Geneseo freshman Ryan?Pitra led the contingent of eight Geneseo wrestlers who advanced to the sectional tournament from the Feb. 4 Geneseo Regional. The Leafs, as a team, placed third overall.
“The tournament went very well,” said head coach Jon Murray. “I think we came out ready to go, and they wrestled over their seeds for the most part.”
Pitra, was the lone champion, followed by fellow freshman Joey Medina, senior Tyler Puls, junior Mitch Miller and senior Oliver Newton, all in second place.
Junior Tristan Thies, sophomore Jarred Bruce and junior Cameron Panicucci, also earned spots in sectionals with third-place finishes.
Pitra (152-pounds) swept the competition with a 3-0 record in his first regional to take the title. Pitra opened competition as he pinned Rochelle’s Jake Cook in 3 minutes and 9 seconds, followed by an 8-4 decision win over UT’s Hunter Hauman. In the title bout, Pitra defeated Freeport’s Justice Reed in a 5-2 decision.
“Ryan did awesome,” said Murray. “His ability already and his potential is so great. He wrestled smart matches and got his take downs early. I always expect great things, but this is very impressive.”
Medina (145-lbs.) went 1-1 after a first round bye to claim second place. Medina won his opener with a pin of Sterling’s Devon Bryant in 3:56. In the title match, Medina suffered a close 10-9 loss to Galesburg’s Ryan Lisenbee.
“Joey winning his semifinal was a big win right there,” said Murray. “He was definitely the underdog in the semifinal, but he expected to win and did that.”
Puls (160-lbs.) nabbed his second-place finish with a 1-1 record. He made quick work of Freeport’s Desmond Canada with a pin in :37, but lost a close 11-10 decision match to Rock Island’s Lucas Rusk in the championship match.
“The way Tyler has wrestled all season got him the No. 1 seed and the bye,” said Murray. “The pin in the semifinal sealed the deal for a trip to sectionals. He got caught in the finals, but next week is a whole new week.”
Miller (170-lbs.), after a first round bye, went 1-1 to earn a spot at the sectional. Miller captured an 11-4 decision win over Rock Island’s Michael Cole and in the championship match fell to UT’s Markus Murphy in a 5-1 decision for second.
“Mitch is good on his feet and is a very basic wrestler,”?said Murray. “Mitch sticks to basic stuff and has honed those skills pretty well.”
Newton (195-lbs.) grabbed Geneseo’s last second-place finish of the regional with a 1-1 record. Newton opened with a 9-7 decision win over Galesburg’s DeMario Walker, but fell in the championship bout to Freeport’s Trey Pempillon by pin in :53.
Page 2 of 3 - “I always trust that Oliver will be ready to wrestle,” said Murray. “We just hope to minimize the mistakes, because he is sometimes so aggressive he puts himself in trouble. He has an aggressive style and is not afraid to try anything.”
Thies (120-lbs.) earned his spot in sectionals with a 3-1 third-place finish at the regional. Thies claimed a round one victory over UT’s Manual Martinez in a 4-1 decision, but was pinned in his next match by Rock Island’s Ignace Hakizimana in 5:28. Thies won out his next two matches with a pin of Dixon’s Calvin Jensen in 1:16 and a 4-1 decision win over Rochelle’s Eduardo Macareno for third.
“Tristan’s first loss was to a wrestler who took third at state last year, but Tristan was able to bounce back and do what he needed to do to get third,” said Murray. “I am proud of the way he was able to bounce back.”
Bruce (138-lbs.) finished the regional with a 2-1 record, a third-place finish and a spot in sectionals. Bruce opened with a :35 pin of Rochelle’s Ben?Eggleslon, but was then defeated by major decision, 16-4 by Rock Island’s Jean-Louis Sawadago. Bruce won the third-place bout with a 14-5 major decision over Freeport’s Wade Dodson.
“Jarred is a scrappy and tough kid,” said Murray. “He has a long way to go, but he is a talented kid, and he can beat a lot of kids on that.”
Panicucci (285-lbs.) also finished regional action with a 2-1 record and a third-place finish. Panicucci suffered loss in his first match as he was pinned by Sterling’s Curtis Lilly in 2:26, but he went on to pin his next two opponents, Rock Island’s Emlno Blanco in 3:42 and UT’s Cody Culkomp in 4:51 for third.
“Cameron lost to Lilly in the semis and at that point he was at a must win,” said Murray. “He came out prepared, made the decisions and did what he needed to do.”
Josh Dodge (126-lbs.) just missed advancing with a fourth-place finish. Dodge lost his first match to UT’s Aaron Halligan in an 8-3 decision, but responded with a 4-1 decision win over Rochelle’s Joe Goshko. He lost the third-place bout to Dixon’s Trent Brinkmeier by pin in 7:52.
Blake Rusk (220-lbs.) ended his wrestling career with a 1-2 record at the regional. Rusk pinned UT’s Talo Buller in :44 in the first round, but lost in a 5-1 decision to Sterling’s Trever Zinke and was later pinned by Dixon’s Mike Rick in 1:30.
Bryce Zanfes (182-lbs.) also ended his wrestling career with a 1-2 record in regional action. Zanfes opened with a 4-1 decision win over UT’s Jocelin Wilson. He suffered losses in his final two matches, 8-4 to Galesburg’s Jonathan Mixon and 5-4 to Rochelle’s Luke Meadows.
Page 3 of 3 - Sean Lillis (132-lbs.) had a rough day has he lost both of his regional matches. Lillis dropped in opener in a 7-5 decision to Dixon’s Kylian Lally and a 5-0 decision to Rochelle’s Josh Ankeny.
Jacob DePauw (106-lbs.) went 1-2 in his first high-school regional. DePauw was pinned in his first match by Rock Island’s Tyler Dehaven in 1:56, but rebounded with a 15-6 major decision victory over Freeport’s Dylan Swift. DePauw later suffered an 8-2 loss to Rochelle’s TC Hager to end his run.
Geneseo’s wrestlers will compete this weekend, at 4:30 p.m. today and 10 a.m. Feb. 11 at the Sterling Sectional.
“The field is loaded,” said Murray. “All the easy matches are out of the way, and we have to be ready to go every single match.
“I want our guys to expect to win, be prepared for every match and show up ready to go, and, if they do that, good things will happen.”