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East Peoria Times-Courier - East Peoria, IL
  • East Peoria wrestlers stay in second in league

  • East Peoria was forced to settle for the runner-up position for the third year in a row.

    Washington fended off the Raider wrestlers, 226.5-201, Saturday in the Mid-Illini Conference tournament East Peoria hosted.
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  • East Peoria was forced to settle for the runner-up position for the third year in a row.
    Washington fended off the Raider wrestlers, 226.5-201, Saturday in the Mid-Illini Conference tournament East Peoria hosted.
    Combining East Peoria's 5-1 league dual record with its tournament showing, the team compiled 14 points for the season.
    The Raiders, under the direction of head coach Phil Johns, have finished second in the M-I three straight seasons.
    The Panthers extended their championship streak to four years. They had 16.5 points overall after a 6-0 record in conference matches.
    Seniors Lucas Joseph and Kade McDonald and juniors Casey McWhirter and Tony Hall each won individual championships and automatic first-team all-league spots.
    Joseph (32-0) completed a perfect regular season for the second consecutive winter despite wrestling up a class to 285 pounds.
    He pinned CJ Wagner of Pekin in the semifinals at the three-minute mark, then claimed the crown with a pin of Metamora's Jack Friedrich at 3:30.
    Joseph won his third M-I title in succession.
    McDonald and McWhirter both repeated their conference championships.
    McDonald (27-8) pinned Jake Godinez of Washington with a minute left in the 195 final.
    He also pinned Pekin's Correy Schultz late in the second period.
    McWhirter (20-5) pinned Washington's Lane Weaver at 3:30 in the 126 title bout.
    Additionally, he rolled to a 19-4 technical fall in the semifinals vs. Brock Kelley of Morton.
    Hall (23-12) emerged as the leader of the seven-wrestler 160 class after a pin of Morton's Kartal Bakirdan one minute into the championship match.
    He also posted a 7-4 quarterfinal decision against Hunter Dunn of Pekin and pinned Josh Bernius of Metamora at 5:05.
    East Peoria's Austin Harper (27-7) and Drew Foster (28-4) were runners-up in 120 and 152, respectively.
    Harper beat Metamora's Austin Tran, 14-8, in the semifinals, while Foster's win came via an 18-4 major decision against Limestone's Kyle Bieneman.
    This was Harper's third year in a row as a second-place grappler. Foster also was a previous M-I finalist as a freshman.
    Five Raiders — Phoenix Stuart (106, 24-6), Zach Hogan (113, 22-14), Bryce Sandoval (145, 22-10), Jacob Lovell (170, 15-11) and Justin Doty (220, 10-10) — all placed third.
    Evan Betz of East Peoria finished fourth.
    Metamora rose from fifth to third place in the final rankings, while Morton tumbled from third to sixth as there was a lot of shifting in the middle of the M-I standings.
    Postseason: East Peoria is part of the nine-team Class 2A Morton Regional Saturday. Action begins at 9 a.m.
    The top-three individuals in each weight class will advance to the Feb. 8-9 Rochelle Sectional.
    The first-place team will proceed to the Feb. 19 Rochelle Dual Team Sectional.
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