June 13 was a new experience for the Hillsboro High School wrestling team as the Toppers competed in their first tournament of the season, their first Illinois Wrestling Coaches and Officials Association regional and their first regional on a Sunday.
By the end of the tournament at Sacred Heart-Griffin High School, they tacked on a few more new experiences to that list, their first IWCOA regional champion and six sectional qualifiers for Saturday’s tournament in Lawrenceville.
With the IHSA moving wrestling to the spring and cancelling the state tournament, the IWCOA stepped forward and implemented a plan for a postseason.
This was good news for the Toppers, a young squad that gained some valuable experience at the meet.
Junior Magnus Wells was one of the few Toppers with postseason experience, having finished fourth in regionals last year. Wells, who qualified for state in the shot put two days earlier, stepped up his game and came away with a regional title at 220 pounds.
Wells, who has been pulling double duty in track and wrestling all season, wasted little time at the regional, scoring two first round pins over Nathaniel Sampson of Rochester and Evan Erwin of Warrensburg-Latham en route to his title.
Griffin Hughes also won his final match of the day, beating Pierson Wilkerson of Vandalia by tech fall, 20-3, with 34 seconds left in the third period to capture third.
In addition to Hughes and Wells, Logan Murray finished fourth at 106 pounds, Keegan Murray finished fifth at 113 pounds Jaben Compton finished sixth at 170 pounds.
Zander Wells, Magnus’ younger brother, will also be making the trip to sectionals after going 2-2 on the day, good for a fourth place finish in the 152-pound class.
Ben Huber (126) and Matt Page (132) would also compete at the regional, with Page scoring a first round win over Michael Ference of Sacred Heart-Griffin before two losses ended his tournament.
The Hillsboro wrestlers now move on to the sectional on Saturday, June 19, where they will face competitors from the Sacred Heart-Griffin Regional and the Lawrenceville Regional, made up mostly from teams from southern Illinois. From there, the top four finishers will advance to the IWCOA Class 1A State Finals Tournament, which will be on Thursday, June 24, at the Bank of Springfield Center in Springfield.
June 13 at Springfield
IWCOA 1A Regional
106: Logan Murray (7-4), 4th - def. Zach Braun (Taylorville) by fall at 0:35; lost to Jarek Wehrle (Vandalia) by fall at 1:18; lost to Alex Powell (Litchfield) by fall at 0:27.
113: Keegan Murray (20-6), 5th - lost to Aaron Niemeyer (EAWR) by fall at 1:48; lost to Taylor Dothager (Vandalia) by fall at 3:16.
120: Griffin Hughes (22-8), 3rd - lost to Nolan Mrozowski (Rochester) by fall at 1:38; def. Pierson Wilkerson (Vandalia) by tech fall 20-3 at 5:26.
126: Ben Huber (0-2) - lost to Dresden Grimm (Auburn) by fall at 2:32; lost to Dominic Federico (Althoff) by fall at 2:31.
132: Matt Page (16-13) - def. Michael Ference (Sacred Heart-Griffin) by fall at 5:43; lost to Cutter Prater (Vandalia) by fall at 0:56; lost to Colby Willhite (Auburn) by fall at 11-5.
152: Zander Wells (6-16), 4th - lost to Reed Davis (Illinois United) by fall at 0:43; def. Ryton Miller (MEL) by fall at 5:16; def. Thomas Ghettings (Taylorville) by fall at 2:31; lost to Ryan Kaiser (Vandalia) by fall at 0:28.
170: Jaben Compton (1-3), 6th - lost to Mason Davis (Pittsfield) by fall at 0:38; def. Jack Ludolph (Sacred Heart-Griffin) by fall at 3:22; lost to Skylar Fay (Auburn) by fall at 2:30; lost to Owen Birkner (Carlyle) by fall at 1:41.
220: Magnus Wells (19-3), 1st - def. Nathaniel Sampson (Rochester) by fall at 1:15; def. Evan Erwin (Warrensburg-Latham) by fall at 1:53.