Accomplished Morton wrestlers in lower weights
Many wrestlers in the top half of the Morton line-up figure to rack up a lot of wins this winter.
Four Potters projected to compete between 119 and 140 pounds were Class 2A sectional qualifiers a year ago.
“Our goal is to advance as many as we can in the lower weights,” MHS head coach Ed Henderson said.
Sophomore Jacob Rudd made it to state last year during a 27-win season. He was the Mid-Illini Conference and Washington Regional champion.
Rudd is slotted into 125 this year, a big leap from the 103 he occupied in 2009.
Vince Hill, a senior, also recorded 27 wins, won a league championship and was the regional runner-up.
He is expected to move up one place to 119.
Another Morton senior, Jaren Glascock, amassed 30 victories last season. He also was second at the regional level.
Glascock, a four-year starter like Hill, is penciled in at 135 after competing primarily in 125 as a junior.
Senior Zach Deaton, who figures to stay in the 140 bracket, advanced past the regional as well.
In the lightest categories, the Potters will employ freshmen Brock Kelley (103) and Reid Butler (112), both of whom were Illinois Elementary School Association state qualifiers.
Junior Jordon Sellers has made the unusual transition to a lighter weight and will participate in 130.
As of last week, the 145 spot was a battle between junior John Bridge and sophomore Ryan Wertzler.
Three-year starter Brandon Stamm, a senior, is geared up for battle in 152. At 160 is junior Kaleb Cottingham.
Senior Nick Gurdian and junior Austin Sherwood are 189 candidates, while senior Dakota Klein and junior Bryan Deaton vie for time in 215.
The 171 and 285 positions could be left vacant or one of the previously mentioned wrestlers could go there.
“We hope to gain a lot of experience in the upper weights,” said Henderson.
The coach took six grapplers to the USA Wrestling Preseason Nationals in Cedar Falls, Iowa, Oct. 30. There were 1,600 contestants from 33 states.
The Morton group did well while not facing anyone from Illinois. In most cases, losses were by three points or less.
About 15 team members faithfully joined Henderson for preseason weight room work.
Morton does not want any individuals with a glossy record.
“My goal is to have every one of my kids to have 6-10 losses,” said Henderson.
Even after some changes, the Potters’ schedule is laced with top programs.
“I really tried to beef up the dual meet part of the schedule,” Henderson said.
One of the notable additions was a Dec. 30 quadrangular in Morris featuring the host Redskins, Sterling and Rock Island Alleman.
After 11 days off following matchups on consecutive nights Monday and Nov. 23, Morton goes to Bloomington, where the Purple Raiders, Granite City and New Lenox Providence Catholic will be present.
The Potters will not travel to the Al Dvorak Memorial Tournament this winter. While looking for another northern opportunity in ’11, they will compete Dec. 18 in the 41st annual Joe Bee Memorial Tournament in Springfield.
The other tournament sites — the 45th annual Morton Invitational Jan. 8 and the Urbana Invitational the next week Saturday — have not changed.
“We’ll definitely be a better tournament than dual team,” said Henderson.
With that in mind, Morton will try to make a run at defending M-I champion Washington in the conference tournament.
While conceding the Potters will not stack up with the Panthers in the teams’ Dec. 16 dual, the seven-team league finale could be much different.
“Our goal is to contend for that team title,” said Henderson.
Brock Cody graduated after attaining first-team all-conference honors. Classmate Mitch Henson was a second-team recipient.
Morton also lost sectional qualifier Alex Geiger, who transferred to Normal Community for his junior year.
“It should be an exciting season,” said Henderson.