By JOHN ROARK
MT. VERNON — Just the chance to participate at a state tournament might be enough for some athletes, but not for the three Mt. Vernon Township High School wrestlers still in the running for Class 2A individual championships.
“These three, I don’t really worry about them thinking. ‘I made it to state and that’s great, and I’m just here for the experience,’” Rams coach Sean Docherty said of senior Torrey Pollard, junior Dustin Cole and sophomore Blake Stricklin. “These three want to do something.”
And the process takes up again Friday morning in Champaign at Assembly Hall on the campus of the University of Illinois. Each is entered in an opening-round match by virtue of their respective finishes at last weekend’s Lanphier Class 2A sectional.
Stricklin (135 pounds) and Cole (215) were both runnerups in their respective divisions, while Pollard — earning a trip north in his final go-around — survived a brutal trip through the 189-pound consolation bracket, winning four bouts in the second day to claim a third-place medal.
To Docherty, Pollard’s trip to Champaign, combined with his tremendous momentum from last weekend’s experience, comes at the right time.
Pollard (29-5) meets Lemont’s Connor Nagel (29-3) in the first round, and that winner will knock heads with Grayslake’s Kevin Hein (33-5).
Crystal Lake Central’s Austin Marsden (42-2) has the best mark in the 189 field.
“Torrey’s got a shot,” Docherty said. “He’s got two good wrestlers ahead of him for the first two rounds, but I think Torrey is gonna be OK, if he keeps wrestling the way he did last weekend.”
Docherty said the tournament has a follow-the-leader format.
“If you win, you keep going on,” Docherty said. “If you lose, the guy who beats you has to win the next time around for you to stay in the tournament. That’s why each of our guys’ opening (bouts) are important. They don’t have byes.”
Class 2A state wrestling preview
By JOHN ROARK
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