The Highland High School wrestling team opened the season in dominant fashion by sweeping three foes to win a quadrangular match at Effingham.
First, the Bulldogs (3-0) mauled the Pinckneyville Panthers 45-28. Next, Highland crushed Centralia Orphans 60-18. Finally, HHS edged the host Effingham Flaming Hearts 37-33.
Effingham went 2-1 to finish in second place after defeating Centralia, 45-21, and Pinckneyville, 48-16.
Winning all three matches for Highland were Devin Wills (170 pounds) Jacob Mitchell (138), Colton Brown (132) and Garrett Metz (106).
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Wills was the most dominant grappler of the day, as he pinned all three of his opponents and did so each time quicker than he did in the previous match. Wills opened with a fall over Jud Schrantz of the Panthers in 2:20 before going on to pin Damian Hill of the Orphans in 1:18 and then finishing with a pin of Brett Hodges of the Flaming Hearts at the 1:01 mark of the match.
At 138, Mitchell, a senior who was a state qualifier from a year ago, opened by needing just 45 seconds to pin Shane Loos. Mitchell then worked even quicker in pinning Trevor Eller of Centralia in 38 seconds before hammering out decisive 12 major victory over Tyler Marschewski of Effingham in his final match.
At 132, Brown, a sectional qualifier last year as a freshman, won on two forfeits before closing out with a pin of Brody Beck of the Flaming Hearts at the 3:01 mark.
At 106, Metz received forfeits in all three of his matches.
Winning two matches apiece for the Bulldogs were Brett Brown (220), Gabe Wiedle (195), Christian Zucarelli (182), Blaine Haberer (152) and Caleb Machuca (126).
At 220, Brown bounced back from a defeat in his first match to pin his final two combatants.
At 195, Wiedle got a forfeit against Pinckneyville in his opening match and later pulled out a 5-4 triumph over Centralia’s Tanner Loy in his final match.
At 182, Zucarelli received a forfeit from the Panthers and then pinned Dylan Butler of Centralia in 57 seconds.
At 152, Haberer battled hard all the way to the finish before finally sticking Lukas Howard’s (Pinckneyville) to the mat with just 15 ticks left on the clock. Haberer made much shorter work of Centralia’s Enrique Vittagomes by scoring the fall in just 41 seconds.
At 126, Machuca battled back from being pinned in his first match to pin Panther Ryder Parson in 2:15 before going on to finish with a forfeit victory.