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Four to Follow: Batavia's Eustace sets goal of qualifying for state wrestling

BATAVIA – To Laren Eustace, this summer’s triple-digit temperatures in northern Illinois are no reason to gripe.

“When I woke up [Tuesday] I was convinced it was like 75 out,” he said. “When someone told me it was closer to 95, I didn’t believe them.”

The two-sport Batavia athlete says he dealt with much worse recently when traveling to Louisville, Ky., with the Schaumburg Seminoles 16U travel baseball team.   

Competing in the Pastime National Championships alongside 75 other teams, Eustace said he embraced the chance to play games at University of Louisville’s Jim Patterson Stadium. 

The part-time outfielder, part-time pitcher only wishes the field wasn’t composed of heat-magnifying turf.

“This weather feels like nothing,” Eustace said Tuesday. “Playing at [Jim Patterson Stadium], it was so much hotter than any of this heat this summer. At game time, it was 105 degrees. I was told that on the field it was 120. I’ve never been so hot.”

Making frequent in-game visits to the air-conditioned bathroom attached to the dugout, Eustace and the Seminoles weaved their way to the championship game only to have a two-out, seventh inning lead slip away. 

“I was mad,” said Eustace, who went 2-for-3 at the plate and added a run in the championship game. “I really wanted to win. It was hot. I was really excited for the game, I don’t think I’ve ever had that much adrenaline going and we blew it. I really just wanted to rest after that.”

But rest has slowly become an afterthought for Eustace.

Moments after the game, Eustace jumped in the car with his father and drove through the night to join his Batavia wrestling teammates at a camp at the University of Iowa.

“All of Sunday I was texting him,” Batavia’s newly appointed wrestling coach, Scott Bayer, said. “He was giving me updates. He told me his team kept winning. The kid never got a break, just rushed right on up here.”

Eustace, a second-team Chronicle All-Area wrestler as a sophomore, arrived at the Iowa City campus at 8 a.m. Monday morning to endure three days of wrestling and workouts. 

“It was really hard – I was really tired,” Eustace said. “Being in baseball shape and being in wrestling shape are totally different. We had two or three sessions a day, but I learned a lot.” 

Receiving individual coaching from Iowa wrestlers and coaches, Eustace said his future wrestling goals were revamped during the camp.    

The rising junior says he’s all eyes on qualifying for the IHSA state meet.

“All the coaches and players [at Iowa], they were really intense,” Eustace said. “The coaches showed us their highlight video from last season. It made me really want to get out there and wrestle. I had kind of disappointing years freshman and sophomore season and I want to work hard to get down to state this year. I’m gonna train really hard.”

That is, once the speedster is fully healed from his baseball blisters and wrestling-related soreness.

“When I got back home, I had a summer league game and I have never been more sore in my entire life,” Eustace said. “Yeah, I am known for my speed, I guess, but after all that, I couldn’t run right for a while. Once baseball slows down, I’ll have more of a chance to start training [for wrestling].”

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