Althoff juniors Chase Bittle and brothers Danny Braunagel and Zac Braunagel moved a step closer to state titles by winning Class 1A semifinal round matches at the IHSA state wrestling tournament on Friday at the State Farm Center in Champaign.
Bittle, the 120-pound state champion a year ago, posted his third straight pin, this one in 1:43 over Stone Engle, of Mercer County High, in the 126-pound bracket. Danny Braunagel advanced in the 152-pound bracket, and Zac Braunagel (170 pounds) earned his first state title match berth.
The three Althoff wrestlers will be joined in state title matches by undefeated Highland senior Trent Rakers in the Class 2A 152-pound bracket and Wood River senior Zac Blasioli in the Class 1A 132-pound final.
Quarterfinal and semifinal round wrestlebacks begin at 9 a.m. Saturday with third- and fifth-place matches set for 1 p.m. The state championship matches in all three classes begin about 6 p.m.
Danny Braunagel, the 145-pound state tournament runner-up a year ago and currently undefeated and top-ranked at 152 pounds this season, improved to 46-0 with a 19-5 win over Dale Ashby, of Hoopeston. His brother, Zac Braunagel, pinned Rahveon Valentine, of Lena-Winslow, in 5:38. Fifth in the 170-pound weight class a year ago, Zac Braunagel is 45-1 for the season.
Rakers, looking to join current University of Nebraska offensive lineman Tanner Farmer as a state champion from Highland, improved to 34-0 with an 8-3 win over Luke Silva, of Marian Central.
O’Fallon senior Mason Hewitt had his hopes of a state title come to an end when he was defeated by technical fall by Marian Catholic’s Kordell Norfleet in the Class 3A 182-pound bracket. Hewitt could finish as high as third with a pair of wins Saturday.
Edwardsville loses in semifinals
The top-ranked Class 3A 106-pound wrestler entering the state finals, Edwardsville freshman Luke Odom dropped a 6-5 decision to Dylan Ragusin, of Montini Catholic, in the semifinals, while Tigers teammate Noah Surtin lost to top-ranked and undefeated Domenic Zaccone, of Amos Alonzo Stagg, 6-1 in the 113-pound semifinals.
Other Friday night semifinal losers Friday night were Keontay Holmes, of Alton, in the Class 3A 182-pound bracket and Drew Sobol, of Wood River, who lost in the Class 1A 106-pound bracket.
Semifinal round losers must win one consolation match Saturday in order to compete in the third-place matches in their weight classes. Any wrestler winning a quarterfinal round match is assured of earning a medal at the state finals.
Wrestleback matches continue Saturday morning at State Farm Center.