Twin brothers and life-time best friends, East St. Louis juniors Chrishon Tucker and Christopher Tucker have grown up doing almost everything together.
On Thursday at the State Farm Center in Champaign, the Tucker brothers moved into the quarterfinals of the Class 2A state wrestling tournament — together.
Two of the top light-weight wrestlers in Southern Illinois, Chrishon Tucker scored a narrow win in his 106-pound match, while Christopher scored a major decision over his opponent at 113 as the Flyers standouts led the way for local wrestlers during the first day of competition at the 2015 state finals.
Chrishon Tucker improved to 32-6 for the season with a hard-fought 2-1 win over Tommy Russell of Riverside-Brookfield, while Christopher Tucker is now 33-5 after defeating Mason Rodenbaugh of Dixon 13-4.
The Tucker brothers were two of four East St. Louis wrestlers who won first-round matches. Also advancing were Marquez Roberson (132) and Antonio James (285).
Joining James in the 285-pound quarterfinals was undefeated Nick Czar of Highland.
Czar improved to 39-0 with a pin of Darrell Mason of (Chicago) Dunbar in 3 minnutes 20 seconds. Bulldogs teammate Trent Rakers also earned a trip into the quarterfinals with a win at 160.
Regional team tournament champion Triad also has four wrestlers in the quarterfinals, including Cole Witzig at 170.
Sectional champions Merik Fulton (126) and Cole Wysocki (138) also scored easy first round wins. Alex Crehan (182) rounded out the Knights winners on Thursday.
Tournament action resumes at the State Farm Center with quarterfinals and first-round wrestlebacks on Friday at 8:30 a.m. The semifinals are slated for 7 p.m. on Friday.
The cream rose to the top as undefeated freshman Chase Bittle (113) and former state tournament medal winners Jarid Braunagel and Rodney Baker all posted first-round wins for Althoff, which advanced three wrestlers into the quarterfinals.
Bittle improved to 45-0 with a pin in 47 seconds of Ryan Hopkins of Havanna. Baker, a state medalist last season, pinned Packard Otto of Normal University in 2:17 seconds at 285.
But perhaps the Crusaders top hope is Jarid Braunagel.
A two-time state tournament medal winner, Braunagel imrpvoed to 45-1 with a 56-second pin over Kyle Jones of Peotone at 132.
While Jarid Braunagel easily advanced, younger brothers Michael and Zach both lost their first matches at the state finals.
Michael Braunagel (138) and Zach Braunagel (160) may get wrestlebacks Friday. Crusaders senior Jevon Hay (126) is also hoping for a wrestleback after dropping his first-round bout.
A fourth local wrestler earning a quarterfinal bid was Freeburg junior Cooper Secker, who improved 16-4 with a 7-2 defeat of Trevor Burlington of Leroy at 120.
Both of Belleville West’s state qualifiers advanced into the quarterfinals of the Class 3A Tournament.
Senior Ricky Nelson breezed through his opening bout at 285 pounds pinning (Park Ridge) Maine South’s Ibrahim Nasir in 1:49. Nelson will take a 39-3 record into his quarterfinal against (Arlington Heights) Hersey’s Tyler Cooke (36-8).
At 145, senior Nick Foster advanced with a 7-2 decision of Barrington’s Connor Boundy. \
For Foster (33-7), his quarterfinal will send him against (Roselle) Lake Park’s Nick Gesbarro (34-5).
Belleville East’s Matt Striegel (170) needed to go to overtime to defeat Oak Lawn’s Joe Robinson 6-3 in a tiebreaker.
Up next for Striegel, who improved to 47-2, is a quarterfinal against Barrington’s Julius Smith.
Alton advanced three wrestlers, with twin brothers Phyllip Deloach (39-0) and Nicholas Deloach (49-0) both moving on with wins by decision at 143 and 152, respectively. Also moving on for the Redbirds, Qiante Wagner (42-3) who won by decision at 160.
All four Edwardsville qualifiers - Tanner Ambry (120), James Zeigler (152), Chris Prosser (169) and James Walters (182) - lost their opening matches.
Also falling in the first round was Granite City’s Devon Simpson (135), O’Fallon’s Keasion Jennings (170) and Alton’s Connor Broyles (120) and Darian Pierson (285).