Morton duo reaches 2A sectional

Bryan Veginski
Nathan Hillman, left, a Morton sophomore, placed fourth Saturday at 220 pounds at the Class 2A East Peoria Regional. The Potters were eighth as a team. Gabe Pleasants, Reid Butler and Kartal Bakirdan qualified for the wrestling sectional.

Two Morton wrestlers are bound for the Class 2A Pontiac Sectional.

With top-three finishes Saturday at the East Peoria Regional, junior Gabe Pleasants and senior Kartal Bakirdan moved on to the second stage of the Illinois High School Association postseason.

Pleasants was a regional champion at 138 pounds.

He opened with a 14-3 major decision over Chris Henricks of East Peoria before a 5-3 win over Central's Brandon Gregory.

In the final, Pleasants (28-6) tripped up Kyle White of Metamora, 7-6, to avenge a loss to the Redbird in the previous week's Mid-Illini Conference tournament.

Bakirdan (21-12) also was a third-place finisher at 160 after a 4-3 decision vs. Remy Smith of Limestone.

He opened with a 5-2 win vs. Richwoods' Justice Kasel, then recovered from a semifinal setback to top Jamion Timothy of Central, 3-1.

Morton senior Reid Butler (20-7) and sophomore Nathan Hillman narrowly missed sectional berths with fourth-place results at 145 and 220, respectively.

They are sectional alternates.

Other Potters who recorded postseason wins included: Bret Hilliard, Toney Monferdini and Brandon Bland.

Morton was eighth as a team with 54 regional points.

Washington won its fourth regional championship in the last five years with 219.5 points, 23.5 more than runner-up East Peoria.

Sectional: The action begins at 4:30 p.m. Friday in Pontiac.

Session II occurs at 10 a.m. Saturday, with Session III to follow at 3 p.m.

Prior to the sectional starting, there will be a grand march at 4:05 p.m. for all participants.

The top-four individuals in each weight class advance to the 2A state final Feb. 20-22 at State Farm Center in Champaign.