GRANITE CITY — William "Red" Schmitt was overcome with emotion following this weekend's wrestling tournament, which he started 53 years ago at Granite City High School.
Alton, Schmitt's alma mater, finished the 24-team tournament in fourth with 391.5 points.
Only Neosho, Mo. (661), (New Lenox) Lincoln-Way Central (602.5) and Washington (466.5) scored more points.
On Saturday, the former Granite City coach quietly watched the tournament from the sideline.
"I'm surprised," he said.
Schmitt wrestled at Alton High School from in 1936 through 1939. He later coached at Western Military Academy in Alton before coming to Granite City High School, where he guided the Warriors for 35 more years.
"I'm pleased with the way Alton is coming," he said. "That's my alma mater and I enjoy seeing them be successful. Now, at the same time, I hate to see Granite drop it down a few notches. I hope they can pick it back up and bring the program back where it used to be."
Granite City finished the tournament in 10th place with 340 points. Collinsville was 12th with 327 points. East St. Louis finished 15th, followed by Triad, which came in 20th and O'Fallon (24th).
Schmitt said he could not say if he was rooting for Alton and Granite City more at the tournament.
"But I didn't come down wearing an Alton High wrestling shirt," he said and laughed. "When you have both of them going head to head on the mat you have to be careful who is watching you."
Alton turned many heads, winning two weight class titles, and having one runner-up finish. Phyllip DeLoach won the 138-pound class, while Qiante Wagner finished in first at 152. Quentin Lawrence finished second in his first varsity wrestling match where he reached the finals at 170.
"It was a tough two-day tournament," DeLoach said. 'We knew there would be a lot of wrestling. But we knew once we got into the gold (winners' bracket) we would have to keep attacking."
Wagner said he was really proud of himself. "I've never been in anything like this before," he said. "I was in a number of tough matches."
Alton coach Eric Roberson said he knew his team would be in for a number of tough matches.
"You have to chip away at those points and forget about the last period," said Roberson, who was not surprised by the Redbirds strong finish.
"'When we came in here, our focus was not where the team would finish."
Roberson said he was more concerned how each wrestler would perform.
"These guys earned it," Roberson said. "These guys work hard and deserve every win they get. We're not done. We have another month to go."
It was an up and down day for a number of other local wrestlers.
Cahokia's Shelton Pippen (220) finished fourth.
"I was very surprised," said Shelton who was pinned by Memphis's Christian Brothers Jeremy Brandon. "He made a WWE move and I didn't see it coming."
Pippen had six pins in the tourney.
Collinsville's Cody Pope lost his fourth place by technical fall, trailing 16-1 at the time.
"I didn't finish my takedowns," he said. "I was one step behind."
Triad's Cole Wysocki (126) fell to Neosho's Kyle Rea 2-1 in a title match.
"It was a scramble," Wysocki said. "It could have gone either way. I just lost the scramble, If I score on that takedown, I win the match."
Granite City's DJ Millett finished third at 126, beating East St. Louis's Don Cavitt, 3-2. The match was tied, 2-2, going into the final period.
Granite City's Devon Simpson also finished third at 138.
Staley's Brandon Baker defeated East St. Louis' SirRomeo Howard (145), 7-5, in overtime. Baker forced the match into overtime with a three-point near fall and takedown in the final seconds of regulation.
Howard said he entered the match too arrogant.
"I was shocked (in the final 10 seconds of regulation," he said. "I thought I still had the match won."
Neosho's Aaron Clardy defeated East St. Louis' Antonio James (285) in a third-place match.