Senior Gabe Friedrichsen took first at 182 pounds at the Byron Sectional meet on Saturday pushing his record to 39-2.
Friedrichsen 1st, Naftzger 3rd; On To State18:18 PM February 09, 2019
Photos courtesy Nicky Friedrichsen
The EP Panthers will send two wrestlers to the IHSA State Wrestling Finals next weekend in Champaign as Gabe Friedrichsen won his weight class and fellow senior Calvin Naftzger took third in his.
On paper it looked as though Gabe Friedrichsen cruised through his weight class winning two matches by technical fall (15pts) and a fall, but that was not the case. Two years ago he underwent surgery on his shoulder to keep it from dislocating and missed an entire season. The shoulder has been much better over the past two season, but he wears a brace and works extensively to strengthen it. In his semi-final match against West Carroll's Dertz, Friedrichsen screamed in pain and the match was stopped. Coach Tod McCullough went on the mat and Friedrichsen told him the should had dislocated. With the assistance of a trainer the shoulder was popped back in and he was able to continue for the win. In his championship match, the same scenario occurred. McCullough said," I told him he had his place at state secured, but I left the decision up to him whether to continue." After getting the shoulder relocated Friedrichsen decided to continue and scored a 17-2 win.
170 pounder Calvin Naftzger took third place with a fall in 1:35 over Knauf of Aurora Christian. "Calvin had a phenomenal weekend," said McCullough. "He was down to Herd of Orion in the wrestle back semi-final, but was able to get a reversal in the third period and stick him."
McCullough said he could not be prouder of the way his athletes competed over the weekend. "To get four guys to the blood round (wrestle back semi-finals) they had to wrestle very well."
The coach added that he was thoroughly impressed with senior Trevor Pratt. "He has only been wrestling for two years and I am sure he is wishing he would have joined the program sooner. He made a lot of big strides in his short career" Pratt finished his season with a 31-14 record.
Junior Cameron Abell also just missed a trip to state. "I hope Cam will use this meet as an incentive for next year. He wrestled his butt off to get to the blood round this weekend," said McCullough.
Senior Mat Garrison who went 2-2 at the state finals last year coming up just short of a medal, probably had the toughest road to get back to state as any EP wrestler. "His class was just stacked with talent and he did a heck of job despite his injury," said McCullough. Garrison had hurt a hip flexor muscle late in the season and just did not have enough time to recuperate and get back into top shape due to the many missed days of practice due to weather according to the coach. "He really stepped it up to get as far in the meet as he did. He did the best he could."
Friedrichsen and Naftzger will now await their seeding for the state finals, which begin next Thursday in Champaign.