Canton leaves Morton wrestlers in seventh place

Bryan Veginski
Dakota Hefner, left, a Morton senior at 195 pounds, was the only member of the wrestling team to win both of his matches Jan. 29 at home against Mid-Illini Conference guests Washington and East Peoria.

Morton wrestled against two of the best Class 2A teams in the state Jan. 29.

The Potters lost Mid-Illini Conference home matches to sixth-ranked Washington, 61-15, and No. 7 East Peoria, 67-9.

The results in front of a large gathering in the Potterdome dropped Morton into a three-way tie for fourth place with Metamora and Limestone at 2-4 entering the league tournament.

In the opening contest vs. Washington, Dakota Hefner secured a pin at 195 pounds and Reid Butler posted a 5-2 victory for the Potters at 145.

Brandon Bland of Morton was a forfeit winner at 120.

Hefner was the Potters' only two-time winner after squeaking out a 3-2 decision vs. East Peoria.

Gabe Pleasants accounted for the squad's other win with a third-period pin at 138.

The Panthers defeated the Raiders, 44-30, in a match broadcast by Illinois Matmen.com.

The double dual twice was delayed by frigid winter weather, ramping up the enthusiasm.

Mid-Illini tournament

Morton slipped to seventh place in the overall conference standings.

The Potters were seventh in the M-I tournament hosted by Limestone Saturday with 42 points.

"I think we lost a few close matches this weekend that we will be ironing out this week," MHS head coach Josh Prichard said.

Canton needed to place fifth in the seven-team event to climb out of seventh and the Little Giants did just that with 59 points to outscore sixth-place Limestone by two.

Combining dual records with tournament finish, Morton had 3.5 points for the season and Canton compiled 4.5.

Butler (16-5) led the Potters with a runner-up showing in 145 that will net him second-team all-league honors.

He defeated Kris Clark of Pekin, 5-1, before losing a 5-0 decision to East Peoria's Bryce Sandoval in the final.

Cliff Yerby (21-14) and Pleasants (26-5) both placed third for Morton.

Yerby came back from an opening-match loss to pin his next two foes in the 132 division.

"It was nice to see Cliff Yerby come back after a loss on (Jan. 29) and beat the same kid for third," Prichard said of the sophomore downing Washington's Caleb Miller.

Pleasants did the same in 138. He claimed 4-2 and 5-2 decisions against wrestlers with winning records.

Morton's Kartal Bakirdan (18-11) was victorious in a consolation-bracket bout as part of a fourth-place standing in 160.

Washington won its fifth straight conference championship and left East Peoria in second place for the fourth year in a row after edging the Raiders, 192.5-186.5, in the tournament.

Postseason: Morton is part of the nine-team Class 2A East Peoria Regional, which is Saturday.

The Potters project to have 10 wrestlers available.

"We need to have a solid performance Saturday," said Prichard. "The guys have been working extremely hard this season and it will be exciting to see what happens in the weeks to come."

The top three individual finishers in each of the 14 weight classes will advance to the Feb. 14-15 Pontiac Sectional.

The first-place team will move on to the Feb. 25 LaSalle Dual Team Sectional.