SYCAMORE – No Sauk Valley wrestler won a 2A Sycamore Sectional title on Saturday, nor even made it to a championship bout.
Nevertheless, two wrestlers each from Dixon and Sterling and one from Rock Falls advanced to next weekend’s state tournament in Champaign because of clutch performances with their seasons on the line.
Dixon sophomore Sebastian Quintana claimed third place at 160 pounds by winning his final two matches after falling in the semifinals to Hampshire’s Casey Allen. Quintana secured his second state appearance in as many years with a pin at the 4:19 mark against Belvidere North’s Sean Lock in a semifinal wrestleback.
The quick Dixonite then pinned Sterling’s Turner Garcia in 3:57 in the third-place bout. Quintana relied on his speed to make it downstate at 152 pounds last year, but has put in the work in the weight room to excel at 160.
“I worked on my strength,” Quintana said. “I got more muscle mass so I could outmuscle these guys.”
Clint Schielein clinched his first-ever state berth at 182 pounds with a gritty 2-1 decision against Sandwich’s Wyatt Murphy in a wrestleback semifinal bout that was decided in the second half-minute overtime session.
Both wrestlers earned escapes in regulation, and Schielein stayed patient and smart in earning the final point out of the down position.
“I was a little nervous, but I’m still happy I’m going to state and will be on the DHS wall,” Schielein said. “When I’m down, I feel like I’m at my best. I’m normally able to spring up and then calm down when I stand back up.”
Freeport’s Matthew Chavers pinned Schielein in the semifinals before the Dixon junior bounced back in the wrestleback semis. He was then pinned by Metamora’s Chris Leanos in the third-place bout.
Sterling’s Turner Garcia had his high school career on the line after losing an 11-2 major decision to Washington’s Jared Head in the semifinals, but pinned Metamora’s Vinny Querciagrossa in 5:37 in the wrestleback semis to clinch his first state berth. Garcia led 6-2 in the third period before a reversal put him in position for the pin.
“It was such an amazing feeling,” Garcia said. “I’m so grateful for everybody who’s helped me in my career; coaches, family and others. I’m thankful for what this sport has brought to me. It’s different for every person, but for me it was about gratefulness.”
Joining Turner Garcia at state will be another Golden Warrior making his first appearance in Champaign. Isaiah Figueroa dropped a 8-4 decision at 138 pounds to Geneseo’s Andrew Rizzo in the semifinals, but recorded six takedowns in his wrestleback semi against Metamora’s Brayden Smith on his way to a 12-8 decision.
Figueroa went on to take fourth place after falling in a 12-6 decision against Rochelle’s Eddie Villalobos for third. The Sterling junior barely made it out of regionals as a third-place winner, and used his role as an underdog to his advantage.
“I’ve been telling myself ever since regionals that I was on a mission,” Figueroa said. “I have something to prove, and I wanted to show people what I could do.”
Adam Meenen became the first Rock Falls wrestler in school history to qualify for the 2A state tournament with a fourth-place finish at 132 pounds.
“We can compete in 2A. Our performance last week and this weekend showed that,” Rock Falls coach Derick Cox said. “If they’re going to leave us in 2A, you better watch out. This is just the first one. These kids are going to continue to step up to the challenge. I couldn’t be prouder of Adam.”
Bloomington’s Savion Haywood pinned Meenen in the semifinals, but the Rocket sophomore bounced back to take a 13-0 major decision against Sterling’s Noah Garcia in the wrestleback semis.
Meenen’s victory avenged an early-season loss to Garcia, as the two would have met last weekend in the 132 finals at the Rock Falls Regional had the Sterling senior not injured his knee, an issue that resurfaced midway through the match.
“He seemed kind of tired, and I had a lot of energy in my tank,” Meenen said. “I used that to my advantage to try and score as many points as possible.”
Sterling 126-pounder Mauricio Garcia earned a 3-1 decision over Rock Falls’ Izaih James in the wrestlebacks to have a shot at a state berth, but lost a 9-0 major decision to LaSalle-Peru’s Ashton Kellett.
In addition to Mauricio Garcia, six other locals were knocked out in wrestlebacks.
Rock Falls’ Brayden Tarbill (106) and James (126) won their first wrestlebacks via pin and 6-0 decision, respectively, but weren’t able to earn a trip to the blood round. Tarbill lost via tech fall, while James lost the tight decision to Mauricio Garcia.
Dixon’s Hunter Pate (170) won a 4-3 decision over Kaneland’s Trevor Jones in his first wrestleback, but lost a 3-2 decision to Rochelle’s Ben Harvey. Sterling’s Julian Rodriguez (113) earned a 16-3 major decision over Hampshire’s Palmer Larson, but was pinned by Ottawa’s Riley Hanson.
Dixon’s Dylan Messer (220) and Sterling’s Moises Lopez (182) lost their first wrestlebacks.