CHAMPAIGN — Cale Horsch did not make the medal stand at the Illinois High School Association Class 1A State Championships at State Farm Center on the campus of University of Illinois.
But, stats only tell part of the story. Horsch had not one, but two intense matches with medal winners as he was ousted. Horsch, who attends Fisher as all the state qualifiers from GCMSF did this year, was eliminated by Unity’s Ben Gavel, who finished third in the state finals. Gavel pinned him at the 1:36 mark of their match.
Prior to that match, Horsch battled the eventual fourth place finisher, Winnebago’s Carlos Sanchez. Sanchez would slip by Horsch by only three points, beating him 7-4.
“Cale’s aggressiveness can be a double-edged sword at times,” said Josh Carter, the Falcons’ head coach. “It is what helped him become the wrestler he is. He is such a fierce and confident competitor that he doesn’t want to concede any position to his opponent, which can sometimes cost him against good wrestlers.”
Horsch earned the right to face the two medalist by defeating downstate athlete Isaiah Bernal, a Belleville Althoff wrestler, 5-1.
“It was an amazing feeling to get a win at the state tournament,” said Horsch, who finished the year with a 37-6 mark. “It was great to be back on the mat at University of Illinois. I was able to compete and put it all on the line.”
Kaden Gream earned a tough draw as well, but he did not have to wrestle anyone to get to his tough draw. The eventual state champion at 152 pounds, Sterling Newman Central Catholic’s Kyle Tunink, was waiting for him in the first round. Tunink won a 7-0 decision.
“I knew it was going to be tough,” said Gream, who finished his junior season with a 35-12 mark. “But this is state and every match is going to be difficult. I felt like I had a good year. There were some matches that I could have won, but you live and learn. I will be back next year stronger than ever though. I am good technically, but I need to get stronger.”
The loss thrust him into the consolation bracket against Chicago-based Hope Academy’s Oliver Willis. After the pair were tied 2-2 at the end of three two-minute periods, the pair entered into the one-minute overtime period, where Willis achieved sudden victory by scoring two points and winning a 4-2 decision.
The lone Falcon that will not be returning is Calen Ragle. The senior, who has enlisted in the United States Marine Corps, was one victory short of 30 wins, posting a senior year record of 29-14.
Ragle was topped in the first round by major decision, losing a 10-1 decision to Richmond-Burton’s Dalton Wood. He was then topped in the consolation bracket by Nazareth Academy’s Robert Gurley 13-6.
“I came into high school as a boy and came out a man,” said Ragle. “When I first entered high school, wrestling was an experience. Everyone was bigger, stronger and faster. This year was my best overall as far as the post season wise. I wrestled for 12 years and I am going to miss everything about it.
Ragle is unsure if he will continue wrestling as a Marine. It basically depends on if he has time with his Military Occupational Speciality Code, which is Administration.
“Calen will be an asset to the team of people he works with in the Marines,” said Carter. “The thing I will miss most about him is his goofiness during the down times. He would say some pretty funny things. The thing I will never forget about state is the time in the tunnel after the athletes were eliminated. These boys put in a ton of work in the practice room and made sacrifices in their lives to get to state. When it ends, it can be painful. I want to recognize my fellow coaches, Cody Moody, Grant Horsch, Jacob Franklin and Aaron Carter. They do a great job working with the wrestlers in the practice room and matside. They are a great group to work with and they truly care about the kids.”