M-S wrestling's senior quartet filled with 'great leaders'

MAHOMET — After graduating 16 wrestlers last year, M-S wrestling coach Rob Ledin knew that 2019 was going to be a season of change. Ledin knew it would be hard for his quartet of seniors to find their own identity. But Wyatt Heimann, Daunte Roberts, Tyler Kittivanichkulkrai and Cameron Livingston have done just that.

They're not only tough, gritty grapplers, but they've transformed into leaders of men. With five freshmen and sophomores garnering plenty of varsity starts this season, the M-S seniors have had to help mold the youngsters as they compete against upperclassmen.

"It's been a challenge for those seniors to keep the overall tradition going and mold these guys and show them the right way," Ledin said. "They've probably had it harder than the previous groups because there are so many young guys in the lineup."

Heimann, Roberts, Kittivanichkulkrai and Livingston have done an admirable job. The Bulldogs had their senior night last Thursday, and M-S defeated Champaign Centennial 51-28 before falling to Pontiac 40-32.

Roberts had two quick pins on his senior night. The 195-pound senior is currently 15-14 on the season.

"Daunte is just a lot of fun," Ledin said. "Always has a positive attitude. Brightens your day and gives you maximum effort. In his life, he accomplished so many things. When he was younger, doctors told his parents that he wouldn't be able to do basic stuff like read and do math. He's proven them wrong. He's maintained a 3.0 GPA his whole high school career."

Heimann also went 2-0 on his senior night. He had one pin against Champaign Centennial and won an 11-5 decision against Pontiac's Aaron Hoover. Heimann has had a really strong season at 182. The senior is 20-5 individually.

"He's just a good person," Ledin said. "He's very caring. He's very supportive. He has a good family, and he displays that. He understands that different people accept different types of motivation and leadership. He's really tried to do that this year with the young guys."

More importantly, Heimann will likely win the Brent Johnson Ironman award for the fourth year in a row. Heimann hasn't been late or missed a practice or meet during his four years as a Bulldog.

"He's been a guy who's been here every day," Ledin said. "Winning the Brent Johnson Ironman award is a pretty good sign of his leadership."

Heimann is a two-time regional finalist, a two-time sectional qualifier and was first-team Apollo Conference last year. He will have a great chance to make it to the IHSA state wrestling tournament.

Livingston enlisted and went through basic training before coming back to wrestle. The 145-pound senior has a record of 7-5 and was named a captain alongside Heimann and Kittivanichkulkrai.

"He's someone who's really matured over the years," Ledin said. "We like them coming to me as boys and leaving as men. That's the fun part of being a coach."

Kittivanichkulkrai's record might not be where he'd like it (11-13), but he's been a huge addition to the team. Kittivanichkulkrai missed last year with a bad knee injury, and he's staved off another knee injury this year to compete.

"Of the three captains, he's the Ferris Bueller," Ledin said. "Everyone gets along with him. He knows how to talk to everyone. He's taken some lumps this year, but that's because he was injured last year. You can tell that the year off has been hard to knock the rust off, but he's one of those guys that when he goes out there, you know you're going to get his best effort."

Heimann, Roberts, Kittivanichkulkrai and Livingston might not all be guys whose names litter the record books, but the four seniors have certainly made a name for themselves. If the Bulldog grapplers make a run in a couple years, it'll be because Heimann, Roberts, Kittivanichkulkrai and Livingston helped mold the youngsters into the stars of the future.

"All four are great leaders, all in their own way," Ledin said. "It's been so fun to coach them the last four years. They've gone from being freshmen and taking their lumps to becoming seniors and giving some lumps back."

 

Marty Williams Invitational

The Bulldogs finished fifth in the 22-team 2019 Marty Williams Invitational on Monday. M-S finished with 252.5 team points. Naperville finished in first place with a whopping 510.

The Bulldogs got a big-time performance from Heimann in his final home meet. Heimann (170) went 4-1 with two pins and placed third.

Sophomore Gage Granadino (152) went 2-2 and placed fifth. Braeden Heinold (113), Chance Decker (138) and Seth Buchanan (285) all went 3-1 and placed seventh.

Roberts finished 3-2 and took home eighth place at 182.

Noah Schnepper (120) and Logan Petro (132) both placed ninth after 3-2 performances.

Daniel Renshaw improved to 22-17 on the season with a 2-3 showing. Renshaw placed 10th at 195.

Payton Ragona placed 12th at 106.

Livingston and Kittivanichkulkrai both won two bouts and placed 13th and 15th, respectively.

 

Looking ahead

Mahomet-Seymour will compete in the Class 2A regionals on Feb. 2 at Urbana.

Ledin believes he'll have a young but deep lineup that can help the Bulldogs advance to their own sectional. Ledin isn't looking for 'Superman' performances, but if each wrestler stays in his lane and does his job, M-S will have as good a chance as any to advance.

"Up and down the lineup, I feel pretty good," Ledin said. "I'm hoping we can pull off the regional and get a couple guys downstate. I always tell them, 'I don't want to buy a ticket to the state tournament. You guys have to get me there.'"

Categories (3):Prep Sports, Wrestling, Sports

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