Mattoon sophomore Brady Foster is the only local wrestler still vying for a state medalist honor at the Class 2A IHSA state wrestling championships at Champaign’s State Farm Center.
Foster, who had lost in Thursday night’s quarterfinals, bounced back to win his first wrestleback match Friday afternoon – a 3-2 decision over Woodstock Marian freshman Nick Davidson at 106 pounds. After a reversal, Foster was able to get the escape to go ahead.
“He wrestled smart,” Mattoon coach Brett Porter said. “He was able to get that first takedown, which is always important. That’s something we stress: Let’s get that first takedown so we’re in control of the match.”
Foster (33-3) needs to win his first match Saturday morning to secure a top-six position in his weight division. He faces Thornton Fractional North sophomore Trevor Reed (32-4), who won his match 7-2.
“It’s been a lot harder this year because I haven’t had a lot of good matches leading up to the postseason,” Foster said. “So it’s more like just kind of getting the nerves up and getting into the zone.”
The winner of that match goes on to what’s essentially the final four of the wrestlebacks – all of whom earn a medal for being among the top six in their weight division. He would need to win two additional matches to take third place overall.
“We’re at the top end of our ability level,” Porter said. “Everybody here is super tough. I’m proud of our guys. Every single one of them has wrestled super hard. None of them have taken a step back.”
Mattoon junior Ricky Wright (21-11), who had lost his first match Thursday, rallied to win his first wrestleback match Friday morning, taking control in the second period to post a 9-3 decision over Rock Island sophomore Aoci Bernard (25-11). at 120 pounds.
Wright then lost to Joliet Catholic freshman Mason Alessio (30-14), 5-1. Wright fell behind 4-1 after the first period, battled for a scoreless second period, but could not make any ground in the final period,
Three other local wrestlers were eliminated after their Friday matches.
Mattoon sophomore Kiefer Duncan came within seconds of advancing to the next round before a penalty enabled Antioch senior Danny McPherson (36-7) to tie the match at 132 pounds. After having rolled out of bounds, the two wrestlers re-set with eight seconds remaining in the third period. That’s when Duncan was called for locking his hands. McPherson scored the first points in overtime, which gave him the match.
Mattoon junior Jeremiah Jones was eliminated after he was pinned 50 seconds into their 138-pound match by Brother Rice sophomore Nate Chirrillo (19-6).
Charleston senior Trey Pearcy was pinned 55 seconds into the second period by Grayslake North senior Jake Jozwiak at 126 pounds. Pearcy had held a 2-0 lead in the first period.
“Trey Pearcy, as a three-time (state) qualifier, is one of the elite out of the Charleston wrestling room,” Charleston coach John Hansen said. “Unfortunately today, his season ended earlier than anticipated with his second loss in the wrestlebacks.”
Foster will hit the mats again around 9 a.m. Saturday.
Mattoon, which qualified for the IHSA state dual meet championships after having won the regional title, will compete against Troy Triad on Tuesday in Lincoln in the opening round.