Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Blair's 'Will to Win' Helps Set Him Apart on the Mat; He Has a Shot at Becoming Edwardsville's Career Wins Leader

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Blair's 'Will to Win' Helps Set Him Apart on the Mat; He Has a Shot at Becoming Edwardsville's Career Wins Leader

Article excerpt

Even before he cracked the varsity lineup as a 189-pound freshman, Blake Blair had caught the eye of Edwardsville wrestling coach Jon Wagner.

Then he got a chance to watch Blair on a daily basis.

"Right away, you could see the athleticism and the potential," Wagner recalled. "But what really stands out, what really sets Blake apart, is the work ethic. He's one of those guys who never seems to be satisfied, and that's something as a coach you just love to see." A senior competing at 195 pounds, Blair entered this season with 106 wins and a shot at becoming the Tigers' career wins leader. That mark, at 145, was set from 1988-91 by Derek Baugh. Edwardsville's single-season record for wins (51) was set by Greg Jackson in 2010.

Last season, Blair became the Tigers' seventh state medalist, wrapping up a 41-5 season with a runner-up finish in Class 3A at 195. In the title match, Blair dropped a 3-0 decision to 36-0 Brad Johnson of Lockport. It was the second state title for Johnson, a three-time medalist who now competes at the University of Oklahoma.

"I'm proud of what I accomplished last season, but it wasn't good enough, was it?" said Blair, 18. "That's why I continue to work hard. I want to make sure I'm getting better every day, because if I do that, I'm confident that I can reach my goal of winning a state championship." Blair started wrestling in third grade but struggled early. If not for his parents, Travis and Elaine, Blake might have dropped the sport long ago.

"When I started out, I was awful," he remembered. "I think wrestling's an awkward sport for most kids, and I didn't enjoy it at all. But my dad wrestled he's from Iowa, where wrestling's like a religion so he understood what I was going through. My parents encouraged me to stick with it, and right around the seventh grade, something just clicked. …

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