Aledo Junior High wrestlers top themselves

Robert Blackford/Editor
Members of the Aledo Junior High wrestling team that went to the state tournament this year and placed fifth along with some of their teammates.

The Aledo Junior High wrestling team topped itself this year finishing the regular season with an undefeated record in dual meets and placing fifth in the state. They also won back-to-back Prairieland Conference Tournaments.

The team also placed well in other tournaments across the state: Geneseo Tournament, third; Rockridge Takedown Tournament, third; Canton Tournament, first; Macomb Regionals, first; Chatam Sectional, first and state tournament, fifth.

Jason Clawson, along with Steve Speaker, coaches the AJH team. "This is my fifth consecutive year," said Clawson. "What makes this really special is there is no class system. Aledo is one of the smallest IESA schools.

Clawson is proud of his team's fifth place finish. "We were one and a half points out of fourth. If we would have placed fourth we would have gotten a trophy.

The team's fifth place finish came as nine of his wrestlers qualifed for the state tournament with five of them placing.

A 119 pounds Zach Nelson won the state championship. He finished the year with a record of 32-1. Clawson said a bad call by an official was the only reason Nelson had the blemish on his record.

At 85 pounds Bryce Stiles placed third in the state.

Three other individuals, Tristen Finch, (95 pounds); Logan Snyder (112 pounds) and Landon McIntosh (145 pounds) finished sixth in the state. Curtis VanWinkle (90 pounds); Jesse Snyder (126 pounds); Jon Ricke (135 pounds) and Quintinn Russell (275 pounds) all qualified for state but did not place.

Clawson said he knew he had a good team going into the season. Aledo placed 10th in the state last year and had a lot of seventh graders coming back this season.

"We beat Rock Island Edison which hadn't been beat in five years."

"Curtis VanWinkle and Tristen Finch will be back next year. We have nine sixth graders and six to eight seventh graders coming back. We'll be losing a good quality group," said Clawson. "Bear Country has given us some kids. Hopefully we'll compete again."

Clawson felt Zach Nelson's state championship this year was a pretty big accomplishment after placing fourth in the state last year. "All the boys stepped up this year."

Clawson added, "Bryce Skiles broke his collarbone last year and placed sixth. He finished third this year in what was considered one of the tougher weight classes in the state."

Clawson said, "Logan Snyder had a bad knee and may need knee surgery and placed sixth in the state."

Clawson said, "We had 26 kids this year. We'll have fewer kids next year but the talent is still there. We get pretty much all the Bear Country kids. Bear Country has turned the program around. We'll send 11 eighth graders to the high school."