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Prep Wrestling: Cavender confident going into state tournament

Posted on 2/14/2017, 7:55 AM

Kody Cavender won"t be blinded by the lights in his first appearance at the IHSA Class 1A wrestling tournament this weekend.

The Harrisburg High School sophomore has grabbed the spotlight this season, en route to a second place finish at this past weekend"s IHSA Vandalia Sectional.

Cavender (36-7), wrestling in the 132-pound weight division, took out No. 3 ranked Max Kristoff from Belleville Althoff with a pin in 17 seconds and then beat Litchfield"s Tyler Thiessen with an 8-2 decision, setting up the championship match with No. 2 ranked Zac Blasioli of East Alton Wood River, where Cavender fell with a pinfall at 3:56.

Cavender had the early advantage, taking Blasioli down in the first period, but the East Alton Wood River star, who finished second in the state at 152 pounds a year ago, won the match after dropping 20 pounds this season.

In all, Cavender wrestled against the best in 1A Saturday, holding his own as he prepares for another weekend on the mat.

"I think for Kody, he has made a lot of improvements from a year ago," HHS head coach Greg Langley said. "He"s more confident in himself that he can wrestle with those guys and I think it showed this past weekend."

The IHSA Finals will begin at the State Farm Center in Champaign with Cavender taking on Winnebago"s Thomas Sanner, who is 37-5 on the season.

While this may be Cavender"s first rodeo, it isn"t Langley"s and the longtime HHS head coach said his message to the Bulldog sophomore will be the same as it has been to anyone else that Langley has taken to the state tournament.

"I always tell them, you wrestle your match and you go out there and do what you are capable of doing. When you make it to the state tournament, you can"t be content with that. We want to go up there and medal. Kody has the confidence to give it 100 percent and I have no doubt he"ll do that."

Michael Dann covers prep and college sports for the Harrisburg Daily Register and Eldorado Daily Journal. Follow him on Twitter: @spydieshooter.