QUINCY -- A strong field of wrestlers gathered at the Pit on Saturday morning for the 29th annual Quincy Notre Dame wrestling tournament.
For the Illinois schools in attendance, this would be the final chance to work on things and gain some momentum before regionals begin Feb. 8. Central took full advantage and is heading to the postseason with a ton of steam after taking second with a score of 172.5.
"When you've got the likes of Hannibal and Lemont and all these bigger schools coming in here, to be one of the better schools represented from our area, that made me feel pretty darn good for today," Panthers coach Kasey Monroe said.
Central finished in second despite no wrestlers reaching the finals in their weight class. They were well represented in the third-place matches, however. Eight Panthers wrestled for third with six prevailing.
"It's not the greatest thing to live in the third-place match, but our guys took advantage," Monroe said. "They could have not won, and we could be having that conversation."
Hunter Louderback started the bounce-back victories with a pin of Quincy Notre Dame's Catherine Steinkamp in 1 minute, 29 seconds in the 113-pound third-place match. Zach Foote followed with a pin of Palmyra's Brayden Stephens in 48 seconds at 126, then Trevor Bonk pinned Edwardsville's Dylan Snyders in 3:33 at 138.
"Zach had wrestled that kid earlier in the week and had some success earlier, so he wanted to go out there guns-a-blazin'," Monroe said.
Clayton Boehler started another train of victories at 160 with a domination of Kirkwood's Peter Hooks that ended with a pin in 4:39. Boehler led Hooks 12-2 before picking up the pin.
In the semifinals, Boehler fell to Hannibal's Trevor Wilson by pin in 1:26, but despite the short time the match could have gone either way.
"Clayton Boehler was really, really disappointed with his match with (Trevor Wilson)," Monroe said. "It was a great match, both of them had each other on their backs during the semifinals, but then he came out and was ready to go in the third-place match."
Luke Hedden followed suit with a pin of Rock Falls' Josh Woodward in 2:13 at 182, and Marcus Bunch won the heavyweight third-place match by an injury default. Logan Tullock at 170 and Conner Hughes at 132 also wrestled for third but lost to finish in fourth.
"We were kind of on the struggle bus prior to last week, but we got a few duals going and got the mojo back and come in here today and get second," Monroe said. "That's pretty good. I'm pretty excited."
The Raiders also built a little momentum heading into the postseason. Quincy Notre Dame had two wrestlers reach the semifinals, but both Curtis Steinkamp at 106 and Catherine Steinkamp at 113 fell and were sent to the third-place match. Curtis suffered a hip injury in his loss to Palmyra's Kaden Crane and was forced to injury default in his last match.
Raiders coach Adam Steinkamp was still happy with how both Curtis and Catherine showed.
"Catherine wrestled tough. She's been wrestling extremely well down the stretch," he said. "Curtis would have liked to go in the third-place match, but it was best to let him rest and get ready for regionals."
Sam Schlegl rebounded from an opening-round loss at 160 and won in the consolation semifinals before falling in the fifth-place match to Illinois United's Reed Davis by a 6-3 decision. Hunter Bolton at 113, Hunter Stupavsky at 138 and Isaac Hinkamper at 195 all placed seventh for the Raiders.
Lemont, ranked No. 2 in Class 2A by the Illinois Wrestling Coaches and Officials Association, took the top team spot with a score of 335. The Indians had 12 representatives in finals matches and won nine championships.
"It was insane the level of competition," Adam Steinkamp said. "All of the coaches commented that they were thrilled with the level of competition. They are looking forward to next year already."
Illini West finished in 11th place as a team with a score of 41. Jacob Carpenter won his first two rounds of the tournament but fell to Evan Dewitt from Jacksonville in the semifinals and Drew Landau of Edwardsville in the third-place match to finish fourth. Lance Belshaw also finished in fourth at 145 for the Chargers and Carter Wildrick was sixth at 170.
West Hancock received points from one wrestler, with Jeremiah Cote finishing in seventh at 182.