Illini Finish Fourth at Midlands Championships

Illini Finish Fourth at Midlands Championships

Four wrestlers place in prestigious tournament - 12/30/98

Illinois had four wrestlers place en route to finishing fourth out of 55 teams and clubs at the 36th Annual Midlands Wrestling Championships. The two-day meet, held at Northwestern University in Evanston, concluded Wednesday night, Dec. 30. The meet is recognized as one of the premier wrestling tournaments of the season and this year featured 373 competitors.

Junior 125-pounder Steve Doerrer was Illinois' highest finisher. He placed second overall, losing to a top-seeded postcollegian, Jody Strittmatter, 10-3, in the finals. Doerrer, the sixth seed, defeated the No. 2 seed and the No. 3 seed in the quarterfinals and semifinals to advance to the championship match.

"Steve wrestled very well against some tough competition," said UI head coach Mark Johnson. "He had a terrific tournament and should move up in the national rankings (currently No. 13) after this performance."

Third-seeded Adam Tirapelle, a sophomore, placed third at 149 pounds. He defeated seventh-seeded Dave Esposito of the New York Athletic Club, 9-7 in overtime, in the third-place match.

Sophomore Nate Patrick, who came into the championships as the 10th seed, finished fifth overall at 184 pounds. He won by medical forfeit over second-seeded Aaron Simpson of the Sunkist Kids Club to claim fifth place. En route to the finish, Patrick upset the seventh seed, Doug Lee of Oregon.

Illinois' final placewinner was freshman heavyweight John Lockhart. Lockhart was not seeded in the field or ranked in the nation entering the championship. However, the Mahomet, Ill. native finished sixth overall, losing to sixth-seeded Leslie Apedoe of VMI, 5-9, in the fifth-place match.

"This is always a good tournament to build from as we move onto the dual meet portion of the season," said Johnson. "We had several veterans who did not place as expected, but it was encouraging to see guys like John (Lockhart) step up and score some points for us. It shows that we have a lot of talent on this team and don't have to rely on one or two wrestlers to be successful."

Illinois will next compete at the Virginia Duals, Jan. 8-9, in Hampton, Va.