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Two wrestlers place at state, first time since 1989

Drew Kanne, Staff Writer

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After wrestling through four years of hard work and tournaments, seniors Christian Nussbaum and Jake Keating both competed and placed at the IHSA State wrestling tournament in February.

The tournament ran from Feb. 16 to Feb. 18 in Champaign, Ill. Keating placed fifth in the 145 weight class and Nussbaum placed sixth in the 220 weight class.

Last year, Nussbaum missed the tournament by just one match, so this season he was determined.

“The overall goal was getting to state,” Nussbaum said.

This year, Nussbaum was elated to be at the tournament.

“It was everything I hoped it would be, and then I realized I had a chance to place,” Nussbaum said.

Nussbaum, after losing his first match, surprised himself by winning his next two matches and eventually placing.

Varsity coach Noah Fitzenreider said he always knew that Nussbaum was good enough to place in state. The fact that Nussbaum had no accolades from his junior season.

“No one else knew how good he could be,” Fitzenreider said.

Keating’s success, however, was a surprise to no one. This season Keating has consistently been a top-ranked wrestler in the state for his weight class, and he topped off the season by placing fifth in his weight class at the state tournament.

Keating said that although coming in freshman year a lot of people may not have seen him as a contender for the state tournament, or even questioned his ability to make it there, he never doubted himself.

“That confidence helps me a lot,” Keating said.

To him, the mentality of believing he can beat anyone is what has taken him to his advanced level.

Keating has worked hard to reach this spot, spending 11 months each year focused on wrestling.

Fitzenreider has been working with Keating  throughout high school and has been able to see how his work ethic has not only helped him, but also the entire team.

“It’s inspirational to watch how hard he works, from warm-ups to staying after practice,” Fitzenreider said. “Keating is a lead-by-example kind of guy.”

Moving forward, neither Keating nor Nussbaum have clear futures in wrestling.  Nussbaum says the state tournament gave him a new appreciation for the sport, and although he doesn’t know for sure, wrestling in college is certainly an option. Keating is currently speaking to a few Division 1 schools.

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Two wrestlers place at state, first time since 1989