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MASCOUTAH — The future for Rantoul Township High School Eagle wrestling team looks pretty bright.
Not only for the immediate future, but for the foreseeable future as well.
The Eagles entered the sectionals with four qualifying wrestlers. After the sectional was completed, three of those athletes earned places in the top four in their sectionals and advanced to the state finals.
Demarius Smith, Peter McCusker and Nolan Roseman all earned spots at the state finals. McCusker and Roseman are both sophomores.
“I am happy that we have three athletes going to state,” Eagles coach Mark McCusker said. “I wish we could have done better in the medal rounds. The losses that we had should motivate us for the state finals.”
Peter McCusker, who finished second at 138 pounds, wrestled Mt. Zion’s Tyler Bennett, the same athlete that McCusker earned a medical default victory over in the regional championships. Bennett earned a technical fall victory when he was leading 18-3.
“I think he might have been upset about last week,” said Peter McCusker, who is 34-4. “I need to be more prepared than I was. I need to stay focused. I hope to get a state medal.”
McCusker earned a bye in the first round of the sectional. He then topped Ean Pottorff of Olney-based Richland County by decision, beating him 6-1. He pinned Springfield’s Brayton Lynch in the semifinals by pinfall at the 5:29 mark.
Roseman, the Eagles’ 132-pound grappler, finished 3-2 in the sectional. He wrestled four matches, earning a bye in the first round and a win in the quarterfinals.
Roseman downed Waterloo’s Cory Cissel in the quarterfinals 13-8.
After a 12-4 major decision loss to Carbondale’s Cole Nelsen, he topped Springfield Southeast’s Rashad Sampson by decision, beating him 11-5 in the consolation semifinal.
The win in the consolation semifinal set up the third-place match with Cahokia’s Rodney Evans. Evans topped Roseman 8-6. Roseman is 40-5 and wrestled the final match with some knee pain.
“I need to get onto that podium,” Roseman said. “I know it will be tough, but it is not supposed to be easy. I made some costly mistakes at sectional. I need to try to do better at state and not make those mistakes.”
Seth Sprandel, a Rantoul junior, will have to wait for his trip to state for next year. At 195 pounds, the junior earned a bye in the first round of the consolation bracket.
He opened the tournament with a loss to Rochester’s Nicholas Capriotti. Capriotti pinned Sprandel in 1:28. After the bye, he was eliminated by Olney-Richland County’s Kyle Beasley by pinfall in 30 seconds.
“I had a great season,” Sprandel said. “I was worried about every match one year ago. This sectional appearance helped my confidence, and I should be able to make it to state next year. I need to strengthen my offense and work on my takedowns.”
McCusker will face Plano’s Ivan Garcia in the first round of the IHSA Class 2A State Championships, which will be held at the State Farm Center on the campus of University of Illinois. Garcia has built a record of 16-5. Roseman will face We Rachal of Chicago Washington. Rachal is 30-1.
“Hopefully, Noah will be ready health wise,” Mark McCusker said. “Peter ran into a buzzsaw. Bennett is very, very good. Seth came such a long way since the beginning of the year. Our hope is that he will make that next step and make it to state in one year.”