CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- Hunter Yohn looked to the stands where his family and friends were celebrating his overtime victory in the state wrestling semifinals and tried to soak it all in.
"Just blessed," Yohn said. "I don't think it's real."
But it is, and now he's one victory away from becoming the Quincy High School wrestling program's fourth state champion since William Schwartz won the first title in 1948.
Yohn earned his spot in the Class 3A 160-pound championship match by taking down Plainfield South's Jake Kendall in overtime for a 3-1 victory Friday night at State Farm Center.
"If I could bottle that feeling I had for that 10 seconds, I would rule the world," QHS coach Phil Neally said. "It's a great feeling for him. That's what makes me happy. I'm proud of the way he finished and didn't give up on himself."
That sums up Yohn's season, not just the state semifinal match.
"From not placing last year and being one-and-done at the state tournament to being in the state finals this year is just crazy," Yohn said. "A good crazy."
He gets the rematch he wanted.
Yohn (44-3) will face Lockport's Baylor Fernandes (34-4) in the finals Saturday night. Fernandes, ranked No. 1 by IllinoisMatmen.com, advanced with a 12-4 major decision over Marmion Academy's Brad Gross in the other semifinal.
Fernandes pinned Yohn in 2:24 in the championship match of the Joliet Central Sectional last Saturday.
"I messed up in the first match," Yohn said. "I have to learn from where I messed up and do better from there."
Yohn has learned to overcome mistakes, just as he did against Kendall.
Yohn started the third period on the bottom in a scoreless match and earned one point for an escape. With about 30 seconds remaining, Yohn was called for fleeing the mat as he stepped outside to avoid a shot by Kendall instead of working inside, resulting in a penalty point that tied the match and forced overtime.
"I told myself, 'You've just got to grind and go out and work harder than him,'" Yohn said. "I had to put him in situations where he'd be slacking. I had to be sure when he messed up that I succeeded."
When Kendall got his leg too far forward, Yohn used a double-leg takedown to win the match.
"He never gave up on himself," Neally said. "That's why he won."
The same thing took place in the quarterfinals. Yohn trailed Deerfield's Brock Emmerich 5-1 entering the third period and chose to start in the neutral position.
"I had to make some adjustments so I could come back and win the match," Yohn said. "When I was down, I was thinking I either had to let him up and take him down a few times, or I was going to have to go for a big move. So I went for the big move and it happened.
"He stopped wrestling, and I didn't."
Yohn scored a takedown in the final minute and flipped Emmerich to his back.
"I just never gave up," Yohn said. "I had to keep going."
QHS sophomore Thomas Culp lost back-to-back matches at 182 pounds and was eliminated before reaching medal contention. In the quarterfinals, he was pinned in 3:39 by Glenbard North's Abe Assad, the state's No. 1-ranked wrestler. In the wrestlebacks, Culp lost a 14-3 major decision to Lombard Montini's Trevir Swier to finish with a 44-5 record.
In Class 1A, Central senior Chayse Houston (22-4) won an 11-5 decision over Hillsboro's Jake Hefley in the 138-pound wrestlebacks and will reach the medal round if he beats Auburn's Cam Lee on Saturday morning.
The only other area wrestler alive is Pittsfield's Elliott Fox, who won his first wrestleback at 195 pounds by beating Petersburg PORTA's Caden Flanders 11-5. Fox (36-12) will face Monticello's Matt Kerr on Saturday morning for a spot in the medal round.
Three other area wrestlers were eliminated.
At 152, Central junior Clayton Boehler (34-7) suffered an 8-4 loss to Stillman Valley's Mason Engelkens in the wrestlebacks. Central sophomore Zach Foote (39-5) won his first wrestleback at 113, pinning Herscher's Austin Grise in 1:10. He then lost a 13-3 major decision to Dwight's Dillon Sarff.
At 220, Pittsfield senior Nate Hoover (38-10) was knocked out after getting pinned by Byron's Peyton Lind in 3:21.