Wrestling: Four locals finish in top five in medal round of IHSA state finals

Fulton’s Pannell takes third, Polo’s Doty finishes fourth, Newman’s Grennan and E-P’s Grunder place fifth

Fulton’s Zane Pannell and Unity’s Kyus Root wrap up in the Class 1A 170 pound 3rd place match Saturday, Feb. 18, 2023, in the IHSA individual state wrestling finals in the State Farm Center at the University of Illinois in Champaign.

CHAMPAIGN – Although they fell short in their championship quest Thursday or Friday, four Sauk Valley area wrestlers wrestled back to top-five finishes Saturday at the State Farm Center in the IHSA Individual State Finals medal round.

Fulton senior Zane Pannell, the fifth-place finisher at 170 pounds last year, led the group of local medalists this year at the same weight, pinning Tolono Unity’s Kyus Root in 3:46 in the third-place match.

After losing to Root in the quarterfinals, Pannell won three straight matches, avenging his earlier tournament loss in the medal round to cap his high school wrestling career.

“I like to end my high school career on a pin. It felt good. Getting another pin and another win right after I took 51 wins, it feels good,” Pannell said. “I’d rather have gotten first instead of third, but you can’t really change that now.

“I enjoyed [the state tournament] last year, I enjoyed it this year. It’s always fun staying up with your friends. I’m kind of sad that it all has to end, but who knows? Maybe I’ll wrestle at some college somewhere, and I’ll wrestle in places like this every day.”

Polo's Wyatt Doty flips his opponent in a 132-pound wrestleback bout at the IHSA Individual State Finals on Saturday, Feb. 18, 2023 at State Farm Center in Champaign.

Polo co-op senior Wyatt Doty lost an 8-3 decision to St. Joseph-Ogden’s Holden Brazelton in the third-place match, finishing fourth at 132 pounds.

Newman junior Brady Grennan finished fifth at 126 pounds following a loss in the semifinals, taking a 3-1 decision against Shelbyville’s Calvin Miller in the medal round.

“Obviously, it wasn’t the end goal of the season, but it’s the goal I got so I’m not too upset about it,” Grennan said. “I thought I did pretty good [in the tournament overall] except for a few crucial mistakes that led to me losing my matches, but that’s about it.”

Newman's Brady Grennan controls his opponent during a 126-pound quarterfinal bout at the IHSA Individual State Finals on Thursday, Feb. 16, 2023 at State Farm Center in Champaign.

Erie-Prophetstown senior Jase Grunder finished fifth at 152 with a 5-1 tiebreaker against Stillman Valley’s Jack Seacrist, avenging a third-place match loss at the Oregon Sectional last week.

Although he hoped to place higher than last year’s fourth at 145 pounds, he was still happy to end his high school wrestling career in the medal round, on a win.

“It’s not where I wanted to be, obviously – I want to be on top of the podium – but to wrestle back after losing at quarters – and I had to wrestle four matches after that – I showed a lot of grit,” Grunder said. “I had a lot of really tough matches and came out on top here, finished with the W; it’s great.”

Rock Falls senior Aaron Meenen dropped a 9-2 decision to Decatur Lutheran’s Garrett VerHeecke in the quarterfinals of wrestlebacks, finishing one win shy of All-State. Polo freshman Josiah Perez also lost in the consolation quarterfinals, falling 4-1 to Maddux Steele of Canton.

Erie-Prophetstown's Jase Grunder lifts his opponent during a 152-pound bout in the first round at the IHSA Individual State Finals on Thursday, Feb. 16, 2023 at State Farm Center in Champaign.
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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.