Ealy, Thompson set for first-ever meeting

Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2013, 9:50 pm
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By Daniel Makarewicz, danmak@qconline.com
You could say history and circumstance make Thursday night much more than what it appears to be on paper.

Neither James Ealy nor Todd Thompson are fully embracing the hype.

For the first time ever, the former teammates and colleagues oppose each other as coaches when Moline hosts Alleman in a Western Big 6 Conference wrestling dual at the east gym. What truly makes this an intriguing event is how Ealy and Thompson reached the opposite benches.

Ealy was removed as the Moline wrestling coach on March 6, then hired at Alleman six weeks later. A former assistant under Ealy for five years, Thompson eventually became the Moline head coach on May 1.

Thursday really cannot come soon enough.

"It won't be all that different than any other (dual)," Ealy said. "I'm going in with the mindset that they're a team we're wrestling against."

Thompson echoes that statement.

"We've got a job to do," Thompson said. "We've got to be prepared."

With the typical responses out of the way, each admitted there is a little more to this dual. Considering their past, it's hard to overlook the moment.

Teammates on Moline's 1996 Class AA state championship dual team, Ealy and Thompson formed a friendship that still is tight to this day. Working closely together for five years will do that to a relationship.

However, the respect between the two is strong enough that Thompson refused to apply for the Moline job without Ealy's blessing. When Thompson officially accepted the position, Ealy was there to celebrate the hiring that night.

No grudges.

Just happiness for a friend.

"I wanted him to get it," Ealy said. "We had a good thing built up, and he was a part of that. I wanted someone who helped build it continue it."

Thompson simply followed the path Ealy started when both were in high school. When they were teammates, Ealy, who is two years older, was someone Thompson respected. To this day, the admiration remains.

"He taught me a lot both as a wrestler and as a head coach," said Thompson, a 1998 Moline graduate. "I learned from that. It has made me a better coach and wrestler."

Perhaps the first-ever meeting between the two will be more interesting than each make it seem.

"It definitely will be strange looking across the mat," Thompson said. "That part will be different, but we have to focus on the task at hand."

At the moment, both put all their energy on reviving programs that are seeing improvements each day. Moline is relying on a youth movement that has them peaking with the postseason less than two weeks away. Across the mat stands Alleman, which is doing the same.

Behind all the potential are head coaches who are both committed to their jobs and eyeing the present and future.

The past is exactly that.

"I'm perfectly happy where I am now," Ealy said. "I'm the Alleman coach, and that's what I focus on."

All Thursday means is a chance to secure a Big 6 victory.

"Both sides will handle everything very professionally," Thompson said. "I don't see anything taking place."

The dual trumps the coaching storyline.

"I am looking forward to see it as a stepping stone -- how we're improving and where we're going," Ealy said. "It will be a good test."

Afterward, though, is when the history re-emerges. Nothing can take that away.

"Big picture, he's my best friend," Ealy said. "He'll continue to be my best friend."

Q-C prep wrestling notebook

Breedlove ties school mark: Kewanee 132-pound senior Mark Breedlove earned his 121st career win on Saturday at the Bob Mitton-Orion Invitational. Breedlove now is tied with his brother Adam for the most wins in program history.

Mark Breedlove can set the school record on Tuesday during a Three Rivers Conference dual against Erie-Prophetstown. Adam Breedlove's lost win came in the Class 1A 140-pound state championship bout in 2009, the only wrestler in school history to win a state title.

This 'n' that: Both Orion 145-pound senior Joe DeVolder and Erie-Prophetstown 106-pound senior Brandon McCullough earned their 100th career victories on Saturday at the Bob Mitton-Orion Invitational on Saturday. ... Erie-Prophetstown can sew up a Three Rivers Conference title on Tuesday against Kewanee. Sherrard needs a win over Orion one day later to win its third consecutive West Central Conference title. ... Geneseo's third-place finish at the Northern Illinois Big 12 Conference meet was its highest since the league formed three years ago. The Maple Leafs were seventh in the previous two conference tournaments. ... Riverdale's Cole Ebenroth was taking from the Bob Mitton-Orion Invitational on Saturday by ambulance after injuring his neck during a match. It was later announced that Ebenroth sustained a neck strain and X-rays were negative. ... Rock Island stands three wins away from earning its third consecutive outright Western Big 6 Conference title. The Rocks travel to United Township on Thursday and face Galesburg and Quincy at Don Morris Gym on Friday.


Local events heading

  Today is Monday, Sept. 22, the 265th day of 2014. There are 100 days left in the year.

1864 -- 150 years ago: The board of education has granted Thursday as a holiday for the children, with the expectation that parents who desire to have their children attend the Scott County Fair will do so on that day and save irregularity the rest of the week.
1889 -- 125 years ago: The guard fence around the new cement walk at the Harper House has been removed. The blocks are diamond shape, alternating in black and white.
1914 -- 100 years ago: The Rev. R.B. Williams, former pastor of the First Methodist Church, Rock Island, was named superintendent of the Rock Island District.
1939 -- 75 years ago: Abnormally high temperatures and lack of rainfall in Illinois during the past week have speeded maturing of corn and soybean crops.
1964 -- 50 years ago: Installation of a new television system in St. Anthony's Hospital, which includes a closed circuit channel as well as the three regular Quad-Cities channels, has been completed and now is in operation.
1989 -- 25 years ago: When the new Moline High School was built in 1958, along with it were plans to construct a football field in the bowl near 34th Street on the campus. Wednesday afternoon, more than 30 years later, the Moline Board of Education Athletic Board sent the ball rolling toward the possible construction of that field by asking superintendent Richard Hennigan to take to the board of education a proposal to hire a consultant.

(More History)