It’s one down and three wins to go for the Braunagel brothers of Althoff at the IHSA state wrestling tournament.
Sophomore Danny Braunagel fought off a stiff challenge from Jake Savage of Beardstown to score a 4-0 win in a first round Class 1A 145-pound match while brothers Jarrid Braunagel and Zach Braunagel coasted to easy first-round victories to lead the way for metro-east wrestlers during the first day of competition at State Farm Arena in Champaign.
Ranked fifth in the 145-pound class, Danny Braunagel improved to 41-2 for the season and will be joined in the quarterfinals on Friday morning by his brothers. Jarris Braunagel, ranked first in the 138-pound division, won his first match by technical fall. Zach Braunagel, the ninth-ranked 170-pound wrestler, won his first round match by pin.
A fourth Althoff wrestler moving three wins away from a state title was top-ranked 120-pound wrestler Chase Bittle. Second in the 113-pound weight class a year ago, Bittle improved to 43-0 with a win by major decision.
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Two other local wrestlers moving on in the winners bracket were Freeburg senior Cooper Secker (126 pounds) and Sparta senior Will Monroe who won his first 285-pound match.
Three local Class 1A wrestlers fell on Thursday and must hope for wrestlebacks. Moving into the consolation bracket were Max Kristoff of Althoff (126 pounds), Trevor Barbeau of Red Bud (170) and Clayton Sheldon of Sparta (220).
Action resumes at State Farm Center at 9 a.m. on Friday with Class 1A quarterfinal round matches and wrestlebacks. The semifinals in all three classes are set to begin at 6 p.m. on Friday.
Showing the style which has made him one of the top-ranked 152-pound wrestlers in the nation, Belleville West senior Nick Foster took a huge step towards a possible state championship with a 5-3 win over Dylan Geick of Lincolnshire Stevenson to lead the way for local Class 3A wrestlers on Thursday.
Ranked first in Illinois and ninth in the nation by several publications, Foster outlasted Geick in a battle of two of the best wrestlers in the tournament in what had to be the match of the day at State Farm Center.
Edwardsville senior Chris Prosser also moved a quarterfinal round win away from clinching a state medal as he won his 170-pound first round match,
Looking to still earn state medals after losing first round matches on Thursday were Alek Ziegler of O’Fallon (106), Garrett Bass (126) of Belleville West; Kyle Thompson (160) of Granite City, Mason Hewitt (182) of O’Fallon and Dewayne Hill (220) of Belleville East.
Highland junior Trent Rakers improved to 40-0 for the season with an easy first round win while three Triad wrestlers also posted victories on Thursday.
A state qualifier for the second straight year, Rakers had little trouble as he defeated Hayden Patterson of (Maple Park) Kaneland 5-0 in his first 160-pound match of the tournament.
Triad senior Cole Witzig, the state runner-up at 170 pounds a year ago, improved to 43-2 at 170 pounds, while teammates Merik Fulton improved to 34-2 with a victory in his first-round 132-pound match. Triad senior John McKinney (195) also won a first-round match.
East St. Louis and Cahokia both moved a pair of wrestlers into the quarterfinals. East St. Louis sectional champions Christophjer Tucker (113) and Tyler Dunn (126) both looked sharp in winning their first matches, while Cahokia’s Antione Johnson (120) and Martell Boone (145) also advanced.
Waterloo senior Austin Stewart kept his dreams of a state title alive by winning his first-round 152-pound match.
Hoping for wrestlebacks after dropping first round matches were Matt Sarhage of Triad (220), James Harrell of East St. Louis (145) and Jacob Mitchell of Highland (126).
The Class 3A first round matches had not yet been completed.