The Collinsville wrestling program hasn't reached the powerhouse status coach Tom Blaha is aiming for, but the Kahoks continue to improve.
Collinsville boosted its dual meet record to 9-4 with a 42-24 victory over Belleville East on Thursday. On Dec. 27-28, the Kahoks placed seventh among 21 teams at the Lincoln Holiday Tournament.
"We were in second place after Day 1, but we didn't have a good round the next morning," Blaha said. "We finished 11th last year, so it was still an improvement.
"I'm really happy with the direction of the program. With the Junior Kahoks, the junior high and the high school, you can see a big difference in what we're building."
The top wrestlers for Collinsville this season are junior Cody Pope (18 wins at 106 pounds), senior Devontae Smith (18 wins at 113), junior Dylan Johnson (20 wins at 160) and senior Cesar Contreras (17 wins at 220). All of them have at least 10 pins, with Contreras and Pope tied for the team lead with 11.
"Cody Pope hadn't wrestled a whole varsity season until this year," Blaha said. "Last year, he was too light for 106 and he was behind Devontae Smith.
"We've gotten some great senior leadership from Blake Miller at 126. We've had some guys bouncing in and out of the lineup, but I always tell the JV kids they're one match away from stepping in.
"We've had five guys filling in at one time or another this year. Against Belleville East, Jordan May had to step in for Kenny Sims at 138."
Collinsville wrestles on Thursday at Belleville West before competing in the Quincy Tournament on Friday and Saturday.
"West will be a good test for us," Blaha said. "We haven't seen them all year, but they had a 31-31 tie with Edwardsville (winning the match on the sixth criteria) and we know they're tough.
"At Quincy, we struggled last year as well, but I like our chances. There will be 24 teams there and I feel we can be competitive. We just want to keep making progress."