The wrestling adage "champions come in pairs" rang true for the Belleville West Maroons on Saturday at the Class 3A Normal West Sectional
Ranked No. 3 in the 152-pound weight class, West senior Nate Higgins breezed through his bracket while sophomore teammate Nick Foster captured the title at 145 to lead the way for local athletes at West High School.
Higgins, third at the state finals at 152 in 2013, defeated Southwestern Conference rival Qiante Wagner of Alton 13-8 in the final and will take a mark of 44-3 into the state wrestling tournament. The 2014 event begins Thursday in Champaign.
In all, a total of 13 Class 3A metro-east wrestlers, including four from Edwardsville, earned trips to Champaign next weekend.
One week after winning the 145-pound title at the Granite City Regional, Foster improved to 40-8 with a 3-2 win over Nick Deloach of Alton in his title bout.
Edwardsville continued to add to one of the best seasons in its program's history with another solid effort.
Senior Matt Kent led the way for the Tigers by winning the title at 220 with a 15-4 win over Erik Velazquez of Minooka in the final. Kent improved to 46-5 with the victory.
The Tigers also got a second-place finish from Cameron Thornberry (182), a third-place finish from Sam Andresen (145) and a fourth place from Chris Prosser (152).
Alton had a champion as junior Phyllip DeLoach improved to 44-1 with a 12-9 win over Nick Aguirre of Oswego at 138.
Granite City advanced two wrestlers as D.J. Millett placed third at 126. Devon Sampson was fourth at 138.
Belleville East junior Matt Striegel fell just short of a sectional title, but still earned a second straight state berth by placing second at 170.
Striegel (36-5) lost to undefeated and second-ranked Bryce Gorman of Lincoln-Way Central 6-5 in the final.
O'Fallon senior Jon Villagran also will make a second straight trip to state after placing third at 120.