ROCHELLE -- Even after six of his nine qualifiers reached the Class 2A Rochelle Sectional semifinals, Rock Island wrestling coach Joel Stockwell still would not label Friday night as a complete success.|
"We didn't wrestle up to our ability," Stockwell said. "We're not peaking yet."
That should make today exciting for the Rocks.
Knowing how his team can perform, Stockwell expects an even better performance as Rocky looks to send multiple individuals to the state meet for the third consecutive season. B.J. McGhee (120 pounds), Tyler Dehaven (126), Chase Wiggins (132), Devin Syler (138), Jean-Louis Sawadago (145) and Michael Cole (170) all advanced to the semifinals.
"Hopefully they got some confidence," Stockwell said. "They know they didn't wrestle the way they should have and still got the 'W.'"
Out of those six, Stockwell said Cole "looked the best."
Cole opened with a first-period pin over Rockford East's Matt Wyman in the first round. In the quarterfinals, he allowed Peoria's Martez Cox to score five points in the first 20 seconds of the match before rallying.
The comeback was complete as Cole finished a pin late in the second period.
"I feel really good about (today)," Cole said. "I'm ready to go back to state. I'm going to do what I need to do to win."
McGhee secured his 149th career win after a major decision over Sycamore's Collin Druck in the quarters. McGhee faces Morris junior Kenny Baldridge in the semifinals. Baldridge pinned McGhee in last year's sectional semifinal.
"(The loss) in the back of his head whether he wants to admit it or not," Stockwell said.
Wiggins and Dehaven each won their quarterfinal matches by decision. Syler won twice by decision, including a 6-5 win over Maple Park Kaneland's Sonny Horn in the quarters. Sawadago had a fall and major decision.
"The potential is there for all of them" to win their semifinal bouts and automatically advance to state, Stockwell said. "It's winnable matches, but it's in their hands."
Both Geneseo and United Township have four semifinalists.
The Maple Leafs send Hunter Grau (120), Ryan Pitra (160), Brandon Mizlo (170) and Mitch Miller (182) into the semifinals. Grau, Pitra and Mizlo each won two bouts on the night.
"Good stuff," Geneseo coach Jon Murray said. "They were ready. You've got to be tough, smart and ready. They did what they had to do. I'm proud of those guys."
Grau needed a quarterfinal comeback as he trailed 7-3 midway through the bout. He then scored the final six points to reach the semifinals in his first sectional trip.
"I'm doing pretty well," Grau said. "I motivated myself in that second match. I've got to fight back and do well (today)."
Mizlo, who won by fall and 3-0 decision, will meet Cole in the semifinals.
On the opposite side of the 170-pound semifinal bracket is UT senior Markus Murphy, who won his lone bout by fall over Peoria Notre Dame's Luke Barkley.
"Being able to pin such a big guy, it boosted my confidence," Murphy said. "I feel pretty good."
UT 113-pound junior Jeronnie Steward looked strong in his two wins. Steward won his opening bout by fall and then advanced to the semis with a technical fall over Peoria Richwoods' Ben Fitch.
"He looked good," UT coach Lambros Fotos said of Steward. "That first match helped him out and he looked really good in the quarters. Now it's time to move on. He looks tough, man."
Tanner Schuldt (152) and Deryck Wessels (160) won by decision and major decision, respectively, in their lone bouts.
"When those guys wrestle well," Fotos said of the quartet. "I know what they're capable of. They all looked good."
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