Maple Leafs are on cloud nine

Chris Steele
Andrew Rizzo, left, competes during Geneseo’s dual with Rock Island.

The Maple Leafs’ Billy Blaser earned his second regional title, and Geneseo advanced nine wrestlers from the Class 2A Dixon Regional on Feb. 2.

Geneseo finished third (139.5) in the team standings behind champion Dixon (183) with Rock Island finishing runner-up (142.5) among a nine-team field.

A senior, Blaser won the championship match with a takedown to secure a 3-1 sudden victory in overtime.

Despite the match going to overtime, Geneseo Coach Jon Murray said Blaser was in complete control on his way to a second regional title.

“I would say the match wasn’t as close as the score,” Murray said. “He dominated the match, and he was never in danger of losing. The score just didn’t show how dominating he was.”

Blaser has often shown the ability to win close matches, and Murray believes Blaser probably holds the school record for overtime matches.

“It’s good to have that experience when the time comes to qualify for state or in a potential match at state,” Murray said.

Geneseo had a solid group earn runner-up finishes at regionals.

A senior, the Maple Leafs’ Andrew Rizzo earned a 6-3 upset win by decision to advance to the championship at 145 pounds.

Geneseo’s Clay DeBaillie won his semifinal match with a pin in 3:18 to advance to the championship at 138 pounds.

The Leafs’ Eli Allen worked his way to a runner-up finish at 182 pounds.

Cade Hornbeck fell just short of an upset in the 113-pound championship match falling 12-10 in the final.

A freshman, Anthony Montez earned a runner-up finish at 106 pounds in his first regional action.

With the top three finishers earning a ticket to sectionals, Geneseo’s Bruce Moore nabbed a 6-4 overtime sudden victory in the third-place match at 132 pounds.

Luke Henkhaus made his way through a tough 120-pound bracket to win the third-place match with a victory by pin in 1:28.

The Maple Leafs Jayden Erdman secured a sectional spot with a pin in 4:46 during the 152-pound third-place match.

Geneseo’s Mick Mooney earned a quarterfinal win with a 14-9 decision before being eliminated in the 195-pound bracket, and Rob Stohl earned a consolation win by major decision at 220 pounds before bowing out.

Geneseo will host the Class 2A sectional tournament starting on Friday, Feb. 9 at 4:30 p.m.

Murray believes the Geneseo crowd will give the Maple Leafs’ wrestlers a boost at sectionals.

“Being in your home gym is just a mindset advantage,” Murray said. “Just feeling that support from the crowd and knowing this is your gym is something they can use to their advantage mentally.”