Eleven wrestlers from Mattoon and Charleston will compete at the Class 2A sectional on Friday and Saturday at Lincoln High School. The first sessions starts at 4:30 p.m. Friday and the second sessions starts at 10 a.m. on Saturday. The consolation finals are slated to start at approximately 2 p.m. on Saturday with the finals scheduled for around 4 p.m. on Saturday.
The top four wrestlers from each weight class will advance to the Class 2A state tournament. Trackwrestling.com will have updates of the sectional. Go to events and search and then search for Lincoln, Illinois.
Mattoon advanced 10 wrestlers to state and Charleston advanced one. Charleston's Trey Pearcy will compete at 113 pounds. Pearcy is 26-3 overall and faces Cahokia's Lamonte Burns in the first round. The winner faces Champaign Centennial's Justin Cardani, a state champion, in the quarterfinals.
Mattoon coach Brett Porter is very pleased to have 10 wrestlers at the sectional tournament. The team goal was to get four wrestlers to state at the start of the season and the Green Wave could get more than that with 10 wrestlers in Lincoln.
"It is an honor for these kids to represent Mattoon High School in the IHSA sectionals. With that being said, it is a very tough tournament with great competition," Porter said. "Our 10 wrestlers have had a great week of practice and each one is looking forward to this weekend. The number of wrestlers qualifying for state depends on their efforts on the mat. It is up to each individual to perform to their best ability."
For Mattoon 220-pounder Garrette Branson, the sectional tournament could be considered a mini state tournament. Branson, a senior, is ranked No. 2 at 220 pounds. The 220 bracket also features No. 1-ranked Luke Luffman of Urbana, who is the defending state champion, and Cahokia's Jacob Bullock, who is ranked No. 3. Plus there's Mahomet-Seymour's Ben Stahl, who is an honorable mention.
Branson beat Luffman last year, has two decision wins over Stahl and has a major decision victory over Bullock. Branson, who is undefeated at 35-0, has a first-round bye and could face Stahl in the quarterfinals. Luffman and Bullock are both on the other side of the bracket.
Branson is a two-time state qualifier.
"Garrette has prepared his entire career for the next two weeks," Porter said. "In practice, he is focused on his goals as well as his gameplan for each match. We focus on one match at a time and he knows not to take anyone lightly. Garrette is fully prepared to wrestle well against anyone in the state."
Sophomore Hayden Stanley is looking for his second trip to state. After qualifying at 106 pounds last year, Stanley jumped up to 126 pounds. Stanley is 28-8 this season. Carbondale's Zach Willard defeated Stanley at the regionals, but is on the other side of the bracket. Stanley has the second-most wins on his side of the bracket.
"Just like Garrette, Hayden is focusing on each match one at a time," Porter said. "He feels he has a great opportunity to repeat as a state qualifier this season and his work ethic will help him succeed."
Senior 170-pounder Michael Brown is looking for his first trip to state. He is 25-12 and faces 27-8 Ernest Moore, of East St. Louis, in the first round. If he wins, he would face Champaign Centennial's Dontaice Roberson in the quarterfinals, who has an honorable mention ranking and a 33-3 record.
"I have been extremely proud of Michael this season," Porter said. "As a three-sport athlete, he has proven to be quiet leader and an important part of Mattoon athletics. If Michael opens up his offense, he could surprise a lot of people at sectionals."
Senior 182-pounder Cayden Collings is also looking for his first trip to state. Collings is 25-12 this season and faces Decatur MacArthur's Dreux Kitson, who is 27-8. If he wins, his quarterfinal opponent is Springfield Lanphier's Langon Blue, who has an honorable mention ranking and is 30-3. If Collings advances to the semifinal, he could face Cahokia's Arnold Edwards, who has an honorable mention ranking and is 30-8 on the season.
"Cayden has had to practice with Garrette, one of the best wrestlers in the state, on a daily basis," Porter said. "I don't think he will be intimidated by anyone at sectionals."
At 106 pounds, Mattoon freshman Coby Haney is 20-8 and faces Cahokia's Zion Dooley (13-4) in the first round. At 113 pounds, Mattoon freshman Rick Wright is 25-13 on the season and gets Civic Memorial's Caleb Tyus (32-4) in the first round. At 120 pounds, Mattoon freshman Jeremiah Jones is 23-12 and gets Jacksonville's Tim Welsh (31-7) in the first round. At 132 pounds, Mattoon freshman Nate Eldridge is 14-9 and faces Centennial's Roger Edwards (19-17) in the first round.
At 138 pounds, Mattoon junior Derek Owens comes in with a 17-19 record, but pulled off a first-round upset in the regionals and finished as the runner-up. He faces Decatur MacArthur's Jalen Calhoun (14-4) in the first round. At 285 pounds, Mattoon senior Gabe Bradbury is 15-13 on the season and faces Westville's Hayden Copass (37-3), who has an honorable mention ranking, in the first round.