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CHAMPAIGN — Neither Cory Wilson nor Bobby O'Banner looked at the state rankings before going on the mat Thursday in the preliminary round of the state wrestling tournament.
Just as well, because the unranked Bowen duo put the ratings on their head with upset wins in Class 2A.
Wilson had a pin in 3:06 over Corey Graham of Marengo (ranked sixth by Illinois Best Weekly) at 113 pounds and O'Banner beat fifth-ranked Damon Cloe of Marengo 6-4 at 152 to highlight a fairly successful day for Public League wrestlers.
Eight Public Leaguers advanced to Friday morning's quarterfinals at Assembly Hall, seven of them in Class 2A. The city is guaranteed at least one 2A semifinalist at 285, where King's fifth-ranked Lavontay Cobb (51-1) and Northside's Ben Mauk-O'Connor (36-4) will meet in the quarters.
For Wilson, O'Banner and 126-pound quarterfinalist Rudy Johnson, it was a case of Bowen's tough regular-season schedule paying off. But according to Wilson, the competition is pretty fierce in the practice room as well.
"Working in the room with Rudy every day, you've got no choice but to get better," Wilson said.
O'Banner advanced despite not wrestling his best. "I felt I wasn't ready," he said. "A little sleepy, tired muscles. You've got to work through that."
He did, joining his fellow Public League winners, including DeVane Williams of Morgan Park (106) and sixth-ranked Deuce Rachael of Lindblom (220) in 2A and Douglass' Terry Martin (195) in 1A.
A whole other level of adversity confronted Sandburg 120-pounder Sebastian Pique (13-2), who got a takedown early in overtime to beat Oak Park-River Forest's Matt Rundell (29-6) 6-4 in a matchup of returning Class 3A runners-up at 120.
It's been a difficult season for Pique, who had a lengthy layoff with an elbow injury. Then he and the Sandburg community were shocked by the death last weekend of athletic director Bruce Scheidegger.
"He was a real good guy," Pique said. "I met him before I met anybody [when] I transferred to Sandburg [from Hinsdale South]. He helped us a lot, [we'll] try and do great in honor of him."
Pique was one of six Eagles to advance to the quarterfinals. Marist and Marmion both qualified a meet-high seven, while Oak Park-River Forest like Sandburg advanced six.
Montini dominated Class 2A qualifying by advancing 10 to the quarterfinals, three more than Lincoln-Way West.