Boys wrestling: Princeton quartet, Sandwich trio heading to 1A state

Tigers’ Augustus Swanson and Indians’ Cooper Corder lead the way by earning championships at Byron Sectional

Augustus Swanson

BYRON – Like many wrestlers, Princeton sophomore Augustus Swanson had come up with a game plan heading into his 106-pound championship match against Johnsburg’s Eric Bush at Saturday’s Class 1A Byron Sectional.

“I hadn’t wrestled him before, but I watched his semifinal and expected him to be on the attack right from the start,” Swanson said. “That’s kind of my thing too, so I just wanted to make sure I made my shots count and finished them. I had to wrestle smart, use my head and wrestle my match.”

In the final 30 seconds of the back-and-forth match, Swanson — who also went to state last season after a fourth-place sectional placement — took down Bush for the clinching points of a 7-5 triumph to improve his record to 32-1 on the season.

“I figured that depending on how the match played out, I would be OK if I was in a position where I let him escape to then turn around and take him down ... trading one point for two,” Swanson said. “It kind of went that way, and I was able to get that final takedown.”

Four wrestlers from Princeton, as well as three from Sandwich, qualified for the state meet Thursday through Saturday at the State Farm Center in Champaign.

“I’ve worked really hard this season, so to be able to accomplish this to go along with my brother (Miles) making it as well, it’s a dream come true. It’s just awesome.”

—  Cooper Corder, Sandwich's 138-pound freshman wrestler

The title match at 138 featured a rematch from last week’s Plano Regional championship between Sandwich freshman Cooper Corder and Princeton’s Ace Christiansen, which Corder won 7-6.

Corder (32-3) was able to again come out on top against Christiansen (35-6), this time 5-2, in another knockdown, drag-out battle.

“I’ve worked really hard this season, so to be able to accomplish this to go along with my brother [Miles] making it as well, it’s a dream come true. It’s just awesome,” Cooper Corder said. “At regionals, [Christiansen] was super aggressive and dictated the pace of the match, where I didn’t really take any shots and I was super passive.

“I wanted to be a little more aggressive today and hopefully get to some of my attacks, which I did, but it wasn’t easy. He’s a pretty good wrestler, but my hope was he would tire out a little at the end.”

Sandwich freshman Cooper Corder

Christiansen, who will be making his second trip to state, said although he was disappointed he was unable to overcome Corder in the second go-round, he could walk away this time knowing he wrestled more like he wanted to.

“Part of the problem [in the regional against Corder] was that I shut down mentally, and I just didn’t wrestle to the finish,” Christiansen said. “Today I feel I did a better job of not doing that, kept the pace high and kept pressing. I feel 100% better walking away not beating him today than the last time.

“I was able to go to state as a freshman as well and went 1-2. I’m excited for the chance to give it another shot. Obviously this was my goal, to make state, but I also have a goal of going down there and coming back with a better mark than that.”

At 144, Miles Corder (38-9) used lessons learned from his younger brother Cooper in turning his blood-round match against Stillman Valley’s Henry Hildreth completely around and securing a state bid, his first. Trailing 5-2, the Indians’ senior picked up a pin midway through the second period.

“I practice with my brother Cooper all the time, and he is much more a technical wrestler than I am,” Miles Corder said. “He’s taught me to know when to sink back on my weight when my opponent tries to go high on me. That was the key in my blood-round match. [Hildreth] had me down a few points, but he went for a high grab, and I was able to shift back a little, caught him under his arm, flipped him and got the pin.”

Miles Corder then went on to defeat Richmond-Burton’s Emmett Nelson, who was 45-1 coming into the match, by a 14-8 decision.

“The third-place match was pretty even throughout and just back-and-forth,” Miles Corder said. “He was a little shorter and stockier than me, and I’m pretty light for my weight class. I was able to get a reversal off a scramble early in the third, but had to let him go when we ended up close to the edge of the mat. From there I was able to get a pretty sick double-leg takedown to kind of close it out.”

Princeton also will be sending junior Cade Odell (29-2) and sophomore Casey Etheridge (30-9) to Champaign. Odell lost 4-3 in an ultimate tiebreaker to Jaylen Torres of Wheaton St. Francis in the championship at 285, while Etheridge dropped his third-place match at 165 to Rockridge’s Ryan Lower 14-4.

Sandwich’s Colten Stone (29-17) advanced to state after earned a thrilling blood-round win by pin in 2:42 against Stillman Valley’s Mack Jones at 113. Stone then lost via pin in 46 seconds in the third-place match to Oregon’s Nelson Benesh.

Marquette Academy freshman Beau Thompson (25-6) reached the blood round at 126 but lost 10-5 to Thomas Soward of Rockridge.