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Photo by Bill Roseberry
Zac Blasioli of EA-WR (right) battles Waterloo’s Austin Stewart in the finals at 152 pounds at the CM Tournament on Dec. 5. Blasioli won the title bout via pinfall in 1:45.
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Photo by Bill Roseberry
EA-WR’s Drew Sobol (left) was named Co-Outstanding Wrestler of the CM Tournament on Dec. 5 with Maplewood-Richmond Heights’ Ronald Stewart.
The East Alton-Wood River Oilers are excited about what they can do on the wrestling mat this season.
They’re fresh off a fifth-place finish at the Civic Memorial Tournament with 130.5 points and the Co-Outstanding Wrestler in junior Drew Sobol. Overall the Oilers had three champions: Sobol at 106 pounds, junior Zac Blasioli at 152 and sophomore Zach Kincade at 195. All three are undefeated on the season.
EA-WR head coach Dave Sobol is excited to see the hot start. Following the CM Tourney, he quipped, “When was the last time you saw Wood River score over 100 points in a tournament?”
The Oilers think it will be a trend rather than a whim. The numbers and the talent support that.
Last season EA-WR only had 6 wrestlers. This year that number has ballooned to 17.
“This year is one of the first years in a long time we’ve had close to a full lineup,” Kincade said. “We have a lot of new kids, but they’re new kids. They still don’t have the experience they need to learn, but from all the conditioning we do inside the room they are really picking it up. I think we showed that (at CM).”
The coaching staff also has expanded this season. Cory Stassi has been added to work with lightweights and Eric Huebner has been promoted to a paid assistant. Satssi and Huebner are both former standout wrestlers at CM.
“Eric’s been with me for the third year now and we’ve finally got him on staff now as a paid assistant,” Sobol said. “I’m kind of an old dinosaur and coach Hueb in his own right was a tremendous wrestler and he still is; he’s still active. The rapport he has with Drew and Zac, it’s almost like little brothers, where I’m granddad to all these guys. He’s such an influence on and off the mat and coach Stassi is a lightweight and his success as a wrestler and now he’s a chiropractor. Both men are such quality, quality men and when you surround yourself with good, quality people only good things can happen.”
For Drew Sobol, this season is about redemption. As a sophomore, he qualified for the Class 1A individual state tournament but had a disastrous ending.
He was trying to earn back points on his first-round opponent Avery Dean of Knoxville when the referee said Sobol had pinned his own shoulders to the mat, giving Dean a win via pinfall in 56 seconds.
Sobol was devastated and his journey for state gold is on in ‘15-16.
“It was really unfortunate what happened last year, but obviously I can’t dwell on what happened,” he said. “I plan to progress through the season like always and move up to the top. After it happened I was like, ‘I’m done with this, I’m tired of it.’ After time I just thought, ‘I can’t quit. I have what it takes to be on top.’ That made me come back.”
A standout golfer, Sobol believes the mental aspect of golf helps him in wrestling.
“Golf has been helping me so much mentally,” Sobol said. “You don’t get a lot of wrestlers that golf, but golf helps wrestling. What got me here is the mental part, not the physical part.”
Fellow EA-WR junior, Blasioli, is on a mission also. Blasioli finished sixth at 160 pounds as a freshman at state, but fell short as a sophomore. In Bethalto he won at 152 pounds and when the Oilers compete at the Benton Invite on Saturday he will drop down to 145 pounds.
He feels his conditioning is good and he can find state success again.
“At 152 I think I could possibly win state,” Blasioli said. “The No. 1 kid I beat freshman year at state. This is going to be a fun year and I think I can keep up with any of the top 10 kids at 152 or 145.”
Kincade admitted watching Sobol and Blasioli in the practice room and mimicking their work ethic has helped him.
“You learn new techniques and what to do because Drew and Zac are both real technical wrestlers. When you watch them a whole lot you really start to learn how to wrestle at a real fast pace,” Kincade said.
The Oilers took nine wrestlers to CM; eight placed. Besides the three champs, Austin Hammond (120) was seventh, Jake Erlson (160) was fifth, Shane Lindquist (182) was fourth, Daron Austin (220) was sixth and Jon Wright (285) was fifth.
Dave Sobol pointed out it was just one tournament, but the confidence is brewing in his mat-men and they believe in ‘15-16.
“Our expectations are so high now,” he said. “They expect it. They committed to the program, they committed to me and the coaches. This is just a start...We’ll keep the grind going.”
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