Prep Wrestling

Young Blue Devils eager to showcase skills at Quincy Invitational

QHS-HannWrestle
Quincy High School junior wrestler Hunter Yohn, right, maneuvers against HannibalŐs Vernell Hawkins during a dual match earlier this season. Yohn, a junior with a 24-4 record at 160 pounds, is one of the several QHS wrestlers looking to medal during the 49th annual Quincy Invitational, which takes place Friday and Saturday at the QHS gym. | H-W Photo/Michael Kipley
Michael Kipley 1|
By Herald-Whig
Posted: Jan. 12, 2018 12:30 am

QUINCY -- Often, it's more than a goal. It's a mission.

A veteran Quincy High School wrestler, typically a senior, pinpoints winning an individual championship at the Quincy Invitational as their primary focus ahead of the postseason slate.

Last year, it was Tyree Williams, who won the 220-pound championship. Two years ago, Michael Peters won a thrilling 138-pound title match against West Hancock's Will Lucie.

This year, there are no seniors on the Quincy roster. However, a strong contingent of sophomores and juniors and sophomores is eager to show they can compete, too.

"We're confident," QHS junior Matthew Peters said. "We're focused on our progress and seeing where we're at. We know there's going to be tough matches, but those tough matches get you ready."

Peters and junior Hunter Yohn hope to provide tough matches for everyone else in their brackets of the 49th annual event, which takes place Friday and Saturday at the QHS gym. Wrestling begins at 5 p.m. Friday, and the finals will be around 4 p.m. Saturday.

Peters is 23-10 this season, while Yohn is 24-4, will compete at 160. Other Quincy wrestlers expected to be in the medal mix are like Blake Peter (106), Hunter Carter (113), Thomas Culp (145) and Blake Polling (195).

"It'll be tough getting into the finals this season," Yohn said. "But that's my goal. For the younger guys, we just want them to go out there and have fun. We want them to wrestle like it's their last.

"Last year, I'd get mad after I lost, but this year we're trying to get them to have fun."

A solid finish could be a springboard into the final month of the regular season. The postseason begins Feb. 3 with Quincy playing host to a Class 3A regional.

"This is a major stepping stone because it's a chance to see how guys will finish in regionals," Peters said. "It's a chance to see how the guys will do against some of the bigger kids. This is major for everyone."

It also serves as a chance for QHS coach Phil Neally to see his wrestlers grow.

"It's a good feeling to have that we're going to have those guys back," Neally said. "They all want to be successful, so we're working hard to get them where they want to be.

"They'll get their eyes opened a little bit (this weekend), but that's a part of it."

Yohn, Peters and the rest of the Blue Devils will be tested.

The 160-pound bracket will feature Belleville Althoff's Danny Braunagel, who is the top-ranked wrestler in Class 1A according to IllinoisMatmen.com. His brother, Zac, is the top-ranked wrestler at 182 in Class 1A.

Althoff's Max Kristoff, who's ranked third, will be in the 138-pound bracket with Peters. Quincy Notre Dame's Zach Haley, who's ranked second at 145-pounds in Class 1A, also is in the field.

But it's a chance for the Blue Devils to show they can compete among the state's best.

"We practice to get better this year, but we also practice to look forward to next year," Peters said. "We're already kind of getting that gameplan ready."

TOP COMPETITION

Here are some of the wrestlers to pay attention during the 49th annual Quincy Invitational:

Chase Bittle, 126, Sr., Belleville Althoff

Bittle cruised to a Class 1A state title at 126 pounds last season, pinning Stillman Valley's Jared Van Vleet in 1 minute, 16 seconds.

Anthony Turner, 132, Jr., Danville

A state finalist a year ago at 120 pounds, he's currently ranked second in Class 2A this year.

Zach Haley, 145, Sr., Quincy Notre Dame

Haley won the championship at last year's Quincy Invitational at 138 pounds and went on to finish second at the Class 1A state tournament. He's currently ranked second in the state.

Martell Boone, 152, Sr., Cahokia

He advanced to the Class 2A state tournament at 145 pounds last year, and is currently ranked second at his weight class.

Danny Braunagel, 160, Sr., Belleville Althoff

The reigning 152-pound state champion in Class 1A is the top-ranked wrestler in the state and has committed to the University Illinois.

Zac Braunagel, 182, Sr., Belleville Althoff

A state champion last season in Class 1A at 170, he also is committed to the University of Illinois and is ranked No. 1 in his weight class.

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