Hughes, Burns wrestle at The Hall

By Eric Becker

CHAMPAIGN (Feb. 22, 2018) – There’s a bit of mystique entering the University of Illinois campus and seeing the oval shaped building formerly known as Assembly Hall.

Now called the State Farm Center, it hosted the best wrestlers from three classes of state series competition last weekend at the IHSA individual state wrestling tournament.

That included a pair of Carlinville wrestlers in Class 1A and a pair of Mt. Olive/Gillespie/Staunton wrestlers in Class 2A.

Tucker Hughes (152 pounds) and Nate Burns (132), both juniors, battled the competition on the State Farm Center floor Thursday in first-round matchups.

Both would lose their first round matchups, and while Hughes would get another chance on Friday in wrestlebacks, Burns was eliminated after his first match.

Burns (38-11) faced off with Oliver Willis of Chicago Hope (24-7) Thursday afternoon.

Willis jumped out to an early lead behind a pair of reversals and eventually closed the deal with a pin at the 1:55 mark of the first period.

At 152 pounds, Hughes (28-16) went up against Mason Sauseda (20-4) of Kankakee McNamara in the first round.

Sauseda got a first period takedown for a 2-0 lead after one period.

In the second, Sausada got a takedown and a reversal, while Hughes had a pair of points on escapes and it was 6-2 after two periods of play.

Sausada upped the lead in the third period behind three more reversals, settling for a 12-4 win over Hughes.

“It was a great experience,” Hughes said. “It’s a great honor to be here, but I want another shot to be out there, though.”

Hughes would get another chance to wrestle on Friday in wrestlebacks, as he faced off with Jay Cee Gonzalez of Aurora Christian (37-9).

Gonzalez would hang on and get the win by pin at 0:56 in the first period, eliminating the Carlinville junior, but not after a fine season on the mats.

Against Sausada, Hughes said, “We just wanted to stay solid on the feet and get a couple of takedowns, but I learned from that match. The plan was to chain wrestle with him and I did all right with that on bottom but I needed to be more solid on the feet.”

Mt. Olive

The Wildcats’ two entries, Maxx Fritz (152) and Jonny Darrah (160) each won their first round matchups on Thursday then dropped the final two matches.

Fritz pinned Ryan Dixon of Lemont at 1:12, improving to 32-2 on the season.

He matched up with Dylan Connell of Marion Central Catholic in the quarterfinals. Cornell (43-2) got a major decision win over Fritz, 11-1.

In the wrestle backs, Fritz faced off with Ehren Metzger (28-8) of Rochelle. Metzger would emerge with a 13-2 victory.

Darrah battled in his matches, defeating Richland East’s Michael Terry 11-9 in the first round.

In the quarterfinals, Darrah lost a tough battle, 5-2 against Casey Allen of Hampshire (40-1).

In the wrestlebacks, Frank Carone of Crystal Lake Central (29-13) earned a pin at 1:06 over Darrah. Darrah finishes the season at 37-5. Fritz finished the season 36-4.