CARBONDALE — Cahokia took control of the 57th annual Murdale Wrestling Tournament on day one and made it hold up by knocking off defending champion Belleville Althoff on Saturday to win its first title since 2013.
“We won the Lincoln tournament last week and this tournament, so we’re on the march now hoping to end with a state championship,” said Cahokia coach Thomas Reed.
Cahokia led by four points after the first three rounds were completed on Friday night, and extended its lead to 41 points heading into the championship round. The Comanches advanced six wrestlers to the championship match and won five to finish with a 31-point victory over the Crusaders.
Locally, Carbondale finished fifth with three second place finishes. Marion finished eighth with two second places and Murphysboro tenth, with defending champion at 145 senior Ryan Chambers (11-2) finishing third after losing his semifinal match to Effingham senior Brandon Marschewski by a 4-3 decision, and beating Olney-Richland County junior Ean Pottorff (19-3) by a 6-1 decision.
The most anticipated match of the final round was at 126, where Belleville Althoff senior Chase Bittle was attempting to become the fifth wrestler in the history of the third-longest-running Illinois high school wrestling tournament to win four titles. He succeeded by beating two-time Murdale champion Zach Williard (23-1) by an 7-1 decision.
“I want to win every tournament I’m at, but last week I didn’t do that, so I really wanted to win this one,” Bittle said. “My plan was to wrestle my match and I think I did. I got an early takedown and continued to ride him out the rest of the match. He says he’s better on his feet, but I got all the takedowns. I beat him on my feet and on the mat."
Bittle took the early lead on a takedown with a minute left in the first period. He added a takedown at the 31 seconds mark of the second period and extended the lead to 7-0 on an escape to open the third period and a takedown with 40 seconds remaining. Williard scored on an escape with seven seconds left.
“He shoved me down pretty good,” Williard said. “He stayed outside and used his quickness. He’s pretty lanky, so he could get to my legs pretty quick. I needed to tie up better to so I could use my strength to get to my shots. I will work on some things so I will be ready to wrestle him again at conference.”
Martell Boone, who is ranked fourth in 2A in the 152-weight class, was named tournament MVP after winning his second consecutive Murdale title. Boone remained undefeated for the season at 16-0. The senior was the defending champion at the 145 weight class and beat Carbondale senior Kolbi Caffey for the second time in eight days by a 5-3 decision to win the title.
“I’m hoping to face him at conference for the third showdown and the fourth will most likely be at sectionals, so hopefully I’ll be 2-2 when we possibly wrestle at state,” Caffey said.
Caffey (21-3) led 2-0 after a takedown 53 seconds into the first period, but Boone cut the lead in half on an escape with two seconds left. Boone pulled off a reverse 38 seconds into the second period to take a 3-2 lead into the third period.
Caffey tied the score on an escape with 1:36 remaining, but Boone retook the lead on a reverse with 33 seconds left.
Caffey, who is ranked fifth in 2A, had advanced to the championship match by handing the class 1A No. 1 ranked wrestler, Arieh Hart from Anna-Jonesoboro, his first loss of the season.
The score was 0-0 after the first period, before Caffey chose bottom and took the lead with an escape at the 17-second mark. Caffey increased his lead to 3-0 on a takedown 24 seconds later.
Hart scored his first point on an escape right after, but Caffey jumped out to a 5-1 lead with 38 seconds remaining. Hart scored on another escape with 10 seconds left to cut the lead to 5-2 heading into the final period.
Hart cut the lead to 5-3 with an escape to open the third period and was in a position to score a takedown to send the match into overtime with seven seconds left, but Caffey held him off to win, 5-3.
“I wasn’t going to give up that takedown, so I spun around and grabbed on his other leg,” Caffey said. “Usually when you are in that position the higher man wins, so if you’re keeping your head up while driving into the other guy they are either going to give you a takedown or nothing is going to happen, and that’s what I did. I thought the referee was going to call a stalemate and we would have to start back up again, but he didn’t.”
Hart (24-1) recovered to finish third by beating Garrick Walker from Glenwood with a 7-6 decision.
The most dramatic match of the finals was at 145, where Effingham senior Brandon Marschewski (16-1) beat Carbondale sophomore Aron Taylor (19-4) by the ultimate tiebreaker, after Taylor had scored on a reverse with two seconds left in the third period to tie the score 6-6.
After neither scored in the first one-minute overtime period and again in the next two 30-second overtime periods, it came down to the ultimate tiebreaker, where the wrestler who decides to be down has to escape to win, and the wrestler on top just has to not allow the escape to win.
“We were both evenly matched, but when it came down to it he held me down and I couldn’t get up,” Taylor said.
Four other local wrestlers advanced to the championship round, but all four failed, marking the first time since at least 2003 a local wrestler didn’t win a title.
Belleville Althoff senior Danny Braunagel (29-0) won his third Murdale title beating Marion sophomore River Flute by a 17-2 tech fall at 160 while his twin brother Zac won his second title by a tech fall at 182 and his other teammate junior Max Kristoff (27-4) won his first Murdale title by beating Harrisburg junior Kody Cavender (17-2) at 138 by a pin at 4:33.
At 195, Olney-Richland County senior Kyle Beasley (15-1) pinned Fairfield senior Theron Stewart (18-4) and at 220 Cahokia junior Jacob Bullock (22-1) successfully defended his title with an 8-4 decision over Marion senior Michael Cantrell (18-3).
Senior Anthony King (16-1) from East St. Louis, successfully defended his title at 106 by beating Civic Memorial freshman Caine Tyus by a 9-3 decision.