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Rusher reaches 100+; Blue dominates Sectionals

Lucas Domonousky Breeze-Courier

Sports Editor

VANDALIA — The second day of the IHSA Wrestling Sectionals were held Saturday February 12th in Vandalia. The two wrestlers from Taylorville continued their quest to Champaign. Senior Gage Rusher needed only one win and junior William

Blue needed to go undefeated to win out and advance. Both wrestlers accomplished just that and are moving on to participate in the State Tournament.

The first two matches of the day was a flip flop of the previous day’s events. By being aggressive and setting the tone immediately, William Blue won his first act of the day by pin in round one.

“I knew he couldn’t shoot on me. Thats what I wanted him to do.” said the confident junior.

Head Coach Jake Smothers shared a few words on the first match of the day.

“This will be good momentum for the next couple of matches. He’ll be ready to go.”

Gage Rusher was up next for his first match of the day. Showing calmness as always he understood this would be a tough match. He faced off against a four star wrestler from Murphysboro. The two shook hands and began their bout. You could tell Rusher had his hands full with his opponent attacking him from all angles. He went on to lose the match by a final score of 22-7.

“He’s number three in the state for a reason.” Rusher said directly after. He had plenty of time to put the loss behind him and prepared for his next.

The second matches for each wrestler would keep their fate hanging in the balance.

William Blue was up first and he was in command right away. The match went the distance with both wrestlers showing their deep rooted fundamentals. Blue came out on top however winning by a final score of 5-2.

“Make or Break. Win I go. Lose I don’t.” Blue state.

Rusher quickly followed suit and took the floor for to battle for his spot in the State Tournament. From the get go you could tell this was his match to lose. At the end of round one the score was 6-1. He wore his West Frankfort opponent down and won by pin late in the second round. The win punched his ticket to Champaign.

“He has been wrestling lights out this year.” said Smothers. “He has been a great kid on and off the mat it makes my job easier. “

Gage Rusher picks up his 100+ win goal he set earlier at the beginning of the season. He advances to State for his first time in his career.

William Blue’s third match was right after. This ‘make or break’ style match had both wrestlers admittedly a little nervous. The match proved to be fairly equal as both wrestlers struggled to get an upper hand early on. In the middle of round two Blue saw his opportunity and snatched it. The junior pinned the only person standing in his way. He secured a spot at the State Tournament.

“Zane Anthony and Alex Angel were just hammers.” Blue remembers the way past teammates have helped his wrestling journey so far. “They didn’t take it easy.”

“After the loss we had a good talk. We told him move on, it’s over, new day and new opportunity.” said Coach Smothers. “He came in with a good mindset. Didn’t get too high didn’t get too low on himself.”

William Blue makes Taylorville history becoming the first Multi-State Qualifier in school history.

The wresters went on to drop the Sectional Tournament placement matches giving them a 4th place finish.

What a day for the Taylorville wrestling program. William Blue wins 3 matches in a row, Gage Rusher reaches 100+ wins and both THS wrestlers advance to State.

The 2022 State Wrestling Finals will be Thursday, Friday and Saturday at the in Champaign Il.

VANDALIA — THS senior, Gage Rusher, lifts up his West Frankfort opponent, Gavin Mann. Rusher went on to pin Mann late in the second round.

Rusher reached his goal of 100+ wins on Friday February 11th.

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