The brilliant four-year career of Althoff senior Jarrid Braunagel ended in triumph on Tuesday at the Litchfield Dual Team Wrestling Sectional as the four-time Class 1A state tournament medal winner won captured his final match in a Crusaders uniform.
One of the top wrestlers in recent metro-east history, Braunagel, the Class 1A 138-pound state tournament runner-up just three days ago, won by pin in the 145-pound weight class as an over-matched Althoff squad ended its season with a 52-23 loss to Murphysboro at Litchfield High School.
With the match already decided, Braunagle pinned his Red Devils opponent in 1 minute 9 seconds as he won his 168th match in 177 outings as an Althoff wrestler which also included three third place medals at the state finals.
Seconds after the referees hand hit the mat for the pin, Braunagle slowly got to his feet, pointed to the sky. After shaking the hand of his opponent, Braunagle, slapped hands of his teammates which included his younger brothers Danny and Zac, then shared an emotional embrace with coach Josh Harper.
“It was emotional for him. It was emotional for me too,’’ Harper said as tears came to his eyes. “We’ve been through alot together. I’ve had his back and he’s had mine on more then one occasion.
“You’re talking about a wrestler who finished his career with 168 wins in 177 matches and won four state medals. He was here my first year as coach when we won one dual match all year. The last two years we’ve won regional titles. I feel like this program has a chance to do some special things the next couple of years and he (Braunagel) helped lay the foundation.’’
Not enough wrestlers
The Red Devils, who advance to the Class 1A Dual Team State Tournament on Saturday at U.S. Cellular Coliseum in Bloomington, spotted Althoff a 6-0 lead when Danny Braunagel won by forfeit in the 152-pound match.
Murphysboro then won the next three matches to grab a 15-6 lead, but Althoff cut its deficit to 15-11 on a win by technical fall by Zac Braunagel.
But down in numbers for numerous reasons, the Crusaders were forced to forfeit the next four matches to fall behind by a 39-11 score.
“My old coach at Althoff (Dave Harris) always told me that one of the most difficult things to do was keep kids motivated from the individual regional tournament to the dual team sectional. It was especially difficult to keep the interest of the kids who didn’t qualify for the individual sectional.
“Tonight we had kids out of the lineup that missed weight and for a couple of other reasons. I’m proud of the ones who came here and gave it their best effort tonight. That’s all I can ask. It’s just that you aren’t going to beat a quality program like Murphysboro giving them 30 points in forfeits. It’s not happening.’’
Althoff did have one more bright spot. Chase Bittle, who won the Class 1A 120-pound state title on Saturday in Champaign, won his match on Tuesday with a pin in 11 seconds.
Cahokia advances; Edwardsville falls short
The Cahokia Comanches moved on to the Class 2A Dual Team StateTournament with a 42-30 win over Mahomet-Seymour on Tuesday. Edwardsville came up short in the Class 3A Dual Team Sectional, losing to New Lenox Providence Catholic by a 31-30 score.
Cahokia will take on Washington in the Class 2A state tournament quarterfinals at 9 a.m,. on Saturday at U.S. Cellular Colliseum.