The Princeton Tigers had an ‘Ace’ in the Hole in Saturday’s Class 1A Princeton Sectional wrestling tournament at Prouty Gym.
Ace Christiansen placed second at 120 pounds, becoming just the fourth PHS freshman to qualify for state.
“It feels pretty good,” Christiansen said. “As a freshman, I think it’s a good accomplishment.”
Quite the accomplishment. Only three other freshmen for PHS – Adam Wason, Ty Taylor and teammate Matthew Harris – have accomplished the same feat.
“Ace had a really good tournament,” PHS coach Steve Amy said. “He won a big match in the quarterfinals on Friday night and then continued it with a great performance in the semi finals to punch his ticket. I am really excited for the opportunity that he has given himself. He has worked really hard for a long time and I couldn’t be prouder.”
Christiansen won his first match by fall then recorded a pair of decisions to reach the final where he lost by technical fall against No. 1-ranked Brady Grennan of Newman.
“I’ve wrestled that kid multiple times and it always hasn’t been in my favor,” Christiansen said. “I have to keep working.”
Christiansen is the Tigers’ lone state qualifier.
Harris fell just short of a return trip to state after losing by 7-4 decision to Rockridge’s Jude Finch in the final round of wrestlebacks at 126, while teammate Steven Benavidez (113) was pinned in the final round of wrestlebacks. Both are seniors and wrestled their final matches in the Tiger singlets.
“For Steven and Matthew, their careers came to an end in the same place it started. So it’s bittersweet.” Amy said. “I wish they could have had a better day and advanced but I am very proud of them and who they have grown into.”
Other sectional qualifiers for the Tigers were juniors Carlos Benavidez (132) and Carson Etheridge (160).
“I thought overall our guys really battled all weekend,” Amy said. “We could always do better, but I’m hopeful that they saw how close (Carlos and Carson) actually are to qualifying. With a little offseason work they will be right in the mix again.”
Christiansen will take a 37-12 record into battle against Coal City sophomore Brandt Widlowski (39-7) in the top bracket. Widlowski took third in the Coal City Sectional by a 14-8 decision.
Their winner will feed into the winner between Shelbyville junior Calvin Miller (47-2) and Tremont freshman Bowden Delaney (35-5).
Amy likes Christiansen’s chances to get on the podium.
“There are a lot of wrestlers that are just satisfied with qualifying for state or the stage just gets too big for them that they don’t always wrestle their best. The one thing I know about Ace is that is always ready to compete no matter where we go,” Amy said.
Newman’s Grennan (39-1) heads the field in the bottom bracket.
* Kevin Chlum contributed to this article
Source: The Daily Chronicle