MASCOUTAH — With the memory of an upset loss still fresh in their minds, the Alton Redbirds weren't about to fall victim to the upstart Collinsville Kahoks once again Saturday at the 44th annual Mascoutah Wrestling Invitational.
Phyllip DeLoach and Qiante Wagner won individual titles and eight other Redbirds grapplers were in the top eight of their respective weight classes as Alton scored a narrow tourney win.
One of the top 138-pound Class 3A wrestlers in the state, DeLoach pounded Jermaine Pryor, of Carbondale, 10-4 in their championship match.
About 15 minutes later, Wagner defeated Kelton McDonnell, of host Mascoutah, 15-4 in the 152-pound final and Alton was on it way to its third Mascoutah Invitational title in the last four years.
The win also evens the score a bit for the Redbirds, who lost a 36-29 Southwestern Conference dual match to upset-minded Collinsville on Wednesday.
But in the mind of coach Eric Roberson, the difference in the tournament was the exception depth of his Redbirds.
"As a coach, you always feel like your team can wrestle better, but for the most part I thought we did a good job today," Roberson said. "For me, at this time of year, it's about improvement and wrestling better and smarter every time you step on the mat.
"I was pleased with the team effort today. We had 12 kids place in the top eight of their weight classes and the other two won at least one match. So everybody contributed to this win."
In unseating 2012 champion O'Fallon, the Redbirds finished with 222 points, while Collinsville -- in its finest performance in many, many years -- placed second with 212 1/2.
Quincy was third with 211 1/2 points. The Red Devils were followed by East St. Louis (210) and O'Fallon (176).
Belleville East (167) gave the rugged Southwestern Conference five of the top six teams in the 25-team field with its sixth-place effort.
Collinsville also showed its depth in placing second.
Senior Cody Pope was the lone Kahoks champion, winning the 106-pound title.
But coach Tom Blaha's scrappy squad had two runner-up finishes and finished the day with 11 top-eight finishes in all.
But it wasn't quite enough to beat Alton for a second time in three days.
"I don't think many people expected us to beat Alton, but we wrestled as well as we have all year on that night. Alton was just a little b etter then we were today," Blaha said. "The Southwestern Conference did well here today and when you add Edwardsville, Granite City and Belleville West to the mix, I think its going to be a great Class 3A Regional in about six weeks.
"I'm proud of the kids. We wrestled hard and I'm happy with where we are. But we've got to keep working and improving."
Fourth-place East St. Louis was led by championship efforts from junior Tyler Dunn at 120 pounds and SirRomeo Howard at 145 pounds.
Howard, a four-year starter for coach Paul Wright's team, had perhaps the most impressive day for the Flyers. Howard scored a first-period pin over Domonic O'Neil of Oakville (St. Louis County) High in his final.
"SirRomeo is coming into his own. He's a kid who has been in our program and has paid his dues. He's a senior now so he's seeing the rewards of all the work he has put in,'' Wright said. "It was a good tournament for us.''
O'Fallon and Belleville East had one champion each. For O'Fallon, freshman Mason Hewitt won the 160-pound crown while Matt Striegel captured the 170-pound title for the Lancers championship. University of Nebraska football recruit and Class 2A defending 285-pound state champion Tanner Farmer, of Highland, scored four pins in his four matches as he breezed to the title.
Triad was led by two champions -- Merik Fulton (112) and Cole Wysocki (126).
Contact reporter Dean Criddle at 239-2661 or firstname.lastname@example.org