The superstars of the boys’ wrestling team prevailed last month as they ended a ground-breaking season.
The wrestlers competed on the weekend of Feb. 6, at the Regional tournament at Granite City High School. In this competition, three OTHS students placed in the top three of their respective weight classes.
The champs were seniors Courtland Rautio, Keith Surber and Marty Ercoline.
Sophomore Jacob Villagran also took fourth place in his weight class.
Rautio, Surber and Ercoline then competed in the Sectionals tournament on Feb. 12-13.
A popular topic of gossip among IHSA wrestling fanatics, one of Surber’s matches was very anticipated.
“There’s a lot of hype because he and I are first and second in the state, and [we’re] both in the top 10 in the country,” Surber said before the match. He avenged his loss from last year and won the match.
Surber went on to win the rest of his matches.
His final match was against Edwin Cooper from Providence Catholic High School in New Lenox, Ill. He took him down 4-2 in overtime.
In that tournament, Ercoline and Surber both took first places in their weight classes. Rautio, however, did not place in the top three.
Ercoline and Surber traveled the next weekend to the University of Illinois to compete at the state level. Though both wrestlers won their first rounds, only Surber won his second.
Surber advanced through every match undefeated. In the championship match, he again faced Cooper from Providence Catholic.
Even though Surber defeated Cooper at the Sectionals tournament, Cooper still qualified for the State tournament, and advanced to the championship level as well.
However, Surber wasted no time in taking down this familiar opponent.
Making OTHS history, Surber took home the state title in his division and weight class.
The entire team had an outstanding season. Through their previous tournaments, the wrestlers worked at perfecting their skills and mastering the sport.
Q&A WITH SURBER
Q: How does it feel to be the first state champion in school history?
A: “It’s really cool, but I’ve been working for this for four years. It wasn’t a real shocker when it happened.”
Q: What was going through your mind before your match?
A: “I wasn’t actually thinking about the match. I was thinking about anything other than the match. It helped me to not worry and just wrestle.”
Q: What are your plans for the future?
A: “I leave for Nebraska on June 1. I’m going to be a pre-med major.”