Highland High School senior Trent Rakers reigns as the the winningest wrestler in school history after going 5-0 to capture the championship in the 152-pound weight class at the Mississippi Valley Conference Super Duals on Saturday, Jan. 28 at Waterloo High School.
Rakers, who finished fourth in the state at 160 pounds one year ago, entered the MVC Super Duals tied with former Highland Class 2A two-time state champ Tanner Farmer (285 pounds) with 134 wins. But after dominating all five of his conference opponents Saturday, Rakers (25-0) stands alone with the most victories in school history with 139.
“It is a good feeling, and I’ve been looking for some positives coming off the ankle injury,” he said. “But I am by no means done yet, but it’s a start to a strong season.”
When he first came back at the Lincoln Tournament in late December, Rakers was not totally happy with his performance because he was settling for more wins via decisions than pin falls. But after that opening tourney in Lincoln, the pins have been piling up for Highland’s new career wins king.
“It wasn’t quite so much the ankle, it was the rust of not wrestling and just being out of shape and everything that comes with the sport. It took a a little bit to knock the rust off. Now that I got matches under my belt, I feel like I am starting to dial in and feeling really strong and everything is going well.”
After placing fourth last season at 160 pounds and wrestling the majority of this season there, Rakers was ranked second at 160 before he officially dropped to 152 pounds for the MVC Super Duals. He will remain there through his postseason run.
“With the leg injury, I couldn’t quite lift as much, and I am not quite as big and heavy as I’ve been in previous years, so (152) is where I fit in better,” he said.
Now it is on to the postseason to end his illustrious four-year prep wrestling career at HHS. Rakers and his teammates will first tackle the Illinois High School Association Class 2A Jerseyville Regional. From there, qualifiers will advance on to the Mascoutah Sectional with berth for the IHSA Class 2A State Wrestling Tournament on the line.
A grappler who Rakers expects a tough match from prior to the state tournament is Rantoul senior Demauris Smith-Terhune, who is ranked third in 2A. The two could meet in the Mascoutah Sectional.
Other Bulldogs who joined Rakers as conference champions Saturday after also winning all five of their matches were senior Jacob Mitchell (132 pounds) and sophomore Devin Wills (145 pounds).
Rakers and Mitchell will also have a good shot to be sectional qualifiers.
In addition for Highland, senior Brett Brown (195 pounds) and sophomore Colton Brown (126 pounds) both went 3-2 and took third in their respective weight class.
But the rest of the of the Bulldogs struggled, which led to Highland finishing in last place out of the six MVC squads after going 1-4.
Triad went a perfect 5-0 to win the conference championship for the ninth consecutive year.
Mascoutah and Waterloo both went 3-2 to take second and third, respectively, while Jerseyville went 2-3 and finished fourth and Civic Memorial went 1-4 and finished fifth.
Triad received individual championships from Will Hillard (120 pounds), Garrett Bakarich (126 pounds), Aric Crehan (170 pounds), Kaleb Port (220 pounds) and Christian North (285 pounds).
HHS beats Carlyle
On Monday, Jan. 23, Highland received six forfeit wins to cruise to a lopsided 56-9 victory over visiting Carlyle.
Winning on the mat for the Bulldogs were Rakers, Wills, Mitchell and Brett Brown.
Rakers wrestled up at 170 pounds, but it mattered not in the outcome of the match, as he pinned Indian Bryce Marlow in 65 seconds.
Wills also scored a fall at 152 pounds as he stuck Carlyle’s Dylan Doerr at the 2:58 mark.
At 132, Mitchell earned a 20-4 technical fall in the second period Brandon Anderson.
And at 220 pounds, Brown earned a 9-2 decision over Nathan Hussman despite wrestling 25 pounds above his typical weight class of 195 pounds.
Receiving forfeits for Highland were Garrett Metz (106 pounds), Caleb Machuca (120 pounds), Colton Brown (126 pounds), Mason Geiger (138 pounds), Blaine Haberer (145 pounds) and Cody Hudson (160 pounds).
HHS beats Hillsboro, Mt. Zion
Rakers needed just 65 seconds to pin both of his opponents in the match on. He smothered Jake Marshall of Mount Zion in 38 seconds and worked even quicker in scoring a fall over Hillsboro’s Finn Tyszko in 27 ticks.
Also posting wins on the mat in the 59-21 victory over the Hilltoppers were Brett Brown, Mitchell, Colton Brown and Wills.
Rakers posted the quickest pin at 27 seconds at 170 pounds, but Mitchell (132 pounds) and Colton Brown (126 pounds) also scored first-period pins, with Mitchell needing just 44 seconds to stick Ethan White’s shoulders to the mat. Brown stuck Jaykin Foster at the 1:36 mark.
At 195 pounds, Brett Brown pinned Matt Furlow with only 15 seconds remaining in the match.
Finally at 145 pounds, Wills dominated Jonathan McCaslin to the tune of a 15-0 technical fall.
In the 44-29 triumph over Mt. Zion, Rakers again notched the quickest pin at 38 seconds.
Mitchell and Brett Brown also scored pins. At 132 pounds, stuck Logan Rausch in 67 seconds while Brown smothered Barrett Marshall at the 2:44 mark.
Zuccarelli was the next most dominant as he carved out a 19-4 technical fall over Seth Hockman at 182 pounds, while Wills battled to 10-7 victory over Gus Wheeler at 152 pounds, and Colton Brown edged Peyton Manan 8-6 at 126 pounds.
In addition, Metz (106 pounds) and Hudson (160 pounds) picked up forfeits.