With surplus of abilities, Damian Ilalio does it all

Lasirra Hines

Hard work and perseverance pays off, especially for senior Damian Ilalio.

Ilalio has played many sports, including football, baseball and wrestling, since he was younger.

“When I was little, my parents just put me in a bunch of sports, not necessarily for a reason to keep me in shape or anything like that but just because I had so much energy,” Ilalio said, “and they wanted me to channel it somewhere other than on their nerves.”

Ilalio began in the third grade, but was moved up to the fourth grade team because he was surpassing many of his peers in his ability. It came naturally to Ilalio, and he has continued playing since then.

Ilalio has a commitment to Kansas State University, where he will play football. Ilalio is excited for the opportunity and enjoys that it is at home.

“I’m really excited to have it secured for the next chapter of my life. I’m ready to go play my favorite sport with a great team. It’s exciting to know that I’ll be at home, like close to home,” Ilalio said. “I’ll be where I know everybody. I’m going to have a lot of support over here. So I’m ready to get started, I want to finish my senior year pretty strong and then go straight into.”

Ilalio also does wrestling and has some wins under his belt, including placing second at the State tournament last school year.

He is also ranked number one in the heavyweight division in the State. Ilalio says that he wears this with pride, and that he is proud to have that title.

“It’s really exhilarating, knowing that all my hard work has been paying off,” Ilalio says, “so, being ranked number one I hold it with pride to make sure that everybody knows it whether it’s my teammates, my coaches, or my opponents. Make sure that they know why I’m number one and that I enjoy being here.”

Ilalio does more than sports. He also plays in the Chamber Orchestra, playing the viola. Ilalio has been playing since the fifth grade and loves the orchestra here at Manhattan High. Ilalio has had the ability to compete with the orchestra in state and national competitions.

“Orchestra has always been one of my favorite parts of school, in general, the orchestra that we have here is phenomenal,” Ilalio said. “Mr. [Nate] McClendon, the orchestra director here, he’s a great man. He’s probably my favorite teacher ever. He’s just an awesome guy and it’s a great environment to be in.”

Ilalio has many goals for this year, considering this is his senior year, including winning state for wrestling.

“I want to win State for wrestling, obviously, do as much as I can, to give as many points to my team, as I can in wrestling. That means all pins for me all the way up to state. And I really want to go undefeated. I don’t plan on losing a single match,” Ilalio said, “and then later for track, I want to be able to make it to State and place, because I haven’t thrown in track for a while. Also for the orchestra, I want us to get to a level where we can win national competitions again, because COVID has been really hard on the orchestras.”