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2014 IESA Wrestling State Finals Begin Friday, March 14

A field of 456 wrestlers from 122 of the 145 schools that entered the Illinois Elementary School Association (IESA) state wrestling series will compete this weekend in the 35th annual Boys State Final Wrestling Tournament at the Convocation Center on the campus of Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Illinois.

There will be a total of 703 bouts over the two days with competition in 19 weight classes. The 122 schools with at least one wrestler advancing to the State Tournament represents 84 percent of the total number of schools that entered the state series. It is the ninth time in IESA history that the state final wrestling field included 100 or more schools. Last year, 123 schools advanced at least one wrestler to the big stage.

Breakdown of the competitors by grade in school is: 10 fifth graders, 61 sixth graders, 91 seventh graders and 294 eighth graders.

Doors open at 2:30 p.m. Friday and bouts will begin on eight mats at 3:30. The preliminary round and first round bouts in the championship bracket will be conducted Friday. Doors open at 8:00 a.m. on Saturday and wrestling resumes at 9:00 a.m. Semifinals are set to begin Saturday afternoon at approximately 12:30 p.m. Championship bouts are scheduled to begin at 5:00 p.m. Championship bouts will be conducted simultaneously on two mats.

Single-day tickets are priced at $10.00 each day for high school students and adults. Price of single-day tickets for senior citizens (age 62 and above) and students in grades K-8 is $5.00 each. Children below kindergarten are admitted free. Advanced ticket sales for the state finals at the NIU Convocation Center are now available through Ticketmaster. Those who purchase their tickets in advance will bypass the ticket purchase line and simply proceed to the admission door. If you want to purchase tickets in advance simply go to www.ticketmaster.com, type in NIU Convocation Center and then find the IESA Wrestling Finals link. The standard Ticketmaster surcharge will be applied.  

Visit www.iesa.org for additional information regarding complete pairings by weight class, team rosters, the 2014 Grand Marshal and the sectional place winners by site. Results from the state tournament will be posted continuously throughout the weekend.

This year's Grand Marshal is Arch Richoz, retired wrestling coach at DeKalb Huntley Middle School and a former member of the IESA Wrestling Advisory Committee. During his time at Huntley, Richoz helped the J - Barbs capture the IESA state team championship in 1991, while also laying claim to six undefeated dual meet seasons, 19 regional championships, 11 sectional championships, 18 individual state champions and 19 second place finishers during his tenure. He has served as the state tournament manager for the past 16 years and will retire as the manager of the IESA state wrestling tournament following this year's finals. Richoz is the only person ever to be selected as a Grand Marshal twice for the IESA state wrestling championships.

There are six state champions returning from a season ago, all possessing the drive to recapture last year's state final magic. Peotone's Paul Keane is back a year removed from winning the 65 lb. weight class as a fifth grader, this time competing at 70 lb. That 70 lb. division was won by Alex Friddle a season ago, as the seventh grade Coal City Warrior returns to the finals competing in the 80 lb. weight class. Eighth grader Ethan Harsted of Ottawa Shepherd has made his way back to state, after capturing gold in the 75 lb. weight class in 2013. This time around, the rumbling Ram has maneuvered his way up to the 95 lb. weight class. Another eighth grader returning after taking home first a year ago is Clifton Nash's Adrian Pace. Pace seized the first place title in the 100 lb. weight class a season ago, and this time has qualified for state in the 126 lb. weight class. Last year's 112 lb. first place winner, East Peoria Central's Mike Hartnett, is also back for another state final go-around. The talented eighth grader representing the Wildcats is now competing in the 119 lb. weight class. Rounding out the group is Taylor Ridge Rockridge's Collin Schmidt, who is the lone returning champion aiming to capture back-to-back titles in the same weight class (185 lb.).

Mahomet-Seymour is the all-time leading producer of individual state champions with 42. Sandwich is next at 25 followed by Bloomington JHS at 23, Shorewood Troy at 22, Coal City at 23 and New Lenox (Oster-Oakview Liberty, and Martino) at 20. They are the only schools in IESA wrestling history to have 20 or more individual champions. Fox Lake Stanton 18, DeKalb Huntley 17, and Channahon 15, are next in order.  

The all-time record for most qualifiers by a single school is 20---Wheeling Holmes advanced 20 wrestlers to the finals in 1986 and New Lenox also advanced 20 in 2006. This year, the Warriors of Antioch qualified the most wrestlers for the state tournament with 13 while Homer Glen Homer and DeKalb Clinton Rosette each qualified 11 wrestlers.

The Mahomet-Seymour Bulldogs lead in team titles with 6, the last coming in 2009 with 152 points. Mahomet-Seymour won its other team titles in 1984-92-93-94-96. Second is the New Lenox program with 5 titles--1986, 87, 89, 2002, and 2003. Tied for third in team titles are DeKalb Huntley and Bloomington JHS with four each.

The team championship appears to be a wide open race this year. Any of the sectional champions or runner-ups is likely to walk away with the team title.  Look for teams to place 1-4 to come from one of the following schools: Antioch, Petersburg PORTA JHS, Cahokia Wirth, DeKalb Clinton Rosette, DeKalb Huntley, Homer Glen Homer, New Lenox Liberty, Lake in the Hills Marlowe, Lake Zurich South, LeRoy, or Bloomington JHS.

The Convocation Center is hosting the IESA State Wrestling Tournament for the 12th straight year. The NIU campus is site of the event for the 16th consecutive year.

Media wishing to cover the event must contact Steve Endsley at the IESA Office by 12 noon on Thursday, March 13 to request credentials. He may be reached via email at steve@iesa.org.



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