BETHALTO — There may have only been seven matches on Wednesday, but the Civic Memorial wrestling team took advantage of their opportunities on the mat.
The Eagles won five of seven bouts in the circle at CM to defeat rival Roxana 46-20. With the win the Eagles improved to 5-6 in duals on the season, while the Shells slipped to 13-11 with the defeat.
With half of the matches decided in forfeits, CM head coach Chad Young knew his squad needed to perform when opportunity knocked. Fortunately they did.
“Head to head we did great,” Young said. “The kids wrestled great. We had a couple come from behind matches. Jordan Stagner (195) came back. The kids were confident coming in and we knew it was going to be close if we don't win those matches and get the bonus points. Roxana always has a great program every year and it's always close between us. We kind of caught Roxana while they're missing a few guys from their lineup and that made a difference, but the kids wrestled great. I'm proud of them.”
Stagner had the signature win for CM. Finding himself down 9-6 in the final 30 seconds of his match with Michael Maddox of the Shells, he went on a flurry, scoring five swift points to steal an 11-9 decision.
“I've wrestled him before and pinned him,” Stagner said. “We kind of have a rivalry because we're good buddies and have known each other for a long time. I got down early in the match and I knew when it got to the third period I had to crank it up. I thought I showed I was more conditioned than him and I finished the match and ended up on top.”
Young added of Stagner, “A lot of kids, they get down like that and they give up and he kept fighting. In my mind I was wanting him to cut (Maddox) and let him up and maybe we can get two quick takedowns in that minute, but he hung in there and eventually he got him on his back and got those near fall points, kept it close and then turned him again and that was the difference.”
The night started with a double forfeit at 106 pounds and then forfeits for each side to leave it at 6-6 after the first three weight classes.
Roxana's Dalton Brito and Trent Brown of the Eagles were the first to take the mat. Brito, ranked sixth at 126 pounds in Class 1A, showed off his skills, prevailing 17-1 to earn a tech fall and propel the Shells in front 11-6.
“Dalton looked fantastic and we're going to ride his coattails the rest of the way and hopefully everyone else gets on board,” Roxana head coach Rob Milazzo said.
Undefeated junior Drake Boverie, rated No. 5 in the state at 132 in Class 2A, logged a win for the Eagles in the next round. Boverie picked up an 11-1 major decision over Jarod Foiles of the Shells to cut the team deficit to 11-10.
That began a six-match win streak for CM as Brandon Copeland (138) and Eian McIntire (145) won via pinfall prior to a trio of forfeit victories to skyrocket the Eagles ahead 40-11.
Roxana's Luke Curtis, an honorable mention at 182 pounds in 1A, responded with a 7-5 decision over CM's Brandon Carpenter to get the Shells back on the board. Curtis had to fight back to get the win against Carpenter and Young was just happy to see his 182-pounder competing in the circle.
“(Carpenter) was in the hospital (Saturday), they were getting ready for surgery (appendicitis) and they did a CAT scan and said, 'No, we can't find anything,'” Young said. “He came back home Sunday, he was at practice Monday and he's still in a lot of pain. At the end of the match you could see it was hurting him, but he gutted it out and put on a pretty good match and came close.”
Stagner's win was next at 195, followed by a forfeit win for Roxana and then at heavyweight CM's Quentin Wade nabbed a 10-6 decision over Owen Robinson to close out the win.
Milazzo was disappointed in Roxana's performance, especially after coming off of four dual wins at home on Tuesday. With opponents like Collinsville and Alton on the horizon before the regionals start on Feb. 7, Milazzo knows there's some tough obstacles ahead all for the sake of improvement for the postseason.
“We took a step back tonight, but this is all practice for what we're working for,” Milazzo said. “We're going to regionals in a couple weeks and that's our goal, to get through there, get through sectionals and do something at state. In a few weeks it will be a different story.
“(The Roxana schedule) is going to be tough and they know that because that's part of our schedule and you can't discount what CM did. They did a wonderful job and were well coached.”
Stagner admitted the Eagles always get pumped for the showdown with the Shells and logging a win over them was a nice notch in their belt.
“I'm a junior now and every year I've been in high school we've lost to them,” Stagner said. “It's been a big deal to us. We hate losing to them because they are such a big rivalry and I'm glad we finally overcame it and ended up on top.”