By Al Zipsie

The emotional ups and downs were on display at the University of Illinois wrestling Individual state championship matches Saturday.

Seven wrestlers from the Stateline were in the state title matches, only two of those came away with state championships in Dakota freshman Phoenix Blakely in 1A at 120 and Bryce Faworski a senior of Winnebago at 138 in 1A.
Five lost heartbreaking matches that went down to the final buzzer. Dakota's Andrew Wenzel at 170 in 1A  and West Carroll's Ethen Doty at 132 in 1A both came up short of winning a second straight title. Byron's senior big boys Peyton Lind at 220 and Tyler Elsbury 285 both came up just short of the title. In 2A Freeport's Markel Baker a sophomore (33-3) lost a tough one 4-3 to Chris Moore of Aurora Christian at 113.
For Phoenix Blakely, it was his first grand march and first state tournament as a freshman and he was poised all the way through winning the title over Paul Keane of Peotone 3-1 with late dramatics.  Phoenix (37-7) is the first freshman to win at a state title at Dakota since his uncle Josh Alber in 2011. Josh went on to be unbeaten and win the state title all four years. Good company. Phoenix had some great coaching on the sidelines with his uncle Josh, assistant coach and family friend and former two-time state champion Matt Jacobs, grandfather Tony Alber and head coach Pete Alber. All state champions and now Phoenix joins that list. His twin brother sophomore Maddux Blakely (42-6) had a solid third place with a fall in 1:12 over Donovan Crumpacker of Stillman Valley. Maddox lost a close one 10-7 in the semifinal to Tavius Hosley of Tolono Unity.
Faworski of Winnebago won his first state crown (39-1) at 160 turning back David Papach of Coal City 8-6.
Doty from Eastland and the West Carroll Coop and Wenzel (39-3) of Dakota both came up short of defending their state championships. Both are juniors and will be back with a mission of going out as seniors as champions again. Doty was 45-0 last year at 126. This year at 132 (40-3) he fell 2-0 to Will Carlile of Litchfield who was unbeaten at 41-0.
Wenzel, had his work cut out for him needing to knock off unbeaten wrestlers to win another title. In the semifinal, he got by previously unbeaten Nate Critchfield of Mt. Carmel 4-3. In the final, he faced junior Logan Deacitis of Prairie Central and Wenzel lost a hard-fought 3-2 battle. Wenzel's only losses on the year came to the 57-0 Deacitis and two to 3A 170 state champion David Ferrante of Huntley.
Lind for Byron at 220 finished the season 42-3 as he fell 4-2 to Bryan Caves of Riverdale. Elsbury, (45-2) lost in sudden victory to Hayden Copass of Westville 3-1. Elsbury settled as the runner-up for the second straight year at 285,
Lena-Winslow/Stockton led the Stateline with the most state medalist with five. Garret Luke, a freshman had the best finish a third at 106, sophomore Marey Roby a sophomore at 132 and Jason Hermann a junior fourth at 152, lost a tough 3-2 ultimate tiebreaker in the third-place match. Winston McPeek a senior at 138 and junior Case Harmston at 170 both won fifth place matches with major decisions.
Dakota had a first place in Phoenix Blakely, a second Wenzel, a third Maddux Blakely and a fourth Evan Riggle at 182. Riggle qualified for state as a freshman then missed out as a sophomore and was injured as a junior. As a senior, he made it to the podium with a medal.
Carlos Sanchez of Winnebago finished in fourth place at 126.
In 2A Freeport ended up with three medalists. Joining runner up Baker, was Isaiah Battiest a senior with a solid third place at 285 with a 14-5 major decision. Senior Matthew Chavers at 182 with a 20-2 tech fall for fifth place.
No one from the NIC 10 placed in 3A state.
Dakota now focuses on a team state championship. They beat Riverdale 47-25 at the Rock Falls Sectional Tuesday. And after A three-year absence return to the state duals this Saturday in Bloomington as They face Tremont at 11 am.
Stateline Sports Hub
NUIC Basketball Rankings.
Boys. Regionals begin Monday.
1. Dakota 26-4. 17 game winning streak. Conference champion. Was once 2-3.
2. Eastland. 25-6.
3. East Dubuque. 26-5.
4. Scales Mound. 23-8.
5. Lena-Winslow. 24-7.
6. Pecatonica. 22-9.
7. Warren 17-9.
8. Aquin. 16-13.
9. Orangeville. 14-12.
10. Galena. 15-14.
Girls. Final rankings.
1. Eastland 32-3. Eastland beat Amboy 59-58 for the Pecatonica Sectional Championship Thursday. Lydia Coatney hit a 3 pointer with five seconds left for the win. The play made ESPN. Eastland whipped Chicago Hope Academy in the Streamwood Super-Sectional Monday 77-38. Erin Henze had 29 points. Eastland finished second last year. They play Hume Shiloh in the semifinals Friday in Normal.
2. Amboy 30-2.
3. Stockton. 25-7.
4. Galena. 25-7.
5. Dakota. 22-9.
6. Aquin. 24-8.
7. Durand. 19-8.
8. East Dubuque. 17-13.
9. Forreston 18-15.
10. Lena-Winslow. 17-15.

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