Gabe Pleasants exited the high school wrestling stage in grand fashion.

The Morton senior was a place winner last week at the IHSA Class 2A wrestling state finals.

Gabe Pleasants exited the high school wrestling stage in grand fashion.

The Morton senior was a place winner last week at the IHSA Class 2A wrestling state finals.

Already the program’s first qualifier in four years, Pleasants became the first Potter place winner since the late Preston Poyner in 2008.

Pleasants earned a fifth-place state medallion at 152 pounds by winning four of his six matches, including two against higher-ranked foes, over three days at State Farm Center in Champaign.

“He’s put in a lot of hard work,” said MHS head coach Josh Prichard after Pleasants won his match in the first-round wrestlebacks Friday morning. “He knows what he has to do to get it done.”

Pleasants, Illinois Matmen’s ninth-ranked grappler at 152, opened with a 10-1 major decision Thursday afternoon over No. 12 Mason Lee of Highland.

He then lost 5-0 in his first contest Friday to eventual fourth-place finisher Nick Remke of  Woodstock Marian, who was ranked fourth.

Pleasants advanced positively through wrestlebacks with a 3-2 victory later Friday over Richton Park Rich South’s Jaelen Pate.

Being able to compete on the last day of the individual state tournament was a longtime goal for Pleasants.

“I’m pumped to get ready,” he said. “I’ve been waiting a long time to get there.”

Pleasants secured a spot on the awards podium with an 8-4 decision Saturday morning over sixth-ranked Vaughn Hobart of Pontiac.

Chicago Heights Marian’s third-rated Jose Champagne then defeated Pleasants in a 26-11 technical fall.

Pleasants (39-4) closed out his first state experience with a 4-3 win over No. 7 Brayton Williams of Bethalto Civic Memorial in the fifth-place bout Saturday afternoon.

Pleasants qualified for state after winning Metamora Regional and Sterling Sectional championships.