Lincoln-Way Central advances downstate for the second consecutive year

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After failing to generate much buzz to start the season, Lincoln-Way Central sounded the alarm with a 54-11 rout of Edwardsville in dual team sectional play on Tuesday night. The win propels the Knights to team state for the second straight year after placing fourth last season.

“I’m honestly very surprised,” Central captain Bryce Gorman said. “Last year we were expected to be good. I thought we’d be decent this year, but I didn’t think we’d be going back to state. I think Illinois MatMen had us ranked No. 25 at the start of the year. It’s nice to prove people wrong.”

Gorman, a fourth-place finisher in state at 170 pounds, moved up in weight and defeated Edwardsville state qualifier Cameron Throneberry at 182.

The Knights are now set to collide with Marist in Class 3A state quarterfinal action Saturday at 9 a.m. at U.S. Cellular Coliseum in Bloomington.

Vinnie Piunti (113) and Matt Crnich (120) got the ball rolling early, giving Central a 12-0 lead after Crnich’s come-from-behind pin.

“That’s the biggest win of my high school career,” Crnich said. “I didn’t win a match at team sectional or state last season for us, so it’s great to be able to contribute.”

Edwardsville, the top team from the St. Louis area, was expected to give Central more of a challenge after beating Lockport earlier in the season. Instead, the Knights took a 27-0 lead after Ian Meagher (126), state finalist Joey Nelson (132) and Dominic Botta (138) tacked on victories.

“Going in, we thought it would be a tight match knowing they beat Lockport,” Crnich said. “It was a total team effort. We stuck with it and kept moving forward.”

Brandon Dominski (160), Nick Torres (170), Jake Dudeck (195) and sophomore heavyweight Bryan Ditchman, a state medalist, added victories.

“We’re a great dual team because we have so much fun. We feed off each other’s energy,” Gorman said. “Our coaches are some of the funniest guys I know. They keep us laughing and make wrestling fun.”

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