Kyle Akins noticed the mat room work his teammates put in at the University of Illinois.
It helped push the Sycamore junior to a Class 2A 113-pound title and teammates Austin Culton and Jake Davis to respective second- and third-place finishes. But it also let Akins know the Spartans who weren’t in the individual state tournament are hungry for their moment.
At the Class 2A Rochelle Dual Team Sectional tonight at 6 p.m. against Northern Illinois Big 12 East foe Yorkville, the Spartans get a chance to make a fourth consecutive appearance at team state.
“All the energy that I saw everyone have this weekend was unbelievable,” Akins said. “After state everyone was excited and congratulated me. They all worked hard this weekend. They saw the success at the individual tournament and want the same thing for team duals.”
Notorious for manipulating weight classes and playing savvy strategic weight-class switches, the Foxes - just like Sycamore - have three state qualifiers on their roster.
“It’s a toss-up dual,” Sycamore coach Alex Nelson said. “I know we aren’t satisfied with only winning the regional title. A dual with Yorkville is always good and we’ve underwent the process for a few years now of staying motivated throughout individual state and keeping our eyes on the team prize, too.”
Sycamore won the first meeting between the two teams, but Yorkville edged the Spartans on criteria at the NI Big 12 Conference meet. Last season, the Foxes knocked off the Spartans, 36-29, in the quarterfinal matchup at team state. Yorkville would finish second to eventual state champion Montini.
The Broncos are also back in sectionals again and in pursuit of their sixth consecutive team duals state title. But first, it’s a rematch between Sycamore and Yorkville that will break plenty of ties.
“It’s going to be a competitive dual,” Nelson said. “What’s tough is so many matches can go either way. It’s the third time we’ll face each other and guys should know each other’s style. That can make a match closer or make it more lopsided. There are a handful of 1-1 matches that will be untied at sectionals.”