CHAMPAIGN — Exultation and devastation were next door neighbors during the title bouts of the 82nd state wrestling tournament at the State Farm Center on Saturday.
Six Pantagraph area finalists felt the former when their importance-packed six minutes of a lifetime were over.
Joining what can best be described as Club Euphoria were Bloomington’s Chad Bellis (44-11 at 106) in Class 2A and the Class 1A crew of Prairie Central’s Brandon Hoselton (49-0 at 195) and Logan Deacetis (51-0 at 160), Heyworth’s Levi Neuleib (36-1 at 113) and Gabe Spencer (49-0 at 120) and Clinton’s Micah Downs (30-3 at 182).
Coming close to glory was Heyworth runner-up Andrew Sims (53-2 at 138).
Bloomington’s No. 1-ranked sophomore Bellis won, 9-1, over No. 5 Josh Glover of Woodstock Marian (41-9). Shouting encouragement from his corner was Bellis’ father, Kevin, a BHS assistant coach.
“My dad, he pushes me all the time,” said Bellis, who became his school’s fourth state champion. “Sometimes I don’t like it too much, but I just wanted to make my family proud.”
Prairie Central’s No. 1-ranked sophomore Hoselton kept alive his bid to become a four-time champion by winning his second title by fall in 4:32 over No. 2 Bryan Caves of Riverdale (37-1). Caves scored a reversal in the third period to pull within 9-2.
“I was getting a little lazy,” said Hoselton, who sometimes trains three times a day. “I’m pretty comfortable on the bottom. It’s one of my best positions to be in. I was going to try to bait him. All of a sudden I threw him over and stuck him.
“(Winning state) gets better every time. There are more people watching me and supporting me.”
Heyworth’s top-ranked junior Spencer, a runner-up two years ago, won, 5-4, over No. 2 Paul Keane of Peotone (33-2). With 1:13 left, Keane was called for stalling, giving Spencer the deciding point.
“You’ve just got to wrestle hard for six minutes,” Spencer said. “That’s what my coaches told me to do and I executed it.”
Spencer joins Neuleib in becoming the first champions in the eight-year history of Heyworth’s program.
“Me and Eli and all my teammates are like family,” Spencer said. “I just love him so much. He makes me proud.”
Clinton’s top-ranked junior Downs triumphed, 8-4, over No. 2 Cade Scott of Tolono Unity (44-3), thus avenging a 10-4 loss.
“I know this is a step to my goal (of being a two-time champion), but it’s not my goal,” said Downs, who became Clinton’s seventh state champion and first since Jacob Fatheree in 2002.
Downs trains with Scott in the offseason.
“I think us working together, it got us both in that finals match,” Downs said.
Prairie Central’s No. 4-ranked sophomore Deacetis prevailed, 7-2, over No. 5 Mason Ajster of Oakwood (33-7).
“After the first takedown (five seconds in), I felt confident,” said Deacetis, the fourth state champion in Prairie Central history. “I was able to ride him and work my turns.
“I want to thank all my coaches and everyone who has taught me, all my practice partners and my family.”
Heyworth’s No. 3-ranked junior Neuleib won by fall in 1:24 over No. 1 Cameron Clark of Illini Bluffs (37-4). It was Clark’s third loss to Neuleib.
Asked to describe his emotions, Neuleib, second a year ago, said, “Is there anything higher than cloud nine? I’ve been waiting for this since I was a fifth grader.”
The Hornets’ No. 2-ranked senior Sims fell, 11-4, to No. 1 Ezra Elliott of Hoopeston Area (41-0).
“I think he’s really, really good — I’m not saying I’m better — but I just wasn’t ready,” said Sims, a four-time state qualifier who earned his first medal.
Also among the area’s 17 medalists were Class 1A third-placers Billy Tay of Ridgeview (40-3 at 106) and Jacob Conaty of LeRoy (32-4 at 170).
Placing fourth were Bloomington’s Ryan Gardner (44-10 at 138) in Class 2A and Eureka’s Asher Wiegand (34-5 at 126) in 1A.
Class 1A fifth-placers were Dwight’s Cameron Klinger (38-5 at 170), Prairie Central’s Jake Woodrey (48-3 at 220) and Josh Woodrey (48-3 at 220). Finishing sixth were Deer Creek-Mackinaw’s Wes Girardi (33-8 at 152), Clinton’s Kolby Winter (30-9 at 160) and Pontiac’s Jake Lanning (44-11 at 170).
Bloomington’s No. 3-ranked Gardner opened with a 3-2 win over No. 5 Trey Piotrowski of Prairie Ridge before losing his third-place bout, 7-3, to No. 4 Jacquez Stewart of Springfield.
Ridgeview’s No. 5-ranked Tay won his third-place medal, 4-2, over No. 2 Andrew Herbst of Oregon. Tay began his day with a 59-second pin against No. 6 Jarek Wehrle of Vandalia.
LeRoy’s No. 3-ranked Conaty finished third with a 6-0 win over Wood River’s Jake Erston. Earlier, Conaty topped Dwight’s No. 6-ranked Klingler, 7-5.