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The Insider: Wrestling

DeKalb’s Parker Stratton (right) wrestles against Yorkville’s Tyler Burlington in a 106-pound match Thursday in DeKalb. Stratton defeated Burlington, 6-2. The Barbs lost to the Foxes on a tiebreaker, and rebounded with wins against Maine West, Antioch and Rolling Meadows on Saturday. DeKalb faces Sycamore on Thursday.
DeKalb’s Parker Stratton (right) wrestles against Yorkville’s Tyler Burlington in a 106-pound match Thursday in DeKalb. Stratton defeated Burlington, 6-2. The Barbs lost to the Foxes on a tiebreaker, and rebounded with wins against Maine West, Antioch and Rolling Meadows on Saturday. DeKalb faces Sycamore on Thursday.

Barbs bounce back from loss
DeKalb and Yorkville closed Thursday's Northern Illinois Big 12 East dual tied, 27-27. The Foxes won on a tiebreaker as they had won more matches.

Strategic placement of wrestlers helped determine the outcome. When DeKalb senior Doug Johnson moved up a weight class to challenge for a win at 138, the Foxes forfeited and followed up with a tight win at 145.

The young Barbs' lineup bounced back sweeping a quad with Maine West, Antioch and Rolling Meadows on Saturday to enter Thursday's rivalry dual with Sycamore on a high note.  

"That was a tough loss that was hard for even me to get out of my head," Pater said. "It was rough to lose on criteria and at home. But we've got to find a way to bounce back. I told the team we have to use it as motivation to find a way for it to keep us focused and turn it into a positive that can push is through the rest of the year."

VIEWS: DeKalb, Sycamore set for NI Big 12 East title showdown

Every fan takes on the air of an experienced coach as they shout instructions that rain down on the mat with the intensity and ruckus of hail striking a tin roof.

There’s face paint, chants and the largest crowd – outside of the state tournament – wrestlers will see all year.

This scene might take place at a random football or basketball game, but when DeKalb heads to Sycamore on Thursday, it will be the atmosphere at the most intense and fun dual meet of the season.

At stake is a share of the Northern Illinois Big 12 East regular season title.

“There will be a lot of energy,” DeKalb coach Mike Pater said. “Guys will come out intense. There are going to be high intensity matches. All the people in the gym will yell and scream and get into matches. There will be a lot of distractions. It’s easy to get caught up in the atmosphere of people calling out from the stands.”

Which is why Pater and Sycamore coach Alex Nelson chose their words carefully when describing how they help wrestlers manage matches during the rivalry dual.

“It’s a huge rivalry between the fans,” Pater said. “It’s an important meet that we want to win. It’s like the Cubs and White Sox games. It’s huge for the fans. But for those players it’s just another game.”

Nelson added: “Guys can’t go out and let the crowd take them out of their game plan. They can’t get out of control or out of position because of the hooting and hollering.”

Yet each coach admits wrestlers will feed off the electric crowd. They’ll be amped up like never before. The veteran wrestlers will know how to deal with the added rush. Sycamore senior Austin Culton is a defending state champion. He and Jake Davis have won every tournament they’ve entered this year. Both are undefeated.

Sycamore knows the grand stage well. They are favorites to make it to a fourth consecutive appearance at state team duals.

“With 14-, 15-, 16- and 17-year-old kids it’s a challenge,” Nelson said. “For some it’s the first time on this big of a stage. It’s a big deal. They’ll get a taste of the rivalry. It’s different even than a finals tournament.”

With several swing matches, it’s a dual that could come down to criteria. One upset could shift the advantage drastically.

“It’s up to the wrestlers to worry about things they can control,” Pater said. “Their actions and their moves they can control. They’ve got to shut out the comments that could come down from the stands and stay focused.”

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

Spotlight On...

Parker Stratton, DeKalb freshman

Driven to fix technical mistakes, Stratton has reeled off 10 straight wins. He's peaking at the right time. As the regular season draws to a close, Stratton went 6-0 at the Don Flavin Tournament, beat Yorkville's Tyler Burlington who was ranked No. 7 in Class 2A by and was 3-0 at last Saturday's quadrangular.

"Parker is on a real hot streak," DeKalb coach Mike Pater said. "He's always one of the last guys to leave the mat room and he puts in all the extra work. He'll sit and watch film in an effort to figure out the mistakes he's made."

What to watch for

DeKalb at Sycamore, Thursday, 6 p.m.

Crosstown rivalry will provide the best setting of the season for a Northern Illinois Big 12 East dual meet. The energy in the Spartans' gym will be palpable. It will be more intense than a regional. At a regional it's lose and still move on for the top two or three wrestlers.

On Thursday, it's lose and have to wait another year for a chance at redemption.

The upstart Barbs (17-3, 3-1) will look for a chance to split the NI BIg 12 East regular season title. While a win for the veteran Spartans (12-1, 4-0) can end their conference campaign undefeated on senior night and on a high headed into the conference tournament.

Pound-for-pound power rankings
1. Austin Culton (152) Sycamore, senior, 25-0
2. Jake Davis (195) Sycamore, senior, 24-0
3. Doug Johnson (138) DeKalb, senior, 26-1
4. Kyle Akins (113) Sycamore, junior, 23-1
5. Dan Goress (145) Kaneland, senior, 27-3
6. Marty Malone (220) Sycamore, senior, 19-4
7. Esai Ponce (132) Kaneland, senior, 22-3
8. Parker Stratton (106) DeKalb, freshman, 23-4
9. Zack Theis, (285) Kaneland, senior, 19-4
10. Matt Macarus (152) DeKalb, junior, 21-5

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