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Geneseo Republic - Geneseo, IL
  • Wrestlers win title; 11 advance

  • Four regional champs, 11 sectional qualifiers and 14 place finishers ended the Geneseo wrestling team's regional team title drought as the Leafs brought home the Rock Island Regional title Feb. 2.
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  • Four regional champs, 11 sectional qualifiers and 14 place finishers ended the Geneseo wrestling team's regional team title drought as the Leafs brought home the Rock Island Regional title Feb. 2.
    This marks the first regional title for Geneseo since 1995.
    "This is very special for the program and the community to end a dry spell like that, and the opportunity it provides us with the dual series to continue farther," said head coach Jon Murray. "I am very proud of these guys and every single one of those guys did their job.
    "This is the first time we have ever had this many go to sectionals. It is nice to have somebody at every weight class and even better to have good quality wrestlers."
    Freshman Jon Warner captured the first regional title for Geneseo at 113 pounds. Warner won his opening round match over Rochelle's Josh Board in a 9-2 decision, and then defeated Sterling's Isaac Anderson in an 11-7 decision. In the championship match, Warner pinned UT's Jerome Steward in 3 minutes and 17 seconds.
    "Jon was up against the No. 1 seed in the semifinals to a kid who already beat him and got the win and got the No. 2 seed in the final," said Murray. "He stepped up and found a way to make it happen. We've had good freshman before, but it is pretty special to be at that level already."
    Sophomore Josiah Cropp pinned his way to the finals at 145-lbs. Cropp pinned Dixon's Brenan Chacon in 2:10 and Sterling's Nick Terronez in 3:35 to advance to the finals. In the championship match, Cropp beat Rock Island's Jean-Louis Sawadago in an 8-3 decision.
    "Josiah is a very mentally tough kid and nothing is going to stop him. He has it in his mind that he is going to win," said Murray. "He pretty much controlled everything well until the finals, but avenged a loss (earlier in the season) in the finals."
    Senior Mitch Miller earned a regional title in his final regional competition at 182-lbs. Miller pinned his first round opponent Sterling's Canann Gillhan in 4:28, and then defeated Dixon's Jonathan Mixon in a 12-3 major decision. In the title bout, Miller escaped with a 6-5 decision over Freeport's Armond Hollins.
    "Mitch finally got his conditioning in and his body ready to wrestle after battling injuries," said Murray. "He was ready to go just in time and had it pretty well under control up to the finals. In the finals, he was losing with 20 seconds left, but got a reversal toward the end to get the win."
    Senior Cameron Panicucci claimed the 220-lb. regional title for the Leafs. Panicucci had a first-round bye, and pinned Sterling's Will Cahalan in 5:03 to reach the championship. In the title match, Panicucci defeated Rock Island's Nick Niles in a 3-0 decision.
    Page 2 of 3 - "Cameron is really good at being in position and doesn't make a lot of mistakes," said Murray. "He also is able to capitalize on his opponents' mistakes."
    Freshman Hunter Grau earned runner-up honors at 120-lbs. with a pin of Rochelle's Jacob Seidal in 3:07 and a 2-0 win over Freeport's Nate Anderson, 2-0. Grau was pinned in the title match against Rock Island's BJ McGhee in 1:21.
    "Hunter is going to go out and give everything he has, but was up against a state runner up, probable state champ this year and a wrestler who has signed with a Division I school (in BJ McGhee in the finals)," said Murray. "It was a huge challenge and he did everything he could. It was good to feel that level of competition."
    Sophomore Joey Medina placed second at 152-lbs. with a win over Freeport's Desmond Canada in an 8-6 decision and a pin of Galesburg's Dylan Cervantez in 2:27. Medina lost the title match in a 13-0 major decision to UT's Tanner Schuldt.
    Sophomore Ryan Pitra also took second for the Leafs at 160-lbs. as he received a first round bye and then defeated Rock Island's Marcus Jackson in a 7-1 decision. Pitra fell in a 9-4 decision in the championship match to UT's Deryck Wessels.
    Sophomore Lane Akre grabbed a second-place finish at 195-lbs. had a first round bye and pinned Rock Island's Keith Lawrence in the semifinals in 3:35. Akre lost the championship match by technical fall in 5:06 to Sterling's Josh Villarreal.
    Junior Jarred Bruce finished third at 138-lbs. as he won his opening bout by pin in :54 over Freeport's Alan Omung, but then lost in a 12-3 major decision to Rock Island's Devin Syler. He bounced back to pin UT's Jack Copeland in :33 and Rochelle's Wes Meadows in the third-place match in 3:09.
    Junior Brandon Mizlo rebounded after losing his semifinal match to UT's Marcus Murphy in a 5-2 decision at 170-lbs. to pin Dixon's Conner Sperling in 2:29. Mizlo took third place with a pin of Galesburg's Christian Powers in 1:20.
    Junior Nick Verbeck also placed third at 285-lbs. and was the Leafs final qualifier. Verbeck won his opener by pin in 2:22 over Dixon's Brady Butler, but in the semifinals fell in a 9-3 decision to Freeport's Kendal Parker. He won his next two matches by pin over Rock Island's Davante Jackson, 5:00 and Galesburg's Jake Ryden, 3:34 to take third.
    Placing fourth for the Leafs were Antonio Tumbarello at 106-lbs., Clayton Kennedy at 126-lbs. and Josh Dodge at 132-lbs.
    Freshman Tumbarello won his opening match in an 8-0 major decision over Rock Island's Austin Fletcher, but lost his next match in an 11-3 major decision to Sterling's Jaden Urrilla. He bounced back to defeat Rochelle's Jake Meyers in a 4-2 decision, but fell in an 8-4 decision to UT's Marques Harrison in the third-place match.
    Page 3 of 3 - Sophomore Kennedy went 2-2 to take fourth for the Leafs. Kennedy won his opener by pin over Freeport's Ryan Angell in 1:27, but fell in his next match to Rochelle's TC Hager in a 10-5 decision. He later pinned UT's Tyven Workheiser in :45, but was pinned in the third-place match to Sterling's John Hardey in 3:15.
    Senior Josh Dodge received a bye the first round, and lost his semifinal match to Dixon's Trent Brinkmeier in a 5-2 decision. He rebounded to win by technical fall over Galesburg's Tanner Minon in 5:02, but lost the third-place match in a close 3-2 decision to Rochelle's Joe Goshke.
    Geneseo's 11 sectional qualifiers will compete in the Rochelle Sectional at 4:30 p.m. today and 9 a.m. Feb. 9.
    The team will next compete at the Rochelle Dual Team Sectional Feb. 19.
    "Every match is going to be tough (at the Rochelle Individual Sectional) from here on out," said Murray. "We have to be on every match, be tough, smart and ready. Our goal is to get as many individuals to the state tournament as possible."

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