For the first time since 1970, the Pekin wrestling program sent five Panthers to the Iowa state wrestling tournament in Des Moines.
The group of 2018 grapplers to accomplish the feat were: 132 pound junior Zach Hammes, 138 pound senior Drake Harbison, 152 pound senior Keaton Baayen, 160 pound senior Kaden Baker and 195 pound freshman Mason Juhl.
Baayen had the most success, winning his first match in the 152 bracket with a 7-6 decision over Bo Geise before losing by fall to the eventual runner-up, Kaleb Krall, in 1:12 in the quarterfinals. The loss sent the senior to the losers bracket where he rebounded with a 5-3 decision over junior Michael Baker, before losing to Denver senior Caleb Wilson in a 3-2 decision.
Baayen had wrestled his way into the place matches and defeated Garrett Arment by forfeit to claim seventh place.
Harbison lost his opening match 4-3 by decision to fourth place finisher Spencer Griffen before rebounding with a win in the losers bracket over Matthew Wittstock 4-3. Wilton junior Cory Anderson than eliminated Harbison by fall 1:15 into their duel on his way to seventh place.
The 160 pound bracket went the same way for senior Kaden Baker who lost his first match by fall in :38 to eventual runner-up Brennan Swafford of Mediapolis. He then rebounded with a losers bracket win over sophomore Tate Hagen by decision 5-3. Baker was then eliminated one match shy of placing when he lost 8-1 to Hudson?s sophomore Ethan Fulcher.
Zach Hammes went 0-2 in the 132 pound bracket, losing by fall 2:35 into his opening match against Blake Abrahamson from Okoboji and then 10-2 by major decision to Lisbon junior Ryne Mohrfeld.
Freshman Mason Juhl lost his opening match by decision, 13-9 to Darius Gashe and was then eliminated by fall 1:13 into his losers bracket matchup with Cameron Reddick.