GODFREY — A quick start led to a pleasant conclusion for the Alton Redbirds on the mat Thursday at AHS.
The Redbirds raced out to a 39-0 lead and ultimately bested Southwestern Conference rival Collinsville 45-24. Alton improved to 7-1 overall with the victory and 2-1 in the SWC, while the Kahoks dipped to 8-4 and 0-3 with the loss. Both squads are back in action a 4 p.m. Friday in the Mascoutah Tournament which will conclude on Saturday.
“We have a whole group we've got going right now and we call them death row,” AHS 160-pounder Q'iante Wagner said. “It's basically a little bit above our lightweights to our heavyweights, we just go right on through. We work together, we practice together and we're going to keep on growing together and keep each other motivated.”
The dual began at 126 pounds, where Alton's Tim McCarvey earned a grueling 13-11 win over Jacob Blaha of CHS. It kick started an eight-match winning streak for the Birds and constructed the insurmountable lead.
“Those (126 and 132) were both repeat matches from last year,” Collinsville head coach Tom Blaha said. “Last year we won both of them and this year they won both of them. I think it got them on a momentum role and we couldn't shut it down. Then they came in with their big guns, guys that are ranked in the state, and we didn't have anything for them. Alton is a very good team and our conference is pretty tough. I think everybody in the conference has a pretty good squad.”
Alton head coach Eric Roberson knew McCarvey's match would be a pivotal one and with a momentum-based sport like wrestling, it set the tone for the night.
“We drew 126 and he's got Jacob his son who is a very tough kid. We've got Tim McCarvey and we knew that was going to be a pivotal weight,” Roberson said. “We knew that would either get us going or put us in a hole and it was a great match. Both kids wrestled tough and luckily Tim came out on top and he got the ball rolling for us and we just took it from there.”
Christian Everage followed at 132 with an 11-5 decision over Cole Zabala and the Alejandro Lopez (138), Phyllip DeLoach (145) and Nicholas DeLoach (152) all won by tech falls. Wagner then upped the bonus points with a pin in 1:02, Cameron Cauley (170) pinned Russell March in 3:54 and Keontay Holmes (182) won via pin in 3:24 against Zach Hammell-Brown.
Wagner said the bonus points were crucial for the Redbirds, too. He was glad to trail the trio of tech falls with the first pin of the night for Alton.
“I tried to go out there and get some extra points for the team because we lost to (Collinsville) last year and coach really focused on this match,” Wagner said. “I wanted to go out there and make him proud.”
The Kahoks recovered to win five of the final six matches, but it was little too late. Their first win came when Derron Miller finally pinned Keondrick Russell in the second overtime of their bout.
The only other win for AHS came at heavyweight when Darian Pierson pinned Landon Chairs in 2:47.
The losses proved to Roberson that while the win was nice, there is still plenty of room for improvement.
“We took some individual losses,” he said. “It wasn't all bright spots in there. We took some bad losses in there at some of those lightweights. Overall we did what we had to do, but we've got to steal some more of those weight classes from them, because it's not going to get any easier.”
Now the Redbirds will turn their attention to the Mascoutah Tournament, where they've won the last two years and four out of the previous six.
“It's not like our big goal is to win five Mascouath Tournaments in a row,” Roberson said. “We just try and take them a year at a time and win them. It's a good tournament to start with.”
Wagner added, “We had seven guys in the finals last year and we're shooting for that again, shooting for more actually. We're shooting for 12 if we can, shooting for 14. It's all or nothing really.”