Prep Wrestling

All in the family: Blue Devils' Peters puts support from brother, coaches to good use

Fort Madison's Nathan Steffensmeier tries to get out of a hold from Quincy High's Matthew Peters on Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2018. | H-W Photo/Jake Shane
By Herald-Whig
Posted: Feb. 8, 2019 1:50 am Updated: Feb. 8, 2019 1:59 am

QUINCY -- Matthew Peters figures now might be the only time he will ever have an edge wrestling his older brother, Michael.

"With the way his arm is, yeah, I could probably beat him," the Quincy High School senior wrestler said with a chuckle.

As soon as Michael, a sophomore who is redshirting this season at Maryville University, gets cleared after rehabilitating a shoulder injury, the window of opportunity closes.

"That's one thing he might have over me for a while," Peters said.

But all of the throwdowns the brothers have gone through at home or in the QHS wrestling room over the years pay off greatly this weekend when Peters wrestles for a spot in the Class 3A state tournament field.

He is one of seven Blue Devils who advanced to the Class 3A Joliet Central Sectional after finishing third in the 138-pound class at the Granite City Regional. Peters is 32-11 and will face Tinley Park Andrew senior Luke Gardner in the first round of the sectionals, and it will take at least three victories to advance to state.

"I know it's going to be tough, but I also know I have the ability to wrestle my best," Peters said. "I think that's going to play a good part to me advancing on."

Although weather has hampered preparations this week and limited the days the Blue Devils were actually in school, they feel adequately prepared.

"We've worked on going through the moves that we know and critiquing the small stuff that could end up helping us win the match," Peters said. "We've worked on our conditioning to make sure we're prepared to go out there and put it all on the mat."

He's been preparing for that his entire life.

Peters watched his older brother qualify for the state tournament three times, including in 2016 as a senior when Michael went 43-5. All along the way, the two were sparring partners who often dragged their dad, Donnie, into the fray.

"Michael always constantly pushed me," Peters said. "Having that person to wrestle with outside of the practice hours made it a great part of it."

And he's been a constant source of advice and support.

"He'll come to my matches and stand off to the side and watch," Peters said. "Afterward, he'll tell me what I need to work on and what I did my best on. Even with him at college, he'll text me and tell me good luck before my matches. He will always find a way to end up watching the match, whether it's on video or actually being there. He's always interested."

It's made being part of a wrestling family unique and special.

"It's like no other," Peters said. "You definitely get picked on a lot more by one another. There's probably a lot more wrestling breakouts than the normal family. It's a great feeling to know you're part of it."

That extends beyond the household.

Being part of a wrestling family means being part of the entire QHS family.

"Having that support of (QHS coach Phil) Neally and all of the coaches is incredible," Peters said. "Not only do they support you in wrestling, they support you in everything else that you do. That support system is always there, and that's one of the best things to come out of it."

That support will be unwavering this weekend, regardless of whether Peters reaches the state tournament and sees his high school career come to an end.

"Knowing it's kind of the end of the road, you want to make sure you go out leaving it all behind and at the same time knowing you did your best," Peters said. "Concentrating on the moment is the most important thing. When you concentrate on the future, you find yourself thinking more than actually doing. If I'm thinking about what's next or my next match, I know I want be ready for the match that is in front of me."