SYCAMORE – History will fondly remember Sycamore wrestlers in the Class of 2013.
The Spartans’ seniors have already carved out an impressive legacy; three consecutive appearances at Class 2A dual team state, multiple appearances at 2A individual state and the first ever Sycamore individual state champion.
As the Spartans prepare to host a 2A regional today and defend their 2012 regional and sectional titles, Austin Culton (30-0) also begins his quest to repeat as the 152 pound 2A state champion.
It’s a senior class with high expectations that is familiar with postseason success.
“This group of seniors really doesn’t know any different,” said Sycamore coach Alex Nelson about the Spartans’ state appearances. “They’ve always been at team state. It all starts with the regional though. We know the atmosphere at regionals, sectionals and state. It’s a group that wants to leave on a high note.”
After the Spartans’ Northern Illinois Big 12 East title was rescinded and given to Yorkville based on a scoring criteria that was discovered the past Tuesday, Sycamore has a potential rematch with the Foxes at the 2A Rochelle Sectional.
Conference foe Kaneland, which Sycamore beat, 55-16, to open the NI Big 12 East season, is the Spartans’ biggest threat to return to sectionals. Kaneland coach Monty Jahns is familiar with the Sycamore lineup that features four conference champions and one runner up.
Sycamore is expected to return Austin Armstrong and Colton Burns from injury to complement an already deep lineup.
“We know we’ve got our hands full,” Jahns said. “Hopefully, we’ll be able to wrestle above where we’re expected to wrestle at and be able to make a run at the regional.
“The new season starts Saturday. Everybody’s 0-0 going in. We hope to take advantage of that, have a few upsets along the way and do everything we can.”
A state title has eluded Doug Johnson the last three years.
The DeKalb senior begins his journey to Champaign today at the Class 3A Huntley regional.
“Doug knows he can’t look ahead,” DeKalb coach Mike Pater said. “I’ve seen a lot of wrestlers get caught because they looked ahead. But Doug has a lot of postseason experience to draw on as a three-time state qualifier. He’s got the mindset he can beat anyone.”
Freshman Parker Stratton (31-4) is on a 21-match winning streak. His last lost was Dec. 15 at the Hinsdale Central Tournament where he finished seventh. Jacobs junior Austin Ryan is ranked fifth at 106 pounds by Illinoismatmen.com and could meet Stratton in the finals.
No. 7 Harlem and No. 8 Hononegah headline a deep regional.
“I think we are ready for the challenge,” Pater said. “We are mentally tough. We get ready all year for this part of the season. We won’t be surprised by anything we see because we have faced some of the best teams in the state already.”