Phyllip and Nicholas DeLoach are relatively young when it comes to wrestling age — they started in the seventh grade — but what they’ve accomplished to this point is very noteworthy.
On Tuesday at Alton High School the twin brothers and talented wrestlers inked letters of intent to wrestle for the University of Missouri Tigers, who finished fourth at the NCAA Championships in St. Louis this season. Fittingly, they’ll be going to college together and hope to continue excelling on the mat together.
“I’m definitely pumped about going to Mizzou,” Phyllip said. “Their program is stellar. They were ranked first this season and they finished fourth wrestling in D-I and I know I’m going to fight for my starting spot in their lineup. That’s what I look forward to and that’s what my brother looks forward to.”
The dynamic grappling duo, who both nabbed fourth-place medals at the Class 3A individual state tournament as seniors, had a slew of other colleges looking at them, but once Mizzou showed interest it was always in the lead.
Air Force, Eastern Michigan, Northern Illinois, SIUE, McKendree, Lindenwood and Maryville were all in the mix, too.
Alton head coach Eric Roberson knows the Tigers are getting a pair of solid athletes and with their relatively short time on the mat, he also knows there is plenty of room for growth.
“They can make more improvements and I think they’ll make more improvements once they get there,” Roberson said. “They started wrestling in middle school, so it’s not like they’ve been wrestling since they’ve been walking so they can make a lot of strides.
“They’re just talented. They are probably two of the most talented wrestlers we’ve ever had here as far as physical talent and you combine that with a good work ethic and I think the sky’s the limit for both of them.”
Nicholas understands the commitment of Division I wrestling, especially at a program the caliber of Missouri, so he gets that old-fashioned hard work will be necessary for he and his brother to excel.
“I’ve been taking a break because I was recovering from injuries, but I’m going to get back in the weight room like crazy,” Nicholas said. “I’m going to do some offseason tournaments before we go to summer school, which is June 7. We have physicals June 7 and summer school starts June 8 as well as pre-season practices. I’m going to hit the weight room before then and definitely get my technique back in order at state quality.”
Both of them are definitely leaving a lasting impression on the Alton program. Phyllip leaves with 154 wins, second to Wade Lowe on the all-time wins list. Nicholas’ 50 wins in the ‘14-15 campaign is single-season benchmark for AHS. He had 142 wins in his career.
“They had a great four-year run and they elevated our program and kind of put us on the map statewide,” Roberson said. “We were able to travel a lot and they contributed to strengthening our schedule a little bit ... Now it’s fun to see them go off to Mizzou with such a strong wrestling program. I think they’re getting two good ones.”
Phyllip wrestled 145 as a senior, while Nicholas competed at 152. In college Phyllip will wrestle 149 and Nicholas will battle at 157. Even with the slight weight difference, the brothers are consummate sparring partners in the practice room. They credit their constant support of each other as the driving force of their success and of course they plan to room together in college.
“Without him I wouldn’t be where I am and without me he wouldn’t be where he is today,” Nicholas said. “Because of him always being there to push me, the competition that we have is a big part of where we are today.”
With that bond, it was a no-brainer that the twin brothers would continue their wrestling careers in college together.
When asked if the two would consider wrestling apart, Phyllip simply stated: “not an option.”
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