CHAMPAIGN | The scary thing is, Kris Williams is just getting started.
Thornton’s sophomore wrestling phenom captured his second-consecutive state championship on Saturday, defeating Marist’s Mark Duda 6-1 for the IHSA Class 3A 113-pound title.
It was a fitting ending for Williams (20-1), who battled through a lingering right ankle injury suffered in April of 2012 and had his work cut out for him entering the state tournament.
Also, Mount Carmel junior Bryce Brill regained his championship form Saturday, grabbing his second state title in three years with a 17-6 major decision over Wade Lardy of McHenry. Brill was the a Class 2A 135-pound state champ in 2011 while wrestling for Marmion.
The 15-year-old Williams fell to Duda at the Marist Regional on Feb. 2 in a 5-3 decision before coming back to topple the junior 3-2 at the Shepard Sectional a week later. It was only fitting that the two competitors battled once more for the gold.
“I just felt like I had to beat him one more time to finish my season the right way,” Williams said. “I just told myself that I couldn’t lose this one.”
Williams exhibited that mentality just over a minute into the contest, scoring a near fall off of a cradle for quick 3-0 advantage that he’d never relinquish.
“I wanted the pin off of that cradle, but when the referee didn’t give it to me, I just kept wrestling until the end,” Williams added. “There’s no greater feeling than this one.”
Thornton coach Terrance Randolph said that the sky is the limit for the talented Williams.
“He’s the greatest athlete I’ve coached, and honestly, he’s probably the greatest wrestler to come through the Thornton program,” Randolph said. “He has two more years left, and the goal is to win two more [championships].”
With the pair of titles under his belt, Williams said that he already has his sights set on the future.
“I want to finish out my high school career with two more championship medals, and someday I’d like to wrestler right here in the Big Ten Conference,” he said. “I know I’ve still got a long way to go, but right now, nothing feels unreachable.”
Brill was eager to right the ship this weekend, as he jumped out to an 8-2 lead on Lardy after one period and cruised the rest of the way.
“I was just worried about getting as many points as possible in as little time as possible,” Brill said. “If you do that, you’re usually in pretty good shape, and it worked out.”
With one more year to go, Brill hopes to use his senior season to propel himself among the top college recruits in the nation.
“Any wrestler wants to get better each time they hit the mat,” Brill said. “And I feel like next season gives me one more chance to state my case to colleges all over the country. If I haven’t done enough at this point, I’ve got one season to make sure that I do.”