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Spartan wrestlers take third at state

BLOOMINGTON — For the second time in three years, the Sycamore wrestling team earned a trip up I-39 with a nice, big IHSA state trophy.

The Spartans defeated Antioch, 45-19, in the third-place match of the IHSA Class 2A Dual Team state finals at U.S. Cellular Coliseum Saturday. It's Sycamore's second third-place finish in the past three seasons, as the Spartans earned a trophy in 2011.

"This is why we practice so hard, to get here," said Sycamore 145-pounder Dylan Foster, who went 2-1 on the day. "I mean, we didn't get where we wanted, the championship. But still, it's something to be proud of."

Kyle Akins (113 pounds), Austin Armstrong (160) and Ren Swick (170) won by fall for the Spartans (19-5) in the third-place win.

Sycamore gave Montini a battle in the semifinals, but the effort just wasn't enough against the powerhouse Broncos, who got a 43-25 win. Montini won its sixth straight state title and 11th in the last 14 seasons by beating Geneseo, 49-10, in the championship match.

One big upset for the Spartans in the semis was senior Jake Davis beating state champion Anthony Ferraro by an 11-2 major decision at 195 pounds.

Brendan McGehee (126) and Christopher Malone (182) won by fall against the Broncos.

For Davis, going up against Ferraro was something he was certainly looking forward to.

"I just came in there with a clear head, and just told myself whatever happens, happens," Davis said. "He placed ahead of me (at individual state), so I had to just go out there and do my best."

Sycamore may have finished third, but the Spartans wrestled Montini tougher than any team in Bloomington. Unfortunately, it was a matter of Sycamore getting an unlucky end of the bracket.

Foster felt the Spartans were the second-best Class 2A team Saturday.

"For sure, it's just how it draws out and what not," he said. "For sure, I feel like we could have been there with Montini in the championship."

The Spartans guaranteed themselves a trophy by defeating Taylorville, 39-30, in the quarterfinals. The Spartans forfeited the last four matches with the match already clinched in order to keep guys healthy.

C.J. Druck (120), Austin Culton (152) and Armstrong (160) won by fall for Sycamore. Davis (195) won by technical fall (15-0).

“Druck started us out with a big fall right away in the beginning, and we never looked back from there,” Sycamore coach Alex Nelson said of his team’s opening win over Taylorville. “Our kids just straight out wrestled tough all the way through that dual meet. Like I said, Druck got the fall and everybody kind of fed off that.”

The Spartans weren't able to reach their goal of coming back to Sycamore with a first-place trophy, but they certainly weren’t ashamed of earning the school’s second state trophy.

“It’s a great day to be a Spartan. I’m proud of those guys,” Nelson said. “They work hard all year and to be rewarded with a state trophy is something they definitely deserve.”

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