Pekin beats out competition, defends Sectionals title

For the second consecutive year, the Pekin Panthers came out on top at Sectionals with four individual titles and five advancing to Districts. They faced Don Bosco February 5 in the Regional Duals and will head to Districts on February 9 at Wilton.

The Pekin Panthers were one of the seven teams competing at Sigourney High on February 2 for the areas wrestling Sectionals. Pekin was able to defend their Sectionals title from last year, this time getting most of their points from four individual titles and four others making the podium.

Michael Jones (132 lbs.) was the first Panther to finish with a gold, having received a bye in the first round and then picking up a quick pin in the semifinal. Jones had his toughest battle in the Championship when he faced Teddy Metcalf (Van Buren), slightly leading 6-5 after a high-scoring first period. Just as quick, Jones trailed 7-6 and was able to escape for his final point in the third to force extra time. Jones won the sudden victory with a near-fall midway through the extra minute to earn the gold.

Zach Hammes (138 lbs.) and Cael Baker (145 lbs.) followed suit with titles of their own. Hammes quickly made his way to the Championship with a bye in the first round and a pin midway through the first in the semifinal match. He faced a tougher challenge by taking on Trent Hendricks (Sigourney) in the Championship. Hammes held onto a 5-1 lead at the end of the first period and pushed it 7-2 in the second before dominating in the third period to win a 16-5 decision and take the title. Baker made quick work in the semifinal and, like Hammes, took a big lead over his opponent in the Championship match. Baker was tied with Robert Frazer (Waco) at the conclusion of the first period but got his offense going by scored eight points in the second and four more points in the third for a 14-2 victory.

Mason Juhl (195 lbs.) was the fourth Panther to add a title on the day. He faced Cade Streigle (Sigourney) in the semifinals and wound up pinning him late in the first period, sending him to the Championship match. Juhl had a more difficult test by taking on Cameron Raines (New London), trailing 2-1 after the first period, but regained control to lead 4-2. An escape and a near-fall allowed Juhl to extend his lead and win a 7-2 decision, finishing atop the podium.
With the Sectionals title, the Panthers qualified for the Regional Duals and traveled up to face top-ranked Don Bosco on February 5 (due to weather Pekin did not attend). Following the duals, the five Panthers who advanced to Districts will have until February 9 to prepare when they head to Wilton.

Pick up this week’s Sigourney News-Review to read the full recap, including coach Al Chapman's comments.