Top of the Morning, Feb. 10, 2024

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Monticello High School is guaranteed a presence at next weekend's IHSA state wrestling tournament at State Farm Center.

Tatum Wichus, a junior, will sing the national anthem before Saturday's championship matches.

"This is super cool," the musically-gifted 17-year-old said. "It's going to be awesome."

Wichus first performed "The Star-Spangled Banner" at her third-grade talent show at White Heath Elementary. She's done it dozens of times since, from athletic events at Monticello High School to fireworks shows in Mahomet.

"But this one might be the coolest one yet," said Tatum, who jumped at the chance when it was mentioned by athletic director Dan Sheehan.

Her mom, Lori, last attended the wrestling finals as a senior at Monticello (1993), rooting on the Sages who qualified. This time, she'll be cheering on her daughter with a group of family and friends — including Tatum's grandfather and "biggest fan" T.R. Brown.

"It makes me nervous," Lori said, "but (Tatum) is never nervous."

Not even on wrestling's biggest night at her favorite arena.

"I've been to State Farm Center for so many events and games and have always enjoyed watching the people who performed the national anthem," Tatum said. "I always thought if I ever got that opportunity, it'd be incredible.

"I'm ready to jump in with both feet."