Mattoon wrestling has eyes on winning a regional wrestling title Saturday.
Several coaches say Mattoon has a solid lineup on paper.
“I believe Mattoon takes away the team trophy,” said Centralia coach Tristan Penrod. “But, honestly, not sure on that front. Should be interesting to watch.”
“The team that I see winning our regional would be Mattoon,” said Mount Vernon coach Alejandro Wajner. “They, as a whole, have multiple wrestlers ranked in the state and compete extremely well as a whole having wrestlers that have been extremely active at the high school level together.”
Centralia and Mt. Vernon might prove to be Mattoon’s toughest foes in the Class 2A regional set for Mt. Vernon. Carbondale, Charleston, Decatur Eisenhower and Decatur MacArthur will also be competing.
Mattoon features a strong lineup of wrestlers with seven wrestlers owning at least 20 wins this season. Brady Foster (29-1 at 113 pounds), Korbin Bateman (28-4, 126 pounds), Ben Capitosti (20-1, 132 pounds), Mick Porter (20-1, 138 pounds) Kiefer Duncan (34-2, 145 pounds), Aidan Blackburn (26-8, 152 pounds), Aidan Spurgeon (19-2, 195 pounds), and Leo Meyer (29-7, 220 pounds) expect to all contend for a spot in the IHSA Regional Championship for their classes.
“They (his wrestlers) understand what is needed to win or place high at regionals and set themselves up to have a good draw at sectionals,” said Mattoon coach Brett Porter. “Our younger wrestlers on varsity will have veteran teammates who know what this takes. Hopefully, the weather will hold and we can have a good week of practice.”
Marion figures to be Mattoon’s top contender for a regional title. The Wildcats finished the regular season 22-3 in duals and were winners of the South 7 Conference championship. The Wildcats include seven wrestlers ranked by the IWCOA.
Ricky Wade, ranked No. 8 at 132 pounds, is 28-0 record while teammate Nate Dampier is 32-1 and ranked No. 7 at 152 pounds. Five wrestlers are listed as honorable mention, including – Brennan Vogt (27-9, 113 pounds, Aiden White (15-5, 160 pounds), Clayton Tanner (21-6, 195 pounds), Levi Tanner (17-5, 220 pounds) and Kanye Gunn (21-3, 285 pounds).
“The Wildcats can contend for the Regional crown but Mattoon has to be the favorite,” said Marion coach Darren Lindsey. The Wildcat have finished second the past three IHSA Regionals. “It will be a tall task for any team to hang with Mattoon. We hope to get everything back to 100 percent and hope COVID doesn’t knock anyone out of regionals.”
Centralia also brings two standouts in Nate LeCrone, a first-team All-Conference selection at 120 pounds, and Noah Morris, a Second-Team All-Conference selection at 160 pounds.
Decatur Eisenhower coach Deionnte Honorable believes Mount Vernon should be favored to win the Regional “because of the coaching staff and the toughness of their wrestling room.”
Mount Vernon has multiple ranked wrestlers. Jared Shafer is 30-2 and No. 17 at 182 pounds while Mason Randall is ranked No. 19 at 195 pounds. Bradden Davis (138), Maddux Randall (170), Shafer, and Ethan Rivera (220) earned first-team All-Conference honors, while Randall, Mylze Cammack (152), and Ethan Verdeney (126) were on the second team.
Shafer, a senior, has lost only to the state’s Nos. 1 and 3 wrestlers – Grayslake’s Matty Gens and Civic Memorial’s Colton Carlyle, respectively.
“If there are any wrestlers on my team that I truly believe have a chance at winning regionals, it would be Jared Shafer,” said Wajner. “I believe Jared is a huge dark horse in the state and goes unrecognized due to it being his first season ever wrestling in the IHSA. Don’t be surprised if he upsets several top-10 ranked competitors this postseason.”
Wajner also said that senior Bradden Davis, who is 30-7, should have a chance as well. Davis has also lost to only ranked competitors.