Tigers win first regional since 2007
PRINCETON — It had been simply too long, 11 years and counting in Tiger Town.
The Princeton Tigers last won a regional wrestling championship in 2007 under the late Randy Swinford. On Saturday, in the friendly confines of their own Prouty Gym, the Tigers handed coach Steve Amy his very first regional championship.
Bolstered by seven sectional qualifiers, including junior regional champions Peyton Hammerich (160), Dallas Hill (195) and Chase Tatum (220), the Tigers hoisted that elusive regional trophy, defeating the Kewanee Boilermakers 157-139 for top honors.
It was the Tigers’ goal No. 1 to add “2018” to the regional championship placards on the walls of Prouty Gym.
“Every practice, that’s pretty much been our motivation as a team, to get up there,” Hill said.
“We knew this would be one of coach Amy’s closest opportunities to win his first regional at PHS,” Tatum said. “We were just trying to make it come true for him. We were grinding all week long. We had this vision in our head that we could be part of this, this year.”
After winning his individual championship, Hammerich said, “We’re really close in the team race. It’d be nice to get a year up there (on the board) and a plaque. That was kind of our main focus this weekend.”
Amy said he wouldn’t have wanted to do it with any other group.
“This is my first. Been second a lot of times,” Amy said. “It’s awesome with this group of guys. They may be the hardest working group we’ve had me through here. May not be the most talented overall, but definitely work a lot harder.”
Princeton will be joined at the Oregon Sectional Friday night by four St. Bede Bruins, including 126-pound regional champ Charlie Korey.
All three of the Tigers’ regional champions won by fall. Hammerich and Tatum hardly worked up much of a sweat with first-quarter falls.
Hammerich got the mark on Polo Marco Marcus McKenna at 1:15 to gain his second straight regional crown.
“This is just my second one. Freshman year come up short. It’s good to keep going forward,” said Hammerich, who was a 2017 state qualifier. “I know I got some tough competition coming up next weekend. I’m excited to get back to work (Monday) and keep grinding through the rest of next week.”
For Tatum, it was a victory in perseverance, having missed his sophomore season with shoulder surgery due to a torn labrum in football.
“It feels real good. Been working so hard just for stuff like this. Just to show it actually does pay off,” he said. “Just a lot of grinding, getting up early, getting some running or conditioning, especially endurance on the mats.”
He didn’t need much endurance in his title match when he stuck it to Dalton Clague of Kewanee in just 30 seconds.
“I was ready for that. That’s for sure,” Tatum said.
Hill took down Colin Kaecker of AFC at 5:31, a fall that clinched the title for the Tigers.
“It means a lot. I’ve been working hard. Came up a little short last year,” Hill said, noting his second-place finish from a year ago. “All year, every match I’ve wrestled, it’s come down to this. I hope to be a state qualifier for sure, at least, and I hope to place.”
The Tigers sectional contingent includes runners-up Caleb Alter (113), a sophomore, and Zach Bohms (170), a senior, and third-place finishers Colin Colmone (106), a freshman, and Gabe Thompson (138), a junior, who won by fall.
St. Bede’s Korey, a junior, who wrestled for the Tiger Town Tanglers IKWF program, was the first area wrestler to win the regional championship. He defeated Ryan Kennedy of Morrison 4-0.
“Feels amazing. Feels great to come out here and get first,” he said. “Nice to see everyone around, all my friends from Princeton and the coaches over there. We were all in IK.”
Looking ahead, Korey said, “This year and next year, I definitely want to make it a lot farther than just sectionals.”
Korey will be joined by freshman teammates Dominic Bima (106) and Noah Setster (132), who were second-place finishers, and senior Darryl Senica (170), who pinned his way to sectional to take third place.
• Notes: Sectional prelims will get underway at 4:30 p.m. Friday at Oregon with wrestlebacks beginning at 10 a.m. Saturday.
Princeton 1A Regional at a glance
• Princeton wins first regional since 2007, defeats Kewanee 157-139
Princeton sectional qualifiers
First place: Peyton Hammerich (160), Dallas Hill (195), Chase Tatum (220). Seconds: Caleb Alter (113), Zach Bohms (170).Thirds: Colin Colmone (106), Gabe Thompson (138),
St. Bede sectional qualifiers
First place: Charlie Korey (126), Seconds: Dominic Bima (106), Noah Setster (132) Thirds: Darryl Senica (170).