Prep Wrestling

Blue Devils stomp Silver Streaks in home finale

By Herald-Whig
Posted: Jan. 29, 2020 1:40 am Updated: Jan. 29, 2020 12:23 pm

QUINCY -- After the Quincy High School wrestling team was robbed of its home tournament two weeks ago for a second straight year due to weather, the Blue Devils had one last chance to show out in front of their home crowd on Tuesday night.

And they took full advantage of that chance.

QHS dominated throughout the dual against Galesburg and allowed just three Silver Streaks wins as the Blue Devils finished their home schedule with a 55-10 victory.

"We all knew it was the last time in our gym, so we just had to give it our all and show up for our home crowd," QHS senior Blake Peter said.

The momentum started and ended with the senior class. After Galesburg's Jeremiah Morris picked up a victory at 220-pounds over Avery Bodi in the first match, Blue Devils senior Xai Benjamin stepped into the spotlight.

Benjamin started his heavyweight match against the Silver Streaks' Tyler Kemp with an early takedown in the first period, and after two periods Benjamin led 4-2. Benjamin turned it on in the third period, scoring on a reversal and a near-fall to come away with a 10-5 decision and tie the dual at 3.

"It felt really good to do that and get the team started on a roll," Benjamin said. "We just took off from there."

Benjamin very nearly had the first pin of the night after catching Kemp in a cradle on his back, but Kemp was able to fight out of the hold.

"I couldn't get that shoulder down, but other than that it was a good match," Benjamin said.

The Blue Devils received three straight forfeits to balloon their lead to 21-3, then Peter made it 24-3 with a 6-0 decision over Alejandro Morales at 126.

Galesburg fought back in the next two matches, however, with Trevor Mclaren defeating Garrick Homan by a 10-6 decision at 132 and Landon Johnson taking out Brayden Oenning by an 11-2 major decision at 138.

"I like the way that we competed," Galesburg coach Greg Leibach said. "Our fierceness and our compete level in every weight we sent out a wrestler was good. We were probably overmatched or out-experienced at a number of weights, but I wouldn't question the competitive spirit of any of our guys. For that I'm proud."

The Silver Streaks pulled the match closer at 24-10 with the two straight wins, but Diego Roberts started a run that slammed the gate closed on any comeback attempt. Roberts dominated Exauce Ilelenzim at 145 for an 8-1 major decision that swung the momentum back in the Blue Devils' favor as QHS won six straight matches to close out.

"When Diego came out there things got fired up and we went back to doing what we like to do, and that's dominate, get pins and take care of business," QHS coach Phil Neally said.

In the string of six wins to finish the match, three Blue Devils seniors picked up victories. Neil Kozlowski followed Roberts' dominance with an 11-2 major decision victory of his own over Che Thomas at 152, while Kaleb Vahle had the fastest match of the night with a pin in the first 20 seconds on Emilio Torres at 170.

"When you see one of your teammates win, it really gives you that hype," Vahle said. "You're in the gym for the last time, especially for us seniors because this is the last time we will be able to wrestle in front of our home crowd."

Junior Thomas Culp dismantled his opponent at 182 for a 19-3 technical fall, then J.C. Lackey closed down the show with another quick decision, this one a 31 second pin of Richard Mitchell at 195 pounds.

"I came out there to win," Lackey said. "It was senior night, all my family was here and I just came out there to win."

A good crowd on hand at QHS gym erupted as Lackey finished off the final home meet.

"It just felt like I was alive, man," Lackey said. "This is what I work for every day."

The way the senior class dominated in their final home showcase was everything Neally could want to send them out.

"We get on the mat and try to dominate as much as possible, that's kind of the name of our game, and the seniors showed that tonight," Neally said. "There was a lot of grit in the third period with Xai and Blake Peter, I like to see all those guys be successful tonight and wish them the best as we move forward and get ready for regionals."

While Tuesday was the final home meet at the QHS gym for the regular season, it wasn't the last time the Blue Devils will be in Quincy. QHS hosts a Class 3A sectional meet on the weekend of Feb. 14, and if the Blue Devils do well in regionals they have an opportunity to wrestle for a spot in the state tournament on the court at Blue Devil Gym.

"That's the big thing, you want to be wrestling in front of your home crowd and not sitting in the stands watching everyone else wrestle," Peter said.