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Sycamore's Akins Wrestler of the Year

Published: Wednesday, March 6, 2013 5:30 a.m. CST
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(Kyle Bursaw – kbursaw@shawmedia.com)
Sycamore junior Kyle Akins – the Daily Chronicle Wrestler of the Year – dominated the Class 2A 113-pound state title match with a 3-0 win against Montini senior Tommy Pawelski. Akins was 39-1 on the season.

Kyle Akins was as close to perfection as possible in a wrestling match.

It’s a subjective statement that nearly is impossible to quantify when it comes to the many twists and turns involved in a match, but it illustrates how definitively Akins dominated the Class 2A state title match with a 3-0 win against Montini senior Tommy Pawelski. 

The Sycamore junior was in a rare zone against the Stanford recruit. After a first-period takedown, second-period escape and third-period ride, Akins was like a baseball pitcher with a perfect game or a bowler in search of a 900 series: flawless.

An even greater compliment came a week after individual state when Montini and Sycamore met in the Class 2A state team duals semifinals. Rather than set up a rematch, the Broncos bumped up Pawelski to 120 pounds after having already wrapped up the win.

With a 39-1 record and winning the 113-pound Class 2A state title, Akins has been named the 2012-13 Daily Chronicle Wrestler of the Year.

“There’s not a whole lot Kyle could have done differently in the state title match,” Sycamore coach Alex Nelson said. “He was solid in every phase of the match. To win a state title you’ve got to do that. You’ve got to be great in every area.”

Akins honed that greatness in predawn early morning hours side by side with Nelson. It’s not a coincidence Nelson, a two-time Wisconsin state champion and four-time state qualifier as a prep wrestler, noticed a familiarity in Akins’ workouts.

“A lot of things Kyle does are similar to what I did as a wrestler,” Nelson said. “It reminds me of what other successful wrestlers do. He’s got the attitude and work ethic that you see in elite athletes that want to take their games to the next level.”

For Akins, the next level is a collegiate career as a Division I wrestler. His career trajectory is similar to Nelson. The fourth-year Spartans coach also ripped off 80 consecutive wins as a junior and senior. 

Their passionate commitment to wrestling is similar. 

“Nelson and I are close,” Akins said. “I was texting him last weekend about how I’d started to work out. The hard work I’d put in had finally paid off with a state title. I’m glad that happened. I want to be the first two-time state champion at Sycamore. 

“That would open up a lot of college wrestling opportunities. My main goal is to be a Division I wrestler when I graduate and find a good school with a good physical therapy program so I can get into sports rehab as a career. To win a state title next year would give me a lot of confidence headed into college.”

And make him even more like his coach. 

FIRST TEAM

Kyle Akins (113) Sycamore, junior

No break was required for Akins. A third-place state finisher as a freshman, fourth as a sophomore and, as of three weeks ago, a state champion, the junior is already back in the mat room helping the Spartans' underclassmen prepare for frosh/soph state and getting ready for an off-season tournament next month.

"Kyle's confidence will be high after a state title," Sycamore coach Alex Nelson said. "He'll wrestle in all the big summer tournaments. I know he won't be satisfied with one state title. He'd like to win a second next year."

Austin Culton (152) Sycamore, senior

It wasn't until the Class 2A state title match that Culton (43-1) was taken down. The 2011-12 state champion and last year's Daily Chronicle Wrestler of the Year finished second this season, one win away from a perfect season. The Northern Illinois recruit ends his prep career with a state title and runner-up finish.

"I think the second-place finish can give Austin some incentive and push him at the next level," said Nelson who also wrestled at NIU. 

Jake Davis (195) Sycamore, senior

Redemption came a week after the Class 2A individual state tournament for Davis. The Sycamore senior who finished fourth last year and third this year at 195 pounds had something to prove at Class 2A state team duals. Davis (37-2) turned in a major decision win against Montini senior Anthony Ferraro and 195-pound state champion.

"We knew Jake was good enough to wrestle with anyone at individual state," Nelson said. "He had a tough match at the worst possible time, but I was happy for him the way he came back a week later."

Dan Goress (145) Kaneland, senior

For four years Kaneland coach Monty Jahns has raved about Goress' mat-room work ethic. The long hours and intense competitive drive led Goress (41-3) to the Class 2A, 145-pound state title and Jahns' first state champion as the Knights' coach.

Doug Johnson (132) DeKalb, senior

A four-time state qualifier, Johnson (41-3) finished sixth this year in Class 3A after a disappointing semifinal loss to eventual state champion, Marmion senior George Fisher.

SECOND TEAM

Marty Malone (220) Sycamore, senior Esai Ponce (132) Kaneland, senior Parker Stratton (113) DeKalb, freshman Zack Theis (285) Kaneland, senior Nick Roach (106) DeKalb, freshman

- James Nokes, sports@daily-chronicle.com

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