Highland senior Trent Rakers continued his remarkable comeback Saturday at the Mascoutah Sectional Wrestling Tournament.
Just more than three months removed from breaking his fibula on the football field, Rakers ran his seasonlong winning streak to 31 as he defeated Rantoul’s Demarius Smith 4-2 in a battle of elite 152-pound wrestlers at Mascoutah High School.
Rakers, ranked third in the 152-pound rankings, scored early in the third period to take the lead, then withstood a late comeback attempt by Smith, to post the victory. Smith is ranked second in the 152-pound weight class.
“I feel good. I was worried that I may not be ready in time to come back and do this (wrestle). But the leg is fine, and I’m having a good year,” Rakers said. “Considering that he (Smith) is ranked higher than I am, this is a big confidence booster heading into the state tournament next week.”
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All in all, 13 local wrestlers — including four from Cahokia and three from Triad — placed in the top four of their respective weight classes to earn trips to the Illinois High School Association State Wrestling Tournament, which begins Thursday at the State Farm Center in Champaign.
While Rakers won the 152-pound title, Cahokia junior Martell Boone took home the top medal in the 145-pound weight class. Boone improved to 36-1 with a 3-2 win over Chatham-Glenwood’s Gerrick Walker in the final.
But some 15 minutes after winning the title, Boone was nowhere to be found. It wasn’t until his name was announced for the awards stand that Boone sprinted across the gym floor to get his medal.
“Some of the other wrestlers kind of look at me as a role model, and I was teaching some of the younger guys a move over in the corner,” Boone said, laughing. “The match today was closer than the last time I wrestled him (Walker). But I was able to win the match. That’s what counts.”
Also advancing for Cahokia were LaMonte Barns (112 pounds), Rodney Evans (132) and Rozell Baker (160).
Triad, in a rare rebuilding year, still will have three wrestlers competing in Champaign: Will Hillard (120), Garrett Bakarich (126) and Christian North (285).
East St. Louis senior Tyler Dunn placed second in the 132-pound weight class and will wrestle in Champaign, as will teammate Anthony King (106).
Mascoutah’s Nicholas Norwood (113) and Waterloo’s Dalton Viglasky (138) also advanced.