JOHN CURTIS - Daily Union Sports Editor
SHELBYVILLE, IL. —
Shelbyville wrestling took the most qualifiers to state on Thursday than ever before. They entered a gauntlet de guerre and only three of the six Rams survived until day 2. After day 2, then there was one.
Senior Mitchell Barna (28-5), wrestling 195 pounds, remains unscathed into Saturday, the final day of IHSA State. Senior Josh Hicks (35-14), wrestling at 170 pounds, survived day 1, but not day 2. Sophomore Wyatt Fox (39-6), wrestling at 138 pounds, survived day 1, but not day 2.
Barna faced fellow senior Sam Donovan (27-4) from Stanford Olympia in the preliminary round. Barna was ranked 11th, while Donovan was ranked #4.
Barna went out like a man on a mission and controlled the pace and outcome of the match in a very aggressive manner. It raised eyebrows in the crowd. He was the sole winner for Shelbyville on day 1 and one of the few winners from the Vandalia Sectional, over a tough opponent to boot, 9-6.
On day 2, took on Terry Martin (30-1) of Chicago Douglass and lost 10-4. He went to wrestlebacks and skunked John Brink of Oregon, 6-0. Barna will face fellow OVC wrestler Tanner VanDalsen of Monticello (41-8) in the quarterfinal wrestlebacks.
If Barna wins, he is assured of at least 5th place. If he wins, he will wrestle Jeffrey Haley of Quincy Notre Dame (38-5). If Barna wrestles Haley and he wins, Barna will got to the 3rd place match. If he loses to Haley, Barna will wrestle for 5th.
Fox was ranked 8th by Illinoismatmen.com and had a tough draw to start state, senior Austin McPeek (37-4) of Lena-Winslow, ranked 3rd.
Fox came out strong, hammering away. But the 3rd place finisher over Alex Jones (SHS '12) in last years state finals was a bit more than Fox could handle and he lost by a 2nd period pin (4:46).
Fox survived to day 2, because the man who beat him, McPeek kept winning and pulled him along into wrestlebacks. McPeek won a close 4-2 match, defeating Chet McClure of Gibson City Melvin Sibley.
Fox then had to wrestle McClure. McClure shut out Fox an ended his state run, 7-0. Fox finished his season at 39-8.
Freshman Garret Brachbill (38-4) at 113 pounds, ranked 10th, took on senior Carlos Gutierrez (34-6) from Rock Falls, ranked 3rd.
Brachbill was winning the match until the last few seconds, when Gutierrez escaped, got a takedown, and scored 2 back points. Brachbill had done the same thing to Payton Stifle in sectional.
Brachbill controlled the tempo of the match the whole time, but it got away from him in the third period, losing to Gutierrez 7-5. On day 2, Gutierrez lost a close decision, 6-5, ending Brachbill's state stint and his season at 38-5.
Sophomore Lucas Duckett (38-11) ranked 12th at 152 pounds was matched against senior Brett Meyer (34-3) from Manteno (Midwest Central) (Coop) ranked 9th. Duckett held his stance well, but was overcome in the end, losing 7-1.
Meyer lost on day 2 by a score of 7-3, pulling the plug on Duckett's state appearance. He finished his season at 38-12.
Senior Josh Hicks (35-14), ranked 14th at 170 pounds was up against senior Zach Abney (41-2) from Pittsfield, ranked #1. Hicks wrestled a tough match that the score did not reflect and he lost, 10-1.
Day 2, Abney pinned Zach Groen of Illiana Christian in Lansing (1:16). That kept Hicks alive. Hicks wrestled Groen in wrestlebacks and almost went the distance, being pinned with just 24 second left in the match (5:36). Hicks finished his senior season at 35-16.
Junior Elliott Smithson (37-10) ranked 15th at 285 pounds took on another 40-match winner, senior Derrick Romano (41-4) of Wilmington. Roman was ranked #6.
Smithson went out and attempted his proven attacks, but was unable to beat the physically impressive size and strength of Romano. He fought out of some tough positions, but eventually got pinned in the final period with only :41 seconds remaining (5:19).
Romano lost on day 2 by fall and Smithson didn't get to wrestle, finishing his season at 37-11.