A year ago, Kyle Thompson came up one place short of going to sectionals.
On Saturday, the Granite City junior made sure he wasn’t going to be one place short again.
Thompson advanced to the sectional tournament by winning his first regional championship on Saturday, beating Edwardsville’s Mason Taylor 3-2 in the 160-pound title match at the Class 3A Quincy Regional.
“That’s a really good feeling for him,” Granite City coach George Kirgan said. “I’m just happy for him. He worked hard in his training. He’s been watching his diet and he’s been eating healthy and it has paid off for him.”
Thompson will be joined by junior Korinthian Nabors and sophomore Andre Weathers as the lone Granite City representatives at the sectional tournament on Friday and Saturday in Bolingbrook. All of them are competing in sectionals for the first time.
“It’s all about this weekend coming up,” Kirgan said. “It’s a big weekend. I’m hoping on these three guys. I’ll give them anything they need and hopefully, they wrestle to their abilities.”
Kirgan said he hopes all three wrestlers qualify for state. The Warriors have had four state qualifiers since Kirgan took over as head coach in the 2012-2013 season.
“That would be perfect,” Kirgan said. “I think Thompson and Nabors have a really good shot. Weathers is still pretty raw and green, but anything can happen with Andre.”
Nabors also won a regional championship on Saturday, beating Edwardsville’s Bobby Burnside 4-1 in the 285 title match. Nabors will take a 25-10 record into sectionals this weekend.
“He’s gotten smarter,” Kirgan said. “He’s gotten more experience and I’m really proud of him.”
Weathers, who is 16-11, qualified for sectionals by beating O’Fallon’s Jake DeLange 8-2 in the third-place match at 170.
“He’s coming along nicely,” Kirgan said. “He’s working hard and he’s a great athlete. He’s really taking it to wrestling and he’s enjoying it.”
Senior Wilyonde Bell saw his high school wrestling career come to an end on Saturday after being pinned by Collinsville’s Cole Zabala in the third period of the 138 third-place match. Bell, who finished with a 34-12 mark, competed in sectionals at 145 last winter.
“That was really disappointing,” Kirgan said. “That was heartbreaking. He’s a good kid and he definitely deserved to be there. He thought 138 was his best shot to place at state.”
Sophomore Josh Harsh was denied his second straight sectional appearance after losing 10-8 to Pekin’s Blake Harris in the 120 third-place match. Harsh competed at 113 in last year’s sectionals.
Freshman Mitchell Millsap defeated Pekin’s Brody Haynes in the first round before losing back-to-back matches at 113. Sophomore Jared Skaggs also won a match at regionals, defeating Justin Sanders of Belleville East 14-0 in a consolation first-round match.
The Warriors finished sixth with 82.5 points in the nine-team Quincy Regional.
Last winter, Thompson finished fourth at 160 at the Belleville West Regional after losing 10-0 to Edwardsville’s Chris Prosser in the third-place match.
“The top three in his regional last year made it to state,” Kirgan said.
On Saturday, Thompson pinned his first two opponents — Collinsville’s Adam Gillespie and Belleville East’s Tim Eschenfelder — before facing Taylor in the finals. Thompson, the lone Granite City wrestler to win a title at the Granite City Holiday Tournament in December, will take a 36-10 record into sectionals.
After receiving a bye in the first round, Nabors advanced to the championship match at 285 by pinning Belleville West’s Israel Griffin in the first period in the semifinals. Nabors is 25-10.
Both Thompson and Nabors were seeded second in the regional tournament.
“That was nice to see them wrestle above their seeds,” Kirgan said.
Weathers pinned Belleville East’s Brandon Jenkins in the first period of his first-round match. After being pinned by Prosser in the semifinals, Weathers bounced back by pinning Pekin’s Tyler Siddles in the first round in the consolation semifinals and beating DeLange in the title match.
Thompson started wrestling when he was in seventh grade. Both Nabors and Weathers began wrestling last year.
“The guys we have wrestling are doing well,” Kirgan said. “They don’t have much experience, but they’re doing well. We’re happy to have them and hopefully, they all go to state.”