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CLINTON — Jacob Horsch needed a last-minute rally to earn his first-ever trip to the IHSA Class 1A state wrestling meet.
The Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley/Fisher High School junior trailed 11-9 with 25 seconds left in the third period of his semifinal match against Dwight’s Daniel Gutierrez in the 138-pound bracket of the 1A Clinton Sectional on Saturday.
Horsch rallied back with a match-tying takedown to force overtime.
“I just had to get a takedown and just try to get the win and start pushing,” Horsch said.
Horsch then pushed his way over the top via a takedown with 17 seconds left in the overtime period to win via 13-11 decision. With the win, Horsch advanced to the championship match of the sectional – the top four wrestlers in each class qualified for the state meet.
“He showed a lot of guts in his semifinal match coming back and winning in overtime,” GCMS/Fisher head coach Josh Carter said. “That's just the kind of wrestler Jacob is. He's never going to quit. As long as there's time on the clock, he's going to keep fighting. I knew that he would find a way, if at all possible, and he did. He just showed a lot of heart in that match. It kind of came down to condition, and Jacob was in much better shape than that kid and got the two takedowns at the end to win it.”
After receiving a bye through the first round, Horsch won via 9-1 major decision on Friday over Beardstown’s Jorge Chavez to earn his Saturday matchup with Gutierrez in the semifinals.
“I thought Jacob wrestled well in this tournament,” Carter said.
In the championship match, Horsch faced Quincy Notre Dame’s Zach Haley, who possesses a 41-1 record. After going into the third period trailing 4-0, Horsch lost via 7-3 decision.
“It was good to go three periods with him this time,” Horsch said.
It was an improvement from the last time the two grapplers met. Horsch was pinned by Haley in 30 seconds in last December’s Bomber Classic in Argenta.
“I thought he battled (Haley) in the championship match pretty well,” Carter said. “I thought he battled well. I saw some things we've got to get squared away for next week, but I'm definitely excited for him to be going down to state.”
While Horsch will be making his first high school state tournament appearance, it is not his first appearance at the state level. He qualified for state in the 100-pound class as an eighth-grader in 2014.
Horsch’s brother, Cale, reached the IESA state meet last year as well.
“It feels great,” Horsch said. “It was great.”
Horsch will take a 34-11 record into the State Farm Center in Champaign for his first match of the state meet on Thursday.
“I definitely want to go out and win that first match, and just go from there,” Horsch said.
If Horsch is able to leave Champaign with a state medal, it will be the ninth consecutive year in which at least one Falcon wrestler has been able to do so.
“Hopefully, he can bring back some hardware next week,” Carter said. “Obviously, we'd love to bring home a medal, but the expectation is to go down and compete as hard as he can. That's the thing with Jacob – I never have to worry about that. I know he's going to do that, so we'll work this week to prepare and see who he's got and see what kind of matchups there are. We'll go to work in the practice room and, hopefully, be ready to go Thursday afternoon when he steps on the mat.”
GCMS/Fisher’s Payton Kean lost in the first round of the 160-pound bracket via 13-3 major decision to Eureka’s Ben Gregory. Kean was pinned by Tremont’s Caleb Schwenk in 46 seconds in the second round of wrestlebacks.
“We would've loved to get both of them into the state tournament, but with Payton being a freshman, we knew it was going to be a tough road for him,” Carter said.
Kean, who finished fifth in the IESA state meet in the 155-pound bracket last year as an eighth-grade wrestler, finished his freshman season with a record of 13-17.
“(Reaching sectionals) was my goal as a freshman, so I succeeded,” Kean said. “I'm looking to make it to state for the next three years, and definitely by senior year, I want to place.”