By Rick Hayes
MT. VERNON — Thousands of wrestlers started the season with a goal of qualifying for the state finals.
Mt. Vernon's Chase Vosburgh and Tristan Penrod are among the few that realized that goal. The two Rams wrestlers start the 2A state final in Champaign today.
“Our tournament is probably one of the toughest in the nation year in and year out,” Mt. Vernon coach Sean Docherty said. “And to be able to qualify for it is pretty good, placing in it is just a whole other level.”
Both wrestlers are among 16 finalists in each weight class. Vosburgh (41-2) will face Woodstock's Nicholas Sundburg (27-9) in the opening round of the 152-weight class.
“I'm not scared of anyone,” Vosburgh said. “I'll go out there and I'll wrestle the best guy in the nation. I'm not always saying that I'm going to win, but I sure won't lay down.”
The finals mark the third straight trip to Champaign for Vosburgh. Last year he placed fifth overall as a sophomore. The junior said he's confident and eager for the challenge.
“A lot of my style is just pushing kids to where they can't go anymore to where they just want to lay down and quit, push them and push them until they have no choice but to just lay down for me,” Vosburgh said.
Penrod (36-5) starts the 220-pound weight class against Sterling's Bryant Lilly (30-11).
“This is the top of the mountain,” Penrod said. “I've been to big tournaments, and this is the biggest for me to be able to compete in this tournament and go up there and compete against the big names.”
This is Penrod's first trip to state. His varsity journey started with a 21-19 freshman year. In his first two seasons, he was stopped at the sectional round.
Wrestling more than other sports is about reacting to each individual opponent while the match is developing.
“During the match whatever happens, happens,” Penrod said. “You have to adjust like no other sport. You have to adjust right then, right there.”
Docherty has watched the duo work throughout the season, and added he's happy to see both wrestlers succeed.
“They don't stop,” Docherty said. “They'll wrestle all spring and summer. Tournaments of this size, they're used to.”
The state finals will be streamed live on the IHSA website at www.IHSA.tv. The preliminary rounds for 2A start at 3 p.m. today.