To have principles can be difficult. But to maintain one’s principles in the face of long odds and personal detriment requires exceptional effort. With the kind of hard-nosed perseverance that turns grappling into a pin, the Edwardsville High School wrestling team displayed such uncommon dedication to sportsmanship during the 2008 postseason. Facing rival Granite City High School in the regional round of the 2008 Illinois state wrestling tournament, the Tigers emerged victorious by the slimmest of margins, winning the match by half a point. After a challenge by the Granite City coaches, an official recount of the point tally confirmed the initial result – Edwardsville was going to state. The team took their championship pictures and celebrated. Coach Jon Wagner received congratulatory phone calls almost immediately, including one from a relieved friend who told the coach that his unofficial scoring showed that Granite City, not Edwardsville, had won the regional by half a point. After thanking the friend, Wagner did something many coaches wouldn’t: he added up the points again. After 10 recounts, the result was clear. An error had been made in a match in which an Edwardsville wrestler had been awarded four points when he was entitled to only three. Had this error been corrected, Granite City would have won. Wagner immediately called the Granite City coaches. Together they appealed the result, but the Illinois High School Association upheld it, citing a statute of limitations on the filing of appeals. With the Edwardsville team, parents and coaches supporting him and the principles of fair play, Wagner refused to let the incorrect result stand. He contacted Edwardsville school district superintendent and college basketball referee Ed Hightower, who agreed to help. This time, the result was overturned, and Granite City was awarded the victory. Fairness, integrity, and honesty had won the day. Although they lost their team trip to state, six Tiger wrestlers did qualify as individuals, and the team as a whole was lauded by the community and competitors for their dedication to sportsmanship.
The Edwardsville High School Wrestling Team was recognized by the National Federation of State High School Associations.