CHAMPAIGN — The stair-step model culminated in an Illinois High School Association Class 2A wrestling state championship for Lucas Joseph.
Joseph defeated Derek Schultz of Tinley Park, 3-2, Saturday in the 220-pound title match at the Assembly Hall.
CHAMPAIGN — The stair-step model culminated in an Illinois High School Association Class 2A wrestling state championship for Lucas Joseph. Joseph defeated Derek Schultz of Tinley Park, 3-2, Saturday in the 220-pound title match at the Assembly Hall. After older brother Nate placed fourth in the 215 division in 2009 and third in '10, Lucas was the runner-up last year. Joseph (41-0) completed an undefeated season and became the first Raider wrestler ever to win a first-place medallion. “It's only possible because of what the people did before me,” said Joseph, crediting Donny Cotton and particularly his brother for showing what it took to be a state champion. The Josephs, Cotton and Tim Simpson are the only Raider two-time state medalists. Joseph never relinquished the No. 1 state ranking all season. He still had at least one more match since East Peoria faced Geneseo Tuesday in the Rochelle Dual Team Sectional. The residents of East Peoria likely are beaming. “He's an inspiration for East Peoria and all the wrestlers and the athletes in the community,” said EPCHS head coach Phil Johns. Joseph went from a winless season as a sixth grader to an undefeated champion as a 12th grader. “I couldn't find a more coachable kid and I wouldn't want to,” Johns said. On his way out of the interview area following a television session, Joseph presented his medal to Johns saying to the coach, “It's because of you.” Joseph has received a lot of support in the city. “I can't wait to get back and see everybody,” he said. In next year's official IHSA program, there will forever be an East Peoria entry on the list of all-class champions. “I can't express how he really put East Peoria in a different light to everybody,” Johns said of Joseph. On Thursday, Joseph opened the tournament with a pin of Dan DeSimone of LaGrange Park Nazareth Academy at the 2:54 mark. He came back the next morning and pinned Crystal Lake Central's Darwin Stone 10 seconds before the end of the second period. “I won two matches by pin at state. I can't complain,” said Joseph after the quarterfinals. “That's a rare occurrence. I'm definitely pleased with it.” Joseph did not have the nerves that often accompany a first-time state participant. “The advantage that I have, you can't measure it,” said the three-time qualifier. Joseph came back in the third session Friday night to knock off Nate Magiera of Wauconda, 8-5. That victory secured Joseph's position in the long-standing grand march, one of the great traditions in Illinois high school sports. It would be tough to top Joseph's 2012-13 school year. He also was a first-team all-conference performer for the football team that at 7-3 won its most games since the state playoffs era began in 1974. “My senior year, there are no disappointments,” said Joseph. “My senior season was full of records and I love setting them.” Also at state, juniors Casey McWhirter and Drew Foster made their debuts competing for East Peoria. In 126, McWhirter lost Thursday in a 13-2 major decision to Richmond-Burton's Cameron Kennedy before getting pinned Friday in the first round of wrestlebacks by Champaign Centennial's Austen Schott. Foster lost in the 152 preliminaries to Jon Evetts of Marion, 7-2. He came back the next day and fell to Chicago Bowen's Bobby O'Banner in a 8-0 major decision. McWhirter is 25-8 on the year, while Foster's record stood at 32-8.