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The Insider: Wrestling

DeKalb’s Colin Adkins (top) controls Kaneland’s Zach Russell during their 160-pound match Thursday in DeKalb. Adkins is 7-2 for the Barbs this season.
DeKalb’s Colin Adkins (top) controls Kaneland’s Zach Russell during their 160-pound match Thursday in DeKalb. Adkins is 7-2 for the Barbs this season.

Adkins maximizing on chances

Being a senior can have a potent effect on a prep athlete. 

It seems every year in wrestling something clicks and a senior wrestler realizes their full potential. Whether it’s the feeling that their prep careers are waning or the added experience in the mat room, someone makes the most of their final year. 

This year Colin Adkins (160) has maximized the opportunity he’s been given in his final prep campaign. As a senior, Adkins (7-2) has even assumed a leadership role among his young DeKalb (5-1, 2-0 Northern Illinois Big 12 East) teammates.

“We are so young that the other guys look up to guys like Doug [Johnson] and Colin Adkins,” DeKalb coach Mike Pater said. “Adkins had a rough junior year. In the last week he’s probably picked up more takedowns than he had all of last year. But, he put the time in all summer and worked hard to earn his chance.”

Spartans’ switch

Weight-class adjustments haven’t been a problem for Sycamore. 

Sycamore coach Alex Nelson has made some last-minute switches without a negative effect on the Spartans’ (10-1, 2-0) continuity. In a 40-21 win at Yorkville last Wednesday, Sycamore shuffled its lineup and built a wave of solid momentum to take control of the NI Big 12 East.  

“We switched things up a little and really got the ball rolling with great results in matches Yorkville was probably counting on providing them with big points,” Nelson said. “Our team has been great with any changes, no one has complained at all. They’ve had a great attitude at any move I’ve made and trust in what I’m doing.”

After Yorkville beat Sycamore twice last year, Wednesday was satisfying.

“The way last year ended with a loss at team state to Yorkville was tough,” Nelson said. “We would have liked a win to have a shot at where they were, in the state title match.”

VIEWS: Comment from DeKalb’s Johnson not out of line

Bulletin boards in wrestling rooms across the Northern Illinois Big 12 East and in Class 3A could be wallpapered with one story and one quote.

After a 50-23 DeKalb win against conference foe Kaneland on Thursday, Barbs’ senior Doug Johnson provided a quote that was a headline writers dream.

“I can beat anybody,” the senior said after a 26-12 win against the Knights’ Esai Ponce.

Opposing coaches and wrestlers had instant motivation. Readers probably raised an eyebrow. Was this brash cockiness and is there any place for it in prep sports?

As the wrestling beat writer, I’ve covered Johnson since he was a freshman and he’s used a variation of that statement for four years. In an individual sport where there are no teammates, wrestling calls for the type of confidence Johnson exudes.

He should believe he can win every match and he’s got the skill set, internal drive and wrestling IQ to make that a distinct possibility.

“Doug has said that since freshman year,” DeKalb coach Mike Pater said. “I wouldn’t want him thinking any differently. You can’t take the mat with any negatives in your head. He’s got to go out, take the mat and believe he’s done enough work to succeed.”

In a world of politically correct statements where athletes’ opinions are filtered through the social media world of Twitter or a media relations office, Johnson gave a direct, honest and – in my opinion – refreshing opinion on what drives him to excel.

We prime students during high school and college to be the best in their field. For example, students enter college to get the best possible job as engineers, accountants or teachers. They need to build the best possible buildings, make the soundest financial decisions or rear the next generation of critical thinkers. 

No one would suggest to a soon to be graduate to be second- or third-best in their chosen field. Just as no one should suggest Johnson was out of line to express he wants to win every time out. That’s what winners do and he shouldn’t shoot for anything other than a state title.

• James Nokes is a contributor to the Daily Chronicle. He can be contacted via e-mail at     

Spotlight On...
Marty Malone, sr., Sycamore

If it's possible, Marty Malone has made a quiet ascension to the upper crust of the pound-for-pound rankings. The senior doesn't have the wrestling resume of some of the wrestlers ranked above him, but with plenty of mat-room and big-match experience to draw on, he's run his record to 11-0.

What to watch for
DeKalb at Rex Whitlach Hinsdale Central Tournament Friday and Saturday

The Hinsdale Central Tournament lost a Goliath when five-time Class 2A state champion Montini decided to switch this year and attend the Dvorak Tournament at Harlem. For years, the tournament has featured the best Class 2A and 3A teams, and the addition of Oak Park will continue the challenge wrestlers will face. The Huskies are a team poised to send several individuals to state and also make a run at qualifying for state team duals.

With Sandburg, Lockport, Glenbard East, Glenbard West and the host Red Devils, DeKalb will face its stiffest competition yet.

"This tournament provides our wrestlers with a great test," DeKalb coach Mike Pater said. "It's probably tougher than the state tournament because it has the best guys from Class 2A and 3A in one tournament. Even for top-ranked wrestlers there are no easy matches after the first round."

Pound-for-Pound Rankings
1. Austin Culton (152), sr., Sycamore, 11-0
2. Doug Johnson (138), sr., DeKalb, 9-0
3. Jake Davis (195) sr., Sycamore, 8-0
4. Dan Goress (145) sr., Kaneland, 7-0
5. Kyle Akins (113), jr., Sycamore, 11-0
6. Zach Theis (285), sr., Kaneland, 7-0
7. Marty Malone (220), sr., Sycamore, 11-0
8. Esai Ponce (132), sr., Kaneland, 5-1
9. Matt Macarus (152), jr., DeKalb, 8-1
10. Nick Roach (120), fr., DeKalb, 8-1

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