PRINCETON — Augie Christiansen wanted to make a statement.
After attending the Lyle King Princeton Invitational since he was a little kid, the 132-pound freshman received his first crack at the star-studded tournament Saturday.
And he made it memorable.
In a tournament that featured four of the top-six ranked teams – and six of the top 10 – by Illinois Matmen, seven No. 1-ranked Class 1A wrestlers and three returning state champions, Christiansen battled through a difficult and deep 132-pound bracket to finish fourth.
“This really shows me that I can compete with anyone as a freshman,” said Christiansen, whose dad Aaron is a long-time PHS assistant. “I was one of the underrated kids in my bracket – I was the sixth seed – so it was nice to place in the top 4 with their being 10 ranked kids at my weight.”
The fourth-place showing was the best by a freshman in Princeton coach Steve Amy’s 12 seasons.
“Augie had a great tournament,” Amy said. “Of course, we would’ve liked to have it turnout even better, but we found what we need to fix and he’ll make the adjustments (for the postseason) in February.”
Christiansen was one of three quarterfinalists for Princeton and the lone Tiger grappler to advance to the semifinals.
Facing third-seeded Cole Maxey of the Gibson City co-op, Christiansen earned an 8-3 decision to pull the upset and advance to the semifinals.
“He won a big quarterfinal match and looked fantastic in the match,” Amy said. “We’ve been waiting for him to hit that peak and open up a little bit, and he did in that one.”
In the semifinals, Christiansen fell to Ottawa senior – and eventual champion – Luke Fleming by pin fall, but Christiansen rebounded with an 11-6 decision in the semifinal wrestlebacks.
“He’s definitely a tough kid,” Christiansen said of Fleming. “I think I should’ve definitely tried to slow down more and keep myself calmer and more collected, but he’s a great wrestler. I was just happy to be able to compete.”
In the third-place match, he fell to Dakota sophomore Tyler Simmer by a 9-5 decision.
In the match, Christiansen took a 4-3 lead after a near first-period fall, but he was outscored 6-1 over the final two periods.
“That’s the thing about wrestling – momentum can be key,” Christiansen said. “I almost had him pinned a couple of times, but almost doesn’t count.”
While the fourth-place finish is a team best, it was short of the highest place by Christiansen’s father, whose best PIT finish was second at the smaller, one-day PIT.
“I always make fun of him,” Christiansen joked. “Because I still have more state titles (last year’s IESA) than he does.”
Christiansen was the only Tiger wrestler to place in the top six, but 182-pound sophomore Drew Harp finished seventh and 120-pound sophomore Matthew Harris placed eighth.
“Matthew and Drew had good tournaments,” Amy said. “Those guys wrestled hard and wrestled a lot of matches to get to seventh and eighth. They did a fantastic job. In addition, we had a lot of guys battling hard all weekend. Some of our young guys didn’t get the results they wanted, but we’re a pretty young team full of freshmen and sophomores, so it’s great for them to see competition like this.”
n Notes: Princeton scored 68.5 points to finish 21st overall in the 34-team tournament. Dakota scored 212 points to win the tournament over second-place Vandalia (195), third-place Auburn (188), fourth-place Riverdale (153) and fifth-place Coal City (152). … Fleming – who upset a defending state champion in the finals – was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Wrestler at the lower weights, while Vandalia 285-pound senior Anthony Enlow was voted as the MOW at the upper weights.