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 Thursday, July 31, the 212th day of 2014. There are 153 days left in the year.

1864 -- 150 years ago: A corps of surgeons now occupies the new hospital quarters at the Garrison Hospital on the Rock Island Arsenal. A fence has been installed to enclose the prison hospital.
1889 -- 125 years ago: B. Winter has let a contract to Christ Schreiner for a two story brick building with a double store front on the south side of 3rd Avenue just west of 17th Street. The estimated cost was $4,500.
1914 -- 100 years ago: Germany sent simultaneous ultimatums to Russia and France, demanding that Russia suspend mobilization within 12 hours and demanding that France inform Germany within 18 hours. In the case of war between Germany and Russia, France would remain neutral.
1939 -- 75 years ago: Civil service offices at the post office and the Rock Island Arsenal were swamped as more than 700 youths sought 15 machinist apprenticeships at the Arsenal.
1964 -- 50 years ago: Last night, American Legion Post 246 in Moline figuratively handed over the trousers to a female ex-Marine and petticoat rule began. Olga Swanson, of Moline, was installed as the first woman commander of the post .
1989 -- 25 years ago: The Illinois Quad City Civic Center captured the excitement and interest of a convention of auditorium managers this weekend in Reno, Nev. Bill Adams, civic center authority chairman, said the 10,000-seat arena planned for downtown Moline has caught the eye of construction firms, suppliers, management teams and concession groups.

(More History)