Photo by Bill Roseberry
CM’s Drake Boverie controls East Side’s Marquez Roberson during the finals at 132 pounds in the Mascoutah Tournament on Dec. 20. Boverie is one of a slew of local wrestlers looking to get on the medal stand at state this weekend in Champaign.
The IHSA individual wrestling state tournament began Thursday at the University of Illinois’ State Farm Center in Champaign and locally the Greater Alton area is well-represented.
The Alton Redbirds sent a school-record five wrestlers to the Class 3A state tourney, while Civic Memorial is represented by two wrestlers on the Class 2A mat, Roxana has three and East Alton-Wood River advanced two in the 1A portion of the tournament.
The tournament continues today and concludes Saturday. The top six wrestlers in each weight class garner medals.
“I’m really excited and we’re pretty pumped,” CM head coach Chad Young said. “We want to go up and make some noise.”
The Eagles are no strangers to making noise at state. CM has produced four state champions in its history. Kip Kristoff won three times, while Mark Kristoff, Jason Christenson and David Pearce all have one state title.
Junior Drake Boverie (132) and senior Brayton Williams (152) are looking to follow in those footsteps. Boverie (38-2) was ranked fourth in the state entering this week and opened on the state mat against Crete-Monee sophomore Cresencio Betancourt (25-7).
Williams (24-5) entered the week rated No. 7 in the state and opened Thursday with Collin Groleau (37-5) of LaSalle-Peru.
Young coached Pearce (‘11-12) when he found state gold and has high hopes for both his current wrestlers, but he stressed that results don’t come from measuring performances against state champions, they come from remaining focused for every second of every match at state.
“We try and keep it pretty laid-back,” Young said. “I don’t want them to feel the pressure of the state tournament. Our focus is, ‘Hey, every match you wrestle — you’ve wrestled 100 matches before — it’s no different than any other match. You go out there and you wrestle your style, you go after them, you score points to win. If you keep doing that, you’re going to be in the money.’ We go from that rather than the top down approach where you’ve got to be the state champ. We look at it one match at a time, and of course everybody wants to be a state champ.”
Alton head coach Eric Roberson was stoked to see a school-record five kids qualify for state. Junior Connor Broyles (37-8) at 120 and seniors Phyllip DeLoach (37-0) at 145, Nicholas DeLoach (47-0) at 152, Qiant’e Wagner (41-3) at 160 and Darian Pierson (35-10) at 285 all made it to state for the Redbirds.
“We’re really excited because that’s the most ever,” Roberson said. “We had four back in 2004, but we’ve never had more than four. I guess we kind of expected our three returning qualifiers (DeLoaches and Wagner), but even that there’s no guarantee. I’ve seen a lot of kids go one year and not go the next. Just to get those two guys, Pierson at heavyweight and Broyles at 120, two guys that haven’t gone before, that was great for them.”
Expectations are high for the DeLoaches and Wagner. Phyllip is ranked No. 4 in the state, while Nicholas is No. 7 and Wagner is rated No. 11. The trio made it to state last year and returned empty-handed. They and their coach hope that changes this year. The threesome already has won regional and sectional crowns.
“I think they’re all on a roll right now and I think each match they wrestle they gain a little bit more confidence by beating tougher and tougher opponents as they progress further,” Roberson said. “They just need to keep doing what they do and do everything in their power to advance as far as they can. I know they would all three like to place.”
Phyllip opened with Corey Knudsen (34-6) of Lake Forest, Nicholas started with Brandon Meyer (40-7) from Huntley, a state honorable mention, and Wagner got Glenbard North’s Tom Czernek (33-12), another state honorable mention.
Broyles battled No. 4 ranked Mike Cullen (36-1) of Cary-Grove, while Pierson faced Glenbard East’s D’Andre Johnson (26-1), the No. 4 heavyweight in the state.
Roxana’s Dalton Brito (37-5), No. 8 in state at 126, started with Harvard’s Reiss Bielski (29-15); James Henseler (30-17), No. 8 at 106, got Trace Thomas (27-9) of Deer Creek-Mackinaw and Jarod Foiles (36-12), No. 11 at 132, battled Omar Otero of Chicago DePaul College Prep (26-14).
EA-WR sophomore Drew Sobol (33-4), No. 5 in 1A at 106 pounds, began with Knoxville’s Avery Dean (26-8) and fellow sophomore Zac Blasioli (33-8), an honorable mention at 152, started with Kenny Abitua (11-3) of Stillman Valley, the No. 7-ranked wrestler in 1A state.
Blasioli finished sixth in the state at 160 pounds as a freshman.
Follow the state brackets as they unfold at www.ihsa.org.
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