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Princeton Invite features largest field ever

Posted Tuesday, January 10, 2012 by Steve Amy

Princeton Invite features largest field ever

Thursday, January 05, 2012


By Jared Bell

If nothing else, Steve Amy hopes his Princeton wrestling team learns.

Anything else is an added bonus.

When the Tigers take the mats this weekend for the 30-team, two-day Princeton Invitational Tournament, PHS will face a loaded top-to-bottom field that features six of the top 12 ranked Class 1A teams and 10 wrestlers who are ranked No. 1 in their Class 1A weight class by IllinoisMatmen.com.

While the Tigers are not ranked nor do they have a grappler who is ranked, Amy hopes his team performs well and takes something from this weekend’s event.

“With this level of competition, what it’s good for is to show you where you are at and where you need to be come sectionals,” said Amy, the fourth-year coach whose team finished eighth last year. “This tournament is bigger than the state tournament, but we approach it as any other.”

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The largest PIT yet with the 30 teams, Amy has a group of upperclassmen who have the potential to place.

The group is led by senior James Dove, who is currently 12-4 at 138 pounds. Dove finished seventh at last year’s PIT and is the only Tiger to return who placed.

“He had a bad tournament at Stillman Valley (before Christmas) so he is looking to rebound,” Amy said. “He had a pretty good showing last year in his first time wrestling here. He took seventh so we are looking for him to do good things and improve on that.”

Beyond Dove are 132-pounder Marshall Ary (7-5), 152-pounder Logan McCauley (7-6), 160-pounder Earl Towne (11-2), 170-pounder Seth Sprouse (5-2) and 285-pounder Ben Staton (5-5).

“It would be nice to win the tournament and showcase yourself, but we don’t expect that from our kids,” Amy said. “We expect them to go out and improve each time.”

In addition to PHS, Ottawa is the only other local team in the tournament.

The Pirates are led by 145-pound senior Jared Jones, who is ranked No. 11 at 145 in Class 2A by IllinoisMatmen.com.

His 132-pound sophomore brother Devon, who received honorable mention by IllinoisMatmen.com, could also make some noise.

In addition, the Pirates’ 120-pounder Daniel Close and 126-pounder Tanner Boaz could both do well.

“It’s a meat grinder of a tournament,” Ottawa coach Peter Marx said. “It’s a long, grueling two days.”

This year’s PIT features the top four teams in Class 1A in top-ranked Wilmington, second-ranked LeRoy, third-ranked Sterling Newman and fourth-ranked Harvard.

Also in the tournament are No. 8-ranked Byron, No. 9-ranked Vandalia and previously ranked Petersburg PORTA.

“For the last 20 years, the Princeton Invitational is what I consider to be one of the premier Class A tournaments in the state,” said Randy Swinford, the former PHS coach who is now the tournament’s director. “Some refer to this as a mini-state tournament. Not everybody in the state who is the best of the best is here, but a majority of the top teams and kids are here.

“If you come here, it’s a good barometer of where you are at. If you place well, you think you have a pretty good shot of making it to the state level.”

The tournament features six former state champions as well as 10 No. 1-state ranked wrestlers in PORTA’s Jay Basden (106), PORTA’s Jordan Richardson (113), Dakota’s Josh Alber (120), Wilmington’s Andy Rowawald (132), Morrison’s Marc McDonnell (152), Winnebago’s Trace Engelkes (160), Harvard’s Dan Stott (170), Dakota’s Jake Apple (182), Harvard’s Cody Melson (195) and Riverdale’s Mitchell Keppy (285).

“It’s a mini state tournament,” Amy said. “We just continue to always add good competition. We have LeRoy coming in this year and it (was) ranked No. 1. If you look at every weight class up and down, there are state qualifiers and state placers and state champs. It’s a good tournament.”

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

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