DeKALB – Congestion in the of the DeKalb wrestling lineup relegated Ulises Jacobo to the junior varsity team last season.
After an All-American, eighth-place finish at the 2012 Fargo Cadet and Junior National Championships, Jacobo looked ready to have a banner freshman season.
Yet, Jacobo, an athletic mat technician couldn't break through last winter. After an offseason that again featured an appearance at Fargo, Jacobo is poised to contribute to a deep DeKalb lineup at 106 pounds.
"He is a raw talent," DeKalb coach Mike Pater said. "He's good on his feet. His success in freestyle gives him that confidence to work a match from his feet."
A juxtaposition to the Barbs attacking, gritty style, Jacobo's freestyle pedigree breaks the mold Pater has established for the DeKalb program. Comfortable wrestling on the edge and shooting from the outside to earn his takedowns, Jacobo looks to be active and rack up points at the lightest weight class.
"We teach an in-your-face style," Pater said. "He has the athleticism to shoot from the outside and can take advantage of a guy that will be flat footed on the mat. He has lots of movement on his feet and has wrestled some of the best guys in the country at nationals. He's got high goals and even though it's his first year on varsity, he has unlimited potential and the sky is the limit."
The Barbs will do the majority of their damage in the weight classes between 106 and 160 pounds. Brad Green (138) and Jackson Montgomery (132) were 30-match winners last year who could take the next step and contend in the postseason.
"I see us towards the top of the conference," Pater said. "We have the potential to win. We aren't too far away in all our weight classes. We will still adjust a few things as the season goes along, but as a team, we have an opportunity to do some real good things."
Coach: Mike Pater (sixth season)
Key returnees: Parker Stratton, so.; Alex Roach, sr.; Matt Macaraus, sr.; Nick Roach, so.; Brad Green, sr.; Jackson Montgomery, jr.
Ready for impact: Ulises Jacobo, so.
Outlook: With experience at a premium in the Northern Illinois Big 12 East, the Barbs have their sights set on a run at a conference title. Yorkville looks primed to be the class of the division, but DeKalb has the potential to make a run.
Pater's quote: "We're still a young team. Most of our lineup is filled with underclassmen. But, that's a good thing. It means we will continue to grow, learn and get better."
Coach: Earl Jursich (third season)
Key returnees: Brent Dehmlow, sr.; Joe Murray, jr.; Christian Ordlock, jr.
Outlook: The Cogs will be battle tested by the top teams in the Big Northern Conference. Their top returnees will contend for a spot at sectionals.
Coach: Monty Jahns (sixth season)
Key returnees: Dane Goodenough, sr.; Justin Diddell, sr.; Zack Russell, sr.
Outlook: The Knights will have to rebuild their lineup with a combination of underclassmen and a talented freshman class that has honed its skills in the junior ranks. With the graduation of eight starters and a state champion, Kaneland's biggest loss is experience.
Jahn's quote: "We've got a good mix of returnees and newcomers. Our freshman class is focused and filled with hard workers. They are experienced and have come into the mat room prepared to challenge some veterans for their spots."
Coach: Alex Nelson (fourth season)
Key returnees: Kyle Akins, sr.; Tyler Barton, sr.; Austin Armstrong, sr.; Chris Malone, jr.
Ready for impact: Andrew Larsen, sr.
Outlook: A yearly reloading of a lineup built around state-contender quality anchors led Sycamore to four straight appearances at IHSA Class 2A state team duals. But, this year the Spartans will have more work to do than usual just to contend in the Northern Illinois Big 12 East. Buffalo recruit Kyle Akins is back to defend his 113 pound state title.
Nelson's quote: "We are young and will rebuild in some weight classes. We lost a lot of key guys, solid point producers that we could trust to go out and get us five to six points every meet. We are really going to have to work for something like that this year. But we've got a lot of hard workers that will go out and fill in their roles."
– James Nokes, firstname.lastname@example.org