Aurora Christian topples Antioch to take 3rd in 2A

 
By Kevin McGavin
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 2/29/2020 9:31 PM

BLOOMINGTON -- Cam Johnson made up for a missed opportunity at his final individual state wrestling tournament last weekend in Champaign.

An Aurora Christian senior headed for West Point, Johnson was unable to seek a third state title at the University of Illinois due to illness.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

But Johnson was a central figure for the Eagles on Saturday at the team-dual state championships at Grossinger Motors Arena in leading Aurora Christian to its first Class 2A state hardware.

The Eagles turned back Antioch, which had its 22-match season-long winning streak snapped by four-time reigning state champion Washington in the semifinals, 33-26.

Most wrestling prognosticators figured Marian Central, the No. 1 team in the land the whole season, would knock out the Eagles in their first season at 2A.

But Johnson, with the Eagles leading 28-25, ended the Hurricanes' season in the quarterfinals as the 132-pounder scored all 12 points in the final match to accentuate the 7-point win over Marian Central.

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"I kind of fought with the doctors to wrestle today," said Johnson, who forms a virtually unbeatable combination with three-time state champion Noah Villarreal right behind him at 138 pounds. "I was hoping the last match would come down to me."

Villarreal followed the Johnson win at 132 in the third-place final with the last of his three victories on the day for the Eagles' final points against the Sequoits (22-2).

Aurora Christian (23-6) was runner-up and state champions in its last two seasons in 1A.

Antioch senior Devin Nobiling jump-started the Sequoits with the first 9 points of the third-place match with a fall at 160 pounds.

"We were mentally prepared to bounce back against Aurora Christian," Nobiling said of the team mindset after its winning streak was snapped. "I got into a double-(leg takedown), took him to his back and stuck him right there."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

But Aurora Christian would seize the lead for good when Jack Certa and state-finalist Alex Knauf had back-to-back falls at 170 and 182 pounds for the Eagles.

Antioch would never come closer than its 4-point deficit after Caleb Nobiling had a victory at 106 pounds.

Chris Moore, like Villarreal a state champion last week in Champaign for Aurora Christian, provided breathing space at 113 pounds.

Joel Mylin, yet another former state champion for Aurora Christian, delivered at 120 pounds.

Other than the meaningless forfeit in the final match at 145 pounds, the Sequoits' Luke Menzies had the last Antioch win on the mat this season with a second-period fall.

"From our team aspect, we didn't wrestle like we should have," Menzies said of the difference in the major-consolation final against the Eagles.

There was some solace for the first Antioch state hardware in eight years, though.

"As freshmen, we had our (downstate) spot taken from us," Menzies said. "Our sophomore year we lost to St. Rita (in the quarterfinals), and that hurt, too."

"Our schedule during the regular season prepared us for this," Mylin countered. "That's why we are so tight as a team."

In the Class 3A quarterfinals, Barrington, which went on to finish third, ended the Huntley season with a 34-28 victory.

The Raiders' season concluded at 19-8.

"We wrestled well," Huntley coach B. J. Bertlesman said. "Not having (all-stater) Jeremy (Jakowitsch) hurt us. There were a couple of matches I wish we could have had back. I think we had a good year. We have five state qualifiers coming back."

"We had three pins, and they had zero," Barrington coach Dave Udchik said.

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