DeKALB – After breezing through its first two duals with victories against Grayslake North (52-12) and Stagg (48-12) at the Don Flavin Tournament Friday, the DeKalb wrestling team hit a snag, falling behind by 18 points to a Batavia team that was 1-1 in DeKalb’s four-team pool up to that point.
But the deficit didn’t turn out to be an issue.
With their lightest wrestlers coming up last, the Barbs won the last 10 matches for a 48-17 win after Batavia was docked a point for unsportsmanlike conduct.
“It’s no secret, that’s kind of the meat of our lineup there,” DeKalb coach Mike Pater said. “Any time you’re down 18-0, it makes you nervous. … We count on those guys to win week-in, and week-out. Just because they’re young doesn’t mean they can’t be leaders and come up and score big points for our team.”
DeKalb’s lineup from 106 pounds to 145 went 21-0 in the three duals on Friday, led by sophomore 120-pounder Brenden McGee’s three pins. Brad Green notched two pins and a technical fall at 138 pounds, and 126-pounder Parker Stratton and 132-pounder Jackson Montgomery had two pins on the day.
The best part of the Barbs lineup is loaded with young talent. Stratton, McGee, 113-pounder Ulises Jacobo and 106-pounder Alex Ireck are all sophomores. Green, a senior, and Montgomery, a junior, are the veterans of the group.
The key to the young wrestlers’ dominance early on, Stratton said, was an increase in the amount of wrestlers who found their way to the weight room in the offseason.
“We had so many kids, at least 20, in the weight room this summer,” Stratton said, adding that only six or seven would show up to lift the year before. “That helped us all get bigger and stronger, and all of us grew a lot, too.”
The Barbs lost just 10 of 52 matches on the day.
DeKalb will face Waubonsie Valley in the quarterfinals on Saturday at 11 a.m., and the Barbs will try to come away with the title for the first time in Pater’s six seasons as head coach. At the very least, they’ll try to better last year’s fifth-place finish, while they’ve already made it further than 2011’s 11th place showing.
“We gave a good effort today,” Green said. “It’s not the hardest tournament in the state, but there are definitely some good teams here, and we’d really like to win/ ... I think we can do it if we wrestle to the best of our ability.”