Preview: Week of 2/15/2016
This week is all about one thing: State. The tournament that the entire season is built upon reaching and winning. We're fortunate enough to have qualified six wrestlers for this year's tournament. Abdullah Assaf (120), Brandon Ramos (126), Baylor Fernandes (138), Shayne Oster (145), Trevell Timmons (152), and Ronald Tucker (285) all qualified. Oster and Timmons were regional champions, Assaf and Tucker were runner-ups, and Ramos and Fernandes each finished in third.
With the brackets already being released, we can do a quick preview of our draws, in lieu of an entire, longer preview later in the week. It's important to note that any wrestler who loses in the first round will be eliminated if the wrestler they lose to loses the next match. State is not double-elimination; it's a follow-the-leader format where whoever beats you must make the semifinals for you to stay in the bracket. Wrestlers who win their first match, however, are guaranteed to wrestle at least two more.
At 120, Abdullah Assaf has Naperville Central's Jake Keating in the first round. With a win over Keating, Assaf will take on OPRF's Jason Renteria, currently ranked 9th in the nation by InterMat and 1st in the state by IllinoisMatmen in the quarterfinals.
At 126, Brandon Ramos takes on InterMat's 17th ranked Anthony Madrigal, who is ranked 2nd by IllinoisMatmen currently. Ramos is likely to then face Grant's Christian Kanzler in his second bout of the tournament.
Baylor Fernandes got the toughest draw of our qualifiers, nabbing top-ranked in the state Jaime Hernandez in his first round bout. The winner of that match will likely get Montini's Will Lewan in the quarterfinals. Only two of these three gentlemen will be able to place, so Baylor will need to do exactly what he is capable of - and beat one of these two guys.
Shayne Oster scored a favorable draw at 145 thanks to winning the sectional and getting seeded second in his bracket. Oster opens against Hononegah's Anthony Silva, whom he has already pinned this season. He'll likely have 7th ranked Jackson Schoen from Lake Park in the quarterfinals, and 3rd ranked Tyree Johnson of Downer's Grove South in the semis. In the finals, he'll draw top-ranked Austin O'Connor, a junior who is vying for his 3rd state title and is ranked 3rd in the country. It's a match that's been anticipated the entire season!
Trevell Timmons did himself a huge favor in winning the 152 pound sectional champion, putting him in a great spot in his bracket. Timmons, ranked 5th in the state at the time of this writing, is on the opposite side of the bracket of #s 1, 2, 4, and 6. He looks to square off against #3 Fernie Silva in the semifinals, but after a win over the 9th best guy in the nation and top guy in the state, Nick Foster, at sectionals, Timmons hasn't looked better all season.
Ronald Tucker, heading into the state tournament with a 42-4 record, impressive for anyone, let alone a freshman at 285 pounds. He'll take on Maciej Pogorzelski of Rolling Meadows in his first match, and with a win, will face the winner of Sandburg's Malik Scates and Hononegah's Anthony Cassiopi in the quarterfinals. Tucker owns a win over Scates, but suffered a mid-season loss to Cassiopi, currently ranked 2nd in the state. Tucker is definitely on the tougher side of the bracket, but is in a great position to put himself on the podium.
For those who cannot make it, follow us on twitter for live coverage! The tournament will also be covered on TrackWrestling. Click here for the direct link. Brackets will be updated live Thursday through Saturday night!
Recap of Our Week
Somewhat covered above, but we had sectionals, and of the 11 wrestlers who competed at the sectional tournament, 6 qualified for the state tournament. In addition to the aforementioned qualifiers, Anthony Molton (106), Brendan Ramsey (132), Chandler Proszek (160), Peyton Fernandes (170), and Nick Dado (182) all competed as well. Molton and Peyton Fernandes each fell one win shy of qualifying, losing in the blood round.
Jameson Oster (Northwestern University): Oster had the alumni highlight of the week, picking up Northwestern's only win in their Friday night dual against Nebraska. Down 0-2 going into the second period, Oster turned Nebraska's 19th ranked Anthony Abidin to tie the score at 2-2. He then locked up a cradle on Abidin, who also locked one in on Oster simultaneously, but Oster was able to get better positioning and picked up a fall in 3:54.
Brad Johnson (University of Oklahoma): Brad posted an 0-2 record on the week. On Thursday, Johnson lost a 4-2 decision to Oregon State's Cody Crawford, while he fell by a 6-2 decision to South Dakota State University's 12th ranked Nate Rotert on Sunday.
Shaun'Qae McMurtry (Northern Illinois University): McMurtry had one match this week and made the most of it, beating Buffalo's Rrok Ndokaj by a 7-4 decision.
Baylor Fernandes pinned his opponent from Edwardsville in the first period of the blood round. He had previously beaten that wrestler with a fall late in the third period, in a match that had been close up until that point, so the quick win was good. But even better, he hit a HUGE throw to do it - likely the best of the tournament. I turned it into a GIF file so you can watch it over and over and over...
Just a shame that there's no audio - the "thud" of him hitting the mat and the crowd's audible gasp makes it even better. That said, enjoy!