Coalers must beat Clinton to advance to state

    After a one-year absence, the Coal City wrestling team is bent on returning to Dual Team State. They won Class 1A state trophies in 2015 (3rd place) and 2016 (2nd place) before getting bumped by Wilmington during the regional a year ago.
    But before they can return as a state dual team qualifier, they need to get through the Gibson City Sectional Tuesday.
    The Coalers enter the Super 16 as the third best team in the state, and will kick things off against a tough Clinton team (ranked fourth). The match will start at 6 p.m.
    Coal City has garnered a lot of attention this season thanks to a first place in the Princeton Invite, second in the ABES Rumble, eighth in Downers Grove and first in the I-8 Tournament. They enter the bracket with a record of 24-8.
    As for Clinton, they are  25-1, with their only loss to Alleman, 36-33. Clinton also won their own tournament, finished second in Orion, and fourth during the Princeton Invite.
    If Coal City wins, they will punch their ticket to Bloomington Feb. 24 for the state finals. Their first finals match would be at 11 a.m. in the Grossinger Motors Arena, where they will face the winner of El Paso-Gridley vs. Beardstown.
    The Coalers defeated Beardstown earlier in the season (52-27), but haven’t faced El Paso. However, El Paso also suffered a loss earlier in the season to Beardstown (48-33).
    If Coal City reaches the semfinals, they could match-up against either Aurora Christian (No. 1), Lena Winslow (No. 2), Chicago Hope Academy (No. 11) or Walther Christian.
    The Coalers would be guaranteed at a state trophy by reaching the semifinals, and are gunning for a first place.
    The good thing is that if Coal City reaches the final, they will have already competed against the toughest teams in the bracket. The other side of the State bracket contains seeds 5-10.
    The semifinal will be held at 2 p.m. on that Saturday, with the finals and third place matches taking place at 6 p.m.