Boys wrestling: Dixon advances eight out of 2A Rock Island Regional

Dukes’ Howell, Kastner, Streator’s Pollett win titles

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ROCK ISLAND – Up 5-4 in the 215-pound title match at the Class 2A Rock Island Regional, Dixon’s Will Howell was thinking pin.

He delivered as Howell scored a takedown of Sterling’s Oswaldo Navarro before putting him on his back with just four seconds left in the second period.

“My main motivation was we were six points down from beating Geneseo,” Howell said.

While Howell notched the pin, Geneseo’s Brayden Franzen pinned Dixon’s Dylan Bopes in the 285 championship match to give the Maple Leafs the title by two points over the Dukes, 186-184.

The host Rocks were third with 170 points followed by Galesburg (147), Sterling (100), Ottawa (63.5), Streator (51) and La Salle-Peru (18).

Howell was one of two individual champions and eight total Dixon wrestlers who advanced to next weekend’s Sycamore Sectional. Ottawa had four sectional qualifiers, Sterling had three, Streator had two and L-P did not advance any wrestlers.

Howell (32-4) won by pin in all three of his matches on his way to the title.

“It’s amazing,” Howell said. “It’s my first year on varsity and my first regional win, so it feels pretty good.”

Teammate Jayce Kastner also claimed a regional crown, winning the 165 bracket.

“I didn’t make it to sectional last year so it feels pretty good to get first the next year,” Kastner said. “My team and my coaches pushing me harder in the room (helped me win a regional this year) and just getting over the feat of being tired and pushing through it and ignoring the pain.”

Kastner (31-8) won his first two matches by pin in less than a minute before beating Sterling’s Gage Tate by 11-3 major decision in the final.

“The last match was definitely the toughest,” Kastner said. “I just stayed in good position. I knew a little bit about (Tate) from watching video. I just made sure I was in a good position with enough points to hold him out the rest of the match.”

Also advancing for the Dukes were runners-up Jack Ragan (106), Jayden Weidman (144), Steven Kitzman (175) and Bopes (285), and third-place finishers James Simpson (138) and Zack Clevenger (190).

Nicholas Pollett

Streator’s Nicholas Pollett won the 106 title, winning both his matches by pin.

“It’s just a really good feeling,” Pollett said. “I’ve never won a regional before. Last year I didn’t make it out of regionals, so it feels really good.

“A lot of offseason training (helped me win a regional). I practiced with the best kids I could find and my skill level went way up.”

Pollett trailed 2-0 after one period but took a 3-2 lead on a nearfall in the second. The match was tied 3-3 going to the third where Pollett scored a reversal before getting the pin.

“I knew that I’m really good at escaping, so I wasn’t that worried,” Pollett said. “I thought I was stronger than that kid. I pulled him down on top of me and kind of wiggled him off me and it seemed to work. I ended up getting a reversal. He made a mistake of putting his leg up right next to his head so it was an easy cradle. That’s how I pinned him.”

Teammate Steven Goplin also advanced with a third-place finish at 157.

Ottawa is sending four wrestlers to the sectional meet with third-place finishes from Ivan Munoz (113), Wyatt Wheeler (132), Marek Duffy (150) and Wyatt Reding (175).

In the third-place matches, Munoz won by 16-0 technical fall, Wheeler won by pin in 27 seconds, Duffy bounced back from a 4-0 deficit to win by pin in the second period and Reding won by 5-4 decision.

“Just not giving up,” Duffy said about the key to his victory in the third-place match. I saw an opportunity and I took it. I saw him lean his head and I was like, ‘I’m down so I might as well just go for it. I have nothing to lose here.’

“It feels great. It’s my senior year and I ship off to the Marines in four months.”

Sterling had four runners-up in Zyan Westbrook (120), Isaiah Mendoza (157), Gage Tate (165) and Oswaldo Navarro (215).

L-P had two wrestlers finish a win short of advancing in Austin Herron (106) and Walter Haage (165).

“This was a very tough regional and our young team learned what good wrestling was today,” L-P coach Matt Rebholz said. “Everybody wrestled hard and did the best they could. We ended the season 6-13 as a dual team and all look to do even better next year.”