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Who is your team’s biggest rival?

Ben Gavel (Unity senior): “I believe my team’s biggest rival is in fact ourselves. Only we can push each other to our absolute limit and bring ourselves to achieve the goals we put forth before us.”

Gage Granadino (Mahomet-Seymour senior): “Bloomington. Biggest threat to us in central Illinois.”

Cale Horsch (Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley/Fisher senior): “Our biggest rival is LeRoy. This rivalry comes from all the other sports both Fisher and Gibson play in. Each sport always wants to beat LeRoy, which is why when we compete against LeRoy, we try to wrestle our best.”

Reef Pacot (Oakwood/Salt Fork sophomore): “As a team, I don’t feel like we have any rivals. As a wrestling family, we strive for competition.”

Andy Moore (14th-year Monticello coach): “Our team’s biggest rival at this time would be Unity. We have been competitive with each other for a few years now, and it seems that both teams know the relevance behind our meetings (conference or regionals) and get up for the occasion.”

Andy Head (ninth-year Bismarck-Henning/Rossville-Alvin/Armstrong-Potomac coach): “Probably Oakwood. They have won our conference the most over the last few years.”

Matt Cooper (seventh-year Clinton coach): “This is a tough question; one really doesn’t stick out in my mind too much. If I had to choose, it would probably be Olympia — not only from when I was coaching, but just historically. It seems like the teams have been on the same sort of path, ups and downs. When Clinton was really good in the late 1990s and early 2000s, so was Olympia, and it was the same a few years back when we lost by half a point in the regionals to them and they ended up placing third in the state. It seems like it is usually a good, hard-fought dual between two tough teams no matter the year or who is on the mat.”

What’s the biggest on-mat rivalry you’ve seen?Ron Coit (Farmer City native; 2010 Illinois Wrestling Coaches and Officials Association Hall of Famer): “Bloomington versus Normal Community. Always a great atmosphere between these two intercity schools, both on the mat and from the fans. Plus I graduated from Normal in 1977, and it was a big dual back then, too.”

Jim Moxley (Mahomet native; 2017 Illinois Wrestling Coaches and Officials Association Hall of Famer and former Mahomet-Seymour coach): “I know my personal bias is going to show through in this answer, but after coaching at Mahomet-Seymour for 12 years and then watching my two sons wrestle there, I have come to see wrestling in this area through those lenses. Mahomet-Seymour established themselves as the top team in the area, winning five state championships back in the 1980s, and added some other state trophies in the 1990s. While other teams come and go through the years, M-S wrestling continues to stay strong each year. Notable rivals for the Bulldogs through the years include Mt. Zion, Clinton, Pontiac, Sandwich and Harvard.”

What’s the most memorable high school wrestling match or event you’ve been a part of?Gavel: “The 2020 state meet was the most memorable event for me. It was a great opportunity to see how far I’ve come over my years of wrestling and was also a meet full of good competition.”

Granadino: “My sophomore year during sectionals. I lost 5-4 in overtime to Jerseyville’s Zeke Waltz, who went on to place fifth in the state.”

Horsch: “Walking in the Grand March as a freshman and competing in the state finals. This was a surreal experience that not many people get to experience in their life. It means a lot to me to be able to be a part of it in my wrestling career.”

Pacot: “My loss in double-overtime in the 2020 state semifinals.”

Moore: “The 2019 regionals at Tolono. Unity was favored to win it, but our entire team wrestled to their full potential and we won the championship.”

Head: “I would say Cody Miller wrestling in the state finals. They were both big matches. Unfortunately, they didn’t go our way.”

Cooper: “The dual team sectional in 2018. We wrestled Coal City. It was a back-and-forth dual the whole way through. Coal City was able to make a few more moves to their lineup than we did and ended up beating us and going on to win third place in state.”

Coit: “Oh, I’ve got many for this question. So many to pick from, but great memories. My first dual-team state match in 1998, Coal City versus Harvard. Meet ended in a tie, with Coal City winning on like the fifth criterium to advance. The 2006 individual state tournament, I was on the whistle for both Jimmy Kennedy’s (125 pounds) and John Dergo’s (171 pounds) finals. Come to find out later both had signed to go to the U of I. Being named the 2006 Illinois Wrestling Coaches and Officials Association Official of the Year, being part of the 2010 IWCOA Hall of Fame class, being named the 2013 IHSA Official of the Year and being a 2019 grand marshal are a few more.”

Moxley: “A couple of years ago, I officiated the regional championship match at 285 pounds between senior Luke Luffman from Urbana and sophomore Hayden Copass of Westville. Luffman’s experience and maturity helped him win the match, but these two giants are about to renew this rivalry as Copass is headed to the University of Wisconsin next year, where he will no doubt face off with the University of Illinois’ Luffman in the next two years. That will be fun to watch.”

Where’s one location you always look forward to visiting?Gavel: “I always look forward to wrestling in the State Farm Center. It is a place full of people cheering on their wrestlers and is close to home, so the majority of my family can watch me in person.”

Granadino: “I always look forward to wrestling in Mascoutah. Very nice complex and usually good competition there.”

Horsch: “I always look forward to wrestling in the Princeton Invitational. This tournament has very tough competition, which is a great tournament to wrestle in right before we get into the postseason.”

Pacot: “At this point, I will wrestle anywhere.”

Moore: “The individual state tournament at the State Farm Center. For obvious reasons, this is my favorite venue. Whether it be the top-notch competition or the kids achieving their goals, this is the ultimate event to take part in.”

Head: “The state tournament. I enjoy the level of competition, and it means just a little bit more there.”

Cooper: “State Farm Center. Nothing beats the excitement of coaching there and the excitement around the whole weekend, the best wrestlers in the state in one building and when it is packed on Friday and Saturday nights. No other arena can compare.”

Coit: “Assembly Hall (State Farm Center). Walking through that tunnel — wow. Always look forward to heading north for the Chicago Catholic League — great competition. There was a year the state duals were held in Moline at what they called The Barn. Great atmosphere there also.”

Moxley: “I always enjoy going to Tolono Unity to officiate wrestling. Living in Mahomet, a trip to Tolono is a short drive, which is nice. But I really enjoy everything about the experience. Their facilities are very nice, their administration does a nice job of hosting their events and the Unity crowd really gets behind their wrestlers. Although their crowd is loud and into the match, I don’t feel like they are yelling at the officials or complaining; they are just really enthusiastic about their wrestlers. When the crowd gets into the match, the kids usually respond by wrestling with more intensity. Coach Logan Patton has done a nice job of turning that program into one of the best wrestling programs around.”

Where’s one location you haven’t visited but would like to?Gavel: “I have always wanted to wrestle at Worlds and the Olympics. Both of these events are filled with some of the best competition you can find, and I always am searching for that kind of intense experience.”

Granadino: “I would like to wrestle at Washington High School for the hype of the match.”

Horsch: “I have always wanted to wrestle in Grossinger Motors Arena. This is where team state takes place. I would love for our wrestling team to have the opportunity to wrestle there and compete against the best in the state.”

Pacot: “At the State Farm Center, in the Grand March and championship round for the individual state series.”

Moore: “I actually can’t think of one location I haven’t coached at but would like to. I would like to coach at the team dual state tournament more often, but between team state, individual state, Princeton and Abe’s Rumble (in Springfield), those are the premier locations that I enjoy coaching at.”

Cooper: “The only location that comes to mind is the Bloomington Grossinger Arena, because that is where the dual team state is held. We haven’t been able to reach that plateau yet as a team. We have been on the short end of a couple of teams, losing to third-place Olympia in 2017 by half a point in regionals and losing to Coal City in the dual team in 2018.”

Coit: “Edwardsville for a dual meet. Beautiful facility for a high school.”

Moxley: “I have been all over the map officiating, but I guess I would say that it would be pretty cool to officiate right here in Champaign at the State Farm Center for the IHSA state tournament. Getting the opportunity to officiate at the state meet is like reaching the pinnacle of your officiating career. However, officiating at the state meet is reserved for the ‘top tier’ officials — and rightfully so, as the wrestlers at that level deserve the best officials. I don’t see that happening for me, but I have great respect for any official who has reached that level in whatever sport they officiate.”

Which athlete currently on your team are you lucky you don’t have to compete against?Gavel: “I don’t believe there is anyone on my team I would be unlucky to compete against. I personally love competing against each and every wrestler on my team because, win or lose, I learn from it.”

Granadino: “I’m glad I don’t have to wrestle Mateo Casillas, our 195-pounder. He is a sophomore who has a very very bright future and is ridiculously strong to a point where it’s unreal.”

Horsch: “I am glad I don’t have to wrestle our heavyweight, Marcus Miguel. He is so strong and weighs a lot more than me, so I don’t think it’d be a very fun time wrestling him.”

Pacot: “Joe Lashuay from our team. He is one of the roughest wrestlers I have ever wrestled, but it is still fun to roll around on the mat with him.”

Moore: “I am happy to not be an opposing coach against Hayden LeConte. He is an aggressive wrestler and unorthodox enough that it is hard to predict what his next move will be.”

Head: “Braxton Wilson. You can never be sure exactly what he is going to do in a match or how he is going to react in a certain situation.”

Cooper: “Deegan Eveland. His style is just unorthodox, and he seems to be able to scramble out of situations that don’t look like he should be able to get out of.”

Which athlete in your career has been hardest to officiate?Coit: “A wrestler from Danville, Porfirio Perez. He had a really funky style of wrestling, and I just never knew what he was going to do next. Never out of a match — he could be down with 30 seconds to go, but I had to be ready for something strange to happen and he would pull it out.”

Moxley: “I can’t think of a particular wrestler that was the most difficult to officiate. However, ‘officiating’ itself can be very difficult if you let things get out of control. There are a lot of moving parts to a wrestling match; it is not just the two wrestlers out there that you have to deal with. There are also the two sets of coaches chirping at you, the crowd can get in your head if you let them, and there can often be problems with the scorekeeper or the clockkeeper if they are not paying close attention. It takes everyone doing their job well, everyone following the rules with integrity and everyone showing some class in order to make a wrestling match run smoothly.”

Which athlete on an opposing team is or was always tough to compete against?Gavel: “Ridgeview’s Coby Windle. He is a good wrestler that has beaten me in the past. He is someone that I hope to compete against more in my coming years as a wrestler.”

Granadino: “Currently, I don’t know who the toughest opponent would be for me since they’ve all graduated.”

Horsch: “Ridgeview’s Coby Windle is always a tough wrestler to wrestle against. We have very similar wrestling styles, which makes it very hard because he knows what I’m going to do and I know what he’s going to do. However, it makes it a very good match between the two of us.”

Pacot: “Jarek Wehrle from Vandalia and Garrett Luke from Lena-Winslow are always tough to wrestle against. I’ve wrestled against both of them twice. Wehrle is a beast on top, and Luke is just an all-around great wrestler.”

Moore: “Brandon Hoselton from Prairie Central. He is one of the best wrestlers in the area and has been very consistent throughout his career. It’s hard to compete against someone at that level.”

Head: “Hoopeston Area’s Abel Colunga. He has a really diverse skill set, and I really like the way that he competes.”

Cooper: “Brandon Hoselton from Prairie Central. He is just very good from every position. Doesn’t seem to have a weak spot to exploit. The accomplishments speak for themselves.”

Which athlete in your officiating career would be hardest to compete against?Coit: “Grant’s Jimmy Kennedy. Always came at you and seemed to never give the other wrestler any space, always moving. Or the funky wrestlers. How do you wrestle against that?”

Moxley: “Hayden Copass of Westville would be the most difficult to compete against because, in his 285-pound weight class, he is a ‘man among boys.’ Not only is he big and strong, but he has a tremendous amount of experience as he wrestles all year round and travels all around the country to compete against the best competition that he can find. As an opposing wrestler, I would not enjoy stepping on the mat with Hayden.”

Which athlete in your school’s history do you hear the most about?

Gavel: “Terry Bagwell. He was one of the last state champions Unity had.”

Granadino: “We talk about Brett Camden because he was a great not only of Mahomet-Seymour, but also in the state of Illinois. He had something like a 98 winning percentage and led the team to many, many victories.”

Horsch: “Being from Fisher, we talk about Guy Kirby, Colten Unzicker, Josh Wallick and Cameron Schwing the most. These guys left such an impact on each team that everyone who comes through our program knows these guys.”

Pacot: “The wrestler that I talk to most from my school’s history is Vince Chambliss. He’s my coach, my mentor, my friend and my uncle. He’s the one that got me into wrestling. He has coached me my entire life. I still go in and wrestle in his room almost every day.”

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