Going into the IWCOA Boys Open State Championships on June 24, only five Litchfield High School wrestlers had ever finished their season on a win. On Thursday, senior Carter Powell added his name to that list.
Wrestling at 113 pounds, Powell scored a 10-7 decision over a familiar foe, Aaron Niemeyer of East Alton-Wood River, in the fifth place match at the state tournament. The win gave Powell his first ever state medal as he joined Thad Davidson (3rd in 1990), Frank Hollo (3rd in 2012), Seth Newkirk (3rd in 2014), Cam Lee (5th in 2018) and teammate Will Carlile (1st in 2020 and 2021) as the only Panther wrestlers to win their final matches at state.
“Oh man, it feels better than losing,” Powell said with a laugh, as he joins Hollo, Newkirk and Carlile as the only LHS seniors to go out on a win.
“I feel like I wrestled pretty good today. It was probably my best tournament. I’m glad I finally placed at state. That’s always been my goal for ever.”
Pretty good is an understatement for how well Powell wrestled in Springfield as his only losses came to Elmhurst IC Catholic’s Saul Trejo, who went on to win the state title, and Sterling Newman Central Catholic’s Brady Grennan, who finished third.
In his other matches, Powell pinned Javaughn Josell of Nazareth Academy in 81 seconds in the first round, then won again by fall over Payton Murphy of Deer Creek-Mackinaw with 41 seconds left in the second period to earn a shot at Trejo, who also won a state title at 106 pounds in 2020.
While that match ended in a 3-0 decision for the IC Catholic sophomore, Powell wrestled well and didn’t let the loss ruin what turned out to be a special day.
“He lost in the semis to Trejo, but he wrestled such a good match,” Coach Chance Davidson said of Powell, who lost to Grennan by another excruciatingly close margin in a 5-3 decision. “He bounced back from a loss and came back and took fifth place. To end on a win has got to be a good feeling.”
No scouting report was needed in the fifth place match against Niemeyer, who he defeated in the finals of both the regional and sectional, but that didn’t mean the match was without drama.
The fifth ranked Powell and sixth ranked Niemeyer battled it out over the three periods, with the EAWR junior needing injury time to wrap his wrist and Powell needing blood time to close up a scratch to his head that left him looking like a fife player from the Revolutionary War.
Head bandage aside, Powell held off Niemeyer, scoring a crucial takedown 30 seconds into the third period then keeping the Oiler 113-pounder at a distance for the final moments to collect a 10-7 win.
“He should be very proud of himself. He worked very hard all summer, all offseason, and usually what is the regular season in the winter,” Coach Davidson said. “He’s been traveling as much as he could to try to face people and grow in the sport to be a better wrestler. He’s done a very good job and it paid off today.”
While he was hoping to join Carlile among the ranks of Litchfield state champions, Powell was pleased with how his final match went for the Panthers.
“I like the way I ended it,” he said with a smile. “It was the best record I’ve ever had. I’m excited about it.”
Carter Powell (30-3)
113 Pounds: def. Javaughn Jossell (Nazareth Academy) by fall at 1:21; def. Payton Murphy (Deer Creek-Mackinaw) by fall at 3:19; lost to Saul Trejo (Elmhurst IC Catholic) by dec. 3-0; lost to Brady Grennan (Sterling Newman Central Catholic) by dec. 5-3; def. Aaron Niemeyer (East Alton-Wood River) by dec. 10-7 to place fifth.