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The Insider: Wrestling

DeKalb’s Doug Johnson (left) was named the Fenton Tournament’s Outstanding Wrestler on Saturday.
DeKalb’s Doug Johnson (left) was named the Fenton Tournament’s Outstanding Wrestler on Saturday.

Sycamore’s perfect start on line against Yorkville

Another explosive start could be the difference Thursday when Sycamore travels to Yorkville for a Northern Illinois Big 12 East showdown. 

Sycamore opened the NI Big 12 East with a 55-16 win against Kaneland last week. The Spartans (6-0, 1-0 NI Big 12 East) rode a wave of momentum throughout the entire dual. 

“We got off to a great start,” Sycamore coach Alex Nelson said. “Once we got things going, we knew it would be tough to stop.”

The Spartans will look for another measure of revenge against the Foxes, a team that knocked Sycamore out of Class 2A state duals with a 36-29 quarterfinal win last year. Last weekend in sweeping a triangular, Sycamore handily avenged a 2011 loss in a 49-16 win against Lake Zurich.  

Barbs move up

Every year, DeKalb seems to move up another spot at the Fenton Tournament. The Barbs finished third Saturday and were led by their lone champion, Doug Johnson. With three tech falls, Johnson was named the tournament’s Outstanding Wrestler. 

With an inexperienced roster laden with underclassmen, DeKalb (4-1, 1-0 NI Big 12 East) is beginning to add the intensity needed to make a deep tournament run, a trait Johnson has honed well. 

“Doug gets stronger as the tournament goes on,” DeKalb coach Mike Pater said. “He understands you’ve got to raise your intensity as the tournament wears on because each match really gets harder. 

“As a team, we’ve got to work on scoring earlier. We seem to fall behind and close with a fury. That’s the byproduct of a young roster that is getting through its first high school tournament experience.”

G-K getting tournament ready

The Cogs’ scheduling quirk gave them a week off before tonight’s 5:30 p.m. triangular with Plano and Amboy at Plano. 

Jordan Marr jolted the Genoa-Kingston season to life in the first week with a pin in 29 seconds. Marr (106) wasted no time notching his first win against Pecatonica. Sectional qualifier and All-Big Northern Conference selection Brent Dehmlow (113) also joined in with a first-period pin, while Christian Ordlock (120) and Chase Rogers (145) rode the momentum to notch second-period falls. 

The Cogs are at the Plano Tournament on Friday and Saturday, where the young wrestlers in the lineup will get a sample of the intensity needed for a two-day tournament.

“There are so many matches wrestled in two days,” G-K coach Earl Jursich said. “The deeper a tournament goes the tougher matches get. The more experienced guys will know how to handle the different strategies they’ll face. The best way to learn is to get out and get on the mat.” 

VIEWS: Practices best place to simulate match environment

Training management might be the trickiest task a coach faces.

Wrestlers need to be sharp and focused. But in an intense, contact sport that taxes the body physically, mentally and nutritionally, the prevalent thought I’ve heard from most fans or observers is practices should be easy so wrestlers can be healthy for matches.

Yet, coaches have a different view in the correlation between practice intensity and match results. Kaneland coach Monty Jahns noticed it last week when the Knights lost, 55-16, at Sycamore.

“We weren’t very fired up against Sycamore,” Jahns said. “We weren’t as intense as we usually are in the mat room on Tuesday and Wednesday. We were missing a couple of guys in the lineup.

“But it seems like when the intensity is up the day before a dual or tournament the guys go out fired up. If you host a practice that just goes through the motions, it doesn’t cut it.”

DeKalb coach Mike Pater has a similar approach.

“Your most intense matches should be in the mat room,” Pater said. “That will make guys stronger for matches. We want to put guys in awkward positions in practice and make them wrestle their way out. Or put them in tough situations where they have to score in a limited amount of time.”

With four duals in the next five days, Sycamore will get a lot of mat time in, but the health of each wrestler will be tested. If a wrestler wants to go on a state title run, though, multiple intense matches in a short period of time are required.

It seems like practice is the best place to simulate that environment.

• James Nokes is a contributor for the Daily Chronicle. He can be reached by email at

Spotlight On...
Kyle Akins, Sycamore junior

It was an early-season statement in a match that pitted a pair of top finishers from last year's state tournament. Akins (4th at 113) notched a 17-2 tech fall win against Kaneland senior Stephen Gust (sixth at 106) last week. Akins will see action at 120 pounds for the foreseeable future, but could move to 113 for the stretch run.

What to watch for
Sycamore at Yorkville, 5:30 p.m. Thursday
A Class 2A Quarterfinal dual state rematch could be the best dual meet of the Northern Illinois Big 12 East conference season. Yorkville kept Sycamore off the medal stand with a 36-29 win at state duals last year. The Foxes have long been known to peak for the the conference tournament and the playoffs. Teams can get a win against the Foxes early, but struggle as the year progresses as their weight classes settle and intensity ratchets up.

Sycamore started with a healthy lineup, unlike last year, and is on a roll with all its weight classes lined up.

"We know this is going to be our toughest test yet against Yorkville," Sycamore coach Alex Nelson said. "They are well-coached, do a lot of things right and have a lot of solid returnees."

DeKalb at Kaneland, 5:30 p.m. Thursday
Kaneland coach Monty Jahns thought the Knights came out flat last week in a 55-16 loss at Sycamore.

"Our job as coaches is to make sure we are fired up," Jahns said.

Expect a good crosstown dual with both teams needing a win to stay in the NI Big 12 East race.

"Kaneland is very well-coached," DeKalb coach Mike Pater said. "They have some elite, standout wrestlers on their roster."

Pound-for-pound Rankings
1. Austin Culton (152) Sycamore, sr.,  6-0
2. Doug Johnson (138) DeKalb, sr., 8-0
3. Jake Davis (195) Sycamore, sr., 6-0
4. Dan Goress (145) Kaneland, sr., 6-0
5. Kyle Akins (113) Sycamore, jr., 5-0
6. Esai Ponce (132) Kaneland, sr., 5-0
7. Zach Theis (285) Kaneland, sr., 6-0
8. Marty Malone (220) Sycamore, sr., 6-0
9. Brad Green (132) DeKalb, so., 7-1
10. Matt Macarus (152) DeKalb, jr., 7-1

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