“We’d met a few times, and I’d never beaten him,” Wilkes said. “The last time we met was right here in a freestyle tournament. After he beat me, I told him that I was going to keep coming after him until I got him.”
Friday, Wilkes got him.
In the title match of the night, Wilkes (24-0) scrambled to a 3-1 overtime victory against Richards (23-2), a University of Illinois recruit who is ranked No. 1 nationally by HSWrestling.net.
“I just did the best I could. That’s the way I try to approach every match,” Wilkes said. “Zane’s an incredibly talented wrestler, maybe the best I’ve ever faced, but I just had to stay focused. It was a great match with some real tight calls that could’ve gone either way. He forced me to scramble a a couple of times, but I hung in and then started to get more pumped up as the crowd got into it.”
Wilkes, a junior who has placed third at state twice, came up with the lone takedown early in OT.
“This is a huge win for me, probably the biggest I’ve had in my high school career,” said Wilkes, who was voted as the outstanding wrestler in the 24-team event.
The two-day tournament, regarded as one of the best in the Midwest, was won by Oak Park-River Forest of suburban Chicago. Also receiving team trophies were runner-up CBC of Memphis, Minooka (Ill.), Staley of suburban Kansas City, Granite City and Whitfield.