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Old 02-05-2011
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The Journey - (Pt. 12) In the Arms of an Angel

For Gail Rush and myself it is the last wrestling season. Our sons have wrestled since they were little boys and as parents, we have followed the journey from the very first takedown, from kids through the high school level to the collegiate wars.

Clayton Rush and Mario Morgan are arguably the two best non DI wrestlers from Illinois in America entering this college season. It has been a long road to this point for them. This is their story.

There is so much that has gone on over the years that I thought it would be kind of cool if both Gail and myself reflected back, journaling in stages and posting them here for those that are still on the wrestling path to peruse. So periodically, we will add chapters until we get to that final match in March.


Just in case you have been hidden under a rock the last 15 or 20 years Clayton Rush, a former high school state (Aledo) champion and 2010 college national champion is the dynamic 125-pound superstar for NCAA DIII Coe College (Iowa).

His mother Gail, a frequent poster at can best be described as the ultimate wrestling Mom. So much so, that she was voted W.I.N. Magazine Fan of the Year by national wrestling writer Jason Bryant. Imagine for a moment how good of a fan you have to be to beat out all of the crazy wrestling fanatics in America. She has ridden the back roads of America taking her son to practice, clinics, meets and tournaments. And now the road is about to end.

Mario Morgan is the 141-pound National Finalist and 2x All American from Mt. Carmel high school and the NCAA DII back-to-back National Champions, Nebraska-Omaha. In addition, unless you are also under that same rock you know that he is my son and a former multiple time kids state champ from the Harvey Twisters.

Both are ranked Number One in the United States in their respective NCAA divisions and weight classes at this time.

When I started this column many years ago, I wanted to share our experiences in the wrestling world. I was not a wrestler and had no one to tell me how this all was suppose to go. Eventually I figured most of it out, through trail and error and even became nominated last year for Illinois Wrestling Reporter of the Year by Illinois Wrestling Officials and Coaches Association. While my sons, competitive college career winds down, I much like Gail will be torn with many, many emotions and flooded with even more memories. In a strange way we will gain closure through our journal of our experiences of the wrestling lifestyle.

Stay close to this column, Gail and I will update our experiences. Here in chapter 12 Clayton and Gail lose a close friend to death on Feb. 1, 2011. Out of respect for their loss this chapter of the journey will only be about Clayton and his friend Yancy. "I’ve decided to write this step of the Journey in tribute to a special young man."....Gail Rush

Yancy McIntosh. Born April 1st, 1987. Died February 1, 2011. And he was a wrestler. That was just one of many things that made him special.

Clayton and Yancy
We have a long family history with Yancy’s family. My brother, Bruce, was good high school friends with Yancy’s uncle, Joey Burns, who was also a wrestler. My sister, Shelly, was best friends with Stephanie Burns McIntosh, Yancy’s mom, and his other uncle, John Burns, was an assistant wrestling coach when my oldest son wrestled. My parent’s became good friends with Yancy’s grandparent’s through all these connections.

Yancy was a junior when Clayton was a freshman. Their friendship didn’t start there, though. I actually can’t recall when it started…probably when Clayton was born in some way or another. They were always in club together, Aledo Bear Country Wrestling Club. I think it was actually baseball first, though. Clayton always played up an age group, which put him in the same league with Yancy. He was the most adorable little boy, with shiney blonde hair and a wonderful smile!

Yancy is in the front in the red shirt.

Yancy went to a few kids tournaments with us through the years. I remember one specifically. I think Yancy was in 7th or 8th grade. He had wrestled a few matches and done really good. He had awesome shots…if he would take them. In his last match of the day, he had to take in injury time out. I went out on the mat…yep…I was his coach that day…and we talked. His shoulder hurt but he said he could go on. And he did. I think he won that match. He said his shoulder hurt afterwards, but he finished the match so it couldn’t be anything, right? Well…I got a call from Steph, his mom, the next day and they had taken him to the emergency room and he had a broken clavicle (collar bone). I felt horrible as I ‘m sure I “persuaded” him to finish the match. But he didn’t complain, he wasn’t mad, and neither were his parents. It’s just part of the sport.

When Clayton was a freshman, he was, surprisingly, quite small. It was Yancy’s job to “stuff” Clayton IN his locker every day at school and shut the locker door. It’s a rite of passage for upper classmen, you know. Bubba told me that it got so every time he would see Yancy walking up to him, he just went ahead and climbed into the locker to save him the time of Yancy putting him in there. I think this was an every day event for 2 full years. I’m pretty sure that if Yancy had NOT done that, Clayton would have been upset and wondered why Yancy was mad…

These two also had a football connection. Clayton was JV the 2 years Yancy was Varsity. Yancy was a wide receiver…an All State wide reciever, and Clayton played corner. Our JV’s job at practice was to “be the team” we were playing on the upcoming Friday night. Yancy, along with everybody else at our high school, had quite a height advantage over Clayton. But Clayton was determined he could defend against him. I remember Clayton coming home from practice one day. He said a reporter from one of the Quad Cities news channels was at practice. At the specific time they were filming, Clayton was NOT defending Yancy. He swears to this day that they didn’t put him in because he would make Yancy look bad on camera!! Another time he came home from practice and Bubba was livid. He had been defending Yancy and he hit him…hard, he said. And he got his little butt reamed for it by Coach Hassen. Clayton said if he hadn’t hit him Yancy would have run into the goal post… I loved to go watch practice and was lucky enough to get a picture of the aftermath. It does look like the goal post is a little too close!!

This was typical...Clayton laying there...Yancy walking away!
Clayton says now that he knows Yancy could have taken him out…that he probably annoyed Yancy to no end, but Yancy always took it with a smile. His senior year we had a game at Macomb and his mom was in labor. He had a new little sister before that night was over. Malaynie McIntosh was born. And Yancy went straight to the hospital when the game was over!

On to wrestling… We had 3 state qualifiers Clayton’s sophomore year, Clayton, our heavyweight, Lucas Smith, and our 152 pounder, Yancy McIntosh. It was a record setting year as Aledo had never had 3 state qualifiers in one year before. We were thrilled. The entire Burns/McIntosh families were thrilled. And our long family history made it pretty special. It was my job through that wrestling season to hold little Malaynie while Yancy was wrestling. A mom can’t hold a little baby while her son is wrestling…it just isn’t possible, so I got to do it!! After winning a regional AND sectional title, Yancy was quoted as saying, “It’s great! The pressure was off in the finals because I knew I had already qualified for state, so I just went out there and wrestled and tried to get the first round bye at state.” He did just that. His wrestling career ended in Champaign…where all great wrestlers end their high school careers.

Last Monday night it “iced” a little. Not much. I don’t think anybody even knew it did. People woke up Tuesday morning and did their usual, get ready for work, and go to work. I had heard there was a bad accident on 67...involved 2 semis and a truck…one fatality. We are rural and if we don’t know somebody, we’ve at least heard the name. I was hoping I didn’t know the “person” who was fatally injured in that accident. I wasn’t so lucky. I got a phone call later that dreadful Tuesday morning. I couldn’t breath for a minute. It couldn’t be right. There had to be a mistake. I have his “save the date” card on my refrigerator…he and Emily are getting married in May… and I have to tell Clayton. There was a blizzard that day. It was one of the worst in Illinois history. The heaven’s surely opened up on that Tuesday, covering everything with the white of angels, and Yancy is now in the arms of those angels.


Yancy J. McIntosh, 23, of Aledo, died Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2011, as a result of an automobile accident.

Services are 10:30 a.m. Monday at St. Catherine's Catholic Church, Aledo. Burial is at the Aledo Cemetery. Visitation is from 3 to 8 p.m. Sunday at Fippinger Funeral Home, Aledo, where a prayer service will be at 8 p.m. A memorial fund will be established and online condolences can be made at
He was born April 1, 1987, in Peoria, Ill., to James and Stephanie Burns McIntosh. He graduated from Aledo High School in 2005, where he excelled in football and wrestling. He was selected to the All State Football Team and was a State wrestling qualifier.

He earned his EMT certification from Chippewa Valley Technical College in Eau Claire, Wis., attended Central College in Peoria, where he received his Fire Science Certificate and most recently attended the electrical lineman program at Northwest Lineman College in Meridian, Idaho. He was employed at Russell Electric in Bettendorf.

Yancy was engaged to be married to his high school sweetheart Emily Blaser on May 14 of this year. He loved to hunt and fish and was a member of St. Catherine's Catholic Church in Aledo.

Survivors include his fiancee, Emily Blaser; his parents, Jim and Stephanie McIntosh, Aledo; siblings, Chelsea (Blake) Bieri, Aledo, and Malaynie and Landon McIntosh, at home; maternal grandfather, Dick Burns, Aledo; paternal grandparents, Jeannine Kenney, Aledo, and Laurence McIntosh, Keithsburg; two uncles, Joe (Kris) Burns, Muscatine, and John (Angie) Burns, Aledo; several great-aunts, great-uncles and cousins; and his beloved yellow lab, Dozer.

His grandmother, Connie Burns; and his aunt, Shelley McIntosh, preceded him in death.

Last edited by MR TWISTER; 02-06-2011 at 09:17 AM.
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Old 02-06-2011
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Jaguar Jaguar is offline
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I am very sorry for his family and friends. Nice article Gail. Brings tears to my eyes. Life can be so fleeting.
"Boys freestyle. Real men Greco."
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Old 02-06-2011
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Luvwrestling Luvwrestling is offline
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Gail, what a wonderful update. I am so sorry to hear about the Rush family friend. Our thoughts and prayers are with Yancy and his family and fiance at this time.
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