ROXANA — The Roxana Shells played host to the Class 1A Roxana Regional Saturday in Milazzo Gymnasium in front of a packed house.
East Alton-Wood River's Drew Sobol (106) and Zac Blasioli (152) won regional crowns, as did Roxana's Luke Curtis (182). Altogether the Shells advanced six wrestlers to the Vandalia Sectional on Feb. 14, the Oilers qualified three and the Marquette Catholic Explorers got one through.
The Althoff Crusaders nabbed the team title with 191.5 points. The rest of the field rounded out with Litchfield (166.5), Roxana (118.5), Pittsfield (118), Mount Olive (109.5), EA-WR (66), Carlinville (20.5), Marquette (18), Carrollton (10) and Metro East Lutheran (4).
The East Alton-Wood River Oilers brought seven wrestlers in preparation to wrestle, but only six were able to compete. Freshman Zach Kincade was forced to withdraw due to an infection.
Sobol, a sophomore, earned a first-round bye and then beat Rylan Frankford of Carlinville in the semifinal round by pinfall in 25 seconds. Sobol advanced to sectionals after claiming a pin against Collin Davidson of Litchfield in 2:42 to become regional champion. Sobol is a two-time regional champion for EA-WR.
"Drew worked really hard today," EA-WR head coach Dave Sobol said. "I think he sent a message today. Last time he wrestled Davidson, he won by just two points. Today he was able to pin Davidson and he's actually ranked higher than Drew (in the state rankings)."
Blasioli, a EA-WR sophomore, was ready for his second trip to the regional podium when he took on Althoff sophomore Austin Carey in the semifinal match. Blasioli won by a pin in just 1:05. Facing Mount Olive senior Shon Calvert in the finals, Blasioli claimed his second regional championship in as many years with a 14-6 decision.
"The best we can do from this point is just practice this week," Blasioli said. "We're all going to hit the mat hard this week and try to prepare ourselves the best way we can. Wrestling is just as much mental as it is physical. We have to get our mind ready. I went to state last year, I want to return and improve every year."
Roxana prepared nine wrestlers to compete on their home mat and will send six of their athletes on to sectionals.
Curtis, a senior, took the only regional championship on Saturday for the Shells when he defeated Paul Seipp from Litchfield with a pin at 3:41. Curtis received a bye in the first round before having to face James Gipson of Mount Olive and pinning him in 17 seconds. Curtis became a three-time regional champion for the Shells.
"Winning the regional at home has made the day more special," Curtis said. "My friends and family are able to be here and they've been very supportive. Usually I don't have the option of having many of my friends here when we have to travel away for regionals. I was able to start off the day pretty comfortable. I felt good and it helped that my matches were short."
Roxana senior Dalton Brito was a surprise on the mat for the Shells at 126 pounds as he competed with an injured elbow. Taking a bye in his first round, Brito was able to keep his elbow on ice until the semifinal match against Blake Uehling of Litchfield.
Brito took the win with a pin in 1:43. The finals proved to be more difficult on Brito's injury and he chose to withdraw after 1:27 to Althoff senior Jevon Hey. With the second-place finish, Brito still advances to sectionals next week.
"I really didn't want to risk doing any more damage to my arm," Brito said. "I came down on it wrong early in the final match. I thought it was best to save it and just call it quits in the match before it kept me from being able to wrestle at sectionals. I wanted to be smart about it."
Sophomore Brett Nyswonger of the Shells earned second place in the 220 pound weight class after taking a loss to Litchfield's Cole Werner by a pin at 5:16 in finals.
Roxana junior Owen Robinson advanced to the finals after taking a bye in round one and defeating Anthony Holmes of Pittsfield in a 6-5 decision in the 285 weight class. Robinson fell in the finals to Althoff senior Rodney Baker with a 7-1 decision, but will join his teammates to represent the Shells at sectionals.
Shells sophomore James Henseler will take the journey to sectionals after claiming third place in the 106 pound weight class by earning a tech fall against Rylan Frankford in 2:37.
Jarod Foiles (132), a junior, also advanced for Roxana with a third-place finish.
"I think my guys did a good job overall today," Roxana head coach Rob Milazzo said. "We'd like to get a little bit better. We have some things to work on this next week. The big task at hand is getting these guys through sectionals and on to state. We hope for the best going into sectionals, Luke and Dalton made it to state last year. We hope to repeat their appearance at the big show and improve on their performance from last year."
In a surprising turn of events for EA-WR, freshman Shane Lindquist will join the Oilers at sectionals after claiming a third-place victory over Althoff freshman Zach Guerrero at 170.
Senior Donnie Meadows took fourth for the Oilers after suffering a 13-2 decision to Foiles of Roxana in the finals at 132, seeing his season and career come to a conclusion.
"At this point the talking is over," Dave Sobol said. "I can't say much more to prepare these guys. You can't help who you face in a match. I'm always telling my guys that it's not about who you wrestle, it's how you wrestle them."
Senior Deyton Mitchel will represent the Explorers at sectionals in the 120 pound weight class. Mitchell took the long road from round one by defeating Caden Monke from Mount Olive with a pin in 2:41 to advance to the semifinals. Nick Robinson from Carrollton couldn't hold Mitchell back in the semis and fell by pin in 3:37, sending Marquette to the finals. In a tight 10-7 decision, Mitchell lost to Althoff senior Eli Wall in the finale to take second place and advance to the next stage at sectionals.