Defending state champion Chase Bittle, of Althoff, headlines a list of 10 Crusaders wrestlers who will compete in the Class 1A Vandalia Sectional on Friday at Vandalia High School.
The Class 1A 120-pound state champion a year ago, Bittle suffered just the second loss of his career earlier this year, but he won the 126-pound regional crown last week at the Mount Olive Regional.
Currently 39-1 for the season, Bittle is ranked first in the state in his weight class.
“Chase beat a tough kid in Collin Davidson, of Litchfield, in the regional final last week. The score was only 4-0, but Chase dominated the match throughout,” Althoff coach Josh Harper said. “He’s looking good, and we’ve got several other kids who wrestled very well last week.
“I think we’ve got a chance to advance several wrestlers to the state finals. If we have a good day, I can see us getting five or six kids through.”
One of three sectional tournaments Friday and Saturday involving wrestlers from the metro-east, the Vandalia Sectional begins at 6 p.m. Friday, when the first two rounds will take place. Round three is set for 9 a.m. Saturday with the third-place and championship matches to follow.
The top four placewinners in each of the 14 weight classes advance to the IHSA State Wrestling Tournament, Feb. 16-18 at the State Farm Center on the campus of the University of Illinois in Champaign.
Other solid hopefuls for the Crusaders this weekend include brothers Danny (152 pounds) and Zac Braunagel (170) and sophomore Max Kristoff (132). All three were state medal winners a year ago.
Anthony Federico, who won the 120-pound regional title, is one of three Crusaders freshmen who could advance.
“They all have a chance. They just have to be at their best for two straight days to get out,” Harper said. “Danny (Braunagel) and Zac (Braunagel) looked great last week, and I thought Max (Kristoff) had a good tournament at regionals as well. He’s got a tough weight class at 132, but I’m expecting him to have a good weekend as well.”
At a glance
Class 2A Mascoutah Sectional
- Site: Mascoutah High School
- Starting times: 4 p.m. Friday, 9 a.m. Saturday
Wrestlers to watch
- East St. Louis: Anthony King (106 pounds), Tyler Dunn (132)
- Cahokia: Martell Boone (145), Jacob Bullock (220)
- Highland: Trent Rakers (152)
Class 3A Normal Community Sectional
- Site: Normal Community High School
- Starting times: 4:30 p.m. Friday, 9 a..m. Saturday
Wrestlers to watch
- Edwardsville: Luke Odom (106 pounds), Noah Surtin (113)
- O’Fallon: Alek Ziegler (120), Jack Bond (160), Mason Hewitt (182)
- Collinsville: Jevon Pargo (126)
- Belleville West: Justin Koderhandt (132), Logan Johnson (138)
- Granite City: Kyle Thompson (195), Korinthian Nabors (285)