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Amy looks for Tigers to compete in tough field

Posted Thursday, January 06, 2011 by Steve Amy

Amy looks for Tigers to compete in tough field

Thursday, January 06, 2011

By Jared Bell

PRINCETON — Steve Amy believes in his kids. Now, it’s just making sure they believe in themselves.

Amy, the third-year Princeton wrestling coach, will lead his team into a star-studded field this weekend at the 48th Annual Lyle King Princeton Invitational Tournament.

The 29-team field includes four returning state champions and 15 returning state place winners. Six of the 14 weights are highlighted by a Class 1A wrestler ranked No. 1 in state, and the tournament features 35 wrestlers who are ranked in the top four of their respective weight classes.

But despite all the top-notch talent that will descend on Princeton’s Prouty Gymnasium, Amy thinks his kids can compete.

“It’s all a big mental game when you get into tournaments,” said Amy, a former three-time state champion himself. “As long as they believe they can compete with these guys they are going to be fine.”

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In addition to Reiter and Reece Bird, the Tigers feature grapplers capable of earning a top-six finish.

At the forefront is 160-pound senior Dylan Olson, who placed fifth at the weight in last year’s PIT and was the only Tiger wrestler to earn a medal.

This season, Olson enters with an 11-3 record and is at a weight class that features four wrestlers ranked in the top 12 by Illinois Best Weekly, including Olson, who is ranked No. 12.

“Dylan has had a great year,” Amy said. “He had a few mistakes up at Stillman Valley (in a pre-Christmas tournament) and it cost him two matches against two really good kids, but he’s coming along really well. He’s working really hard in practice, and he’s figuring things out and doing the little things right.”

Also capable of competing is 140-pounder Cody Cumpton. The senior brings in a 12-5 record and is ranked No. 11 in the state by Illinois Best Weekly, but is in a weight class that fields the Nos. 2-4 wrestlers in the state, as ranked by IllinoisMatmen.com.

“Cody has stepped up and really been a great leader this year,” Amy said. “He should do really well at this tournament.”

Behind the pair and entering with a winning record are Eric Bickett (10-7 record at 125), James Dove (9-4 at 130), Colton Pate (7-3 at 171), Earl Towne (10-5 at 152) and Brewer Ary (7-6 at 215).

Twelve of the 29 teams are state-ranked in Class 1A, including No. 1-ranked Wilmington, No. 2-ranked and defending team dual state champions Petersburg PORTA, No. 5-ranked Harvard, No. 7-ranked Sterling Newman and No. 9-ranked Litchfield.

“We try to bring in the best from around the state,” Amy said. “It makes this a great tournament, and if we do well, we have a great shot of getting out and doing good things down the road.”

Classes to look out for are 103 pounds, which features the top three ranked wrestlers in the state and six total; 112 pounds, which features the No. 1-, No. 3- and No. 4-ranked wrestlers; 140 pounds, which features the Nos. 2-4 ranked wrestlers; 152 pounds, which features the Nos. 1-4 ranked wrestlers and eight total; and 171 pounds, which features the Nos. 2-4 ranked wrestlers.

“The 152-pound weight class is going to be one of the toughest weight classes,” former PHS coach and PIT director Randy Swinford said. “There are a lot of people talking about that one.”

One thing sure to be of some buzz is the likely shuffling of championship matches. Instead of starting at 103 and moving up to 285 — as is custom — the event is likely to reorder its championship matches and save the most-anticipated finals until the end of the championship session, which starts at 5 p.m. Saturday.

The championship matches are also set to be streamed over the Internet live on IllinoisMatmen.com.

Wrestling beings at 4:30 p.m. Friday and resumes at 9 a.m. Saturday with the Championship quarterfinals. Championship semifinals are scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Saturday.

Jared Bell can be reached at 223-3200, ext. 138, or at sports@newstrib.com.

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