Althoff junior Chase Bittle, the 120-pound state champion a year ago, pinned Coal City’s Lane Kutemeier in 23 seconds during their 126-pound match, while brothers Danny and Zac Braunagel also scored easy wins for the Crusaders on Thursday during the first day of the Class 1A wrestling state tournament at State Farm Center in Champaign.
Bittle improved to 43-1 on the season and is one of 15 metro-east wrestlers in Friday morning’s quarterfinal matches. Semifinals are Friday night.
Undefeated Danny Braunagel, the top seed in the 152-pound bracket, defeated Lena-Winslow’s Aaron Dvorak by technical fall in four minutes. Second-seeded Zac Braunagel pinned Bowen’s Nashawn Knight in 37 seconds during their 170-pound match.
“Chase (Bittle) and the Braunagels looked very sharp. I’m hoping they’ll continue that on Friday,” Althoff coach Josh Harper said.
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It wasn’t all good news for Althoff as Anthony Federico (120) and Max Kristoff (132) lost opening-round matches and must hope for wrestlebacks Friday.
“Federico ran into a buzzsaw in his first match. The kid he wrestled finished fourth in his sectional, but he was a senior and strong. He just kind of overpowered him,” Harper said. “Max (Kristoff) lost 6-5 and got taken down in the last 30 seconds of his match. We’re hoping they both get wrestlebacks on Friday.”
Sparta junior Clayton Sheldon also advanced and is now 22-3 after winning his 220-pound match.
Rakers, Dunn lead Class 2A wrestlers
One of the pre-tournament favorites in the 152-pound bracket, Highland senior Trent Rakers remained undefeated with an easy first-round win.
Looking to become the Bulldogs’ third state champion in the last four years, Rakers pinned Prairie Ridge’s Drake Regenhardt in 3:11 Thursday and will take on Mateno’s Jimmy Silva in the quarterfinal.
Two Cahokia wrestlers moved to within a win of clinching state medals by posting first-round victories. Second-seeded Martell Boone defeated Bloomington’s Chase Ridgeway 11-1 in a 145-pound match, while 113-pound Lamonte Barns defeated Basil Muhammad, of Harold L. Richards, 7-5.
East St. Louis senior Tyler Dunn, bouncing back from a tough loss in the sectional final a week ago, pinned Rico Palumbo, of Harold L. Richards, in 3:11 in their 132-pound match.
Brandon Carpenter, of Civic Memorial, moved into the 195-pound quarterfinals with a win by technical fall.
Odom, Surtin open with impressive wins
There was no stage fright on the part of Edwardsville freshman Luke Odom, who was one of five Class 3A wrestlers to win Thursday.
Top-ranked in the 106-pound weight class, Odom pinned Colton Drousia, of Mount Carmel, in 5:50 and will take a record of 40-4 into his quarterfinal. Teammate Noah Surtin advanced in the 113-pound bracket with a 7-0 win over Ben Martin, of St. Charles East.
O’Fallon senior Mason Hewitt moved a win away from clinching a state tournament medal as he defeated Mount Prospect’s Alex Koczwara 9-4 in a 182-pound match. Alton senior Keontay Holmes also won his match in the 182-pound bracket.
Granite City senior Kyle Thompson defeated Kyle Fleming, of Lake Zurich, 4-2 in a 195-pound match.