Photo by Diane Cox
Civic Memorial’s Drake Boverie battles Tyler Dunn of East St. Louis in the semifinals at 132 pounds in the CM Tournament on Dec. 6. Boverie pinned Dunn in 4:44 and ultimately won the tourney title at 132. Boverie is one of many stellar mat-men in the area this season.
The Alton area is a hotbed for wrestling and the 2014-15 season doesn’t look to be any different.
The Alton Redbirds, East Alton-Wood River Oilers, Civic Memorial Eagles and Roxana Shells all have returning grapplers with state experience under their belts. Marquette Catholic has three individual wrestlers it will enter in tournament action this season, too.
The Alton Redbirds have a tough fight in the rugged Southwestern Conference, but they feel they are up for it. Entering Thursday’s triangular with CM and Granite City, the Redbirds were 6-0 overall and 1-0 in the SWC on the mat.
Ranked 25th in Class 3A entering this week on www.illinoismatmen.com, AHS is poised for a big season. Joining the Birds in the top 25 from the SWC are Granite City (19) and Belleville West (22).
Alton has three state qualifying wrestlers returning in ‘14-15 in twins Phyllip (145) and Nicholas DeLoach (152), as well as Q’iante Wagner (160).
“We’ve got quite a bit coming back and on paper we are very solid,” AHS head coach Eric Roberson said. “We still have a few weights that we still have to have someone step up and solidify it a little bit. Expectations are high and this lineup is strong. We’re looking forward to this year.”
The Redbirds have started off strong with wins over Class 2A Bloomington, ranked seventh in the state, 2A honorable mention East St. Louis and Class 3A honorable mention Moline.
Individually, Alton has five wrestlers getting props in the state rankings on www.illinoismatmen.com. Junior Connor Broyles is an honorable mention at 120 pounds, Phyllip DeLoach is No. 3 at 145, Nicholas DeLoach is fifth at 152, Wagner is eighth at 160 and senior Darian Pierson is an honorable mention at heavyweight. Roberson is also looking for good things from Dillon Sims (113), Christian Everage (132), Alejandro Lopez (138), Cameron Cauley (170) and Keontay Holmes (182), among others.
AHS is looking forward to a couple of local grueling tournaments to set the tone for the season, too. On Dec. 20 the Redbirds will compete at the Mascoutah Tournament with CM, Roxana, EA-WR, Marquette and a slew of others. Then on Dec. 29 and 30 Alton will be in the tough William “Red” Schmitt Holiday Tournament.
“Mascoutah is kind of a mainstay for us,” Roberson said. “That’s a critical tournament of the season to see where we’re at. Then Granite, this is our third year there and we were able to get fourth last year and we’re just happy to be in that tournament because it’s so tough and again doesn’t require a lot of travel.”
CM is coming off a solid showing in the 36th annual CM Tournament, where the Eagles finished ninth as a team. Junior Drake Boverie won the 132-pound title with a 3-0 3-0 record, earning co-MVP for the tournament.
“Our kids did really well,” eighth-year head coach Chad Young said. “Drake won a championship and Trent Brown (126) came in second. Drake went out and beat a kid (Jersey’s Brandon Critchfield) that finished fourth in state last year.”
The Eagles were without Brayton Williams (152 and 160), who is sidelined with a broken right thumb, but is expected to return soon. Other wrestlers Young expects good things from are: Christian Schaub (120), Brandon Copeland (138), Montrail Johnson (145), Eian McIntire (152), Dillon Lawrence (170), Tyler Tharp (182), Brandon Carpenter (195), Jordan Stagner (220) and Quintin Wade (285).
Boverie was ranked ninth at 126 pounds in Class 2A entering this week and Williams was ranked sixth at 152, while Schaub is an honorable mention at 120.
“We don’t have a lot of depth, so we have to stay away from injuries and illnesses,” Young said. “We had a couple of guys out with the flu in our tournament. But I thought the (17-team) tournament went smooth. We didn’t have any problems.”
The Roxana Shells are coming off of a state berth in Class 1A from the ‘13-14 season. Head coach Rob Milazzo hopes to get back to that level, but this time bring home a trophy.
The Shells were eliminated in the state quarterfinals in a 44-33 loss to Plano a year ago. Roxana has 23-25 kids out this season so look for a solid dual team again.
“Last year we made it to the elite eight and were one match away from placing,” Milazzo said. “We enter the season with the hope of having a good dual team. We’re in a little better shape than a lot of the small schools because we’ve been able to fill all the weights. We always look to place and win at state (individually), but we always hold out hope we can do something as a team.”
Currently, junior Jared Foiles is ranked 12th at 132 pounds in the state at Class 1A, while senior Luke Curtis is ranked 10th at 170. Milazzo said Curtis will wrestle at 182, though.
Milazzo also noted senior Dalton Brito at 126 pounds. Brito won 41 matches as a junior and will ultimately be ranked.
“He didn’t come out at the beginning of the year and that’s why he’s not ranked,” Milazzo said of Brito. “He’s a senior and was one match away from placing last year. We’re excited to have him back. He’s a tough kid.”
Milazzo also pointed to sophomore James Henseler to be a strong contributor. Henseler qualified for sectionals at 106 pounds as a freshman.
EAST ALTON-WOOD RIVER
The numbers game looks to hamper the East Alton-Wood River Oilers again this season.
The Oilers only have 15 total kids to hit the mat for 12 weight classes.
“We’re at 15 kids and that’s actually a step up for us,” head coach Dave Sobol said. “We’re excited about that, but we’re really, really young. With the nature of this sport you can still have success by how many you get on the podium at state, or how many you take to state even if you don’t do well as a team.”
It will be a pair of state-qualifying sophomores that lead the charge for EA-WR. Drew Sobol (113) is ranked 11th in Class 1A and Zac Blasioli (160) is perched at No. 9. Dave Sobol admitted they are wise beyond their years on the mat.
“These kids have kind of been groomed for this for a long time,” Dave Sobol said. “They stepped up last year as freshmen and acted like dang seniors. They were leaders and they don’t do it with their mouths; they’re humble and they’re the hardest-working kids in the room.”
Coach Sobol expects contributions from junior Darian McLemore (182) and senior Donnie Meadows (126 or 132). Meadows is a transfer back to EA-WR. He wrestled in Missouri as a junior.
Steve Mitchell replaces David Elliott as the Marquette Catholic High wrestling coach in 2014-15. Mitchell, a 1992 CM grad and also Marquette’s girls’ soccer coach, will have three grapplers to work with.
The three wrestlers for the Explorers are: Deyton Mitchell (120), Max Elmendorf (160) and Xaviur Jones (152). Deyton Mitchell is an honorable mention at 126 pounds in Class 1A.
“We’ve had to kind of pick the tournaments we compete in this season,” Steve Mitchell said. “We also have some exhibition matches.”
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