If making it to state was fulfillment of a dream for Litchfield High School senior Jefferson Thomas, winning a match on his sport’s biggest stage had to be the icing on the cake.
Thomas, who finished third at the Vandalia Sectional last week to earn his first trip to state in Champaign, went 1-2 in his three matches at state and wrestled well throughout.
His journey started on Thursday, Feb. 20, as he hit the mats against Joel Baer of Eureka. Thomas was ahead in the match in the first period, but Baer was able to put him in a compromising position in the second period and earned a win by fall at the 2:24 mark.
Now facing a “win or go home” scenario, Thomas turned his attention to Friday’s wrestleback round, where he took on Gavin Mason of Seneca. This time, the Panthers’ 220-pounder started out in front and remained that way, with an 8-1 decision over the Seneca freshman.
The victory put Thomas two wins away from a state medal, but standing in his way was fifth ranked Adam Maxwell of Warrensburg-Latham, who had defeated him in the semifinals at the Vandalia Sectional. Thomas would keep it close, but wasn’t able to turn Maxwell and ended the tournament with a 4-0 loss.
“Jefferson wrestled hard,” Litchfield Coach Coy Davidson said via the Litchfield Wrestling Facebook page. “Great career, Jefferson. We are proud of you.”
If he can take solace in anything from his performance at the state tournament, it can be that he got beat by some of the best. Both Maxwell and Baer finished on the medal podium, taking third and fifth respectively.
Thomas finished his career with 75 wins and 25 losses in three years with the Panthers, improving his winning percentage in each of those three years.
Feb. 20-22 at Champaign
Class 1A State Wrestling
220: Jefferson Thomas (35-9) - lost to Joel Baer (Eureka) by fall at 2:24; def. Gavin Mason (Seneca) by dec. 8-1; lost to Adam Maxwell (Warrensburg-Latham) by dec. 4-0.