Class 1A wrestling
Drew Hoselton has shown to be a methodical, cerebral wrestler as he has worked his way to a 43-0 record this season. He picked up his last two wins Saturday in winning the 160-pound title at the Class 1A Clinton Sectional meet.
This places Hoselton in the state finals meet that starts Thursday, but he isn’t the only member of Mark Payne’s Hawks to win a title, or even simply advance to state.
Cade Kerns also won an individual title while Simon Schuler makes a return trip after placing second at his weight class. Teammate Dylan Varney is making his first trip to the state meet, as well.
Besides the quartet of Hawks, El Paso-Gridley is sending three wrestlers to Champaign.
As for Hoselton, he had to tackle the top-ranked 160-pounder in 1A to get step a the top of the awards stand. He did so with a 3-2 decision in the final.
Hoselton won by fall in the semifinal round, and then controlled Josh McKinney of Midwest Central in the final. Despite two losses, McKinney was still ranked No.1 by Illinois Matmen.
Although the two had never faced each other, Hoselton did have a game plan.
“He didn’t like to work a lot on his feet, and when he got on top he rode pretty well,” Hoselton said of McKinney. “(I’ve been) working top all year on my brother, he’s an athlete on bottom.”
Brandon Hoselton has won a number of national meets despite being an eighth grade wrestler. He tips the scales about 20 pounds heavier than Drew.
“I wanted to stay on my feet as much as I could, he wasn’t very good on his feet,” Drew Hoselton (43-0) said of his final bout.
His next challenge is winning four matches at state and matching his cousin, former state champ and Purdue wrestler Andy Hoselton, with an unbeaten state title.
“I want to do two years instead of one,”the younger Hoselton said.
Kerns is just looking for a title. At 39-3, he has a shot. Kerns was dominant in his dismantling of Micah Downs of Clinton in the 195-pound final, winning by a 12-2 major decision.
“I felt like I was in control,” Kerns said. “My game plan was to go out and do what I always do — snap and go behind and go from there.”
He had a tough battle in the semifinals, winning 2-0 against Clifton’s Justin Coggins.
Schuler (38-6) is returning to the State Farm Center after taking second at 145 pounds. Lewis Robinson of Kewanee took advantage of an aggressive move by Schuler and turned it into a pin for the win. Schuler had a 6-1 win in the semifinals.
“The good thing for him is just getting the finals,” Payne said of Schuler. “He’s going to state again and that’s a loss we just need to shake off.”
Again, the Hawks came up with a spoiler in the heavier weights. Last year it was Alex Steidinger at heavyweight. This time is was Varney at 220.
Varney (31-14) had to work his way through the wrestlebacks, and arduous journey that meant four matches on Saturday. He won the first three, the last by fall to guarantee a spot at state because he made the third-place match and the top four advance.
Varney battled Cody Miller of Bismarck-Henning well, losing 3-2. It was a great improvement from Friday night, when Miller defeated Varney 11-3.
“I was pleasantly surprised with Dylan Varney,” Payne said. “I always believed in him but he had to get through some pretty tough kids.”
As for the Titans, Jaime Gregory and Dylan Reeves each made the finals while Kain Jackson had to also go through the wrestlebacks to move on.
Gregory (35-8) came in as a regional champ and advanced to the final with two major decisions. He then battled Austin Weaver of Olympia, falling short 7-2.
“Jaime Gregory did a real nice job of getting into the finals, which I expected,” EPG head coach Brady Sant Amour said of the 106-pounder.
Reeves (32-11) had a pin and a 10-6 decision in reaching the final despite having a first-round match on Friday. He dropped a tough 5-4 decision in the 170-pound final.
“Dylan Reeves really outperformed himself,” Sant Amour said.
The surprise might have been Jackson at 132. He lost his first bout on Friday and had a bye in the consolation bracket. Jackson then needed to go to an ultimate tiebreaker to advance.
From there, Jackson won an 8-2 decision and then had to battle Lalo Munoz of Beardstown for the second time. Munoz defeated Jackson in the first round by technical fall.
This time, Jackson (36-11) won 7-1 to secure a spot at state.
“Kain Jackson did an excellent job,” Sant Amour said. “He won an overtime tiebreaker his first match (Sat.), won his second match and then turned around and beat the kid who tech falled him to get to state.”