It was a disappointing day Saturday for some of the area's wrestling teams, but it still saw five local grapplers clinch spots to this weekend's state tournaments in both Iowa and Illinois.
This Saturday was the district wrestling tournaments in Iowa and the sectional tournaments in Illinois. Athletes were aiming for the championship round in both, hoping to finish in some of the top spots in order to keep their season alive.
Illinois wrestles in Champaign at the State Farm Center, while Iowa travels to the Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines. The tournaments begin this Thursday. The Clinton Herald will have updated stories from both Champaign and Des Moines in our sports section and online as the tournament moves on.
INDIANS SEND TWO
Senior Baylor Crigger was visibly pumped up after winning his first round against West Delaware's Jared Voss.
"I knew once I got past that, my ticket to state would basically be punched," Crigger said.
Crigger (40-1) will be making his second trip to Des Moines, hopeful of bringing home some hardware at the end of the week. He was the 160 lb district champion on Saturday afternoon at Central DeWitt.
"I realized my career at Camanche isn't done, and that I get an opportunity to represent my high school one last time on the biggest stage in wrestling for a high schooler," Crigger said.
He isn't headed their alone, either. Eric Kinkaid (36-6), a freshman wrestler for the Indians, beat Center Point Urbana's Keegan Scheeler with a tight 4-3 decision and ended up the runner-up overall at 126 to make his own appearance.
The Indians had six athletes qualify for the district tournament. Ben Vogel ended up finishing fourth at 120, Brennan Kramer got the same place at 132. Cade Everson finished third at 152 and Eric Campie just missed a return trip with a third place finish at 170.
RANDALL GETS FIRST STATE TRIP
It was a tough day on the mat for the Clinton River Kings, but they do have one athlete heading to Des Moines for the first time after competing in Bettendorf Saturday.
"It just wasn't our day, and unfortunately it was the last one," Clinton coach Dustin Caldwell said. "A couple things didn't go our way and it kind of snowballed after that."
Junior Hunter Randall ended up the district runner-up at 220, earning his first state berth. Randall won with a 7-1 decision over North Scott's Dakota Asleson to advance to the finals. There, he fell to Muscatine's Shane Mathias by a 5-1 decision.
"Super excited for Hunter," Caldwell said. "His growth from last year to this year is awesome to see. I think his offseason work really showed so it's good for him to get a taste of what can happen in the future if we keep working.
Ethan Barry and Kyle Guilliams both missed out on returning to Des Moines on Saturday. Barry fell to Muscatine's Dalton Sell in the championship round and then lost by an 8-3 decision in a wrestleback to take home third at 195.
"I think we took away that nothing is really given to you in this sport," Caldwell said. "On any given day anything can happen so we have to bring it all the time. With the guys coming back that didn't get what they wanted hopefully it drives them this offseason to get better and reach their goals."
NO. 1 ZEIMET QUALIFIES FOR SABERS
Sophomore Keaton Zeimet is ranked No. 1 in Class 2A at 106 lbs, and he continued to prove his dominance with a complete sweep of his opponents and a district championship on Saturday.
Zeimet pinned Assumption's Ethan Forker in 2:40 to take the crown in front of his home crowd. He also got a pin over Mount Vernon's Arnie Galvan in under a minute to cap off his day.
Zeimet, who has been ranked in the top of his weight class all year, is coming off of a 5th place performance in 2018, and looking to place again in his sophomore campaign.
Central DeWitt's Robert Howard and Carter Donovan also advanced to the district meet. Howard finished in third place at 113, while Donavan was the fourth place winner at 138.
PANNELL STAYS UNDEFEATED
Fulton senior Eli Pannell remained undefeated on Saturday at the Illinois sectional meet in Byron, earning him a championship and a return trip to the state wrestling tournament.
The senior, who sits at 35-0, got two pins to cap off his sectional performance and clinch his state berth. One of those pins over Byron's Peyton Lind was in just 29 seconds.
Pannell also placed last year and is hoping to be one of the top finishers at 220.