CHAMPAIGN – Richmond-Burton’s Cameron Kennedy and Garrett Sutton and Harvard’s Anthony Luis made lasting memories Saturday at Assembly Hall.
All three won championships in the IHSA Individual Wrestling State Tournament on the University of Illinois campus.
Kennedy at 126 pounds and Sutton at 152 in Class 2A pulled out last-second wins. Kennedy got a reversal against Montini’s Jordan Laster as time was expiring to earn a 3-2 decision. Sutton got a takedown with less than 30 seconds left in his match and rode out Sycamore’s Austin Culton to win, 5-4.
Kennedy (44-1) avenged his only loss of the season; Laster had defeated him in the Antioch Sectional finals. Saturday’s match was scoreless through two periods. Culton gave up an escape to Sutton and then got a takedown with less than 30 seconds remaining to go up, 2-1.
Laster appeared in control on top as Kennedy was flailing for the escape. Instead, Kennedy turned Laster for the win.
“I got scared and just started doing whatever I could,” Kennedy said. “I was scared for myself.”
It was also redemption for Kennedy, who placed the previous three seasons and took second last year.
“After coming so close these last few years, I just wouldn’t let it go,” Kennedy said.
Getting beat by Laster at sectionals also was good motivation to put in the extra work, physically and mentally.
“It’s so easy to give up,” Kennedy said. “I’ve never worked harder in the practice room. I wasn’t going to lose again.”
Sutton had come close to taking down Culton throughout the match but either couldn’t quite finish or ran out of room on the edge of the mat. With the match winding down, Sutton finally connected, grabbed Culton’s ankle and flipped him down.
“I saw an opportunity open up and I took my shot,” Sutton said. “That’s when it really hit me (that) I have a chance to win this match.”
Sutton (38-0) said the tough match was what he expected from Culton (43-1).The third-period heroics were set up by a season of hard work and conditioning.
Harvard’s Luis was in control from the start in his 11-3 Class 1A 106-pound win against Coal City’s Cody Minnick. Luis got a takedown 20 seconds into the match.
Surrounded by teammates and Harvard fans after the match, Luis shared credit for the win.
“I feel like it’s the team’s victory,” Luis said. “The team helps me with everything I do.”
Facing tough competition was an important part of getting Luis ready to compete at state. He took seventh at the Mid-States Classic in Whitewater, Wis., this season.
“You have to wrestle the kids who are the best,” Luis said.
Hornets coach Tim Haak said the win is impressive, given the quality of talent Luis faced, especially Minnick, who was 47-0 heading into the championship match.
“It’s an awful good kid [Luis] beat there,” Haak said. “There’s been a lot of good -pounders this year.
In Class 3A, McHenry’s Wade Lardy lost to Mount Carmel’s Bryce Brill in a 17-6 major decision. Warriors coach Will Gaddy said losing to Brill was nothing to be ashamed of, and Lardy should be proud of his accomplishments during his four years on varsity.
“There’s a reason [Brill’s] ranked so high in the nation,” Lardy said. “You cannot feel bad about what [Lardy’s] accomplished. He’s had a great four years.”