DAKOTA, Ill. (WIFR) Getting to the championship in any sport is an accomplishment in itself. Dakota's Phoenix Blakely now knows what it feels like to finally win it all, even though he is just a freshman.
The "DW Nation" welcomed home its wrestlers from another successful weekend at state. Four Indians medaled down in Champaign. Blakely won the Class 1A 120-pound championship. Before high school wrestling, he competed in three straight Illinois Kids Wrestling Federation title matches, just to finish in second.
Blakely said he was confident heading into his first state tournament, even if others did not believe in him.
"It was all exciting, because no one thought I'd get this far," said Blakely. "My expectations were high so, (it was) very exciting to jump into my coach's arms after winning the state title."
"I told myself, there was no way I was going to be a four-time second placer. So I had to win that match and that I just couldn't be too nervous otherwise I would shut down and not perform the way I should. I ended up going on top, so champion now."
Blakely (37-7) and Dakota now gear up for the dual team wrestling state tournament, starting with sectionals at Rock Falls on Tuesday, February 25.