Unity & SJO wrestlers head to state - Here's what you need to know

CHAMPAIGN - Starting late Thursday morning, 23 area wrestlers qualified to compete in the IHSA Individual Wrestling State Finals at the State Farm Center on the University of Illinois campus. Here is everything you need to know about state wrestling this weekend.

Who to watch?

The St. Joseph-Ogden wrestling program is sending three representatives.

Senior Emmitt Holt (37-2) qualified for one of 16 spots in the 106-pound bracket. The 2x qualifier will face Seneca's Raiden Terry, a freshman with a 40-8 record, in their tournament opener. Holt was a qualifier in the 2022 state tournament at 113 pounds.

Battling for a state title in the 132-pound weight class, SJO's Holden Brazelton makes his third-consecutive appearance at State Farm Center. Last year, then a sophomore, he finished third in the 132-pound weight class. Now a junior with 45 wins and one loss under his belt, he will square off against Vandalia freshman Cole Yarbrough (19-4) in his first-round match on Thursday.

The Spartans' youngest entry, Coy Hayes, makes his state tournament debut with a 29-8 record in the 150-pound division. He will wrestle Coal City's Brant Widlowski, a senior who is 43-3 this season.

Six wrestlers from Unity advanced out of the sectional meet. Qualifying for his third state wrestling berth, Kaden Inman (47-7), a junior, will wrestle at 144.

Sophomore Hunter Shike at 126, and juniors Ryan Rink (165) and Hunter Eastin (190) will embark on their second attempt to bring home a state title. Shike heads to state with an impressive 38-7 record, Rink is 39-10, and Eastin is 43-6.

Rockets' Thayden Root (44-9) enters the 175-pound division with 44 wins against nine losses. The senior will face Seneca's Asher Hamby (48-6) in his first-round bout.

Unity freshman Taylor Finley (38-16) made the cut for the 132-pound weight class.

When is it?

There will be one session on Thursday and then two sessions each day, Friday and Saturday.

Doors open to the public at 11 a.m. for the first session Thursday, with the action starting at noon. The state final action starts with the Class 1A preliminary rounds, followed by 2A, and then 3A bouts. At approximately 6:45 p.m., the Class 1A and 2A quarterfinal matches start rolling nonstop.

Session two is open to the public at 7:30 a.m. on Friday and will include the Class 3A quarterfinals and the first/second round of wrestlebacks for each class.

Session three starts at 6 p.m. Friday. Session four starts Saturday morning, with doors opening at 8 a.m.

The final session opens at 4:30 p.m. Saturday for the championship matches. The Grand March starts at 5:30 p.m. and the title matches begin about a half hour later, starting with the 132-pounders.

Where is it?

The tournament is at the State Farm Center, where it has been held every year since 1973, except in 2021, when the IHSA state series was put on hold due to the pandemic.

How much is it?

Tickets are $10 or $12 per session, depending on the section. All-session passes are a savings of $50 or $60, depending on seat location. Tickets are available online at statefarmcenter.com or the ticket office.

All-day parking is available for $15.

Is there anything else to know?

State Farm Center has strict rules covering items not allowed into the venue. Fans and spectators are not allowed to bring bags larger than 4.5 inches by 7 inches, containers, laser pointers, banners, flags, signs, blankets, noisemakers, weapons, laptops, video recorders, monopods, tripods or any items deemed dangerous or inappropriate. If it can be used to create a distraction, as a weapon or to conceal one, leave it in the car.

Spectators can bring clutches no larger than 4.5 inches by 7 inches, a one-gallon clear plastic storage bag, a clear drawstring bag, binoculars without a case, cameras with lenses no longer than 4 inches, jackets, items related to medical conditions and diaper bags.

Who else is competing from the area?

Photo: PhotoNews Media

Oakwood's Jamison Chambliss scores a takedown on St. Joseph-Ogden's Corbin Smith during their dual match in December. Chambliss, who qualified for this year's individual state tournament, defeated Smith by pin in a minute and twenty-six seconds. The senior along with six teammates landed berths into this year's state finals at the State Farm Center.

Centennial High School advanced three grapplers, all seniors. Andon Beldo (30-7) will battle for a Class 2A title at 126. Trevor Schoonover will compete in the 138-pound division. He is 41-8 going into tomorrow afternoon's preliminary round. Wrestling at 285, undefeated Jack Barnhart is a contender for the 2A heavyweight title.

Ron Baker III and brother Talin will represent Champaign Central in the 144 and 113-pound divisions, respectively. Talin is 30-6, while Ron has a modest 13-2 record.

Look for St. Thomas More seniors August Christhilf at 175 and Brody Cuppernell at 190 in the Class 1A bracket. Cuppernell is 32-3 and Christhilf is 38-5.

The Oakwood wrestling program is once again enjoying success in the Class 1A division this season. The program sends seven wrestlers to this year's state finals. Competitors to watch are freshmen Steven Uden (31-16) at 106 pounds and Jamison Chambliss (24-5) at 190. Brayden Edwards (33-13) will wrestle at 113 and Pedro Rangel (44-5) at 132 pounds. The Comets also had three seniors advance to state, including Grant Brewer (39-3) at 150-pounds, Bryson Capansky (40-6) at 157, and Dalton Brown (41-5) at 175.