Dual Team Wrestling: Coal City takes second in Class 1A to Marian Central Catholic

Coalers make strong run but fall short of repeating 1A title

Wrestlers from Coal City raise their second place trophy after losing to Marina Central in the IHSA Class 1A Dual Team Sate Championship on Saturday, Feb. 24, 2024 at Grossinger Motors Arena in Bloomington.

BLOOMINGTON – The Coal City wrestling team proved once again that it is among the best in the state among small schools.

The defending Class 1A champion Coalers beat Vandalia 42-22 in the semifinals Saturday, but dropped a 34-27 decision to Marian Central Catholic in the championship bout. It was the first time in Coal City history that they had wrestled in the state finals in back-to-back years.

The fact that the Coalers were even in the finals was something that might not have been believed early in the season. They were dealing with various injuries and trying to replace key components of last year’s state title team. Little by little, things fell into place and they turned back into the dominant force the state is coming to recognize.

“I actually thought some of the changes would help us this year,” Coal City coach Mark Masters said. “The weight changes helped us, for sure. But did I think we would be back here, in the finals? Not 100% at the start of the year, no.

“But, as the season went on and we kept getting pieces back and figuring things out, we thought we could win it again. Things just didn’t go our way today.”

The championship match started at 106, and Marian won the first two matches. Austin Hagevold beat Owen Peterson 7-6 and Anthony Alanis topped Cooper Morris 10-3 at 113. Culan Lindemuth got the Coalers on the board with an 8-1 win over Josiah Perez at 120.

Marian then went on a three-match string that included bonus points in each to take control. State individual champion Brayden Teunissen won a 22-7 technical fall over Luke Munsterman at 126, Andrew Alvarado got a pin over Brody Widlowski in 4:38 at 132 and Vance Williams scored a 14-6 major decision over Mason Garner at 138 to put the Hurricanes ahead 21-3.

“We beat them in a dual earlier this season,” Masters said. “I thought starting at 106 was a good spot for us. Cooper Morris did a great job of getting beat by just a decision. We lost by tech fall to Teunissen, but that’s not a fall.

“There were a lot of kids wrestling that weren’t here last year. We have a lot coming back and those coming back got a lot of great experience on big stages this year.”

Marian Central's Dan French tries to control Coal City's Alec Waliczek during the IHSA Class 1A Dual Team Sate Championship match Saturday, Feb. 24, 2024 at Grossinger Motors Arena in Bloomington.

Brock Finch stemmed the tide for a bit with a 5-1 win over Joshua Gawronski at 144 before Coal City 150-pounder Brant Widlowski did what he does best. Widlowski pinned Connor Cassels in 2:51, extending his school record for pins in a season.

“We’re going to miss Brant,” Masters said his team captain. “He had right around 40 pins this year, which you don’t just replace. He was a great leader, also.”

At 157, Marian’s Jimmy Mastny won by forfeit to put the Hurricanes ahead 27-12 before 165-pound state champion Landin Benson picked up a 3-2 win over Nicolas Astacio.

“The finish wasn’t the one we wanted, but we saw a lot of improvement this year,” Benson said. “I feel sad for the seniors, but we have a lot of guys coming back and we aren’t content with second place.

“I get more motivated for matches in a dual. It’s nice to win as an individual, but you put in all the work and effort with all the guys on the team, so it’s huge to win with them.”

Max Astacio of Marian picked up a 4-0 win over John Keigher at 175 before Coal City’s Cade Poyner won by forfeit at 190. The Hurricanes clinched the title when Daniel French beat Alec Waliczek 11-0. The Coalers’ Emmett Easton won by forfeit to close things out.

“We have a pretty special team and a lot of guys that can move between classes,” Brant Widlowski said. “We try to get the best matchups we can and it can be like a chess match. Sometimes it doesn’t go your way.

“I am so proud of these guys. They are like family. It’s going to be hard to walk away. I started feeling that about a week ago at individual state. We are part of school history, and I take tremendous pride in that.”