Vandalia High School wrestlers Lucas Carroll and Zack Stephenson scored come-from-behind victories, and the Vandals came away with a 39-33 win over Althoff on Tuesday at the Class 1A Litchfield dual team wrestling sectional.
Three days after having three wrestlers win championships at the IHSA state wrestling tournament in Champaign, the Crusaders (24-8) had a 12-3 lead following pins by Zach Guerrero (170 pounds) and Zac Braunagel (182), and when Jacob Shields took a 2-1 lead midway through the 195-pound match, Althoff appeared ready to increase its lead.
But Carroll turned the match and the momentum around when he pinned the Crusader sophomore in 3:53.
The Vandals then got pins from Garrett Stewart (220) and Anthony Enlow (285) in the next two matches to take a 21-12 lead and would not trail again as they clinched their eighth-straight trip to the Class 1A dual team state tournament.
“We had some kids come up and win the close matches tonight. That’s what we needed to do,” Vandalia coach Jason Clay said. “Going into the match we knew that we weren’t going to beat their (Althoff’s) state champions — Chase (Bittle) or the Braunagels (Danny and Zac) — and so we needed to find a way to win the close matches and get some bonus points. We did those things.”
The win lifts Vandalia into the state quarterfinals at 11 a.m. Saturday at US Cellular Coliseum in Bloomington, where it will take on Lena-Winslow. Semifinals and finals will follow.
The loss at the dual team sectional is the second in as many years for Althoff, which set a school record with 24 dual match wins and three individual state champions.
“We had a lead late in one match and got pinned and we had a 2-1 lead in another match and got beat 6-2. They (Vandalia) won the close matches tonight. They were the better team tonight, and you have to tip your hat to them,” Althoff coach Josh Harper said. “I was pleased by the effort by all the kids. We just came up short.”
Althoff managed to stay close thanks to the pin. State champions Zac Braunagel (170 pounds), Bittle (126) and Danny Braunagel (152) all won by pin, as did freshman Matthew Minnick (106). Max Kristoff, who was fifth in the 132-pound weight class, won by decision.