CHAMPAIGN — East Alton-Wood River junior Drew Sobol hadn't won a match at state prior to this season. Now he owns a fourth place Class 1A medal at 106 pounds.
Sobol defeated Ezra Elliot of the Hoopeston Cornjerkers 8-2 to qualify for the third-place match, but unfortunately lost 5-0 to Rockford Lutheran's Josh Schrank to finish fourth at U of I's State Farm Center in Champaign.
With teammate Zac Blasioli advancing to the 1A state title match at 152 pounds tonight already, it marks the first time EA-WR has had two medalists in the same season.
Sobol was disappointed following his loss, but understands the magnitude of his accomplishment.
“My goal coming in was to be a state champion obviously. That's everyone's goal,” Sobol said. “I fell short in the semifinals 6-0 and you have to set new goals. Then it was take third so I fell short again, but I got to medal.
“This bracket was tough, a lot harder than last year, so not winning a match in an easier bracket to finishing fourth in a harder bracket, makes me happier I guess.”
His head coach and father, Dave Sobol, admitted that looking at the big picture shows the grandness of the fourth-place finish.
“Your on the podium and it's such an accomplishment,” coach Sobol said. “A fourth-place finish, there are probably about 2,000 kids that would like to be in that place, so we're happy with it.”
Now the attention for the Oilers turns to Blasioli's bid for a state title tonight. The Grand March begins at 5:30 p.m. with the state title bouts to immediately follow. State final matches begin at 285 pounds.
“We're all pulling for him,” Drew Sobol said of Blasioli. “(Getting him ready) is the main goal.”
Dave Sobol added, “Those two kids (Sobol and Blasioli) are practice partners and they've gone through so much. They are best of friends, rooting for each other and it's something that has never been done at our school (two medalists in same year). They represented southern Illinois well, represented our school and selfishly, they represented me as a dad — just tremendous.”
Senior Jarod Foiles of the Roxana Shells finished in sixth place at state after falling a round short of medaling last season.
Foiles (132) needed a win Saturday to get to the medal round. He started the morning by pinning Braysen Singleton of Taylor Ridge (Rockridge) in 5:47 to earn the way there. Foiles then suffered successive losses via pins, despite being in tight matches.
Joe Eads of Morrison pinned him in 5:58 in the wrestlback semifinals and then was stuck by Mason Sauseda of Kankakee (McNamara) in 3:28 in what was a scoreless match at the time.
“He had a good season and we're disappointed obviously,” Roxana head coach Rob Milazzo said. “It was a really close match in the consolation semis... We're proud of him no matter what.”
Overall the Shells qualified four wrestlers for 1A state. Only Foiles advanced to Saturday.
Freshman Alex Maguire (138), junior Brett Nyswonger (220) and senior heavyweight Owen Robinson were all ousted during Friday's action.
“The future is bright for kids like Maguire and Brett Nyswonger had a great tournament,” Milazzo said. “We go back to the drawing board and get back after. Hopefully we'll be back next year and have a better turnout than what we did.
“First and foremost we're proud of Jarod for getting is goal of a state medal. Yeah, you always want higher, but ultimately we're very, very proud of him.”
In 3A competition, Alton's Connor Broyles (132) and Kyle Thompson (160) of Granite City fell just short of the medal round on Saturday.
Broyles lost 3-1 to Danny Madonia of Hoffman Estates (Conant) in the wrestleback quarters to miss out on a shot at a medal.
“Overall it was a nice season for Connor,” Alton coach Eric Roberson said. “I know he's disappointed and that was a close one, but he put himself in great position to win that match and get to the medal round, but he just did not get that takedown.”
Roberson hopes Broyles and fellow state qualifier, senior Alejandro Lopez (145), can leave a lasting legacy on the Redbird program from their work ethic.
“These are two guys that put in a lot of work, a lot of hours,” Roberson said. “Hopefully the younger guys can look and see what needs to be done with the commitment. Alejandro didn't start wrestling until his freshman year, so it can be done.
“Connor's a two-time state qualifier and it's hard to get here twice, especially in 3A.”
Thompson fell behind early to Devin Donovan of Wheaton North in the wrestleback quarters, but clawed back to knot it at 4-4 before ulitmately bowing out 8-4.
With Thompson just being a junior, GCHS head coach George Kirgan sees a bright future for him.
“He wasn't picked by the experts to be here, but I believe he's an all-state wrestler,” Kirgan said. “We have to pick him up and get him ready for next year. He's a junior and has one more year left and an opportunity to be here. He's had a great season.”
CM's Brandon Carpenter (182) narrowly missed making the medal round in 2A action, too. He suffered a huge heartbreaker, losing in a super tiebreaker 3-2 to come up shy of the medal round. He was in a stalemate with Hunter Crowley of Mahomet-Seymour, but when Crowley nabbed an escape point early in the final 30-second overtime period, Carpenter couldn't counter.
Just a junior, Carpenter will be back for one more season with the Eagles.