High School Sports

Althoff sends 7 wrestlers to state tournament

Althoff's Chase Bittle is wrestling for his third state championship.
Althoff's Chase Bittle is wrestling for his third state championship. Chris Johns

Althoff seniors Chase Bittle and Danny Braunagel were two of seven Althoff wrestlers to earn trips to the IHSA state tournament Saturday at the Class 1A Vandalia Sectional.

Looking to become a three-time state champion, Bittle added to his state record for pins in a career when he scored a fall 2 minutes, 49 seconds into the 120-pound final against Vandalia’s Tanner Swain. The win lifted Bittle to 47-3 for the season and gives him 142 pins for his career.

“I’ve had a few ups and downs this year, but I feel like I’ve got everything going the way I want to right now,” Bittle said. “I’m looking forward to going back to the state tournament for the last time next week and trying to win a third state championship.”

Danny Braunagel (160 pounds) and twin brother Zac Braunagel (182) were also impressive Saturday in their final tuneup as they attempt to win state championships for the second straight season. Three other Crusaders — Isaiah Bernal (113 pounds), Anthony Federico (132) and Max Kristoff (138) — also won championships for the Crusaders, whose six titles Saturday were a school record.

Matthew Minick was the Crusaders’ seventh wrestler to earn a trip to the state finals, placing third in the 106-pound weight class. The state wrestling tournament begins Thursday at the State Farm Center in Champaign.

“I was very happy with how we did in the final round where we won all seven matches,” Althoff coach Josh Harper said. “The Braunagel brothers and Chase (Bittle) are just at another level.”

Danny Braunagel, who owns the state mark for wins by technical fall, recorded two more Saturday, including a 17-2 win over Litchfield’s Kyle Twitty in the final. Undefeated for the second straight year, Danny Braunagel has now won 99 straight matches. The last match he lost was the state championship match two years ago.

“Honestly, I don’t keep track of those numbers. I let coach (Harper) and my dad worry about the records,” Danny Braunagel said. “I know there will be some great wrestlers next week at the state finals.

“I want to be pushed because it makes you better. I just want to continue to go out and dominate.”

Also advancing to the state finals were Carlyle’s Nathan Husmann, who was second in the 195-pound class, and Sparta’s Clayton Sheldon, who was second in 220 pounds.