CHAMPAIGN - The Bloomington High School wrestling team sent four men into the Class AA quarterfinals of the 69th state wrestling tournament and came away 50 percent happy at Assembly Hall Friday night.
Purple Raiders Tyler Johnson and Justin Hale advanced to today's 10:15 a.m. semifinals. Today's third-place matches are at 4:30 p.m. while the finals are at 6:30.
The Pantagraph area's only other AA quarterfinalists, with 7,876 fans looking on, were Nick Alvis and Brian Temple of BHS and Mahomet-Seymour's Andrew Brewer, whom all lost, but have a chance to wrestle-back along with Normal West's Danny Hafley and Pontiac's Phil Hanson.
In Class A, area entrants won four of seven quarterfinal bouts including the Clinton trio of Cody Moody, Heath Pool and Matt Cooper and LeRoy's Gavin Dunlop.
"I like all of my kids' chances," said Clinton coach Joe Gordillo, who also has Chris Miller alive in the wrestle-backs. "All four of our kids are still alive. It was a really great first day of the state tournament."
Bloomington's Johnson (33-1 at 103) advanced with a 7-1 win over Palatine's Dale Jarosz. Johnson will face No. 2-ranked Chris Spangler (40-1) of Crystal Lake Central in today's semis.
Johnson took Jarosz down three seconds into their quarterfinal.
"I just wanted to get points on the board early," said Johnson, who took a 2-0 lead into the second period and chose to start in the bottom position. "I'm really good off the bottom. I can deal with most anybody."
Asked what from his three previous state trips helped Friday, Johnson said, "Losing."
Johnson, No. 5 in the state rankings released Thursday, opened with a 5-2 upset of No. 4-ranked Joe Norton of Lombard Montini.
"We've always known Tyler has the ability," said BHS coach Mark Gardner.
Hale (40-2 at 152), sixth for BHS last year at 145, downed West Aurora's Andy Bowker, 3-2, in the quarters. Today's semifinal foe will be No. 2 Bryan O'Connor (42-3) of Glenbard North, who lost last year to BHS star Brett Robbins.
Hale ended the scoring against Bowker with an escape with 1:19 left in the third period.
"I thought Justin was four or five points better than that kid," Gardner said. "The kid spent a lot of time running out of bounds."
Hale called the tactic frustrating, "but you've got to keep attacking," he said.
The unranked Hale warmed up with a 16-6 domination of St. Rita's Taylor Osborn.
No. 2-ranked Ben Friedl of Sandburg stopped Alvis of BHS (30-3 at 160) in the quarters by technical fall in 5:41.
"Friedl is a scrambler and a mat wrestler and so is Nick and obviously he is a little bit better than Nick," Gardner said.
Alvis reached the quarters with a pin in 3:48 over Woodstock's Andrew Brady.
"He (Alvis) was a little bit sloppy, but I think he had first-match butterflies," Gardner said.
Temple (40-7 at 215) pushed No. 5 Garrett Goebel of Lombard Montini before losing their quarterfinal, 2-1. Temple attempted a throw late in the second period which backfired.
"I picked him up and brought him down on top of me," Temple said. "That's how he got his two points."
Temple's first-round win was a 12-4 romp over Batavia's Kevin McFarland.
"I think Brian was the better wrestler in that match," said Gardner, who watched Temple turn a potential takedown against him into a five-point sequence for him.
Mahomet-Seymour's Brewer was no match for No. 2-ranked Joey Kotowski of Neuqua Valley, who won their quarterfinal, 10-8.
Brewer (23-11), the only freshman at 145, reached the quarters with a 7-2 win over Mike Santiago of Algonquin Jacobs. Brewer's record is deceiving because he wrestled at weights as high as 171 this season.
"Now that I've cut down to 145, I'm a lot stronger than these guys," Brewer said. "I'm still quick at 145. I've been here watching as long as I can remember and I think it helps a lot (with nerves). I'm really not nervous because I know I can compete with these guys."
Bloomington's Steve Robbins (14-3 at 189) lost in the first round to No. 6 John Schoen of Marist, 10-4. It was Robbins' second loss to Schoen this year.
"It's just a bad match-up for Steve," Gardner said. "It's a style difference. He (Schoen) wants to come inside and tie up and Steve wants to stay away and attack."
Robbins lost in the preliminary wrestle-backs, 7-6, to Palatine Fremd's Ben Perna.
Normal Community's school record four-man contingent went a combined 1-4.
"When you get down here, you've got to get by the jitters," said NCHS coach Dave Baeten. "They've been here to watch, but it's a whole different ballgame when you're trying to win matches. I'm proud of those kids for coming down here."
NCHS' Tyler Winland (32-7 at 103) beat Dixon's Joe Roth, 7-4, before being pinned by Oak Park-River Forest's Ellis Coleman in 1:36.
"He was at a length disadvantage," Baeten said of Winland's bout with Coleman.
Corey Esparza of NCHS (34-7 at 119) lost to Oswego's Steve Tempin, 8-3, to finish his career with 99 victories. Mundelein's Joe Winberg downed Casey Vercruysse (31-9 at 135) of NCHS, 3-2. Ironmen star Austin Kull (26-4 at 171) fell to Rockton Hononegah's Adam Latella, 4-2.
Kull, one of three sophomores at that weight, lost in the wrestle-backs, 7-6, to Naperville Neuqua Valley's No. 2 Nate Holley (37-1).
Normal West senior Danny Hafley (37-2 at 275) was edged in the first round by Bartlett's Chris Paladino, 6-2.
"Danny went out and worked hard on his feet," said Wildcat coach Jim Eaton. "He worked exceptionally hard on top and just didn't get the turn. I thought we had a couple opportunities to get some back points. Danny went for the win and that's all we can ask."
Hafley pinned Chicago Hubbard's J.T. Franklin in 5:03 to stay alive in the wrestle-backs.
Pontiac's lone entrant, Phil Hanson (32-5 at 152), dropped a 12-2 major decision to No. 6 Eric Pretto of Sandburg.
"He wrestled a good match," said Pontiac coach Corey Christenson. "The kid was just a little bit better than he was. Phil wrestled hard. He didn't just lay down."
Hanson advanced in the wrestle-backs with a 3-1 win over Chicago Hope's Larry Lanier.
"He got a second chance and he definitely wanted to wrestle again," Christenson said.
Mahomet-Seymour heavyweight Jack Tennant (29-3) did not wrestle due to the knee injury he sustained in the sectional final against Hafley. It's hoped he can return for Tuesday's Bloomington Dual Team Sectional.
Mahomet-Seymour's Tim Robberstad (30-10) lost to No. 9 Tyler Babcock of Bethalto Civic Memorial, 17-6.
Clinton's No. 2-ranked Moody (35-7 at 135) decisioned Petersburg Porta's Brian Ramsey, 5-3 in overtime. A penalty point for choking with a minute left in regulation helped Moody force overtime. He notched the winning takedown 33 seconds into the extra period.
"He was fortunate enough to get the scored tied up," said Gordillo, who thought it was critical that Moody started overtime on his feet. Moody meets unranked Chris Kraft (24-5) of Dakota in the semis.
Matt Cooper of Clinton, third at 275 in 2004, won his quarterfinal over Durand's Dave Daly, 4-1, to improve to 27-3. The No. 4-ranked Cooper will face No. 2 Keegan Grant of Coal City today.
Cooper trailed Daly, 1-0, until scoring a reversal with 58 seconds left.
"We knew Matt had the skill to catch someone and make them pay," Gordillo said.
The Maroons' No. 4-ranked Pool (33-7 at 140) caught Plano's Brett Lyle in a cradle and pinned him in 4:45. Pool faces No. 1 Jesse Milks (34-2) of Dakota in today's semis.
"To tell you the truth, I didn't think I would be here," said Pool, who was second in his regional. "In eighth grade I went to state and I just wanted to experience it one more time in high school."
LeRoy's No. 4-ranked Gavin Dunlop (37-1 at 160) won his quarterfinal over West Frankfort's Joe Smith, 4-1. Dunlop faces No. 1 Jordan Blanton (33-0) of Richmond-Burton in the semis.
"He was probably the strongest guy I've faced," Dunlop said. "I didn't wrestle to the best of my ability. I didn't finish a few shots I had in."
Olympia's No. 3-ranked Mario Martinez (39-10 at 135) lost to No. 1 Caleb Walk of Stillman Valley in the quarters, 8-5.
"He's a lot more aggressive and stronger than me," Martinez said. "He's an all-around good wrestler on bottom and top. I gave it my all. He just beat me out."
Martinez reached the quarterfinals with a 2-1 overtime tiebreaker victory against T.J. Warner of Hoopeston Area. When the first overtime period ended in a 1-1 tie, they went three more 30-second periods. Warner won the flip and chose the down position in the final period, but could not escape.
Dakota's No. 1-ranked Matt Wenger downed Eureka's No. 4-ranked Chris Wakid (36-4 at 171), 15-5, in the quarters.
"It's an honest ranking," said Wakid of Wenger's status. "He's a two-time state champ for a reason. I can almost guarantee (I'll get to wrestle-back today)."
LeRoy's Brian Umstattd lost in the quarterfinals to No. 1 John Odeen (36-2) of Coal City by fall in 1:56. Umstattd (31-7) opened with a 3-1 win over Vandalia's Donald DePew.
Clinton's Miller (36-13 at 160) came within 6-4 of upsetting No. 3 Caleb Kraft of Dakota in the first round.