CHAMPAIGN — Mitchell Barna, who is wrestling up a class from his regular season weight class of 182 to 195, was the lone JG-TC area Class 1A winner at the IHSA 76th annual state wrestling meet preliminary round Thursday at the University of Illinois’ Assembly Hall. Barna, 29-5, is to face Chicago Douglass’ Terry Martin, 30-1, in the quarterfinals at 8:30 a.m. today. Barna advanced with a 9-6 decision over Stanford Olympia’s Sam Donovan.
“That is a huge win for Mitchell,” said Shelbyville coach Greg Harkins. “It started back at regionals when we saw there were some tough 182 pounders and so we decided to move him up to 195. He has been eating like a horse to try and get close to 195. We knew he was going to wrestle kids that were bigger and stronger than him and for him to go out and beat a kid that was much bigger and stronger than him shows how hard he has been working. I am very proud of him.”
The other eight area wrestlers have to hope that their opponent Friday wins in the quarterfinals, which would allow them to compete in the wrestlebacks at 1 p.m. today.
“I think he was in better shape,” said Harkins of Barna’s win. “Even though he knew the kid was bigger than him he went out after him and had an offense on him and that is why we beat him. The other kid was just looking to throw him. We had an offense and scored quite a few takedowns and that was the difference in the match.”
Barna said, “I knew he was a lot stronger than me and usually the stronger kids I can wear down by the third round. At the end of the first I was down (4-2), but I did what I had to do. We went out of bounds with about 30 seconds left and I knew all I had to do was ride this kid out and move on. I was riding him and I heard 10 seconds left and he tried to grab my arm and roll me, but all I had to do was keep my hips down and then I heard three, two, one. It was an exciting moment.”
Barna had not seen Donovan before.
“When that happens I don’t want to change for the opponent and wrestle as hard as I can.”
As for his first win at state Barna said, “It means a lot. It is a great feeling. It shows how my teammates pushed me to get to this moment. They gave me good competition to prepare me for state. In the second round my nerves were getting to me and my stomach was really queasy. My goal is to do the best that I can. I have been eating like crazy, but I am still about 10 pounds under weight.”
In the 113-pound weight class freshman Garrett Brachbill lost a close battle to Carlos Guitterrez of Rock Falls, 7-5.
“That was a tough one to swallow,” said Harkins. “We have to hope he (Guitterrez) beats the Beardstown kid (Antonio Quinatana). He did well on his feet and got in on some shots. Last week he had trouble finishing his shots, but he finished them here. The good news is he is only a freshman and I expect him to be back here the next three years.”
Wyatt Fox, a Shelbyville sophomore was pinned by Lena-Winslow’s Austin McPeek in four minutes, 46 seconds.
Fox was facing a wrestler, McPeek that faced Alex Jones (Shelbyville) last year and coach Harkins said, “We looked back at that match and tried to figure out what we could beat him with. We knew the kid was really good up top and that is exactly what he was.”
Lucas Duckett, a Shelbyville sophomore, lost to Midwest Central’s Brett Meyer by a 7-1 decision, while in the 170-pound weight class Josh Hicks was defeated by top-ranked Zach Abney of Pittsfield by a 10-1 decision and in the 285-pound weight class Elliott Smithson was pinned by Wilmington’s Derrick Romano in 5:19.
“With the young guys that got here I don’t think we got beat wrestling wise, but we definitely got beat strength wise,” said Harkins. “Every kid that wrestled had us on strength and that is going to happen when you have a bunch of freshmen and sophomores here. In the off-season we just have to work our butts off and hopefully it is reverse next year.”
Harkins feels many of the five that lost are going to come back in the wrestlebacks.
“For us rough as a draw as we had in some of the matches; the bad news is it was a rough draw, but the good news is that most of those kids should move on. Now you have to cheer for the kid that beat you.”
The three Cumberland seniors had tough luck Thursday as all three lost and are hoping to make it back in the wrestlebacks.
Tyler Godden was pinned in 3:02 by Stanford Olympia’s Michael Rathbun, while in the 182 pound class Colt Brummer was pinned in 1:48 by West Carroll’s Garrett Kelson and in the 195 pound weight class Timmy Carll lost by an 8-2 decision to El Paso-Gridley’s Trustin Reeves.
“They were all very nervous,” said Cumberland coach Jim Miller. “I knew when we down to the tunnel that they were in trouble. We were not relaxed enough and they got in bad position every time they would get in trouble. Timmy (Carll) had the better match, but he was still in bad position a few times. Last week none of them were in that position. They stayed calm, cool and collect, but not today. We hope the kids that beat them get through in the morning. They earned their trip here, now we just have to go back and regroup.”
Miller said of Godden, “He was in good position in the first and second rounds and then all of the sudden he stopped moving and you can’t do that here. Timmy (Carll) had a couple of opportunities to score and he didn’t finish his moves that he had. We didn’t get good draws, not that you are going to get good ones here anyway. We hope they go through so we can still wrestle.”
Contact Mike Monahan at firstname.lastname@example.org or 217-238-6854.