DeKALB – DeKalb wrestling coach Mike Pater emphasizes to his athletes that peaking during the postseason is more important than racking up an undefeated record throughout the regular season.
So while 106-pounder Ulises Jacobo picked up a few more losses this year than he probably would have liked during his first year on varsity, he learned plenty wrestling up a weight class at 113.
The sophomore went back down to 106 pounds for Saturday's Class 3A DeKalb Regional, and after winning a conference championship at his natural weight, he added a regional championship to his trophy case, helping lead DeKalb to a second-place finish.
“I had more competition up at 113, so when I came back down, it was just a lot easier for me,” Jacobo said. “My coaches told me I need to work more, just keep my head up and keep working harder.”
Jacobo and senior Matt Macarus won championships on Saturday, when eight Barbs advanced to next week's Class 3A Barrington Sectional, including second-place finishers Parker Stratton (126 pounds), Jackson Montgomery (132), and Brad Green (138), along with third-place finishers Brendan McGee (113), Leif Williams (182), and Alex Roach (285).
A year ago, Jacobo wasn't even on varsity. But Stratton's growth this year paved the way for Jacobo's breakout season. After succeeding on the summer circuit, Pater knew the young wrestler had the potential to succeed on varsity.
“I think he's come a long way,” Pater said. “He's really improved his skills on the mat. He's got a little more confidence from wrestling in some big national tournaments during the summer. Those are some things that help get these guys to the next level.”
Macarus won by major decision in the semifinal and final Saturday, continuing a career that has ascended greatly since he was put on varsity for the first time midway through his sophomore season.
“My defense is a lot better and I hand-fight a lot better with my shots. I just go a lot harder now,” Macarus said. “I knew I could be good [when he first moved to varsity], but I never knew I could be this good.”
Macarus finished third at last year's regional as one of five Barbs to qualify for sectionals. Pater knows that the senior wants more, and he knows he has the work ethic to do it.
“He's one of those guys who, maybe when he started out he wasn't the most talented kid, but he just wants it really bad,” Pater said. “He works extra hard, he tries to fix all the mistakes he makes, and you can tell he really, really wants to win. I'm just really proud that it paid off for him here. Obviously winning the regional is not his ultimate goal, so hopefully we can continue on with Matt's success as we move forward.”