Present and future stars of the Pekin wrestling team were on display at the Illinois Wrestling Coaches and Officials Association freshman/sophomore state tournament in Springfield.
Sophomore Ryan Haynes finished second at 113 pounds and freshman Drake Hawkins (120) and sophomore Jared Dowell (182) each was sixth. There were 32 wrestlers in their weight classes and each Pekin wrestler won a medal for a top-eight finish.
“We’re proud of all three of them. They wrestled well,” said Pekin assistant coach Adam Haynes. “They didn’t lose to any slouches. There were tough kids at the state tournament just like our guys. The tournament was all one class, so the field was loaded with kids from Class 2A and Class 3A schools.
“You’ll see a lot of the same kids the next couple years in Champaign (at the IHSA state tournament).”
All three Pekin wrestlers won IWCOA regional and sectional titles before heading to the state tournament.
“Then they all won their first two matches at state to get to the quarterfinals in their weight class,” Haynes said. “Drake and Jared went on to finish sixth, but Drake faced hard-nosed kids like him and Jared is trouble for everyone he faces.”
Ryan Haynes, Hawkins and Dowell each was a sectional qualifier this season in the IHSA state series.
Steve Stein can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @SpartanSteve.