Anna-Jonesboro had 10 wrestlers in the finals and advanced eight to the Vandalia Sectionals to win its first regional team title in school history at the West Frankfort 1A wrestling regional Saturday.
"Never in the history of A-J wrestling we have won the title," said A-J coach Eric Massey. "We knew we were going to be in the running with Murphysboro and Harrisburg and things went our way."
Juniors Ariel Hart (30-9) at the 152 weight class and Ethan Krumrey (22-9) at 160 won the Wildcats' only titles, but with four second place finishes, two thirds and two fourths Anna-Jonesboro easily edged out Harrisburg by 13 points to advance to the Litchfield Dual Team Sectional.
Hart won his title by handing Blaine Riley (10-1) from Pinckneyville his first loss of the season with a pin at 3:03 and Krumrey beat Ian McMahon (19-19) from Benton by a 10-4 decision.
Also advancing for the Wildcats were second place finishers junior Lee Tellor (13-9) at 106, his twin brother Jay Tellor (19-16) at 113, sophomore Nate Kisat (29-8) at 132 and senior Nick Jimenez (29-7) at 285, third place finishers seniors Dylan Fox (26-16) at 145 and Nick Harvel (27-10) at 195.
Harrisburg finished second despite finishing with five individual winners led by sophomores Landon Hicks (29-5) at 120 by an 8-3 decision over Joe Ellis of Carterville, Kyle Cavender (32-4) at 126 won his second regional title by an 8-3 decision over Dietz, and Kody Cavender (29-4) at 132 by a 10-6 decision over Kisat.
"Going in, I knew it would be tough in some of the weight classes, but we had five No. 1 seeds and they all won," said Harrisburg coach Greg Langley. "When Murphysboro had to bump Sam Dietz up to 126 for not making weight it helped us. Landon won at 120 and Kyle then beat Dietz at 126."
Seniors Ryan Ragsdale (25-8) at 182 and Chase McDaniel (32-4) at 285 also took home titles. Sophomore Jimmy Hicks (26-11) finished second at 145 and Chandler Bowling (26-10) third at 138 to also advance.
Murphysboro finished third, 16 points behind Harrisburg and also advanced seven. Junior Ethan Cue won his first regional title at 106 by pinning Lee Tellor at 1:05 and Ryan Chambers won his second with a 10-6 decision over Kisat at 132.
Also advancing for the Red Devils were junior Sam Dietz (26-5) at 126 with a second place finish. Finishing third were freshman Tristian Mick (30-11) at 132, junior Hunter Meulhbauer (9-19) at 170, senior Dalton Miller (26-7) at 220 and senior Angel Acosta (29-15) at 285.
"Hunter wasn't even seeded and had to beat a couple of seeded wrestlers ahead of him," said Murphysboro coach Shea Baker. "He is gelling at the right time."
Pinckneyville finished fifth with five wrestlers advancing. Junior Jordan Koester (30-9) was the Panthers lone titlist with a pin of Hicks from Harrisburg at 2:38. Finishing second were Riley at 152, Grant Murphy (28-7) at 170 and junior Jeremy Opp (20-6) at 220. Freshman Ryder Parson (21-20) finished third at 120.
"The largest groups I saw coming out was in 2009 and we had eight, so five is definitely a solid number for us," said Pinckneyville coach Garret Huggins.
West Frankfort finished fourth by finishing with three title winners. Junior Lucas Wilmore (31-9) beat Jay Tellor by a pin at 3:42 at 113, freshman Connor Eaton (33-8) won at 170 by a 15-7 major decision over Murphy and senior Jake Upton (9-3) at 195 by a pin over Lucas Sarver of Carterville at 4:56.
"Lucas has been sick for the last few days and was little worried about it, but he recovered quite well and did great," said West Frankfort coach Rick Arrington. "Upton has been out of the lineup sick or hurt for most of the season and only got back in the lineup the last three weeks. He was a three seed and we didn't expect him to make the finals. Having a freshman win a regional in the upper weights hasn't happened in quite a while. Connor's only losses are to ranked wrestlers, so to get over 30 wins is quite impressive."
Benton finished sixth and advanced four wrestlers. Finishing second were senior Oliver Davis (29-7), who forfeited the title match to Chambers at 138 because of a knee injury and McMahon at 160. Coming in third were freshman Chris Morris (16-20) at 113 and senior Jourdan Garbo (22-18) at 182.
"We decided Oliver didn't need to wrestle the final to give him a week of therapy to get ready for sectionals," said Benton coach Duane Bean. "He's a senior and he really wanted to go for the regional title, so we had to talk him out of going."
Sparta finished seventh with junior Clayton Sheldon (19-3) winning his second regional title at 220 with pin of Opp at 3:02. Also advancing for the Bulldogs were freshman Isaac Sinn (21-11) at 106 and sophomore Kijah Banda (16-17) at 160.
"Clayton hurt his ankle in the regional last year and wrestled on one leg in sectionals and ended up qualifying to state," said Sparta coach Rob Kirk. "He has a strong chance to be one of Southern Illinois' top six wrestlers."
Carterville advanced four wrestlers with junior Joe Ellis (9-16) at 120, sophomore Julian Harshbarger (14-11) at 182 and Sarver (17-7) at 195 finishing second and sophomore Matt Jones (23-15) third at 126.
"It was a great day," said Carterville coach Aaron Melvin. "Joe Ellis upset his way into the finals. He is a first year varsity wrestler and only a second year wrestler, so it was a good day for him."