots in the semifinals and to move to within one win of qualifying for the IHSA Finals in Champaign.

Here’s a rundown of qualifiers from the Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley Regional who won in Friday’s Olympia Sectional quarterfinals:

106 

LeRoy/Tri-Valley’s Brady Mouser (40-2) won by fall in 3:52 over Clinton’s Briley Carter (30-8). Semifinals opponent: Hoopeston Area’s Charlie Flores (38-11).

.

Pontiac’s Aidan Scholwin (28-3) won a 4-1 decision over Canton’s Dyllan Steele (31-6). Semifinals: St. Joseph-Ogden’s Emmitt Holt (36-1).

113 

Olympia’s Dylan Eimer (27-2) won by technical fall over Camp Point Central’s Case Hughes (24-18). Semifinals: Illini Bluffs’ Hunter Robbins (44-1).

120 

LeRoy/Tri-Valley’s EJ Chaon (29-9) won by technical fall over Peoria Notre Dame’s Remi Joesting (21-19). Semifinals: Warrensburg-Latham’s Logan Roberts (41-3).

132

Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley/Fisher’s Shawn Schickman (32-10) won by fall in 3:26 over Warrensburg-Latham’s Charlie Wittmer (36-12). Semifinals: Farmington’s Keygan Jennings (39-3).

138

LeRoy/Tri-Valley’s Colton Prosser (32-12) won a 7-3 decision over Farmington’s Bradlee Ellis (34-10). Semifinals: Illini Bluffs’ Ian O’Connor (44-6).

150

Olympia’s Bentley Wise (38-12) won by fall in 1:26 over Clinton’s Kayleb Kent (25-19). Semifinals: Warsaw’s Evan Carel (29-5).

Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley/Fisher’s Carson Maxey (35-7) won a 12-1 major decision over St. Joseph-Ogden’s Coy Hayes (26-7). Semifinals: Peoria Notre Dame’s Chase Daugherty (34-6).

157

LeRoy/Tri-Valley’s Connor Lyons (37-9) won a 9-3 decision over Hoopeston Area’s Ayden Larkin (37-10), Semifinals: Monmouth United’s Jake McElwee (29-7)

165 

Tremont’s Bowden Delaney (40-1) won by fall in 1:59 over PORTA’s Brayden Barner (31-5). Semifinals: Unity’s Ryan Rink (37-9).

Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley/Fisher’s Cooper Miller (31-10) won by technical fall over IVC’s Owen Moser (23-20). Semifinals: LeRoy/Tri-Valley’s Bo Zeleznik (28-10).

LeRoy/Tri-Valley’s Bo Zeleznik (28-10) won by fall in 2:23 over Camp Point Central’s Connor Griffin (29-9). Semifinals: Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley/Fisher’s Cooper Miller (31-10).

175

El Paso-Gridley’s Dominic Ricconi (33-14) won a 5-2 decision over Beardstown’s Gunner Looker (22-7). Semifinals: Hoopeston Area’s Angel Zamora (46-2).

190

Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley/Fisher’s Aiden Sancken (32-4) won by technical fall over Monmouth-Roseville’s Alex Gandarilla. Semifinals: Unity’s Hunter Eastin (41-6).

215

LeRoy/Tri-Valley’s Jacob Bischoff (40-2) won a 5-1 decision over Warsaw’s Malachi McKune (26-12). Semifinals: Peoria Heights’ Issac Coleman (29-10).

Olympia’s Nolan Yeary (35-5) won by fall in 2:35 over High School of Saint Thomas More’s James Schmidt (13-5). Semifinals: Quincy Notre Dame’s Taylin Scott (41-3).y’s Taye

285

LeRoy/Tri-Valley’s Tate Sigler (38-6) won by fall in 3:03 over Monticello’s Brandon Peters (30-20), Semifinals: Clinton’s Dawson Thayer (36-9).

Here’s a look at the champions and their weight classes for the Class 1A Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley Regional

106 – Brady Mouser, LeRoy/Tri-Valley

The final round of the Gibson City Regional began in impressive fashion for Brady Mouser as he secured the lone win by technical fall on the title mat with a victory over Pontiac’s Aidan Scholwin in 5:17 for his fifth title this season. And it ended in an even more exciting way for the LeRoy/Tri-Valley junior as he watched his teammates rally from being down 15 points at one point in the medal round to edge host Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley/Fisher to win the team title by a 193.5-192 margin. Mouser (39-2), a two-time state qualifier who went 47-5 a year ago and fell one win shy of a medal at 106 in the IHSA 1A Finals before helping the 24-2 Panthers reach the IHSA Dual Team Finals, was one of six champions and eight sectional qualifiers for LeRoy/Tri-Valley.  He won his only other match with a fall in 0:24 over University High’s Clayton Piper.

“We’re down a couple of guys so I’m really proud of all of our JV kids who stepped up and scored some points for us,” Mouser said. “We have a good group of seven or eight good leaders on the team and everybody is pushing each other in the room and out here, so it’s a great team with great morale. A lot of hard work goes into it and the mentality is that you outwork everybody. You wrestle with the mentality that they haven’t put in as much work as you so they aren’t going to take it from you.”

Scholwin (26-3), a senior who was one of two finalists and three sectional qualifiers for Pontiac, won by injury default in 0:25 over Olympia’s Noah Whiteside in the semifinals in his only other match. A year ago, Scholwin went 36-6 but fell one win shy of making a trip to the IHSA Finals at 106 at the Clinton Sectional. Piper (4-7) , a freshman who was one of four sectional qualifiers for University High, won third place by medical forfeit over freshman Whiteside (19-16), who was unable to return following his injury in the semifinals.

113 – Dylan Eimer, Olympia

Dylan Eimer hopes that he can make another successful postseason run just as he did as a freshman in 2022 when he capped a 43-7 season by placing fourth at 106 in the IHSA 1A Finals. The Olympia junior seems to be well on his way to duplicating that impressive debut after he improved to 26-2 by recording a fall in 1:33 over Pontiac’s Kooper Wiles to claim the 113 title. He was one of the Spartans’ two champions, five finalists and six qualifiers for their own sectional. Olympia was right in the thick of things in the three-way team title race throughout most of the finals before claiming third place. Eimer won his only other match, getting a pin in 1:40 over University High’s Mason Howard in the semifinals. 

“I had to come out there strong and was just trying to get six, and that’s what I did,” Eimer said. “You’ve just got to do what’s best for the team. I’d love to go back (to state), that’s been my goal since the start of the season. I’ve just been going after competition and trying to see if I can get. In the mat room, everyone is pushing everyone and it’s a dogfight every day. We’ve created such a good bond over this past year, Everyone has come together and everybody’s buddies and that just helps us a team”

Wiles (27-7), a freshman, joined Aidan Scholwin at 106 as one of Pontiac’s two finalists and is among three individuals from his team that will compete in the Olympia Sectional. He won his only other match, in the semifinals, with a 9-1 major decision over Eureka’s Henry Watson.  The two freshmen who lost in the semifinals met up for third place with Eureka’s Watson (13-6) winning by fall in 1:49 over University High’s Howard (9-12) to become one of the Hornets’ three sectional qualifiers.120 – EJ Chaon, LeRoy/Tri-Valley 

When talk will come up in the future about LeRoy/Tri-Valley’s come-from-behind effort to win top honors at the Class 1A Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley Regional, one name that will be recalled was one of the youngest of the Panthers’ six champions and eight sectional qualifiers, EJ Chaon, who only needed 0:51 to record a fall over Olympia freshman Austin Kisner in the 120 title match. Chaon, who improved to 28-9, won all three of his matches with first-period falls, with the longest duration of those pins coming in the semifinals when he needed 1:52 to beat Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley/Fisher’s Gage Martin.

“It’s pretty impressive,” Chaon said of winning a regional title, “I’ve been working really hard with it and my partner, Brady Mouser, has been pushing me all of this time. He’s really fast and keeps me on my toes and even when I’m tired, he tells me to keep going, no matter what.  Our coach really pushes us in the wrestling room, And whether we’re up or down, he’s always trying to encourage us to keep going. He’s just a really good coach all around.”

Kisner (33-12), one of five finalists and six sectional qualifiers for Olympia, joins 157-pounder Kelton Graden as freshmen from their team that will be competing in the sectional that they host. He also recorded a pair of pins to set up the all-freshman 120 finals, getting a win in 2:54 over El Paso-Gridley’s Nolan Whitman in the semifinals. The lone semifinalist that lost  but made it the third-place mat, GCMSF sophomore Gage Martin (23-13), captured a 10-9 thriller over University High junior Joshua Butler (34-13) to earn his spot in the sectional. The pair also met in the quarterfinals with Martin winning that time with a fall in 4:26 over Butler.

126 – Danny Tay, Ridgeview/Lexington

After getting the opportunity to compete in the IHSA Class 1A Finals in 2022 and finishing 37-8 after falling one win shy of a medal at 113, Danny Tay had high hopes for a return to state last season but a broken finger hampered those plans. That’s why the Ridgeview/Lexington senior is focused not only on getting back to Champaign but to also finish on the awards stand this time. Tay improved to 38-4 after winning an 11-4 decision in the 126 title match over University High’s Nolan Lowe which gave him a first-round bye in the Olympia Sectional, where he’s the lone qualifier for the Mustangs. He won his first two matches by fall, earning his spot in the finals with a pin in 3:00 over Pontiac’s Drayden Ramsey.

“I’m doing pretty good so far and I’ve only lost a few matches to some pretty good kids,” Tay said. “Last year, I was hurt and had a broken finger. I’ve just been working hard in practice and I’m just really hoping to get there (back to state). I’ve got a pretty tough sectional with a few top-ranked kids.”

Lowe (28-13) one of three freshmen who qualified for the sectional for University High, he will also be joined at Olympia this weekend by his sophomore brother Ethan, who like him was a finalist, but also was the Pioneers’ only regional champion after taking top honors at 144. Nolan Lowe set the table for both brothers to reach the title mat when he opened with two falls, with the latter one in 3:35 over Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley/Fisher’s Hudson Babb in the semifinals. Babb (33-9), who’s also a freshman, bounced back from his semifinal loss to meet Drayden Ramsey (18-16), who also lost in the semifinals, and Babb won by recording a fall in 0:56.

132 – Shawn Schlickman, Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley/Fisher

Shawn Schlickman competed for the final time in his home gym and walked away feeling good about doing his part to help Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley/Fisher stave off LeRoy/Tri-Valley and Olympia in a clash of three of the top 11 teams in Class 1A, according to Illinois Matmen. Schlickman (31-10) went 30-12 last season and qualified for the IHSA Finals along with classmates Carson Maxey and Aiden Sancken. In the 132 title match, Schlickman needed only 0:50 to record a fall over Prairie Central’s John Traub to become one of the Falcons’ two champions with Sancken being the other at 190. He earned his spot on the 132 title mat following a quick fall and a win by technical fall in 4:31 over Olympia’s Mateo Martinez in the semifinals to assure of being one his team’s six finalists and eight sectional qualifiers.

“These are teams that we were ranked under all year, so this really shows the time and effort that we’ve put into it,” Schlickman said. “This year, we’ve just been a really close team and we’ve all worked and practiced really hard together and even a couple of us go on runs every night after practices. It really motivates you when you know that you should be ranked higher, but you’re not. This year we have nine seniors and we’re really close together with each other, so that also helps us to push each other.”

Traub (29-14), a junior who was the lone finalist and one of two sectional qualifiers for Prairie Central, opened with a fall and then won a dramatic 2-1 decision over Tremont’s Chase Stedman in the semifinals. Traub won 30 matches and qualified for the Clinton Sectional last season. The two juniors who lost in the semifinals met for third place and Tremont’s Stedman (30-10) captured an 8-4 decision over Olympia’s Martinez (24-21) to  become one of the three sectional qualifiers for the Turks.

138 – Colton Prosser, LeRoy/Tri-Valley 

As LeRoy/Tri-Valley was trying to stage a late rally to finish ahead of the hosts in the Class 1A Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley Regional, there were several key matches where the Panthers needed to beat individuals who may have had better credentials than their competitor did. One of those cases was in the 138 finals where senior Colton Prosser, who went 32-13 and failed to qualify at the Clinton Sectional a year ago, met Tremont senior Mason Mark, who was a state qualifier that went 44-8 last year. But with his team hoping to move a step closer to a trip to the IHSA Dual Team Finals for the second-straight year, Prosser (31-12) won a 3-1 decision over Mark to become one of his team’s six champions and eight sectional qualifiers. Prosser followed a major decision with a 6-2 victory over Ridgeview/Lexington’s Judson Stover in the semifinals.

“We had a lot of guys who were seeded low and they placed higher than they were seeded, so we’re putting up a fight,” Prosser said. “I’m really proud of the guys. Last year I was on the team that went to state and we wanted to do this year again. I started off really good and I won at the PORTA tournament, but then I kind of went through a mid-year slump, and at the PIT (Princeton), I was sick and I went 0-2. But I’m at full strength now, so it’s good to finish up the year strong.”

Mark (36-7), who joined 165 champion Bowden Delaney as one of Tremont’s two finalists and three qualifiers for the Olympia Sectional, used a pair of falls to reach the 138 title match, with the last of those coming in 2:24 over Olympia’s Cooper Phillips in the semifinals. The two individuals who lost in the semifinals, both juniors, met in the third-place match and Olympia’s Phillips (32-15) won a 10-4 decision over Ridgeview/Lexington’s Stover (32-12) to become one of his team’s six qualifiers for their own sectional tournament, which takes place in Stanford.

144 – Ethan Lowe, University High

People may not have known a whole lot about University High sophomore Ethan Lowe prior to the Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley Regional, but they do now after the sophomore improved to 37-5 when he captured the title at 144 with a 10-5 decision over LeRoy/Tri-Valley’s Brock Owens. Although only a sophomore, Lowe was the oldest of the Pioneers’ sectional qualifiers, with the other three being freshmen, which included his brother Nolan, who also advanced to the finals and took second place at 126. Lowe, who was unable to qualify out of the Pontiac Regional at 152 last season when he won 24 matches as a freshman, followed a quick pin with a win by technical fall in 3:52 over GCMSF’s Corbin Ragle in the semifinals to join Nolan as a finalist.

“I’ve talked about it with my parents and I’m definitely going to work a lot harder this offseason because I’m going to try to wrestle after high school,” Lowe said. “We’re from kids club, so I’m just thankful that we;ll never have to wrestle in the finals like in kids club. Over the offseason, what I worked the most on was my neutral, setting up shots and finishing, and I think that’s been my strongest point this year. That’s helped me a lot to win matches with that one takedown that I had to work hard for.”

Owens (16-10), a sectional qualifier who went 35-14 last season and came up a bit short of advancing from the Clinton Sectional, was one of a tournament-high seven finalists and joins the Panthers’ six champions and third-place finisher Bo Zeleznik as one of their eight sectional qualifiers. Owens opened with a major decision and then won by fall in 1:29 over Prairie Central’s Ayden Mackey in the semifinals. Mackey (23-8), a senior, joined 132 runner-up John Traub as sectional qualifiers for the Hawks after he won 4-2 over Olympia senior Bryson Wilson (25-19), who lost to Owens in the quarterfinals and bounced back to win his next two matches. 

150 – Bentley Wise, Olympia

A year ago, Bentley Wise came as close as you can get to qualifying for a trip to the state finals in each of the past two seasons when he lost in the consolation semifinals at the Clinton Sectional in 2023 and at his own Olympia Sectional in 2022 to come up short of appearances in the state finals by just one win despite winning 42 matches last season and 30 in the 2021-22 season. Needless to say, the Olympia senior doesn’t intend to fall short in his final attempt. Wise improved to 37-8 after claiming a 3-1 decision over Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley/Fisher’s Carson Maxey in the 150 title match to join 113 title winner Dylan Eimer as regional champions and was one of five finalists for the Spartans, who will have six qualifiers advancing to their own sectional in Stanford. Wise opened with a fall and then advanced to the 150 title match when University High’s Joshua Carabello was forced to take a medical forfeit.

“I say that we’re almost there, too bad we had injured guys,” Wise said. “We have six guys who are getting ready for sectionals. This year has been amazing, This past week we had the best times of our lives, getting ready, and our coaches are amazing and they bring everyones’ spirits up to have some fun in the wrestling room . I hope to come back next year and watch them.”

Maxey (33-7), a senior who was one of six finalists and eight sectional qualifiers for the host school, did his best to try to help his team hang on to the team lead and hold off challenges by both LeRoy/Tri-Valley and Olympia for the regional championship. Maxey, who went 36-7 last season and was a state qualifier along with classmates Shawn Schlickman and Aiden Sancken and Maxey fell in the quarterfinals. He’d like to do what Sancken accomplished last season, which was earning a medal for placing fifth at 195. Maxey followed a pin with an 11-3 major decision over Eureka sophomore Sam Hoffman in the semifinals. Hoffman (29-14) bounced back to capture an 11-8 decision over University High junior Joshua  Carabello (24-10) in the third-place match to become one of the three sectional qualifiers for the Hornets.

157 – Connor Lyons, LeRoy/Tri-Valley

Connor Lyons helped to close the gap some more on the hosts as he became LeRoy/Tri-Valley’s fourth champion in five title matches when he captured a 9-0 major decision over Olympia’s Kelton Graden in the 157 finals to improve to 36-9. Last season he went 32-11 and fell one win shy of qualifying for state at 145 from the Clinton Sectional. Beside looking to get to Champaign, he would also like to see the Panthers return to the Dual Team Finals for the second year in a row. In order to accomplish that, they need to beat Canton in the dual team sectional that they will host on the Tuesday after the IHSA Individual Finals conclude. Lyons assured himself of being one of his team’s six finalists and eight qualifiers when recorded a pair of first-period falls, including one in 1:51 over Pontiac’s Carlito Lattin in the semifinals.

“LeRoy and Tri-Valley is a co-op and it is such a strong brotherhood,” Lyons said. “I tell them all of the time that I wouldn’t trade a single one of you. I’m so blessed to be able to compete with these guys and go through all of the hardships of wrestling. I love them all and I’d fight for every single one of them. And I’m going to turn some heads, for sure, I promise you that.”

Graden, a freshman who is 37-10, assured himself of being one of Olympia’s five finalists and six qualifiers to their own sectional when he followed a pin with a 7-5 decision over El Paso-Gridley’s Waylon Melick in the semifinals. Melick, a senior, improved to 32-15 when he won by fall in 2:25 over Pontiac junior Carlito Lattin (21-16) in the third-place match, Melick, one of four sectional qualifiers for the Titans, went 31-14 last season and suffered the same fate as Lyons did in the 145 bracket at the Clinton Sectional when he also came up one win shy of making an appearance in the IHSA Finals.

165 – Bowden Delaney, Tremont  

While plenty of individuals left the Class 1A Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley with impressive records, only one of them has suffered just one defeat heading into sectional competition, Bowden Delaney captured his fifth tournament title of the season and improved to 39-1 after winning by fall in 1:21 over Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley/Fisher’s Cooper Miller in the 165 title match. The Tremont junior was one of three sectional qualifiers and two finalists for the Turks, who are coached by IWCOA Hall of Famer TJ Williams. Delaney advanced to the 165 title mat with a pin in 1:16 over Deer Creek-Mackinaw’s Wyatt Otto in the semifinals in his other match. A two-time IHSA qualifier who went 42-6 last season and lost in the quarterfinals at 126, hopes to become just the 11th Turk to win a medal at the IHSA Finals, joining former teammates Payton Murphy and Cooper and Lucas Wendling, who accounted for three medals in 2022 and 2023. Delaney’s lone defeat this season came at ABE’s Rumble to Marian Central Catholic’s Max Astacio.

Miller (29-10), one of six finalists and eight sectional qualifiers for the second-place Falcons, also was one of six freshmen who competed in title matches. He opened with a pair of falls in the opening period, which included a pin in 1:44 over LeRoy/Tri-Valley’s Bo Zeleznik in the semifinals. Zeleznik (26-10), a junior and one of the eight sectional qualifiers for the champion Panthers, did his part in his team’s late surge that helped them win the team title as he won by fall in 1:27 over Deer Creek-Mackinaw freshman Wyatt Otto (24-17) to claim third place.

175 – Dominic Ricconi, El Paso-Gridley

Dominic Ricconi didn’t know what to expect when Joe Cliffe stepped in to be the head coach again at El Paso-Gridley. But as the season has progressed, the junior has found out why Cliffe has received all sorts of honors, such as a 1993 IWCOA Hall of Fame induction, serving as a 2000 Grand Marshal, being a 2003 IWCOA Lifetime Service Recipient and in 2007, receiving a Lifetime Service Award from the National Wrestling Hall of Fame – Illinois Chapter.  Ricconi, who improved to 32-14, credits the veteran coach for making him better, and that was evidenced by him winning the title at 175 with a 7-5 decision over Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley/Fisher’s Lincoln Eastin. Ricconi, the lone champion and one of four sectional qualifiers for the Titans, followed a major decision with a 10-3 victory over Olympia’s Cole Bauer to earn his spot in the finals.

“It does feel really good,” Ricconi said of winning the regional title. “When I started off the year, coach Cliffe was the new head coach coming in, and we really weren’t used to it because he’s kind of old school, but it’s really paid off for all of us and I’ve seen the whole team improve.”

Eastin (22-8), who’s a senior, was one of six finalists and eight sectional qualifiers for Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley/Fisher. He followed up on a fall in his opening match with a 14-3 major decision over Eureka’s Wyatt Zacha in the semifinals. The third-place match featured the two individuals who lost in the semifinals and senior Zacha (28-14) captured a 9-3 decision over Olympia junior Cole Bauer (25-17) to earn his trip to the Olympia Sectional.

190 – Aiden Sancken, Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley/Fisher

As Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley/Fisher, LeRoy/Tri-Valley and Olympia were all still within eight points of each other with the finals matches at three weight classes remaining, Aiden Sancken knew what he needed to do as he stepped onto the mat for the 190 championship match with the hosts hanging on to a 4.5-point lead for first. With El Paso-Gridley’s Ryden Barker also battling to win a regional title, Falcons senior Sancken delivered a big win for the home team with a 6-2 decision to capture the 190 title and improve to 31-4. Sancken, one of six finalists and eight sectional qualifiers for GCMSF joined Shawn Schlickman as regional champions for the Falcons, who eventually lost the title to LeRoy/Tri-Valley by 1.5 points. Sancken, who went 35-6 a year ago and took fifth at 195 in the IHSA Finals, won his first two matches in falls of 0:21 and 0:32, with the second pin against Pontiac’s Jackson Crawford in the semifinals. 

“I think we had a lot of matches where we had people leave a lot of points out there, including mine,” Sancken said. “Honestly, there’s not much you can do there, you’ve just got to wrestle. LeRoy is a really good team and we faced them earlier this season and only lost to them by one or two. It’s just a shame that we had three amazing teams in the same regional and only one could come out. But we have a lot of people who are still going to sectionals and I was kind of patting everyone on the shoulder and saying, ‘hey, keep your head up, you still have a week left.’ And for some kids, even two more weeks. Last year we had three people make it and I was the only one to place. The people we have going to sectionals have amazing talent and I think we could send almost everyone that’s going to sectionals to state and maybe even place multiple people. I can’t wait.”

Barker (35-10), a junior who was one of two finalists and four sectional qualifiers for El Paso-Gridley, won his first two matches to advance him to the 190 finals. After collecting a quick pin in his opener, Barker had a struggle in the semifinals and he prevailed for a 3-0 decision over Olympia’s Darian Holloway. The third-place match featured the two individuals who lost in the semifinals meeting up and Pontiac junior Jackson Crawford (17-17) assured himself of a trip to the Olympia Sectional after recording a fall in 0:44 over sophomore Holloway (30-17).

215 – Jacob Bischoff, LeRoy/Tri-Valley

Jacob Bischoff knew exactly what he had to do as he stepped onto the title mat at 215 but getting the job done against a determined opponent like Nolen Yeary was easier said than done. With the Olympia senior frustrating his efforts to end the match early to help his team win the regional championship, the Panthers senior finally got his opportunity and made the most of it to record a fall in 4:49 to assure that Tate Sigler could wrap up the team title with a decision at 285, which is what he did. Bischoff (39-2) followed a fall in his opener with a 7-5 decision over Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley/Fisher’s Cohen Kean in the semifinals. One of six champions and eight sectional qualifiers for LeRoy/Tri-Valley, he hopes to not only get back to state and improve upon last year’s showing, when he capped a 43-12 season with a sixth-place finish at 220, but also close out his career by once again competing in the IHSA Dual Team Finals.

“It was a close race the entire time,” Bischoff said. “Gibson and Olympia, we were neck and neck the entire time, it was intense. It started from the beginning, I could just tell that the focus wasn’t what we had. We were down two guys but we wanted to keep going. Today, every one of us wrestled great, from our freshmen to our seniors, everyone wrestled to the best of their abilities. We’re down Kobe (Brent) and Jimmy (Chaon), but we’re hoping to get them back because now we have an extra week of team.” 

Yeary (33-5), one of the six qualifiers from Olympia who will get the opportunity to try to qualify for a trip to Champaign at their own sectional, opened his tournament with a quick fall and then captured an 11-3 major decision over El Paso-Gridley’s Parker Duffy in the semifinals. In the third-place match, senior Duffy (38-8) complicated matters for the host team when he captured an 8-1 decision over Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley/Fisher junior Cohen Kean (29-11).

285 – Tate Sigler, LeRoy/Tri-Valley

The task at hand was clear, get a victory and your team wins a regional championship or lose, and the other team walks away with the regional plaque. With two competitors realizing that there was so much on the line, there didn’t figure to be a lot of twists and turns, and that’s what happened when LeRoy/Tri-Valley junior Tate Sigler and Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley/Fisher senior Aydin Cornell met in the 285 title match to determine who would take first. The host Falcons entered the match up 192-189.5. After a scoreless first period, Sigler went up 2-0 in the second period and Cornell got the early escape to make it 2-1, but that was it for the scoring as Sigler (37-6) won a 2-1 decision that was the last piece of the puzzle in the Panthers’ comeback which saw them prevail by a 193.5-192 margin. Sigler, one of his team’s six champions, opened with two falls, with one in 5:30 in the semifinals over University High’s Michael Bennett.

“Both of those programs are incredible so we knew that it was going to be a dog fight coming in, so just to pull it out at the end, that’s awesome,” Sigler said. “With how hard our program works and since we work as hard as anyone, I wouldn’t call it pressure, it’s more like I’m in that position. It also helps that we have a couple of guys that are injured right now and this gives them time to come back. I just like the fight. Midway through the last round, we’re down by 15 or so. But coach (Brian) Roberts came up to everyone and said, ”just do your job, and if you win, you win’. And then people went out and got bonus points.”

Cornell (15-6) reached the 285 championship match following a pair of first-period falls to become one of his team’s six finalists. His quickest pin came in the semifinals when he needed just 0:43 to get past Deer Creek-Mackinaw’s Joey Humphries. For third place, University High freshman Michael Bennett bounced back from his loss to Sigler to assure himself of a sectional trip when he recorded a fall in 3:00 over El Paso-Gridley junior Christopher Blackmore (29-17).

Championship matches for the Class 1A Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley Regional

106 – Brady Mouser (LeRoy/Tri-Valley) TF 5:17 Aidan Scholwin (Pontiac)

113 – Dylan Eimer (Olympia) F 1:33 Kooper Wiles (Pontiac)

120 – EJ Chaon (LeRoy/Tri-Valley) F 0:51 Austin Kisner (Olympia)

126 – Danny Tay (Ridgeview/Lexington) D 11-4 Nolan Lowe (University High)

132 – Shawn Schlickman (Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley/Fisher) F 0:50 John Traub (Prairie Central)

138 – Colton Prosser (LeRoy/Tri-Valley) D 3-1 Mason Mark (Tremont)

144 – Ethan Lowe (University High) D 10-5 Brock Owens (LeRoy/Tri-Valley)

150 – Bentley Wise (Olympia) D 3-1 Carson Maxey (Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley/Fisher)

157 – Connor Lyons (LeRoy/Tri-Valley) MD 9-0 Kelton Graden (Olympia)

165 – Bowden Delaney (Tremont) F 1:21 Cooper Miller (Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley/Fisher)

175 – Dominic Ricconi (El Paso-Gridley) D 7-5 Lincoln Eastin (Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley/Fisher)

190 – Aiden Sancken (Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley/Fisher) D 6-2 Ryden Barker (El Paso-Gridley)

215 – Jacob Bischoff (LeRoy/Tri-Valley) F 4:49 Nolen Yeary (Olympia)

285 – Tate Sigler (LeRoy/Tri-Valley) D 2-1 Aydin Cornell (Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley/Fisher)

Third-place matches for the Class 1A Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley Regional

106 – Clayton Piper (University High) M For Noah Whiteside (Olympia)

113 – Henry Watson (Eureka) F 1:49 Mason Howard (University High)

120 – Gage Martin (Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley/Fisher) D 10-9 Joshua Butler (University High)

126 – Hudson Babb (Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley/Fisher) F 0:56 Drayden Ramsey (Pontiac)

132 – Chase Stedman (Tremont) D 8-4 Mateo Martinez (Olympia)

138 – Cooper Phillips (Olympia) D 10-4 Judson Stover (Ridgeview/Lexington)

144 – Ayden Mackey (Prairie Central) D 4-2 Bryson Wilson (Olympia)

150 – Sam Hoffman (Eureka) D 11-8 Joshua Carabello (University High)

157 – Waylon Melick (El Paso-Gridley) F 2:25 Carlito Lattin (Pontiac)

165 – Bo Zeleznik (LeRoy/Tri-Valley) F 1:27 Wyatt Otto (Deer Creek-Mackinaw)

175 – Wyatt Zacha (Eureka) D 9-3 Cole Bauer (Olympia)

190 – Jackson Crawford (Pontiac) F 0:44 Darian Holloway (Olympia)

215 – Parker Duffy (El Paso-Gridley) D 8-1 Cohen Kean (Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley/Fisher)

285 – Michael Bennett (University High) F 3:00 Christopher Blackmore (El Paso-Gridley)

Team scores for the Class 1A Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley Regional

1. LeRoy/Tri-Valley 193.5, 2. Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley/Fisher 192, 3. Olympia 180, 4. University High 120.5, 5. Pontiac 103, 6. El Paso-Gridley 98, 7. Tremont 73, 8. Eureka 59, 9. Ridgeview/Lexington 48, 10. Prairie Central 44, 11. Deer Creek-Mackinaw 37.

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