CHAMPAIGN — "Mech" did it -- finally!
Belleville West senior Demechico Spraggins ended one of the best high school wrestling careers in metro-east history in grand style as he defeated Juwan Edmond of Hinsdale Central 7-2 Saturday in the Class 3A 138-pound state championship match at Assembly Hall in Champaign.
Spraggins (48-1) scored takedowns in all three periods and allowed the quick Edmond just two escapes as he ended three years of frustration with a championship. In his first three trips to state, Spraggins had finished second as a freshman and sophomore before placing fourth as a junior.
"I won it. Finally,'' Spraggins said after greeting a large group of West family and friends. "Was I nervous tonight? I wasn't nervous. I just didn't want to make any mistakes. He (Edmond) is a great wrestler. I think he'll win a state title before he's through.
"But this feels great. It's the one that I didn't have. The one I needed to make my career complete. To finally win the state championship after the last three years of disappointment is just incredible.''
Spraggins becomes the first Maroons state champion since B.J. Bertelsman won the Class AA 275-pound state title in 1998.
In addition to Spraggins title, West also got medal-winning efforts from Nate Higgins, who placed third at 152 and Tremont Davis, who was fifth at 220.
The 2013 state finals marked the second time in the past three years the Maroons produced three medalists in the same year.
In 2011, Spraggins placed second at 119, Dylon Viglasky was fifth at 125 and Dustin Ventimiglia placed third at 171.
But the night belonged to Spraggins, who placed second at 103 pounds as a freshman, second at 119 as a sophomore and last year ended his season fourth at 126.
Higgins, ranked second at 152 for much of the season, defeated Corbett Oughton of Minooka 2-1 in his third-place match, while Davis won his fifth place match at 220 by injury default over Vince Ambrose of (New Lenox) Providence.
"I honestly believe that Tremont could have been in the final. He was leading in his first-round match 7-2 with 30 seconds left, when he got caught and pinned. He had a great tournament,'' Al Sears said. "Nate (Higgins) had the misfortune of being in a loaded weight class, but for him to come back and place third, shows what kind of wrestler and person he is.
"I'm very proud of both those young men.''
While West grabbed three medals, Althoff will bring home a pair of Class 1A medals after freshman Jarrid Braunagel placed third at 113 and senior Michael Harris concluded his career by taking fourth at 132.
Entering the tournament ranked second, Braunagel defeated Carlos Gutierrez of Rock Falls 8-6 in his final bout.
Harris didn't fare as well in his third-place match, dropping a decision to Nate Jozsa of Argenta-Oreana.
The victory over Harris was the second in two weeks for Jozsa, who beat the Crusaders standout by injury default to win the Vandalia Sectional.
Crusaders coach Dave Harris said it was a good weekend for the Crusaders.
"We had the program going pretty well a few years back then we hit some hard times. To be able to come up here and win two medals, I'm ecstatic,'' Dave Harris said. "Both Jarrid and Michael came up here with the idea of winning state titles and I think both were capable of doing that.
"I'm very pleased.''
The fourth-place finish by Michael Harris also gave him an edge over his father. Coach Dave Harris was a two-time state medal winner while wrestling for West.
Dave Harris' top finish was fifth in the Class AA 119-pound class in 1980.
"I guess it makes me a better wrestler at the state tournament,'' Michael Harris said, smiling. "It (the fourth place medal) wasn't what I came for. But it feels good to win a medal."