Billy Blaser earned the Northern Illinois Big 12 285-pound title.
The Geneseo wrestling room has the names of all of the Maple Leafs’ individual postseason honors hanging from the walls.
On, Jan. 20, Billy Blaser got to realize a dream of adding his name to the list.
A junior, Blaser was the Northern Illinois Big 12 champion of the 285-pound bracket with a 1-0 win by decision in the title match.
“If I can win the Geneseo Invite and (conference) — think about what I can do at state,” Blaser said.
In front of a home crowd for the host Maple Leafs, Blaser earned the decisive point with an escape, which is a move he uses to his advantage.
“I know I have confidence in my escape because I’ve been working on it for so long,” Blaser said. “It is something I love going to in times I need it because it’s always there for me.”
DeKalb (221) won the team title and Geneseo (113) finished fifth among a 10-team field.
The only NIB 12 West team Geneseo finished behind was LaSalle-Peru (141) who finished third.
Geneseo’s Heath Henderson had his highest finish of the season taking third in the 170-pound bracket with a victory by pin in 1:57 in the third-place bout.
Henderson was excited to be able to have his best finish come in front of a home crowd and at this point in the season.
“It’s great to have it happen where we train and where we are from,” Henderson said. “The atmosphere is better here with more people here for us.”
After suffering early round defeats, Geneseo’s Luke Henkhaus has battled his way back to take third the past two weeks at the Geneseo Invite and NIB 12 conference meet.
Henkhaus says it’s the support he gets from his teammates that allows him to turn around and fight his way back through the back draw at 120 pounds.
“We are all there for each other,”Henkhaus said. “When I lose, I’m always turning to my friends.”
After winning a regional title last season, Henkhaus said he’s ready to rise to the occasion and looks forward to a potential rematch with Peoria Notre Dame’s Grant Peterson who he defeated in the final last year.
Joe Stohl finished fourth at 220 pounds, and Josh Decker landed fourth at 160 pounds.
The Leafs’ Logan Tuggle finished fourth at 126 pounds, and Cade Hornback won the fifth-place match at 113 pounds with a pin in 1:57.
Geneseo’s Jayden Erdman finished sixth at 152 pounds, and Ethan McKelvain finished sixth at 195 pounds.
Geneseo’s next bouts will come at the Class 2A Rock Falls Regional on Saturday, Feb. 3.