Eighteen high schools from around Illinois came to Carbondale High School Saturday for the 53rd annual Murdale Wrestling Invitational.
The tournament featured nearly 200 wrestlers in 14 weight classes ranging from 106 to 285 pounds. Wrestlers from 10 different schools were able to claim the top prize in their respective weight classes.
Carbondale Community High School is tied with Edwardsville High School for 10 wins throughout the tournament’s history, but Edwardsville no longer competes at the Murdale Wrestling Invitational because the team has begun competing in out-of-state tournaments.
We have got a lot of kids here from great schools, and several ranked wrestlers,” Dennis Ragan, Carbondale wrestling coach, said. “Each year we try to bring in some top schools from around the state like Cahokia and Chatham- Glenwood, and we’ve got to keep those schools coming in to keep the level of competition up or teams will head to other tournaments.
Marion High School earned its first win in the tournament’s history with 168.5 points. Waterloo High School took second place with 155 points, and Cahokia High School took third with 153.3 points. The host school, Carbondale, took seventh.
“We wrestled as a team,” Brandon Page, Marion wrestling coach, said. “We only had one champion so the fact that we won overall is really impressive. We proved that we’re tough today.”
Page said the Murdale Tournament win was the biggest in his school’s wrestling history.
“Next we need to win regionals,” he said.
Marion’s only Champion of the tournament was Luke Abbot, who beat Benton’s Daniel Krug 7-2 in the 145-pound weight class finals.
“Luke is a kid who has come a long way,” Page said. “When he first started with us he couldn’t win a match, now he’s 23-2 and a tournament champion.”
Highland High School Senior Tanner Farmer, a 2A state champion in the heavyweight class, won the 285-pound weight class and was also named the tournament’s most valuable wrestler. Farmer defeated Althoff Catholic High School’s Rodney Baker by a second-round pin fall. This was Farmer’s second consecutive Murdale tournament victory.
Farmer said his final round match against Baker was not much of a challenge for him. Farmer will attend the University of Nebraska in the fall, where he will play football for the Cornhuskers.
The tournament featured several other past champions, including Cahokia High School’s Shelton Pippen and Tristan Penrod of Mt. Vernon High School. The two past champions met each other in the Finals of the 220-pound weight class this year with Penrod beating Pippen four to two in the victory.
While the boys usually dominate wrestling tournaments, the tournament did feature one female, freshman Lacey Markley from Sparta High School. Markley, who wrestles in the 113-pound weight class, said her brother Tyler Markley, who also wrestles for Sparta, along with her mom talked her into joining the team.
“I enjoy the challenge of wrestling against the boys,” Markley said.
Markley said she gets most of her wins by forfeit because sometimes the boys will not wrestle her.
“They still count as wins though,” Markley said.
Markley was eliminated in the second round of the tournament by pin fall.
After 388 matches and more than 10 straight hours of wrestling from the top prep wrestlers in the area, the 53rd Murdale Wrestling Invitational was down for the count.