GRANITE CITY — On a day when Southern Illinois wrestling supremacy was up for grabs, the Edwardsville Tigers left no doubt at the Class 3A Granite City Regional.
Senior Blake Blair became the Tigers' all-time leader in career wins while breezing to the 195-pound title and three teammates also grabbed championships as Edwardsville captured the regional team title Saturday at Granite City High School.
Expected to be in a close race with Granite City and Belleville West, Edwardsville had the title wrapped before the finals.
The Tigers advanced eight wrestlers into championship matches and for the second year in a row will have 12 wrestlers advance to sectional, which will be held at Moline High School on Feb. 8-9.
Tanner Ambry (106 pounds), James Mosher (145) and Matt Kent (182) also won titles for Edwardsville, which finished with 214 1/2 points. Granite City (171 1/2) and West (149) finished second and third, respectively. Alton (119) and Quincy (87 1/2) rounded out the top five.
But on this day, the Tigers ruled by simply doing what they do best -- competing to the best of their ability.
"There are no guarantees in wrestling. But what you can guarantee is your attitude and your effort in how you warm up and in your match. These kids did that today and that's why the score was the way it is,'' Edwardsville coach Jon Wagner said. "To get 12 kids out when we brought 14 in here. I just can't say enough about how they competed.
Blair, who broke a tie with Derek Baugh at 145 career wins with a first-round pin of Collinsville's Alex Stowers, paced the Tigers' effort.
In addition to the four titles, Edwardsville got second-place finishes from Hayden Grammer (126), Gavin McBride (132), Sam Andresen (138) and Cameron Thornberry (170).
Granite City will advance seven wrestlers, including champions Justin Nelson (113), D.J. Millett (126) and Cole Whitford (285). West will send six wrestlers to Moline, including state-ranked DeMechico Spraggins (138) and Nate Higgins (152).
For Spraggins the regional title was his fourth straight, all coming in different weight classes.
"Mech had a good day. He was moving well and he looked very strong,'' West coach Al Sears said. "Nate (Higgins) also wrestled very well and I was very pleased for our other champion, Tremont Davis at 220 pounds.
"But honestly, we looked flat today. You wrestle the way you practice and to be honest we haven't looked good the last couple of days. That's my fault. It's my job to get these kids ready.''
West also advanced Ricky Nelson, who was second at 285, as well as Nate Smalling (126) and Nick Foster (145), both of whom placed third.
O'Fallon had a pair of champions in Jon Villagran (120) and Austin Metz (160). Also advancing for the Panthers was Tyler Sexton (182).
Belleville East advanced Lucas Bernal (106) and Matt Striegel (160), while moving on for Collinsville was Devontae Smith (113) and Dylan Johnson (160).