Sibling rivalry is not a Roach family dynamic.
DeKalb freshman Nick Roach and junior brother Alex Roach support each other from mat side for nearly all matches. Because Nick (120 pounds) and Alex (220) are in vastly different weight classes, they never go head-to-head in the mat room.
There’s no tension.
There’s no debate from practice that seeps into the sanctity of a family meal. The wide gap in weight classes also means their matches seemingly never occur simultaneously.
Today in the Class 3A Barrington Sectional, the Roach brothers are two of five DeKalb wrestlers trying to earn a trip to next week’s state meet in Champaign.
“They root for each other and seem pretty close,” DeKalb coach Mike Pater said. “Usually brothers are close in weight and are competitive because of it. Because they are so different in weight and never work out in the mat room together they are even closer. They sat on the bus together on the way home and talked about their plans for the rest of the weekend after regionals.”
The DNA relationship is almost all that is similar about Nick and Alex on the mat. Both have distinctly different styles. Nick used his well roundedness and ability to be good from top, bottom or on his feet to win his weight class at regionals. Versatility is a rarity for a wrestler who came up through the middle school ranks. Wrestlers hone in on their strength at an early age, and master what it takes to win, even if it means having a limited skill set.
But Nick has avoided being one dimensional and that’s fun for Alex to watch. Alex also noted he might not share techniques with his brother, but does use a strategy that runs in the family.
“I really enjoy watching my brother’s matches,” Alex said. “He’s an exciting wrestler. I think we get along well during wrestling season because there’s no competition in the mat room between the two of us. The one way we are alike is we are aggressive. We can each wrestle in any position.”
A sprained right MCL limited Alex at the beginning of the season, but he’s a first-time sectional qualifier after a third-place finish in last week’s Huntley Regional.
While Alex worked to establish his offense faster last week, Nick has gone thorough a season of adjusting to the challenges of prep wrestling.
“It was a surprise coming from middle school to high school,” Nick said. “Middle school was very easy. In high school there are a lot of challenges. Every kid is stronger, faster and better. Even the coaches and practices are harder.”
Matt Macaras and Colin Adkins will look for their first trip to state, and senior Doug Johnson is in the hunt for his fourth straight state appearance.
Johnson was a sectional champion as a freshman and a runner-up the past two seasons. The four sectional champions are rewarded with a seed at state, and theoretically, an easier route to a state title.
“Doug has to put himself in the best position possible for the state tournament,” Pater said. “Being a sectional champion puts you in the best position at state.”
Sycamore senior Austin Culton has been on a year-long roll.
Culton’s last loss was in last year’s sectional, where he finished second. Since then, he’s added a state title to his résumé, signed with Northern Illinois and posted an undefeated season.
Jake Davis and Kyle Akins, a pair of returning state qualifiers, will look to join Culton this year for an experience Sycamore coach Alex Nelson said is a seminal moment in a wrestlers’ prep career. Sycamore has 10 wrestlers and Kaneland seven in the Class 2A Rochelle Sectional.
“He’s matured every year and figured things out,” Nelson said about Culton. “If you aren’t in it mentally at all times, you can kiss it goodbye. Austin knows that. He’s had a taste of what it’s like to be at the grand march. When those lights go down you get chills.
“It’s a feeling that’s hard to describe as 13,000 fans scream and yell for you. That takes you to a new level. I know he’s focused and wants to get there again. There’s also guys so close to getting there they can taste it.”
Genoa-Kingston has four wrestlers in the Class 1A Oregon Sectional.