The quest for the quad begins Saturday for the Washington wrestling team.
The top-ranked Panthers enter the dual-team state tournament at Grossinger Motors Arena in Bloomington as the three-time defending champions. That means the Washington seniors could leave the arena knowing nothing but state championships in high school.
“It’s an exciting thing for them, but you don’t want that to work against them,” Washington coach Nick Miller said of putting too much pressure on the four-peat.
Washington can become the first public school to win four consecutive state titles since the dual-team format began in 1983-84. Maywood Proviso captured the first four single tournament championships from 1937-1940.
But Miller knows it may not be as easy this time around.
Washington (19-10) faces a No. 5 ranked Lemont team in an 11 a.m. quarterfinal that had four individual state medalists, led by runners-up Kyle Schickel (138 pounds) and Apollo Gothard (220).
Looming in a potential title matchup could be either No. 2 Woodstock Marian or No. 3 Coal City.
Marian (23-0) had eight state qualifiers and four medalists, with a champion (Dylan Connell at 160, against Washington’s Jared Head) and a runner-up (Josh Glover at 106).
Coal City (36-3) also had eight state qualifiers, paced by champions Alex Friddle (at 132 against Washington’s Zeke Hulet) and Daniel Jezik (182).
“It’s going to be a challenge,” Miller said. “We just have to be ready to battle every dual and see what comes with it. If it doesn’t result in a fourth title, then so be it. As long as we can say we put our best out there on Saturday.”
Washington counters with a pair of champions (two-timer Jace Punke at 195 and Joey Cape at 120), three runners-up (Brody Norman at 126 joining Head and Hulet) and fourth-place finisher Abe Hinrichsen (113).
“If there’s a silver lining for our teams in the dual meet competition, we’ve been here,” Miller said. “These guys know how to win as a team and I think that’s the wild card that we have to play.”
Coal City is making its ninth appearance in the dual-team tournament, but first in 2A after placing second four times (last in 2016) and third once. Marian lost to Washington in the quarterfinals last year.
BIG TASK: Tremont has the tough task of facing No. 2 Lena-Winslow (29-1) in a 9 a.m. Class 1A quarterfinals. The Turks lost 56-8 against Le-Win in the Abe’s Rumble on New Year’s Eve weekend. The Panthers’ only loss came against Coal City (40-31).
Tremont may just be scratching the surface on state tournament runs, with only two seniors (Chase Bishop and Aaron Wagenbach) among 11 sectional qualifiers.
Stan Morris can be reached at 686-3211 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @stanmorrispjs