Class of 2024

Phil Johns, Canton/SUU-E


Phil Johns was an IHSA champion as a senior and state runner-up as a junior at Canton High School and then went on to become a four-time NCAA Division II All-American at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, winning the NCAA DII championship as a senior after taking second place as a junior. And since 2006-07, he has been the head coach at East Peoria High School. He got his start wrestling in the Canton youth program before wrestling for Canton, where he was a two-time state qualifier and two-time IHSA medalist while competing for  coach Steve Holley. He won the IHSA Class AA title at 119 in 1987 when he capped a 43-0 senior season by beating Joliet West's Booker Hobson in overtime. And he took second place in Class AA at 112 in 1986 after losing to Stagg's Jack Griffin to conclude a 34-1 junior season. He was ranked during his sophomore year but had his season cut short due to an injury. After high school, he attended Southern Illinois University Edwardsville where he was a four-time NCAA Division II All-American. He earned All-American status each year at 126 pounds from 1988 to 1991 and finished his career with a 66-27-2 record. He capped an impressive 1990-91 season by winning the national championship and had a 17-1-1 record. As a junior, he placed second and finished with a 22-6-1 record. He placed fifth as a sophomore and had a 14-7-2 record. And he took  fourth as a freshman and finished 13-13. Those accomplishments led to his induction in SIU Edwardsville's Athletics Hall of Fame in 2021. He also was part of the 1988 Cougars team which placed third as a team at the NCAA Division II Championship and was inducted into the SIUE Athletics Hall of Fame in 2018 for that achievement. Last year, he was one of seven inductees for the National Wrestling Coaches Association Jim Koch Division II Hall of Fame. After finishing his college career, he started doing MMA fighting in its early years when many fights were underground and were bare-fisted. He was on the early rosters of UFC and fought multiple times in the early days of the organization. After his fighting career, he started teaching grade school and eventually went to teach and coach in high school at East Peoria and he has led that program since 2006-07, and he won a Class 2A regional title in 2013 and coached six state medal winners, which includes 2013 Class 2A  220-pound champion Lucas Joseph.