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Griffin Meeker has been through a lot in his four years as a St. Joseph-Ogden Spartan wrestler.
The senior, who has qualified for the state tournament all four years, a rare feat in itself, has his sights set even higher this season, and despite an injury earlier in the season, is poised to make a run to the Class 1A state title in the 182-pound class.
Meeker, who came back about two weeks earlier from a shoulder injury, started his 2017 quest for a state title on the right track with a first round fall in 1:12 over James Cox of Wilmington. Meeker (35-2) advances to the quarterfinals on Friday morning, where he will face Nate Schultz of Savanna (West Carroll).
“Even though this is my fourth year competing at state, you still get butterflies before that first match, but now that the match is over, it’s time to move on and think about the next match”, Meeker said following his opening round win.
Three other Spartan grapplers qualified for state as well, but weren’t as successful as Meeker, all dropping their opening round matches.
Sophomore Jake Wendling (106-pound division), who is making his first appearance at state, was defeated by Kyle Tunink of Sterling Newman Central Catholic in a fall at 3:38, and will have to come back through the wrestleback round later on Friday.
Freshman Austin McConaha (113-pound class), who is also appearing at state for the first time, lost his first match by a 10-2 major decision to Caleb Nix of Auburn, and like Wendling, will have to come back through the consolation rounds.
Junior Jason Bowman (170-pound division), also fell by a 12-1 major decision to 2016 state runner-up in the 170-pound class Andrew Wenger of Dakota. Bowman is also a first time entrant in the state series.
The quarterfinals will get underway on Friday morning at 8:30 am, with the first round wrestlebacks to follow once the quarterfinals have been completed. The winners of the morning matches will wrestle again on Friday evening in the semifinals with the opportunity to move on to the championship round on Saturday night. All matches are being held at the State Farm Center on the University of Illinois campus.