DANVILLE — Javonte Crider and Antonio Alvarez’s return to the State Farm Center is one where both wrestlers had to get past adversity during the season and during the postseason.
Danville’s Crider was out for two weeks with a wrist injury during the season while Oakwood/Armstrong-Potomac’s Alvarez was out for five wins with a hip flexor.
During their respective sectional tournaments, both Alvarez and Crider lost the first match on Friday before winning all their matches on Saturday to take third place and advanced to state tournament action starting on Thursday.
“It was basically a test to see if I wanted it,” Crider said. “To see if I wanted to comepete against the best in state.”
Crider, a sophomore 120-pound wrestler, will make his second trip to Champaign and will face off against Vernon Hills’ Jordan Reich (38-4) in the first round on Thursday in Class 2A.
Danville wrestling coach Terrence Tetter said even with Crider’s 22-1 record, that tally could have been even more impressive if not for the injury.
“If he had a full schedule, he would have had 40 wins this season,” Tetter said. “He came out of that injury like gangbusters, so in some way, the break was good for him because he stepped back and took a look at things.”
“When I got the injury, I was just working hard just to get back,” Crider said. “ I was bugging coach and everything to get back before I can.”
Tetter said Crider had a nervous first match last season, but knows that with his experience, things could be different on Thursday.
“I do want to redeem myself, because I was happy to get there last year,” Crider said. “This year, I will be more focused and ready to go against the best. With my hard work and what my coaches have taught me, I know I will be well-prepared.”
“I think his eyes were all big for that first time, so he has a been there, done that feeling going into it,” Tetter said. “We want to do better than last year and work toward getting to the second or third day.
“He is a product of the Lionheart Wrestling Club and it seems like he has wrestled for 20 years and I have to remind myself that he is just 16.”
Just like with Crider, Alvarez (16-3) made the most of his second chance on Saturday to get third place for his third straight trip to state.
Alvarez, a junior 130-pounder, will take on Wilmington’s Austin Hedrick (36-12) in the first round
He is a gamer. When he saw that he lost that first match, he knew he had to win those next four matches to get to state and that is what he did and that shows how tough he is,” OAP wrestling coach Mike Glosser said.
“My first match, I came out and did not do my best,” Alvarez said. “But I bounced back and it was just a case of gaining confidence.”
Alvarez was out for five weeks with a hip flexor injury, but like Crider, got things going quickly once he did.
“I had the problem with the hip flexor and I could not get cardio in and practice,” Alvarez said. “So when I came back, it was tough getting in that conditioning, but I have gotten everything back and I am ready to go and I am healthy.”
“He represents what we are trying to do in my years here,” Glosser said. “He is tough and he is someone that will fight to the end. He has faced a lot adversity in his life and I think he is going to do well.”
In Alvarez’s first two trips to state, he has lost by close margins — which has brought a new drive for him and Glosser to improve.
In the last two years, I was a little nervous. I lost the first match, btu it was close matches decided by 1-2 points,” Alvarez said. “This year, I want to get past the first match, I have been working hard these four weeks.”
“In his freshman year, we were up by three points, but lost that and last year, it was tied and then he got reveresed and we ended up losing that,” Glosser said. “We have worked on the little things to make him ore complete in practice and that should help.”
Along with Crider and Alvarez, Westville senior Tyler Dicken will be the first Tiger to reach the state meet since Seth Moody and Jake Howe both went to Champaign in 2007 and the first since Westville combined programs with Georgetown-Ridge Farm and Catlin. Also, Bismarck-Henning’s Jarod Noel and Whalen Rockwell will start action on Thursday.
Dicken (23-7) will be in the Class 2A 195-pound class against Geneseo’s Brandon Mizlo (24-2) while Noel (38-7) will take on Coal City’s Riley Kauzlaric (33-14) at 170 and Rockwell (29-9) will take on Aledo Mercer County’s Matthew Weeks (33-5) at 182.