By Al Zipsie

The big boys stole the show leading the Stateline wrestlers Saturday in Champaign.

Four champions came from the Stateline. Including Jared Van Fleet of Stillman Valley at 132. But, the trio of Anthony Cassioppi of Hononegah, Ian Kuehl of Lena-Winslow/Stockton and Maverick McPeek of Dakota all brought home state championships.

In 3A Cassioppi a senior had a great encore to a prep career for his second straight State title at 285. His last loss was in the semifinals his sophomore year. He then started a winning streak finishing third ad a sophomore and going undefeated his last two seasons.

He was not challenged all year. He dominated at state capping it off with a pin in 1:46 in the finals.

Cassioppi will now take his talents to Division l wrestling for the tradition-rich University of Iowa. His younger brother Giovanni Cassioppi also made state for Hononegah at 138 coming one match short of placing.

In 1A Van Fleet had finished second last year and McPeek and Kuehl both were third. They all got to the top of the podium. McPeek and Kuehl are usual rivals in football and wrestling. But, Saturday they represented the NUIC with back to back titles at 220 for McPeek and then Kuehl at 285.

Kuehl had only one loss on the season and as a junior got his first state Individual title. He won all four matches with a fall including in 3:25 for the title.

McPeek (44-2), avenged a loss to Cody Miller from Bismarck which kept him from a state title last year. He settled for third after a semifinal loss to Miller. This year he was not to be denied with a 3-2 win in the title match.

Joining the big guys as a state champion was Stillman Valley's senior Van Fleet (42-1) at 132. He for the second straight weekend fought off a tough Stone Engle of Mercer County in a 3-2 decision for the championship. He had edged Engle in the Sectional final 5-4.

State runner-up finishes came in 1A at 170 from Rahveon Valentine of Lena-Winslow/Stockton. Drew Hoselton of Prairie Central finished unbeaten as he held off Valentine 1-0. Valentine a senior medaled all four years but the heartbreaking loss kept him from an elusive Individual state title.

Jonah Pearson a senior from Byron finished second at 182.

Other Stateline 1A medals came from third places from seniors Josh Schrank of Rockford Lutheran at 120 and Drake Jennings of Stillman Valley at 195.

Fourth place finishes came from Jacob Millman of Oregon at 113 and Hunter Luke of Lewin/Stockton at 138. Fifth place efforts came from Ethen Doty a freshman from West Carroll at 120 and Sam Durfey of Stillman Valley at 160.

In 2A Freeport junior Major Dedmond at 170 suffered a big blow. Dedmond was rolling along until a shoulder injury caused an injury default in the semifinal. He had to forfeit twice and settle for a sixth-place medal.

In 3A the only other NIC-10 wrestler to place was senior Dontrell Johnson of Rockford East who was sixth at 132.

The NUIC has big contests coming up. Monday Stockton meets Walther Christian in girls basketball at the 1A Super-Sectional at Belvidere.

Tuesday Lena-Winslow/Stockton led by the power trio of Kuehl, Valentine, and Luke collide with Aurora Christian at the Morrison Sectional in a team dual. They are the top-ranked teams in the state. For the Panther/Hawks to have a chance to go defend their dual state title they face Aurora Christian who had two state champs and seven top-five finishes.


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