Top Ranked Teams Continue NUIC Wrestling Success
Dakota/Orangeville had two wrestlers in the championship of the elite 35 team Dvorak Invitational at Harlem Dec. 22-23.
Andrew Wenger at 170 (17-1) defeated previously unbeaten Eric Vermillion from the team champion Mason, Ohio 7-3. Maverick McPeek (16-2) at 220 lost in the championship to Diata Drayton of Chicago Marist 9-3.
No one else medaled for Dakota. Evan Riggle (113) lost the round before.
Dakota/Orangeville and Lena-Winslow/Stockton, both from the NUIC, are the top two ranked wrestling teams in the State in 1A.
They are on a collision course for the Winnebago Regional. Only one will advance for a run at a state championship.
Last year, Dakota edged Byron for the Regional title and went on to win a fourth straight state championship and fifth total under coach Pete Alber.
This year, it looks like Lena-Winslow with talent and more depth will be a threat to keep Dakota from a fifth straight crown.
The regional champion is based on points from the Individual 14 weight classes. The winner then goes to Sectional and State which switches to a dual meet.
Last season, Dakota went on to defeat Coal City for the 1A state crown. Whoever makes it out of the Winnebago Regional will likely again be challenged for a State title once again by Coal City.
The Lena/Winslow/Stockton co-op under coach Kevin Milder made it to the State Championship dual match in 2012. They were the runner-up with a 23-2 record.
The last four years, Dakota made it out of the Regional and won four in a row state titles.
You can not win a State title at the Regional, but you can lose one. It all will be on the line at the individual Regional.
A preview will be a much anticipated dual between Dakota/Orangeville and Lena-Winslow/Stockton January 11th with West Carroll at Savanna.
Dakota with a 10-5 record was ranked first in 1A by the wrestling publication Illinois Matmen. Lena-Winslow unbeaten in nine matches was ranked second. Coal City, 8-4 was ranked third.
A couple other teams both off to a 14-0 start might make an impact at State in Wilmington fourth and Olympia ranked seventh.
Lena-Winslow/Stockton has 11 wrestlers in the Illinois Matmen rankings. Dakota was dealt a big blow when Cade Slayton, a junior who was Honorable Mention at 152, was lost for the season with a torn labrum. Without Slayton, Dakota has only five ranked wrestlers.
Dakota is led by Wenger and McPeek, both top ranked in their 1A weight classes. Wenger, a senior at 170, has a third- and two second-place state finishes.
Others ranked from Dakota are Caleb Alber, honorable mention at 120; Alex Porter, sixth at 126; and Colin Barker, 132 honorable mention.
Lena-Winslow/Stockton has 11 ranked wrestlers, but none are ranked first.
Among those ranked are Austin Vincent, second at 113; freshman Winston McPeek, honorable mention at 126, Hunter Luke, sixth at 132; Peyton Keefer, 11th at 138; Jeremiah Hermann, honorable mention at 145; Aaron Dvorak, honorable mention at 152; Kyle Kalkbrenner, fourth at 160; Rahveon Valentine, third at 170; Elijah Rowe, second at 182; Connor Davis, ninth at 285; and Ian Kuehl, fourth at 285.
At last year’s Individual State, Wenger was runner-up and Porter was fifth for Dakota. For Lena-Winslow/Stockton, Vincent and Valentine were fifth with Luke sixth.
Lena-Winslow easily won the Erie/Prophetstown Tournament on Dec. 17. They took six first places in Vincent, Luke, Kalkbrenner, Valentine, Rowe and Kuehl.
Taking second was Dvorak and Davis.
Lena-Winslow/Stockton easily beat No. 12 Byron 40-21 in a dual Tuesday.