CHAMPAIGN -- The 83rd annual Illinois High School Association state wrestling match and 11th of the three class system is to start for Class 2A participants in the 14 weight classes at 2:15 p.m. Thursday with the preliminary rounds. The quarterfinals are set for 6:45 p.m.
Competing for Mattoon are sophomore Coby Haney (35-1), sophomore Rick Wright (27-12), freshman Kiefer Duncan (29-8), sophomore Jeremiah Jones (23-7) and junior Hayden Stanley (30-6). Five wrestlers is believed to be a school record number of state meet participants.
Charleston's junior Trey Pearcy (29-2) is the lone member of the CHS wrestling team participating.
Friday the first round wrestlebacks are to start at 11 a.m. with the second round wrestlebacks at 1:30 p.m. and the semifinals at 7 p.m.
Saturday the quarterfinal wrestlebbacks are to start at 9 a.m. with the semifinal wrestlebacks at 11 a.m. and third through sixth place matches are set for 1 p.m. with the championships to start at 6 p.m.
The state wrestling tournament is to take place at the University of Illinois' State Farm Center in Champaign.
Haney is in the 106-pound weight class and is the No. 4 wrestler in the state, according to illinoismatmen.com. He is to wrestle Evergreen Park's Baylan Johnson, who is also a sophomore and is 25-10. Haney would face the winner of the Josh Glvoer (38-8 of Woodstock Marian) vs. Alex Crawford (32-5) of Sycamore with a victory.
Haney suffered his only loss in the Edwardsville-O'Fallon tournament, which was the first tournament of the season on Nov. 24.
"He is consistently the hardest working kid in the practice room and his work ethic is paying off," said Mattoon coach Brett Porter. "It is very rewarding to see him have a fair opportunity to succeed. Last season Haney was an undersized freshman at 106. He has worked hard to get his weight up to where it needs to be and has had great results."
Haney, the sectional champion, received the third seed.
"Haney needs to believe in his offense and stay in attack mode for the entire six-minute match," said Porter of his keys to advance.
Wright is in the 113 pound weight class and it the team leader in pins.
"Rick had to know of opponents who had an honorable mention in the state rankings and had beaten him earlier this season," said Porter. "Although it was a surprise, Rick earned his spot at state; no doubt about it. "
Wright is to face the No. 3 wrestler in the state in 35-1 Christian Olsen of Crystal Lake South.
"We would like to see Rick be competitive at state, have fun and enjoy the experience," said Porter.
Duncan is in the 126 pound weight class. After realizing he made it to state a the Mahomet-Seymour Sectional he shared his excitement with his family and fans according to Porter.
"After the dust settled," Kiefer was quick to re-evaluate his goals for the season. He looks to make a statement this weekend and is very excited to be competing in the state tournament."
Duncan starts off with the No. 6 wrestler in the state in Danny McPherson of Antioch, who is 40-6.
"Even as a freshman Duncan is an accomplished wrestler and had his goals set high a the beginning of the season," said Porter. "He is surrounded with talent in the practice room. Because of his weight, he is able to either practice with the quick light guys like Haney and Wright or work with the strong power wrestlers like Jones and Stanley. This has taught him to be successful with many different types of wrestlers. His strength is his ability to adapt to any situation."
Jones is in the 132 pound weight class and faces the No. 3 wrestler in the state in Rock Island's Victor Gunman, who is 37-4.
"Jeremiah spent last summer wrestling Greco-Roman and this gives him the ability to score big points when needed," said Porter. "Jones is never out of a match and is fun to watch."
Porter's goals for not only Jones, but all wrestlers is to have fun, learn and earn respect.
"There are times when he can become over aggressive and make mistakes on the mat," said Porter. "If Jones focuses on solid, straight forward technique, I believe he can advance far into the state tournament."
The Lone Mattoon wrestler back to state is Stanley, who lost in the quarterfinals in a controversial 5-4 decision to North Chicago's Jeremiah Duty and then lost in the wrestlebacks, finishing 32-11. He was also in the state meet as a freshman in the 106 pound class. He is in he 138 pound class this year after being in the 126 class last year.
"Hayden is a lead-by-example kind of student-athlete," said Porter. "With this being his third trip to Champaign, he is focused on his own mission and his teammates look up to him as a leader."
As for last year's controversy when it appeared Stanley got a takedown in the final seconds of the match, but was not awarded the two points, Porter said, "He still talks about it often, but I think he has put last year behind him and also has a better understanding on how to win without letting an official in position to sway a match."
Stanley's goal is to place at state. He is to wrestle Lemont's Kyle Schickel, the No. 2 wrestler in the state, who is 40-4.
"Stanley's strength comes from the toughness it takes to jump five weight classes in three years and still be successful," said Porter.
Last season Pearcy lost in the state wrestlebacks and finished with a 30-7 record. This season he is ranked No. 5 in the state and is to start his quest for a state title against Woodstock Marian's Elon Rodriquez, who is 40-5. If Pearcy, who is to receive a Charleston Police and Fire Department escort Thursday morning as he leaves to state, wins that he is likely to face the No. 2 wrestler in Washington's Abraham Hinrichson in the quarterfinals.
"He has made it a priority to get as much mat time as possible and the confidence that comes with it really shows said Charleston coach John Hansen. "He understands the value of work and what it takes to achieve success."
Hansen said having one state tournament under his belt adds to his mat maturity.
"There is only so much that can be simulated in practice," said Hansen. "He has breathed the air and kicked the mat in the process of winning and losing a couple of matches last year. He is ready to wrestle. We preach at this time of the year records don't matter. The guy who wants it the most will come out on top."