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Max Philpot

Starting Strong

By Barry Engelhardt

“We have a lot of heart."

Whether discussing the wrestling program of which he’s proud to be a part, or his community, Vandalia freshman Max Philpot suggests, “We have a lot of heart.” Born and raised in Vandalia, Max has always loved the sport of wrestling. At the time of our interview in late January, he was 39-2 on the season, competing at one-hundred-six pounds despite often wrestling against opponents two or three years older and, therefore, more experienced in high school wrestling.

While many of the opponents Max has pinned may have had more high school experience, he’s likely been competing longer. Max smiles as he says he’s been wrestling his entire life, starting at four years old. Looking back, Max says that he can’t remember when wrestling wasn’t a part of his life, “My cousin was a wrestler. He grew up with us and lived with us for a bit. We wrestled around a little bit, and I always enjoyed it.”

Max also plays running back and safety for Vandalia’s football team when he’s not wrestling. He used to play baseball but decided to step away from that to devote more time to wrestling, traveling to Granite City to train and attending camps over the summer. He also loves to hunt and will bow and shotgun hunt whatever is in season, from deer to turkey, which he says is his favorite.

Max is mentally preparing to travel to Auburn for Wrestling Regionals on the day we chat. By the time I write this, Max has already taken his first regional championship, winning the final match 11-2. By the time you read this, it’s possible that Max will have competed in his first high school state championship tournament.

“I wrestle fast; I just keep on going and going. I don’t like to wait. I don’t play a lot of defense. I attack,” says Max. Max is humble and confident, balancing a focus on the future with being grounded in the moment. One of his goals is to reach one hundred wins during his sophomore season.

“I’m hoping to win state,” he admits with pride. When pressed, he suggests that there is no specific competitor he’s concerned with facing while acknowledging that in wrestling, anything can happen. Every match lasts only six minutes and provides a new opportunity. And unlike football or baseball, the results are individually based.

Max shares that he likes to energize others when not on the mat, classifying himself as enthusiastic and goofy. Laid back and outgoing in nature, Max shares that he loves people and especially enjoys making others laugh. While unsure where to attend college, Max hopes to earn a scholarship to wrestle for a Division One school. He hopes to work with his hands and eventually start his own business.

If you’re reading this, Max’s freshman wrestling season has already concluded: win or lose. Regardless of how far he went, he’s likely already preparing for next season, looking ahead to celebrating that one-hundredth win as a sophomore. Self-described as adventurous and impatient in nature, Max will always be chasing his dreams while reminding himself that, just like in life, anything can happen on the wrestling mat.

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