By Brittany Weaver – Collinsville High School senior
The Collinsville High School wrestling season ended with a third-place conference finish and two Sectional qualifiers, and Head Coach Tom Blaha thinks better things are to come.
The Kahoks finished 13-4 in the Southwestern Conference, which Blaha noted is a “tough conference.”
“To place third is pretty good,” Blaha said. “We had some big wins over Belleville West, who we haven’t beaten in a couple years, and Alton, and Belleville East,” Blaha said.
However, every season has its rocky moments. “We did kind of have one bad week; we lost to O’Fallon, which I wasn’t real happy about,” Blaha said.
The 160-pound wrestler, Dylan Johnson, was disappointed in how his season ended.
“It was kind of similar to how it resulted in the last year,” Johnson said. “I wish I could’ve done something about it.”
Johnson qualified for Sectionals this year and last year, and narrowly missed qualifying for the State Tournament both times. He lost in a 30-second tiebreaker in 2013 and lost two matches in 2014 that would have sent him to State, one on a penalty point in overtime.
Johnson also added that he felt some of the seniors should have made it with him and Cody Pope to Sectionals. “Some of them let me down, but they were pretty good overall,” Johnson said.
Pope took 3rd place in the 106-pound class at the Granite City Regional, but did not make weight for Sectionals, ending his season early. “I was surprised,” Pope said. “Everything I worked for was done.”
Pope was satisfied with his accomplishments. “Honestly, I feel like I did what I wanted to do for my senior year.” After high school, he plans to go into the military.
Johnson said he was excited about all of his honors this year. In addition to qualifying for Sectionals for a second consecutive year, Johnsons finished his career with 105 wins, good for eighth best in school history. He plans to go to Lincoln College to wrestle and possibly major in criminal justice.
Although the season had its trials and tribulations, Blaha thought that, for the most part, the athletes did well.
“Making it to sectionals, out of our region, that’s a good season,” Blaha said. “Even the kids that didn’t make it, they didn’t have bad seasons,” said Blaha.
According to Coach Blaha, Jacob Blaha, who had 25 wins this season, Zach Stephenson, Jordan May, and Derrion Miller; with 20 wins each and Cole Zabala with19 wins, are all wrestlers who will have successful future seasons.