Here’s who is going to the state wrestling tournament
Cahokia High School Athletic Director Byron Gettis has watched gifted athletes achieve tremendous success in a Comanches uniform for most of his adult life.
But Gettis admits that he has seen very few like senior Jacob Bullock.
Standing 6-foot-4 and the top-ranked 220-pound Class 2A wrestler in the state, Bullock is the definition of student-athete. An honors student from the time he entered Cahokia four years ago, Bullock commands the same respect of his teachers and classmates as he does from his opponents on the mat.
“To me he’s the model young man that you would want to coach as an athlete. a student and a leader in our school and in the community,’’ Gettis said. “I’ve been a round a lot of student-athletes, but I got to see it first hand this year, his work ethic and how much time and effort he put in not only on the football field but in the classroom. as well. To see him go from football to wrestling without missing a beat is an indication of how hard he works.’’
This weekend at the State Farm Center on the campus of the University of Illinois, Bullock will look to become the latest in a long line of state wrestling champions at Cahokia High School.
Action in the 2019 state finals began Thursday morning in all three classes with a total of 32 metro-east area athletes competing in the three-day event. The finals begin with the Grand March at 6 p.m. on Saturday.
Top-ranked in the Class 2A 220-pound weight class, Bullock put his 30-0 record on the line late Thursday afternoon in a preliminary round match. The trip to the state finals is the second in as many years for Bullock, who placed second a year ago in the 220 pound division. He lost an 8-7 decision to Luke Luffman of Urbana in the final. Luffman is currently a member of the University of Illinois program.’
“Last year really wasn’t nervous because I had been there (State Farm Center) the previous season to watch and I knew what was going to happen,’’ Bullock said on Tuesday. “I wrestled very well, but I didn’t finish the job.
“This year I’m going with one goal in mind and that’s win the state championship.”
Several other metro-east wrestlers headed north with the same goal. The top area hopefuls include Noah Surtin (126 pounds) and Luke Odom (138), both of Edwardsville in Class 3A and Max Kristoff (145) and Anthony Federico of Althoff (132 pounds) in Class 1A
Surtin won the Class 3A 113-pound state crown a year ago, while Kristoff is a three-time state tournament medal winner.
But Bullock is the area’s top hope in Class 2A.
“I’m ready for this. It’s what I’ve worked since I started wrestling when I was in the seventh grade. I want to be a state champion,’’ Bullock said. “I feel like I’m a better overall wrestler. I’m more aggressive, better on my feet. I’m attacking better.’’
Win or lose this weekend, Bullock’s future is secure. Earlier in the fall, he signed a letter of intent to attend Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia. Bullock, who will be a heavyweight at the college level, chose the Monarchs over North Carolina State and Indiana.
“It basically came down to ODU and Indiana,’’ Bullock said. “ODU? It’s a great school where I can get a great education and hopefully be an All-American. It just felt right when I went for me visit. The coaches, the wrestlers on the team, ths school, everything — it just felt like a place where I’ll be happy.
“But first things first.”
Other local Class 2A wrestlers who began first-round action on Thursday included Kylan Montgomery (126 pounds), Chase Overton (145) and Caleb Grau (170), all of Mascoutah; Caleb Tyus (120) and Caine Tyus of Civic Memorial (126 pounds); Chase Hall (106), Will Hillard (138), Garrett Bakarich (145), Caleb Port (182) and Collin North (220) all of Triad; Arnold Edwards (195) of Cahokia, Colton Brown (132) and Devin Wills (160) of Highland; and Zeke Waltz (152) of Jerseyville.
Surin and Odom were two of five wrestlers who are competing from Class 3A regional team champion Edwardsville Others are Grant Matarelli (106), Blake Moss (195) and Lloyd Reynolds (285). Sectional champion Josh Koderhandt (113) and Logan Johnson (160) are representing Belleville West.
Sectional champions Krsitoff and Federico are two of seven wrestlers from Althoff in Class 1A. They are joined by Matthew Minick (106), Shawn Minick (113), Isaiah Bernal (126), Joey Braunagel (170) and Nolan Schmidt (220).
Carlyle senior Dale Allen (220) also has high hopes in the Class 1A event.