Plainfield Central meets Minooka again
By Curt Herron
Ranked consistently among the top 10 teams in Class 3A this season, the wildcats would normally have a good shot at duplicating that feat.
But while half of the regionals in the class will be won by teams who are ranked lower than them, ninth-ranked Central faces a big obstacle.
And that's trying to get past perennial rival Minooka, which is ranked third and also happens to be the defending Class 3A state champions.
They'll get their chance on Saturday when both teams travel to Moline's historic Wharton Field House for a regional featuring seven others.
Also in the competition are Bradley-Bourbonnais, Normal Community, Normal West, Pekin, Plainfield South, United Township plus the hosts.
With all of the teams adversely affected by this week's heavy snows, there figures to be some surprises in lineups for the regional meet.
Minooka has won six regional titles in the past seven years and made five trips to the dual meet finals, also finishing second in 2009.
The Wildcats have had difficulty getting past the Indians in recent years, pointing to a 2009 dual meet win as one of their few successes.
This past Saturday, Minooka defeated short-handed Central to claim top honors in the Southwest Prairie Conference meet by a 241-152 margin.
Although coach Jim Kappas' Wildcats were missing some key performers, they would have had difficulty overcoming the Indians in the event.
That's because Minooka had nine title winners and two other finalists to help it capture its ninth consecutive conference championship.
The Wildcats, who also lost a 39-23 dual meet to Minooka on January 6, finished with two champions and six runners-up in the tournament.
Minooka owned a 6-3 advantage over Central in head-to-head matches in the SPC meet, which included a 5-1 edge in championship showdowns.
After dropping its first six title bouts, including the first five against Minooka, Central finally captured its last two championships.
Those titles were won by Jordan Ellingwood (189), a two-time SPC champ, and Greg Cameron (215), one of two winners who wasn't a top-seed.
Ellingwood prevented Minooka from sweeping all 10 of its contested title matches when he won 5-2 over Mitch Morris in the 189 finals.
In the semifinals, the Wildcat sophomore recorded a fall in 3:06. He heads into the regional ranked eighth in the state at his weight.
"I'm pretty happy with where I'm at but I have to push myself harder in practice," Ellingwood said. "I wanted to get a title for the team since watching our guys lose made me work harder."
Cameron is now ranked tenth at 215 after capturing a 5-2 title victory over Oswego East's Brandon Rivera, who fell from seventh to 11th.
After picking up a 7-3 win in his opening match, the Wildcat junior picked up a fall in 2:50 to earn his spot in the championship bout.
"He was a good wrestler, but he beat me earlier when I had a slight injury," Cameron said. "I've been making improvements and tweaking things hoping that I can qualify for state."
Finishing second were Nick Nasenbeny (103), Ryan Holzrichter (130), Terry Kubski (135), Ryan Soraghan (140), Tyler Ledbetter (160) and Henry Thigpen (171).
In the 103 finals, Oswego East's seventh-ranked Reuben Reyes won the Outstanding Wrestler Award after edging eighth-ranked Nasenbeny 4-3.
After recording a fall in 43 seconds in his opening match, Nasenbeny claimed a 4-1 semifinal victory over Minooka's Dan Ruettiger.
Holzrichter nearly pulled off an upset in the 130 title match before dropping a 6-5 decision to Minooka's fifth-ranked Bobby Zabel.
After trailing 5-2 through two periods, the Wildcat tied it at 5-5 with a takedown with 36 seconds left before Zabel got an escape.
Following a 1-0 win in his opening match of the tournament, Holzrichter earned his spot in the finals with a 5-1 semifinal victory.
"That was the highest-ranked I wrestled this year and it was good to see that type of competition to gauge where I'm at," Holzrichter said. "I wrestled pretty good so I'm happy about that.
Minooka's 12th-ranked Blake Montella got a takedown with 1:04 left to help him claim his third SPC title with a 5-2 win over Kubski.
Kubski, who won an SPC title last year, got a fall in 5:34 before winning 6-5 in the 135 semifinals over Plainfield North's Clay Shelton.
Soraghan led 1-0 late in the 140 finals but Minooka's Leo Ruettiger got a takedown with 17 seconds left to capture his third SPC title.
In his only other match of the tournament, Soraghan pulled out a 3-1 victory over Plainfield North's Stephen Myers in the semifinals.
At 160, Ledbetter trailed 8-5 after two periods before Minooka's fifth-ranked Kalvin Hill went on to post a 14-6 championship victory.
After recording a fall in 54 seconds in his opening match, Ledbetter captured a 3-0 semifinal victory over Oswego East's Kyle Bryson.
Thigpen lost a 5-1 decision to Minooka's Josh Pullara in the 171 finals after just missing a win by technical fall in the semifinals.
The Wildcats had two other placewinners, Kyle Ledbetter, who took third place at 145, and Mike Marro, who claimed fourth place at 152.
Following a 4-1 semifinal loss in overtime to Minooka's Kevin Akers, Kyle Ledbetter pinned Oswego East's Travis Hurd for third at 145.
Marro lost his opener to Plainfield South's Jake Meeder then won twice in the 152 wrestlebacks before losing 10-4 to Meeder for third.