Boys wrestling: 9 Sauk Valley area individuals advance to state from 1A Byron Sectional

Newman senior Carter Rude wins 144-pound title; 8 others from Comets, Amboy and Oregon advance

Newman's Carter Rude attempts to take down Dakota's Jason Bowers in the 144-pound first-place match at the Class 1A Byron Sectional on Saturday, Feb. 10, 2024, at Byron High School.

BYRON – For nine Sauk Valley area high school wrestlers, the dream of winning an IHSA state championship continued Saturday at the Class 1A Byron Sectional.

Newman, which advanced four of its five sectional qualifiers to state, was the top-performing local team.

Senior Carter Rude led the way for the Comets as the 144-pound sectional champion, while senior Brady Grennan took second at 132, junior Daniel Kelly placed third at 157, and sophomore Zhyler Hansen finished fourth at 126.

Kelly and Hansen are first-time state qualifiers. Rude and Grennan each placed at the state meet the past two seasons. Rude was the runner-up at 138, and Grennan placed fifth at 126 in 2023.

In the 144-pound championship match, Rude took a 3-1 decision against Dakota senior Jason Bowers.

“Staying focused [was the key]. I’m just taking it one match at a time because you can see how often at the sectional people lose their head, and then maybe they’ll lose a match that they’re not supposed to,” Rude said. “And then, God forbid, they lose in the blood round and it’s just devastating, so I was just focusing on taking it one match at a time.

“It means a lot to win the sectional, just because I haven’t done it before, and Brady, one of my practice partners, he’s won it twice. It’s just another check off the bucket list, so getting that one marked off feels good.”

Newman's Brady Grennan executes a takedown of Marian Central's Vance Williams in the 132-pound first-place match Saturday, Feb. 10, 2024, at the Class 1A Byron Sectional at Byron High School.

In the 157-pound third-place match, Kelly took a 12-3 major decision against Richmond-Burton senior Isaac Jones.

“Staying on my offense, racking up as many points as I can and having the mentality of ‘win’ [were the keys for me],” Kelly said. “It feels amazing. I haven’t made it to state yet, so it’s an awesome feeling. Four out of five [of us] made it to state, and the guy who didn’t make it to state [Briar Ivey] is really awesome, so I think we did really good as a team.”

Hansen battled back from a first-round loss to reach the third-place match. Although he would’ve liked to place higher than fourth, he’s happy to be headed to state for the first time.

“Just wrestling my match and wrestling as hard as I can. Not making the mistakes I made in the first round,” Hansen said about how he bounced back to secure a state-qualifying spot. “I’m not exactly happy with fourth, but I think I’d say I can come back and wrestle harder, beat the kid, maybe, if we run into each other [at state].”

Oregon seniors Anthony Bauer (157 pounds) and Quentin Berry (190) each placed second, and freshman teammate Nelson Benesh (113) took third to secure their trips to state.

Benesh pinned Sandwich freshman Colten Stone in 46 seconds in the third-place match.

“Really just the practice with my coaches. Coach Clark got me ready for today, Coach Benesh, and just persevering, working hard, getting my stamina up. That’s really it,” Berry said about how he reached the 190-pound title match. “It’s a little bit of a disappointment placing second – I wanted to get first – but I’m happy with the outcome. I can always do better.”

Amboy sophomore Landon Blanton (120) and senior Lucas Blanton (175) each placed fourth to represent the Clippers this week in Champaign. Landon Blanton qualified for state last year as a freshman at 113 pounds.

Six local wrestlers came up one win short of qualifying for state: Rock Falls junior Jacob Hosler (285) and sophomore Josiah Tarbill (120), Newman junior Briar Ivey (138), Oregon junior Preston LaBay (126), Morrison senior Karder White (150) and Erie-Prophetstown junior Wyatt Goossens (144).

Oregon's Quentin Berry wrestles Orion's Maddux Anderson in the 190-pound first-place match Saturday, Feb. 10, 2024, at the Class 1A Byron Sectional at Byron High School.
Dan Wussow

Dan Wussow

Dan is the sports editor for Sauk Valley Media. Previously, he wrote for The Post-Crescent in his hometown of Appleton, WI.