DeKalb coach Mike Pater saw senior Matt Macarus crack a smile for one of the first times all season.
Macarus had good reason to be happy as he took second place in the 152-pound division at the Class 3A Barrington Sectional and advanced to the state tournament for the first time in his career.
Macarus was one of four Barbs to move on, the most Pater has ever had in his seven-year tenure as head coach. Joining Macarus are sophomore Ulises Jacobo (106 pounds), junior Jackson Montgomery (132) and junior Brad Green (138).
"I'm just really really happy for Matt. He's such a hard-working, quiet, humble kid," Pater said. "He's been a great senior leader and a great captain. We're really fortunate as a program to have a kid like Matt. I'm just really happy to see it pay off."
Jacobo went all the way through to the finals before falling to Barrington's Mitch Stathakis.
Despite losing in the quarterfinals, Montgomery fought back to take fourth place and qualify for state. Green also fell in the quarterfinals, but advanced through to the consolation finals and finished third with a 14-4 win.
"The big thing with Jackson and Brad not only did they come back through the consolation bracket and find a way to win, they beat kids who they lost to last week at the regional," Pater said. "That's really exciting. Sometimes when these kids lose to somebody, they get this mental block. These guys kind of went to the opposite way. They beat them when it counted."
DeKalb's Parker Stratton lost in the consolation semifinals, falling one win short of state. Alex Roach (285) also lost in the consolation semifinals to end his season one win shy of a state berth.
"The sectional tournament is full of smiles and full of tears. It was hard to see kids like Parker Stratton, Alex Roach come up a little bit short at the end," Pater said. "It's tough to see Alex go as a senior, coming so close. The good thing is we have Parker for two more years and hopefully his time will come."
At the Class 2A Pontiac Sectional Sycamore's Kyle Akins became the first Sycamore wrestler to ever qualify for the state tournament four consecutive years by taking first place at 120 pounds. It was also Akins' second consecutive sectional championship.
Austin Armstrong (170) went straight through to the finals, losing to Lincoln-Way West's Javier Montalvo in the last match, but still qualified for state. Chris Malone (182) fell in the semifinals, but managed to advance through to the consolation finals and took third to advance to state for the first time.
Sycamore's Tyler Barton (195) came up one match shy, losing in double overtime in the consolation semifinals. Devin Knight (285) also lost in the consolation semis.
Kaneland heavyweight Justin Diddell also advanced through to the finals as a top seed and took second place overall, qualifying for the state tournament.