CHAMPAIGN — The Greater Alton area will be represented well on Saturday at the state wrestling tournament at Champaign's State Farm Center. Unfortunately none of them will be competing for a state title.
Eight Greater Alton area wrestlers have pushed through to the final day of the state tournament. Roxana's Dalton Brito (126) and Alton's Phyllip DeLoach (145) and Nicholas DeLoach (152) are all guaranteed state medals after advancing to the semifinals of the championship round before losing. They could still finish as high as third, but no lower than sixth.
Roxana also has James Henseler (106) and Jarod Foiles (132) still alive in wrestlebacks, while Civic Memorial has Drake Boverie (132) and Brayton Williams (152) and Alton has Qiant'e Wagner (160). One more win for them and they will also be guaranteed medals.
“It's fun to watch because the south is kind of the step child,” Roxana head coach Rob Milazzo said. “We're getting better and better. Kids are working more in the offseason and we're starting to catch up and close the gap and it makes it more fun for all of us to come up and watch the guys from the south.”
Brito's (39-6) rise to prominence on the state stage has been a bonus for the Shells. The senior grappler almost had to miss the postseason with an elbow injury. He injury defaulted in the regional finals, but bounced back to win a sectional crown and didn't lose until the semifinals at state by the score of 8-3 to Dakota's Printice Wells.
“I was playing football and I got a torn ligament in my elbow,” Brito said. “It's my senior year so I manned through it at regionals and it hurt me my final match so I defaulted it. Come sectionals I wanted to get that good seed and here at state it hasn't really bothered me that much. If somebody grabs it I can still feel a little pain, but you just have to tough through.”
Knowing that he's already locked down a medal is very gratifying for Brito, but he still has say in deciding which medal he takes home between third and sixth.
“Getting here I was really happy with myself and even though I just lost I'm still happy because I've never placed before and now no matter what I've placed,” Brito said. “I'm just happy to be here. If I win tomorrow I get to wrestle for third and if I lose I wrestle for sixth, but either why I'm proud of myself.”
Alton head coach Eric Roberson was happy to see two Redbirds secure medals. It's the first time in school history that multiple wrestlers have medaled in the same season.
“Coming in you never know what's going to happen at a state tournament,” Roberson said. “You've just got to make sure you are well prepared. For them both to make to the semis and I know they both fell short, they wanted to make the finals, that was their goal, but no we find out what they're made of and see if they can come back and get through that wrestleback. It's great to have them place, and we've never had two placers in one year so that's nice for the program and I'm happy for the boys. They did an outstanding job getting to the semis. They wrestled their tails off.”
Phyllip (39-1) ran into a buzz saw in Crystal Lake's Eric Barone. Barone picked up a 10-2 major decision to advance to the finals. Unfortunately, Phyllip tweaked his hamstring in the loss, too. Roberson said they will see how he is Saturday morning.
“The trainer said he pulled a hamstring during one of those scrambles out there,” Roberson said. “We'll figure out and see what the trainer says and go from there. He doesn't wrestle until tomorrow, so hopefully it will be OK.”
Nicholas (49-1) ran into Willowbrook's Matt Rowland in the semifinals, falling 5-0.
“They ran into some tough kids there,” Roberson said of the DeLoaches.
Brito and the DeLoaches now find themselves in the semifinal round of the wrestlebacks, waiting to see who their next opponent will be.
The quarterfinal round of wrestlebacks begin at 9 a.m. Saturday morning. Henseler (32-18) of the Shells faces Augustus Linke (33-16) of Morrisonville and Foiles (38-13) battles Mount Olive's Maxx Fritz (39-7) in Class 1A action.
Milazzo said Henseler and Foiles have both faced their opponents earlier in the season and have had success against them.
“James is wrestling someone he's defeated twice already, so we're really hopefully he will win that match and at least guarantee himself a medal,” Milazzo said. “Jarod is wrestling Maxx Fritz who he beat in overtime last week. Fritz beat him in the regional and the week before Jarod beat him, so it could happen but it's going to be close. He's just got to go out there and wrestle well.”
CM's Boverie (40-3) meets Chicago Washington's We Rachal (29-2) and Williams (26-6) earns a date with Grays Lake North's Jake Wright (28-13) in Class 2A quarterfinal wrestlebacks.
In 3A, Wagner (43-4) of the Redbirds battles Orland Park Sandburg's Tom Slattery (38-7) on Saturday morning.
East Alton-Wood River's Drew Sobol (106) and Zac Blasioli (152), along with Alton's Connor Broyles (120) and Darian Pierson (285) saw their state trips end early.