MAHOMET — Wyatt Heimann had seen this ending before. Last year, the Mahomet-Seymour grappler had advanced to the blood rounds in the Class 2A Lincoln Sectional. All that stood between him and a state berth was Glenwood's, Mitch Hutmacher.
Heimann was stressed and overwhelmed.
Hutmacher dashed Heimann's hopes with a 4-1 decision.
Despite winning 40 bouts, Heimann's season was over before state.
On Saturday, Heimann was in the exact same position.
One match from state. This time, the stress was gone. Heimann wasn't overwhelmed, and he walloped Marion's River Flute 9-0 in a major decision.
"My mindset was, 'I'm not going to let my senior year end in the blood rounds of sectionals,'" Heimann said.
Heimann went on to finish fourth in the Class 2A Mahomet-Seymour Sectional and was the lone Bulldog who advanced to the state tournament.
"I was so happy," Heimann said. "I'd put in so much hard work over the last four years, so it was an amazing moment."
Heimann's road to state got off to a great start, with a 1-minute, 48-second pin of Richland's Levi Seitzinger. But Heimann was defeated in the quarterfinals by Mascoutah's Caleb Grau — the No. 3 170-pound wrestler in the state.
Grau nipped Heimann 9-4 in a tough bout, but the competitive loss to the state-ranked grappler gave Heimann plenty of confidence.
"I gave him a good fight," Heimann said. "There were times where he wasn't able to defend at points. In the end, it really helped with my confidence because I was like, 'Hey, I got in this far with a guy. Imagine how it would have been if I had kept going a little bit more, I could have taken him down.' "
Heimann will also use that extra confidence heading into the state meet at the State Farm Center on the University of Illinois' campus. Heimann's opening matchup is against Grayslake Central junior Alex Cramer. Cramer is a sparkling 43-0 and No. 1 in the state. But Heimann will enter the match with a chip on his shoulder. He isn't scared of anyone.
"I don't think that's going to change my mindset at all," Heimann said. "If I can do it to a third-ranked kid, who says I can't do it to a first-ranked kid. Get in there, scare him up a little bit and show him that someone who got fourth in the sectional can push him around a bit."
M-S coach Rob Ledin has preached to his team all year long that he didn't want to buy a ticket to the IHSA state wrestling meet. Thanks to Heimann, Ledin will save some money.
"(Ledin) has helped me out a lot over the years," Heimann said. "He's been a very good motivator over the last four years, especially my sophomore year. He and I kinda had it out over a match, but it made us closer. We both saw something in each other. We came together. We realized we could both do this and we made a ton of progress since then."
After wrestling six matches in less than 24 hours, Heimann was tuckered out and super sore. But the M-S senior's pain went away when he remembered he was a state qualifier. The state meet runs Feb. 14 through Saturday, and Heimann has his eye on the prize: a state championship.
"I still have the goal of placing, but I also feel like I have accomplished a lot this year," Heimann said. "I definitely think it has sunk in that I'm going to state. Definitely hasn't hit me that my senior year is almost over yet though."