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PREP WRESTLING INSIDER: Barbs contending for conference crown

DeKalb’s Alex Roach (right) stands interlocked with Kaneland’s Justin Didell during the 285-pound weight class match Thursday as Kaneland hosted DeKalb in Maple Park. Roach defeated Didell.
DeKalb’s Alex Roach (right) stands interlocked with Kaneland’s Justin Didell during the 285-pound weight class match Thursday as Kaneland hosted DeKalb in Maple Park. Roach defeated Didell.

DeKalb has one of the most experienced teams in the Northern Illinois Big 12 East. It’s showed in the early going as the Barbs (6-2, 2-0 NI Big 12 East) pushed Grant in a close loss last week.

“Grant has one of the top dual teams in the state and we had them on the ropes,” DeKalb coach Mike Pater said. “I’m proud of the way we wrestled. Everyone fought hard throughout their entire match. Some of our good guys beat some of their good guys. It was the kind of dual where guys turned a corner because when they faced adversity they went out and found a way to win.”

Sycamore’s touchdown metaphor: With two vacant weight classes, the Spartans start each dual down 12-0. Sycamore (5-7, 0-2) is working to get its weight classes set, but a lineup with holes might be a season-long trend. 

“Right now giving up 12 points is like starting a football game down by two touchdowns,” Sycamore coach Alex Nelson said. “But we’ve been able to still wrestle some close dual meets. We know we don’t have a lot of experience and are just trying to get better every week.”

Spotlight on…

Leif Williams, sophomore, DeKalb

Already familiar with being aggressive because of his time on the football field this fall, Williams (6-2) was a catalyst against a talented Grant team.
“The pin he picked up against Grant was a huge momentum shift for us,” DeKalb coach Mike Pater said.

What to watch for

DeKalb at The Rex Whitlach Tournament at Hinsdale Central, Friday and Saturday

Oak Park and Montini are two of the top teams in the country. The Huskies and Broncos headline a tournament where the semifinals and finals will have state tournament-level competition. The Barbs have high aspirations with an experienced lineup.
“OPRF is the top team in the country,” Pater said. “Montini is a top-five team. We are going there to look to compete in every match. We want to come out with a lot of place winners. It’s a tournament with a format that mimics the state tournament. Halfway through the season this kind of tournament will provide us with a good idea of where we stand.”

Sycamore at Badger State Invitational in Madison, Wis., Friday and Saturday

The first of consecutive weekend tournaments in Wisconsin gets underway with a trip to the badger state’s most prestigious regular season event.  Last year the Spartans won the team title and crowned three champions. In rebuilding mode this winter, Sycamore will look to continue to gain experience and bond as a team on the road trip.

Power Rankings: Pound for Pound
1. Kyle Akins (120) senior, Sycamore, 12-0
2. Brad Green (138) junior, DeKalb, 6-2
3. Matt Macaras (152) senior, DeKalb, 8-1
4. Tyler Barton (195) senior, Sycamore, 12-0
5. Austin Armstrong (170) senior, Sycamore, 9-0
6. Alex Roach (285) senior, DeKalb 7-1
7. Christian Ordlock (120) senior, Genoa-Kingston, N/A
8. Chris Malone (182) junior, Sycamore 8-1
9. Brian Demlow (113)senior, Genoa-Kingston, N/A
10. Nick Mish (106) junior, Kaneland, N/A

VIEWS: Younger Sycamore team working toward different goals

The last few installments of the Sycamore wrestling team had individual and team goals designed to aim for state titles.

With a longer learning curve this winter the Spartans have recalibrated their development plan.
“We want to get better every week,” Sycamore coach Alex Nelson said. “We need to continue to do that. We set very realistic goals for where we want to be when February rolls around. We want to keep working hard so we can get where we want to be.”

The lack of varsity experience in the lineup has led to several small errors in a match that can have a huge impact on the final team score.

“It’s a learning experience,” Nelson said. “We need to realize if we are down in a match and it’s the closing seconds that we have to stay off our back to avoid bonus points. We’ve got to learn to grind out every period and every match.”

But, Nelson has worked with a team dedicated in the mat room and committed to make the necessary changes.

“There are areas in which we need to improve,” Nelson said.“We know them, we’ve addressed them and I’ve seen improvement so far, which lets me know we are on the right track.”

James Nokes is a contributor to the Daily Chronicle. He can be reached via email at

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