CHAMPAIGN -- Jake Field drew a blank in his sectional final last weekend.
A late 5-point swing turned around what looked like championship finish, but instead turned into a 13-12 defeat to Nick Gasbarro of Marist.
One week later, the Marmion senior was playing it close once again, this time with Terry Calkins (Maine South, 31-5) only this time, he closed out a more important match with a fall at 5:53 to book a spot opposite No. 2 Jordan Northrup (Harlem, 41-1) in a 126-pound quarterfinal bout at the 76th state wrestling championships.
Field, and a handful of wrestlers from the area, are still alive in the front draw as the second day of the tournament begins Friday morning at 8:30, while others will have to keep an eye on the scoreboard to see if they will have a second chance in wrestle-backs.
Defending state champs Johnny Jimenez (45-2, 120) and George Fisher (44-4, 132) had little trouble with their first-round opponents, and will join Field, who was thrilled to have the chance to redeem himself after his heartbreaking loss to Gasbarro.
"I really let that one get away from me, and even today, I started slow -- maybe due to a case of nerves -- I don't really know."
"But once I got going, I felt more like myself, and I thought I wrestled much better in the second half of my match with Calkins."
In terms of chances created, and then finished, the Kaneland duo of No. 4 Dan Goress (145, 39-3) and heavyweight Zach Theiss (33-6) did just fine thank you.
Theiss, rated No. 9 (IllinoisBestWeekly.com) before the tournament began, bumped off Lamar Johnson (Chicago Crane) in his opener, and will now face Copache Tyler (Springfield SE, 34-1) while his teammate, Goress goes up against No. 2 Kyle Fugiel (Crystal Lake Central, 37-5) who is also a two-time state qualifier.
"The long wait really kind of did me in, and it showed with some very average wrestling in the first two periods," said Gorress, who recently pinned his way to a Northern Illinois Big 12 Conference title.
"I've been working on my stuff on top lately, and when I got that 2-point lead (4-2) I really worked hard to ride (him) and not allow him to get anything after that."
St. Charles East went 1-3 in the opening round, with junior Isaiah Vela (36-4, 132) the lone survivor for head coach Jason Potter.
Vela had little trouble with Caleb Ramos (Romeoville, 36-6) recording a pin at 2:59 to safely pass into today's quarterfinals against the aforementioned No. 1 rated Fisher from Marmion.
"There was no way I wanted to start out with a loss, and drop into the wrestle-backs (and) hope the guy who beat me continues to win. That's no way to compete here if you want to medal," said Vela, a state place-winner as a freshmen.
Geneva senior Brad Martens (40-8) ran into trouble with No. 2 Jon Marmolejo (Glenbard North, 44-3) at 120 pounds, but the Vikings star has an excellent chance to wrestle-back this afternoon with the junior from Glenbard North going up against an overmatched Naquant Hardy from Romeoville.
Wes Pasholk (29-7) of St. Charles North will be pulling for Vince Ambrose (Providence, 27-9) to continue his winning ways after the senior lost to Ambrose 6-2 late Thursday night.
Ambrose takes on No. 2 Luke Roth (35-1) of Naperville Central.
Wrestle-backs for those eligible will begin at approximately 1 p.m. Friday, with semifinals scheduled for a 7 p.m. start.