ROCHELLE – Sycamore wrestler Jake Davis suffered through school on Friday with a fever that just wouldn't go away. After staying home on Thursday, the senior knew he had to force himself to get through the day with Saturday's Class 2A Rochelle Sectional looming.
The chest congestion from his illness lingered throughout the meet, but it was impossible to tell that Davis still felt sick. In the 195-pound final, Davis picked up IVC's Jordan Ladd, ranked No. 6 on illinoismatmen.com, and threw him to the ground, pinning his opponent with one second left in the first period.
“I was surprised that I pinned him,” Davis said. “I felt like that match was going to take at least three periods.”
The rest of Davis' day was almost as dominant. He won by technical fall in his first two bouts, winning by a combined score of 31-0.
After finishing fourth at the state meet last year, Davis will head to the state championships in Champaign as the top-ranked 195-pounder in Class 2A. After bursting onto the scene last year, he was clear about his goals for next weekend.
“Just to win a state championship,” Davis said.
Davis will be joined by two other returning state medalists, 152-pounder Austin Culton and 113-pounder Kyle Akins.
After finishing fourth in the same division last year, Akins has learned to take a cooler approach. While he used to study the rankings and research his opponents, he's learned that thinking ahead too far doesn't help.
“You've just got to look past it, rankings don't mean everything,” said Akins, who also took home a sectional crown on Saturday. “I learned that you can't hesitate. You can't go out there and wrestle nervous.”
Culton will head down to Champaign in hopes of defending his 152-pound championship. In the final, the senior won, 11-6, over United Township's Tanner Schuldt, the third-ranked 152-pounder.
“To get a win like that in the final just sets the tone for next week,” Culton said. “Knowing that I pushed through and beat all of those kids at state last year, it just shows that in my mind I know I should beat those kids.”
Three Knights make it through: Dan Goress has waited for this opportunity all year.
After crashing out in the preliminary round at last year's state championships, he won the 145-pound division on Saturday to secure a place in the state championships.
This year, he's more prepared.
“I was very disappointed with the way my state tournament turned out [last year],” Goress said. “It's anyone's game. It's zero-zero, and that's the truth ... That's what I learned from last year. This year I'm ready, last year I wasn't.”
Goress will be joined by teammates Esai Ponce, who finished third in the 132-pound division, and Zach Theis, who won the 285-pound division.