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Lyons' Eric Rende (170) wrestles Morton's Adrian Cardenas. | Jon Langham~for Sun-Times Media
The Class 3A Shepard Sectional proved to be more heart-breaking than heart-lifting for members of the Lyons wrestling team.
Junior 152-pounder A.J. Villareal was the lone Lyons wrestler to advance to the state meet starting Thursday night in Champaign.
He will open the tournament against Oak Park-River Forest freshman Kamal Bey (26-4). The winner faces Lincoln-Way Central’s Tyler Schneider (43-7) or Lake Zurich’s Sean Lynch (21-3) in the quarterfinals.
Villareal (37-8) claimed a state qualifying berth by reaching the sectional semifinals. He finished third with a 10-4 victory over Richards senior Deion Carter (31-5).
Villareal has led Lyons in wins most of the season and coach Griffin Powell was confident Villareal would advance.
For how long? Powell said: “From Day 1.”
Villareal climbed back through the wrestlebacks after losing to eventual sectional champion Mitch Cook (34-8) of Sandburg in the quarterfinals, 6-2.
Villareal pinned his first opponent, Jake McInnis of Kenwood, at 1:12. Villareal reached the semifinals with a win over Hinsdale Central senior Ernest Battaglia.