State wrestling notebook: Princeton makes history with 3 medalists

Princeton’s Ace Christiansen flips Sandwich’s Cooper Corder in the 138 pound 1A third place match Saturday, Feb. 17, 2024 at the IHSA state wrestling finals at the State Farm Center in Champaign.

CHAMPAIGN - It was a historic weekend for the Princeton Tigers wrestling team.

The Tigers landed three state medals for the first time in program history and qualified four wrestlers for state for only the second time, the first time since 2002.

Junior Ace Christiansen led the charge with a third-place finish at 138 pounds.

Junior heavyweight Cade Odell followed with a fourth-place finish at 285 while sophomore Augustus Swanson placed fifth at 106.

Sophomore Casey Etheridge also made it to the final day, falling in the blood round at 165.

“I’m extremely proud of all four of these guys. We talk all year about wrestling hard for six minutes and that’s what they did, PHS coach Steve Amy said. “The tournament is long and very emotional. It’s really hard to stay focused throughout the three days, but these guys were able to keep it together and continue to compete.”

Christiansen said it was a great weekend for the Tigers.

“As a team, we had four guys qualify and three of them won medals. There are some teams that had 10-11 guys that qualified that don’t have three winning medals, so we did really well,” he said.

Christiansen (39-7) gained avenge over Sandwich’s Cooper Corder, who beat Christiansen in close title matches at the regional and sectional, by scoring a 5-4 ultimate tiebreaker to win the third-place match at 138.

“It feels great. I didn’t even make it out of the sectional last year and got third place this year,” Christiansen said. “Our coaches just push us to do our best, and that kind of pushing helped in my match when it went into extra overtime periods.”

Christiansen matched the third-place finish of his brother, Augie, at 145 pounds a year ago.

Princeton’s Cade Odell gets behind Roxana’s James Herring in the 285 pound 1A third place match Saturday, Feb. 17, 2024 at the IHSA state wrestling finals at the State Farm Center in Champaign.

After falling in Friday’s semifinals, Odell came back strong in Saturday’s wrestlebacks, defeating Chicago Hope Academy junior Roy Phelps 6-0. In the third-place match, he then fell to Roxanna senior James Herring 3-2 to finish fourth.

Odell, a second-year wrestler, said he was very thankful for the opportunity.

“It was a big deal and a big stage,” Odell said. “I was happy how well I was able to do and how well my teammates did. We had an incredible experience as a team.”

While it wasn’t the finish he had hoped for, Swanson (35-3), who was No. 1 ranked at 106 pounds, won his final match of the season, defeating Coal City’s Owen Peterson 6-4 for fifth place.

He fell to Chicago De LaSalle sophomore Jeremiah Lawrence by a pinfall in 5:46.

Etheridge fell via pinfall to Rockridge’s Ryan Lower in the blood round at 165 to finish 32-11.

Princeton sophomore Augustus Swanson works on a pinfall over Oakwood freshman Steven Uden in a first-round match at state. Swanson finished fifth at 106 pounds.

Friday’s semifinals

Three Tigers made their way into Friday’s semifinals, but were unable to take the next step into Saturday’s finals.

Swanson lost by 14-10 decision to Vandalia freshman Max Philpot in a 106-pound semifinal.

Christiansen also met up with a Vandalia wrestler, dropping an 8-2 decision to Vandals sophomore Dillon Hinton.

Odell dropped a 2-1 decision in a 285 semifinal on Friday to Althoff junior Jason Dowell.

Etheridge stayed alive in Friday’s wrestlebacks, pinning Gibson City Melvin Sibley, freshman Cooper Miller by fall in 0:29 and beating Robinson junior Kahne Hyre by a 17-4 major decision.

They said it

Augie Christiansen, who was third last year, congratulated his brother’s placement with a little jab at his dad, Aaron. He reposted his brother’s accomplishment on, saying his third-place finish “officially moves dad into last place in the Christiansen house.”

Tiger history

The Tigers’ hat trick of medalist has never been matched in program history. they have two medalists five times - 1990, 1995 2002, 2003 and 2019

The only other time Princeton has qualified four wrestlers for state was 2002, including state champ Brian Taylor (112). Also qualifying were Ryne Bird, Greg Clodfelter and Brandon Nink. A year later, Nink would take first (140) and Bird second (125).

Izzy has next

PHS sophomore Izzy Gibson qualified for the first IHSA Girls State Tournament in Bloomington on Feb. 23-24. She is Princeton’s first female IHSA state qualifier.

Gibson (19-6), who placed fourth at the Byron Sectional, will face Peoria Richwoods senior Kalia Williams (23-1) in an opening round match Friday morning. Their winner will meet the winner between Thorton Fractional South sophomore Akayla Coopwood (14-3) and Tinley Park Andrew Alyssa Kane (31-2).

Putnam County-Hall junior Bailey Herr (15-11) will compete at 190 pounds. She has a first-round match against Zion Benton senior ILeen Castrejon (21-1).

There is just one class for the IHSA girls state competition.