MEDIAPOLIS — New London High School seniors Gabe Carter and Cameron Raines spent much of Saturday afternoon as cheerleaders for their own wrestling team.
But when it came time for the rubber to hit the pavement, Carter and Raines wasted no time in getting to the finish line.
Carter and Raines, who each received byes into the finals at the Class 1A sectional at the Vernon “Bud” McLearn Court at Mediapolis, scored 11 points for their team, Carter with a technical fall at 160 and Raines with a pin at 195.
It was a banner day for the eighth-ranked Tigers, who crowned seven champions and advanced nine wrestlers to next week’s district meet at North English.
New London won the team title with 206 1/2 points, while Highland took second with 164 1/2 points. Both teams will advance to regional duals on Tuesday at a site to be determined.
“I thought we wrestled about as close to our potential as we could. We got the nine guys through who were all seeded in the top two. That’s what the job was today, so we’re pretty happy about that,” New London coach Mark Chiri said.
While Carter and Raines spent the majority of the day cheering on their teammates, when it came time for them to compete, they were all business.
“I just kind of tried to support the team as much as I could, but I didn’t want to lose focus on the reason I was here personally,” said Carter, who needed just 1 minute, 57 seconds to rack up 15 points in a technical fall over Nate Schuster of Sigourney-Keota in the final at 160. “I sit around and then during the breaks I’ll go in and warm up a little bit, keep my body loose. Then about a half-hour before my match, I’ll come out in the hallway and get a good warmup in, get a good sweat going.”
Raines needed 42 seconds longer to pin Eli Slaymaker of Highland in 2:38 in the final at 195, picking up his 100th career win in the process.
“It feels pretty good. I knew I was going to get it, but I was more focused on moving on,” Raines said while munching down cookies to celebrate his milestone win. “I just tried to support everybody, make sure I was watching everybody wrestle, helping them between their matches, making sure I stayed loose the whole time so I don’t lose focus.”
New London also crowned champions in Marcel Lopez at 113 Josh Glendening at 120, Dominic Lopez at 138, Currey Jacobs at 170 and Jaxon Allen at 220. Gavin Holmes (182) and Owen Reed (285) both move on after finishing second at their respective weight classes.
Allen, seeded second, caught Pekin’s Mason Juhl in a headlock and threw him for a five-point move on his way to a 10-5 win in the final. It was Allen’s second win over Juhl this season. The two likely will lock horns again next week.
“I’ve been working on that headlock all year. If I get that hooked up it’s usually a pretty big move for me. As soon as I felt his hips move a little bit, I knew I had it,” Allen said. “He’s a very good wrestler. I’ve wrestled him multiple times before. It’s always a close match when we wrestle. I don’t feel like it’s an upset to me. I have one more week and I have to do it again.”
“That’s the second time we’ve wrestled him this year and we beat him both times. But we had never beaten him before that. Unfortunately, next week is when it counts the most. But that’s a good stepping stone.”
The Tigers now turn their attention to Tuesday’s regional duals before focusing on next week’s district tournament.
“My plan was always to win that match and move on. I knew if the team did what they needed to do to move on, then we would all go to regional duals on Tuesday. That wasn’t anything different than what we expected from our team,” Carter said.
“We’re pretty excited about that. We have a good chance this year. We have a good team,” Raines said.
“The team is wrestling very good. We have a lot of guys who are buying into it. We had seven champions today and nine that are going to districts. We just have to wrestle hard. We’ll see where we go,” Allen said.
“We actually have a decent dual team, but we have to get a favorable draw. If they pair us up with Don Bosco or Lisbon, that’s a pretty tough task for us because we’ve got a few holes in our lineup and they don’t,” Chiri said.
Mediapolis and WACO each advanced three wrestlers to districts. Mediapolis, which finished fifth with 100 points, crowned a champion in senior Keegan Akers, who pinned New London’s Reed in 3:50 in the final. He will be joined at districts by Mak Kennedy (106) and Quinten Aney (126), each of who was a runner-up.
“It feels great, especially moving up a weight class. I’m giving up a lot of weight, but I have a lot of quickness and a lot of speed and strength that I’m going to have on these guys. I definitely feel a lot more comfortable after getting the championship here,” Akers said. “It’s exactly what I wanted. I just want to go out and win for my senior year since this is my final time wrestling at Mediapolis. Especially since growing up here I’ve watched a lot of good wrestlers. Steven Holloway definitely is one of the huge ones that comes to mind. Then Luke Erickson. And I grew up with Drew Foster.”
WACO finished sixth with 98 points and crowned champions in Jalen Collins (132) and Jaden Williams (152). Jonah Clark advanced as a runner-up at 145.
Collins had one of the wildest matches of the day, getting a takedown with 27 seconds left for a 7-6 win over Pekin’s Bailey Frescoln in the final.
“It was all or nothing right there. I could have given up, but I needed to win that match in order to get a good place at districts,” Collins said. “I was deciding to take a shot, but he decided to hit a shot. We’ve been working on down blocking a lot, so I just down blocked. He didn’t reach up like he had been doing the whole time, so I just used that to my advantage and got around him and put my bar in that I usually use. Once I got my bar in he wasn’t getting out.”
1. New London, 206 1/2.
2 Highland, 164 1/2.
3. Pekin, 155 1/2.
4. Sigourney-Keota, 150.
5. Mediapolis, 100.
6. WACO, 98.
7. Cardinal, 39.
8. Van Buren County, 38.
106 — 1. Bryce Thompson (H). 2. Mak Kennedy (M).
113 — 1. Marcel Lopez (NL). 2. Easton Schlabaugh (H).
120 — 1. Josh Glendening (NL). 2. Carlos Valenzuela (H).
126 — 1. Mason Dye (S-K). 2. Quentin Aney (M).
132 — 1. Jalen Collins (WACO). 2. Bailey Frescoln (P).
138 — 1. Dominic Lopez (NL). 2. Michael Jones (P).
145 — 1. Cael Baker (P). 2. Jonah Clark (WACO).
152 — 1. Jaden Williams (WACO). 2. Jack Clarahan (S-K).
160 — 1. Gabe Carter (NL). 2. Nate Schuster (S-K).
170 — 1. Currey Jacobs (NL). 2. Aidan Schuster (S-K).
182 — 1. Cael Yeggy (H). 2. Gavin Holmes (NL).
195 — 1. Cameron Raines (NL). 2. Eli Slaymaker (H).
220 — 1. Jaxon Allen (NL). 2. Mason Juhl (P).
285 — 1. Keegan Akers (M). 2. Owen Reed (NL).
106 — Thompson (H) pinned Kennedy (M), 0:43.
113 — Lopez (NL) maj. dec. Slabaugh (H), 13-0.
120 — Glendening (NL) pinned Valenzuela (H), 0:44.
126 — Dye (S-K) dec. Aney (M), 11-7.
132 — Collins (WACO) dec. Frescoln (P), 7-6.
138 — Lopez (NL) pinned Jones (P), 3:30.
145 — Baker (P) dec. Clark (WACO), 6-4.
152 — Williams (WACO) pinned Clarahan (S-K), 1:02.
160 — Carter (NL) tech. fall Schuster (S-K), 15-0 (1:57).
170 — Jacobs (NL) maj. dec. Schuster (S-K), 10-1.
182 — Yeggy (H) pinned Holmes (NL), 2:17.
195 — Raines (NL) pinned Slaymaker (H), 2:38.
220 — Allen (NL) dec. Juhl (P), 10-5.
285 — Akers (M) pinned Reed (NL), 3:50.
True second-place matches
120 — Valenzuela (H) tech fall Dan McLaughlin (S-K), 18-2 (6:00).
126 — Aney (M) pinned Ethan Paisley (H), 0:23.
132 — Frescoln (P) pinned Logan Bonebrake (H), 2:23.
138 — Jones (P) pinned Jacxon Behrle (C), 4:42.
220 — Juhl (P) pinned Gavin Bird (S-K), 1:09.