Photo by Bill Roseberry
(From left) Alton wrestlers Phyllip DeLoach, Qiant’e Wagner and Nicholas DeLoach after the trio won regional championships at the Class 3A Belleville West Regional. The trio is looking for a strong postseason run for the Redbirds.
In their heyday in the 1920s the heart of the New York Yankees’ batting order was coined murderers’ row due to their potency.
The Alton Redbirds can take a page out of that book on the wrestling mat this season with their trio of talented grapplers. Twin brothers Phyllip (145) and Nicholas DeLoach (152), along with Qiant’e Wagner (160), can definitely be considered a murderers’ row.
Combined, the three wrestlers were 116-3 on the season entering today’s Class 3A Normal Community Sectional. Phyllip (34-0), Nicholas (44-0) and Wagner (38-3) all gathered regional championships on the mat at the Belleville West Regional on Feb. 7.
The trio is poised for a big postseason push, along with Alton’s Connor Broyles (120), Tim McCarvey (126) and Darian Pierson (285), who join them at sectionals. For the DeLoaches and Wagner, though, qualifying for state last season and coming away empty-handed has been a driving force for their senior campaigns.
“Every day,” Phyllip said of thinking about last season’s shortcomings. “Since this season started that was the motivation. That was the motivation at Fargo in the offseason. That’s been the motivation specifically from the match I lost in the last two seconds. It was tied up 4-4 with two seconds on the clock and the kid got away. Those two seconds are the two seconds I try to get back every day at practice.”
Alton head coach Eric Roberson believes the big three is ready for what’s ahead this time. Roberson explained the slate is wiped clean for the postseason so it doesn’t matter what they did or didn’t do; what matters is what happens now.
“Right now they’re 0-0 and we try to emphasis that to them,” Roberson said. “A lot of kids (at regionals) came in with a high seed and got beat, so we try not to put too much emphasis on the wins. Hopefully the pain of not placing last year is still fresh and hopefully that will drive them to work harder and try to get on the podium. We’ve got a tough sectional to get out of first.”
Nicholas said after grinding it out over the first three years of his career, he’s learning to have some fun in the circle as a senior. That doesn’t mean the work ethic or the drive isn’t still there, he’s just enjoying it a little more and remaining relaxed.
“It’s been a journey for sure and it’s been a lot of fun,” Nicholas said. “We knew it was going to be one of the toughest seasons, because we were going to go up against the toughest teams and we had competition throughout the whole season. We knew it was going to be tough and we tried to make as much fun out of it as we could. We just try to have as much fun at practice as we can, while still getting the job done because we all have goals, we’re all going to state and we’re all trying to get on the podium.”
According to www.illinoismatmen.com, Phyllip is ranked No. 4 at 145, Nicholas is rated No. 7 at 152 and Wagner is No. 10 at 160.
Wagner corralled the first regional title of his career in Belleville. He believes it’s a precursor for good things to come in the postseason.
“I’m really excited to get back up to state and show people what I can do in the right state of mind,” Wagner said. “Last year I wasn’t quite where I wanted to be and this year I’m just going for it.
“It feels really good to be regional champ. That’s actually one thing I hadn’t done and that was one of my goals for this year. I’m glad I’m starting to hit on more and more goals as a wrestler. The next goal is sectional champ and the next goal is state and hopefully state champ right there as well.”
And while the Redbirds battle in Class 3A in Normal today and Saturday, CM is at the Class 2A Mattoon Sectional and Roxana, East Alton-Wood River and Marquette Catholic battle at the Class 1A Vandalia Regional.
Drake Boverie (132), Brayton Williams (152), Brandon Copeland (182) and Jordan Stagner (195) compete for the Eagles. For Roxana, James Henseler (106), Dalton Brito (126), Jarod Foiles (132), Luke Curtis (182), Brett Nyswonger (220) and Owen Robinson (285) are still alive. EA-WR has Drew Sobol (106), Zac Blasioli (152) and Shane Lindquist (170), while Marquette has Deyton Mitchell (120) still wrestling.