By Al Zipsie

Dakota won it's sixth wrestling state championship in school history Saturday in Bloomington.

After a three year absence, the Indians were back in the 1A championship and beat Coal City 40-19. Dakota had won four straight titles from 2013-16. And the first in 2006. Dakota had stopped the Lena-Winslow/Stockton three year run in the regionals. The NUIC powers have been in the state final every year since 2012, but one. And either one of the NUIC powers has won the state crown seven of the last eight years. It's too bad they knock head in the regionals and only one makes it out. It would make a great state championship match and get the state hardware they deserve. Both Dakota and the Panther/Hawks are fiercely competitive on the mat but respect the others program off the mat.
Dakota avenged an earlier season loss to Tolono Unity with a hard-fought 35-27 win in the semi-final. Once again Unity gave the Indians a battle. Dakota led 14-3 after the first four matches which began at 145. Then Unity came roaring back with four straight wins at 182, 195, 220 and 285 to surge ahead of Dakota 18-14. Ethan Rood a junior at 106 then stopped the bleeding with a quick fall in :16 to put the Indians ahead to stay at 20-18. Maddux Blakely then had a huge clutch win as he defeated Tavius Hosley 7-2. It was Hosley who beat Maddux 10-7 in last week's state semi-final. Maddux came back to finish third as Hosley. It was a good time to get revenge in the key match as Dakota went up 23-18. His brother Phoenix Blakely then had a pin in 1:50 as the Indians built a 29-18 cushion. But, they would need it as Unity came back with a fall at 126 and a 7-3 decision at 132 and cut the lead to 29-27 with one match left. It all came down to winner take all at 138. Dakota's Lucas Sutherland a junior provided the heroics with a pin in 1:03 to clinch the win 35-27 and send the Dakota Wrestling Nation into the championship.
In the title match, Dakota led 16-3 but then Coal City had a run with four straight wins at 195, 220, 285 and 106 to lead 19-16. Again the Indians then acted like champions to come fighting back. Maddux Blakely had a pin in 1:04 to put the Indians back up for good at 22-19. They would win the last six matches to pull away and win easily. The streak included senior Connor Elmer with a 7-3 win at 120, Phoenix Blakely, 10-9 at 126, Tyler Simmer with a fall in 4:18 at 132, Sutherland 5-0 at 138 and Kade Wales capping it off 7-5 at 145.
In the quarterfinal, Dakota rolled over Tremont 54-13. Dakota trailed 7-0 after the first two matches but would win all but two of the last 12 matches. Quinton "Q" Heilemeier a junior would start a streak of six straight wins with a pin at 152. Aiden Nardin won 1-0 at 160 to put Dakota ahead to stay at 9-7. Then three pins would follow for Dakota with Andrew Wenzel at 170 (second this year and a state champion last season), Evan Riggle at 182 and Martin Synder at 195. Cody Meade at 220 with an 8-2 decision.
Dakota had four wrestlers winning all three matches on the day in Maddux Blakely 113, Phoenix Blakely 120-126, Heilemeier 152 who had three first-round pins and Evan Riggle 170-182 a senior who went out in style. Phoenix Blakely won an Individual state championship and a team state title all as a freshman.
While Dakota is back on top in the wrestling world. You know that Lena-Winslow/Stockton and the rest of the state will be ready to come at them and try and knock them off next season.
Dakota finished 24-4 (not counting Iowa schedule) and have won 18 straight not losing since December 10th to 2A runner-up Washington, who lost to Lemont in the final. Lombard Montini won 3A. Dakota wrestling and basketball going into the boy's basketball Sectional this week have won 38 straight games. The record for Dakota is 65 which gained national attention. In 2005-06 the football team was unbeaten and state champions (14-0), wrestling was unbeaten and state champions (24-0) and basketball was 27-1, winning 27 in a row before a loss in the Sectional.
Dakota in wrestling has placed in all ten years they have been at the dual state. They have never lost in the quarterfinals. They have six championships, one runner-up, two thirds and one fourth. For Dakota, wrestling go to Facebook, Dakota wrestling history.
Dakota now moves into the NUIC lead with 16 state hardware and leads with ten state championships. Six in wrestling, three in football and one in volleyball. For NUIC Sports. Go to Facebook. NUIC Sports hardware.
Stateline Sports Hub. NUIC Wrestling first team.
Phoenix Blakely. Dakota. 120 State champion. Freshman.
Ethen Doty. Of Eastland and West Carroll Coop. 132 State runner up. Junior.
Andrew Wenzel. Dakota. 170 State runner up. Junior.
Maddux Blakely. Dakota. 113 State third place. Sophomore.
Garrett Luke. Lena-Winslow/Stockton. 106 State third place. Freshman.
Marey Roby. Lena-Winslow/Stockton. 132 State fourth place. Sophomore.
Evan Riggle. Dakota. 182 State fourth place. Senior.
Jason Hermann. Lena-Winslow/Stockton. 152 State fourth place. Junior.
Winston McPeek. Lena-Winslow/Stockton. 138 State fifth place. Senior.
Case Harmston. Lena-Winslow/Stockton. 170 State fifth place. Junior.
Aiden Nardin. Dakota. 160. State qualifier. Junior.
Dillon Raab. Lena-Winslow/Stockton. 113 State qualifier. Freshman
Simon Rillie. Lena-Winslow/Stockton. 145 State qualifier. Junior.
Jayden Rice. Lena-Winslow/Stockton. 126. State qualifier. Junior.
12 of 14 on the first team are underclassmen.
Honorable Mention. 13 of 16 underclassmen.
Mason McKenna. Polo. 160 State qualifier. Senior.
Elijah Dertz. Eastland of West Carroll Coop. 220. Senior.
Quinton Heilemeier. Dakota. 152. Junior.
Lucas Sutherland. Dakota. 138. Junior.
Martin Snyder. Dakota. 195. Junior.
Tyler Simmer. Dakota. 132. Sophomore.
Camren Simpson. West Carroll. 182. Junior.
Andrew Haas. Lena-Winslow/Stockton. 160. Junior.
Kade Wales. Dakota. 145. Junior.
Kelden McCombie. West Carroll. 152. Junior.
Matt Nevdal. Durand. 138. Junior.
Trapper Hartman. West Carroll. 126. Senior.
Wyatt Doty. West Carroll. 120. Freshman.
Briar Nevills. West Carroll. 113. Junior.
Ethan Rood. Dakota. 106. Junior.
Gavin Keefer. Lena-Winslow/Stockton. 182. Junior.