The Highland High School wrestling team got off to a strong start to the season after earning fifth place out of 17 competing squads Saturday at the 39th Annual Civic Memorial Invitational.
The Mattoon Green Wave scored 173 points to defend their tourney title, with the Vandalia Vandals coming in second place with 168 points.
East St. Louis (148), CM (137), Highland (120.5) and Champaign Central (104.5) rounded out the top five finishing squads. Jacksonville (98), Waterloo (97), Jersey (90) and East Alton-Wood River (77) filled out the top 10.
The Highland Bulldogs, who are coached by Terry Ohren, were led to their stout finish by junior Devin Wills, who conquered the field to win the title at 170 pounds, and junior Colton Brown, who battled to second place at 126 pounds.
Wills remained undefeated on the young season at 9-0. After receiving a first-round bye, he made short work of all three of his opponents by pinning each in under a minute.
Wills started by smothering Winfield sophomore Coby Davidson in 51 seconds. Next, in the semifinal, the Highland junior needed a scant 19 seconds to score a fall over Centralia junior Adam Mueller. Then in the championship bout, Wills pinned East Alton-Wood River junior Jake Erslon in 56 seconds to earn the tournament title.
At 126 pounds, Brown went 3-1 to earn second place and lift his season record to 9-1.
Brown opened by pinning Lucas Arias of Maplewood-Richmond Heights in 3:12. Next, in the quarterfinals, the Bulldog junior doubled up Zion Wilhite of East St. Louis, 8-4, before scoring a 16-1 technical fall over Jocelyn Murphy of Jacksonville in the semifinals.
Brown’s run and his undefeated streak came to an end in the title match, as he was pinned by Vandalia junior Tanner Swain at the 3:58 mark of the bout.
Also placing for Highland were:
▪ senior Christian Zuccarelli, who went 4-1 with four pins to hammer out fifth place at 182 pounds, including pinning Waterloo senior Michael Aubuchon in 35 seconds in the fifth-place final;
▪ sophomore Alex Reed, who went 3-1 with three pins to earn fifth place at 195, including pinning East Alton-Wood River senior Gabe Grimes in 1:31 in the fifth-place final;
▪ senior Caleb Machuca, who went 2-2 with two pins to collect fourth place at 132;
▪ freshman Bryce Kirsch, who went 2-2 with two pins and took sixth place at 138; and
▪ sophomore Colby Davis, who went 3-2 with three pins to get seventh place at 152.