JOHN CURTIS - Daily Union Sports Editor
SHELBYVILLE, IL. — The historic season of the Shelbyville Ram wrestling program continued this last weekend by sending six wrestlers on to the IHSA State Tournament, the most in school history.
Garrett Brachbill (113) and Wyatt Fox (138) finished as sectional runner-ups. Lucas Duckett (152), Josh Hicks 170, Mitchell Barna (195), and Elliott Smithson (285) all had 4th place finishes and advanced out of the Vandalia Sectional on Saturday. The most Shelbyville has ever sent to the state tournament before was four.
The Rams had to deal with a rule changes that put some of them in weight classes they didn't prefer. They wrestled through it at regional and advanced 11 to sectional. They wrestled through it again at sectional and put themselves in postition to advance six to state. The expanded state tournament involves three days of wrestling this year, instead of two, and allows for more qualifiers to be able to compete.
Freshman phenom Garrett Brachbill (113) came in with a record of 36-3 and the champion of the Tolono Regional. He was the #2 seed and that is where he finished. Brachbill first wrestled sophomore Lee Welch of Mt. Olive (28-11). Brachbill stuck him with just over 30 seconds left in the match (5:26). That put Brachbill up against senior Payton Stifle of Robinson (28-7).
Brachbill was ranked 12th in the state and Stifle ranked 14th, but Stifle had senior experience. It was a close match with Stifle leading by two with just 17 seconds left in the match. But Brachbill took a shot and got a tying take down and was able to expose Stifle to back points for the semifinal win.
Brachbill then advanced to the title bout against another freshman phenom, #1 seed Jarred Braunagel of Belleville-Althoff, the 2nd-ranked wrestler in the state. Braunagel took control of the match and won 8-1. Brachbill moves on to state with a record of 38-4, the Vandalia Sectional runner-up.
Sophomore Wyatt Fox, "The Surgeon," (138) came into the sectional as a regional champion with a record of 37-5. He opened against sophomore Daniel Bower of Murphysboro (21-19). Fox worked his will and defeated Bower on points, 6-2.
Fox, the ranked 11th in the state took on junior Caleb Thompson of Litchfield (33-13) the 12th-ranked wrestler. It came down to the wire, but Fox won again, 4-3. Fox then advanced to the 138 title bout against sophomore Dalten Blankenship of Vandalia (37-8), ranked 10th.
Blankenship got the upper hand and won, 6-2. Fox also moved on to state with a record of 39-6 as the sectional runner-up.
Sophomore Lucas Duckett (152) came into sectional with a record of 34-9. He vaulted himself out of the pack with an overtime win in his first match. He beat sophomore Jake Stewart of Vandalia (26-18), 6-5.
Duckett then had to face the 7th-ranked wrestler in the state, senior Dolan Davidson of Vandalia (34-1). Davidson took control and won, 5-0. That sent Duckett to wrestlebacks, where he did.
Duckett faced sophomore John Bean of Hillsboro (10-12). Duckett was in charge of the match racking up a major decision, 16-5. Senior Thomas Grove of Lawrenceville (28-11) was waiting for Duckett. They battled and Duckett got the edge, winning, 4-2.
Duckett had to beat one more man to advance to state, junior Beau Taylor of Mt. Carmel (31-5). Duckett had a 7-4 lead when the match ended and he advanced to the 3rd place match. He was matched up with Dolan Davidson again.
Davidson had lost in the semifinal after beating Duckett before. Davidson beat Duckett again by the same score, 5-0. Duckett advanced to state with a record of 38-11, finishing 4th at sectional.
Senior Josh Hicks (170) came into sectional with a record of 32-12. Hicks came out of the pack by virtue of pinning sophomore Nick Riddle of West Frankfort (25-12). It took awhile, but Hicks ended the match 39 seconds early with the pin (5:21).
Hicks then upset one of the top seeds, sophomore Luke Curtis (23-11) from Roxana. Hicks got the edge and won, 8-5. Then Hicks was upset by senior Tyler Godden of Cumberland (28-13) in the semifinals. Godden won, 4-1.
Hicks went to wrestlebacks and needed a win to advance to state. He got it and a measure of revenge. Sophomore Mike Redwinski of Monticello (24-19), the 16th-ranked wrestler at 170, beat Hicks, the 15th-ranked wrestler, at regionals. They battle in a typical Hicks close to the vest match. They went to overtime and Hicks won it, 3-2.
Hicks went to the 3rd place match against sophomore Bryce Thornton of Litchfield (19-10). Thornton won another close match, 6-5. Hicks advanced to state with a record of 35-14, finishing 4th at sectional.
Senior Mitchell Barna (195) came into sectionals with a record of 25-3. He faced another senior to start sectional, Sean Newcomb of Vandalia (27-10). Newcomb won the 8-5 decision, putting Barna on the bubble out of the gate.
Barna started the long climb in wrestlebacks and was up to it. He first beat another senior, Dakota White of Mt. Olive (24-16). Barna took control of the match and won, 9-5. Barna stuck his next opponent, junior Jordan Rainy of Carlyle (22-9), halfway through the 2nd period (3:00).
After losing the opener to Newcomb, Barna wrestled his way back and earned a rematch with Newcomb, one match away from qualifying for state. Barna lost 7-3 the first time. This time, the two were careful, feeling the weight of the importance of the match.
It was a nail-biter with only three points scored in 6:00. Barna tipped the scales in his favor with the only take down, winning 2-1. Barna, the 11th-ranked wrestler in the state went to the 3rd place match against another senior, Nicholas Iovanac of Robinson (32-10), the 8th-ranked wrestler in the state . High-risk, high-reward, Barna was pinned early in the 2nd period (2:16). Barna advanced to state with a record of 28-5, finishing in 4th place at sectional.
Junior Elliott Smithson (285) began sectionals with a record of 34-8. He came out of the pack with a pin in the final 17 seconds of the 1st period (1:43), beating junior Johnny Barrett (9-8). Smithson, the 16th-ranked wrestler at 285, then got into another nail-biter. He took on a higher seed, senior Dre Cannon of Carlyle (33-2) the 9th-ranked wrestler in the state. The match went into OT and Smithson got the take down for the , 4-2 win.
Smithson had a rematch with regional opponent junior Tyler Ortman of Argenta (31-6), the 8th-ranked wrestler in the state. Smithson won at regional. but Ortman won this match by the narrowest of margins, 3-2.
Smithson took on senior Geoffrey Harrison of Robinson (17-9). Smithson dominated Harrison, running up the score for a 22-5 tech fall win at the buzzer. That put Smithson in the 3rd place match, a rematch against Cannon. After beating Cannon before, Smithson lost by default injury. Smithson advanced to state with a record of 37-10, finishing 4th at sectional.
106-(Fr) Zach Stirrett (20-19) lost to McCallister (MTO), 6-2; def. Dees (CART), 8-2; lost to Knisley (MONT) by maj. dec., 11-2
113-2nd (Fr) Garrett Brachbill (36-3) def. Welch (MTO) by fall (5:26); def. Stifle (ROB), 6-3; lost championship to Braunagel (BAC), 8-1
132-(So) Jared Finley (33-7) def. Murray (MUR) by fall (1:47); def. Gallagher (ROB) by default injury; lost semifinal to Harris (BAC), 2-0; lost to Newkirk (LIT), 6-3.
138-2nd (So) Wyatt Fox (37-5) def. Bower (MUR), 6-2; def. Thompson (LIT), 4-3; lost championship to Blankenship (VAN), 6-2.
145-(So) Adam Hudson (32-7) def. Baker (SPA) by fall (4:12); lost to Wright (LIT), 3-2; def. Palen (ROX), maj. dec., 15-3; lost to Knisley (MONT), 9-4.
152-4th (So) Lucas Duckett (34-9) def. Stewart (VAN), 6-5 OT; lost to Davidson (LIT), 5-0; def. Bean (HIL), maj. dec., 16-7; def. Grove (LAW), 4-2; def. Taylor (MTC), 7-4; lost 3rd place match to Davidson (LIT), 5-0.
160-(Sr) Jordan Johnston (18-16) lost to Davidson (LIT), 3-1; lost Maddox (CARL) by fall (3:31)
170-4th (Sr) Josh Hicks (32-12) def. Riddle (WF) by fall (5:21); def. Curtis (ROX), 8-5; lost to Godden (CUMB) in semifinal, 5-3; def. Redwinski (MON), 3-2 OT; lost 3rd place match to Thornton (LIT), 6-5
195-4th (Sr) Mitchell Barna (25-3) lost to Newcomb (VAN), 7-3; def. White (MTO), 9-2; def. Rainy (CARL) by fall (3:00); def. Newcomb (VAN), 2-1; lost 3rd place match to Iovanac (ROB) by fall (2:16).
220- (So) Andrew Mudgette (17-12) def. Owens (HAR) by fall (5:22); lost to Werner (LIT) by fall (4:34); lost to Wise (MTC) by fall (2:37).
285-4th (Jr) Elliott Smithson (34-8) def. Barrett (WR) by fall (1:43); def. Cannon (CARL), 4-2 OT; lost to Ortman (AO), 3-2; def. Harrison (ROB) by tech fall, 22-5 (6:00); lost 3rd place match to Cannon (CARL) by default injury