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Prep Wrestling Insider: Knights descend on 'Convo'

Kaneland wrestler Zack Russell spars with a teammate during a recent practice.
Kaneland wrestler Zack Russell spars with a teammate during a recent practice.

Kaneland is in position to score what would be a landmark victory today in a spacious college venue.

The Knights will host Northern Illinois Big 12 East rival Sycamore at 5 p.m. at Northern Illinois' Convocation Center. Kaneland coach Monty Jahns said the team is in search of its first dual victory against Sycamore since 2006.

"It's been a long time and the kids know that, and they're going to be fired up for that evening," Jahns said. "We're looking forward to it."

The Kaneland and Sycamore varsity and JV will wrestle concurrently on separate mats ahead of NIU's 7 p.m. dual against Cleveland State. Admission for both events is free.

Huskies coach Ryan Ludwig emailed Jahns before the season and proposed the idea. Jahns quickly accepted.

"Most of the kids have probably not been in the Convocation Center, so they're not quite sure what they're getting into yet," Jahns said, "but i'm sure they'll get used to it. There's more focus on beating Sycamore than on where it's at."

Yo, watch this...
Geneva junior 145-pounder Mike Huck jogged and stretched through warm-ups before a recent practice, but he needed to stand still before feeling fully ready to go.

Coach Tom Chernich had cued up a montage of motivational movie clips to show the Vikings in the wrestling room. It's not an everyday occurrence, just an effective one.

"It's been working out," Huck said. "He's been really pushing us hard this year, a lot harder than it has been the last two years I've been here. You're going to see Geneva and it's going to be a lot different this year. We're going to be a lot better this year."

One clip that especially strikes a chord with Huck comes from "Rocky Balboa," the sixth installment of the "Rocky" franchise. Balboa sagely tells his son that life is not about how hard you can hit, but instead how you're able to move forward when life hits back.

"I've seen every single one at least, like, 10 times," Huck said. "Big fan of 'Rocky.' "

Stronger Saints
"Getting strong now" is one of the few lyrics featured in "Gonna Fly Now," the otherwise instrumental theme from "Rocky."

It's also an ongoing objective at St. Charles East, which hasn't just pigeonholed itself to the mat room during workouts.

"We've put a ton of work in, especially in the weight room," Potter said. "In practice, we've seen those strength improvements come through. [Assistant coach Chris Potter] and I are really excited to see how that translates to the mat."

Isaiah Vela, who split time between 132 and 138 last season, has shown particular results from extra weight training. Vela figures to remain at 138 because of his mix of strength and speed.

– Kevin Druley,


Anthony Bosco
Marmion, Sr., 106 pounds
What he did:
The St. Charles resident's run to a title at last weekend's Barrington tournament included two overtime victories.

STC East's urgency
What happened:
The Saints scored five falls in their Nov. 27 road dual victory at St. Charles North, as Anthony Rubino (113), Ryan Valesh (132), Isaiah Vela (138), Jake Mende (145) and Blake Fialka (182) all notched pins.

You can't take the crimson and gold out of the 'Dog. Former Batavia standouts Clint and Logan Arlis, the two winningest wrestlers in program history, returned to work with the Bulldogs during a practice last week. Batavia enjoyed an active stretch after that, as Saturday's quad at Naperville Central was moved up one hour to allow athletes to attend the football team's Class 6A state championship game against Richards in DeKalb.

Whether Marmion can maintain its early-season pace. Fresh off a Barrington Tournament title, the Cadets are set to host perennial power St. Rita on Friday night before Saturday's challenging quad that includes host Yorkville, another team accustomed to February success.

There has been – and will be – plenty of debate about hand-checking and how it will be refereed during basketball games this season.

In wrestling, that's no issue. That's called going for double inside ties.

Sly's looking forward to a season filled with promise. May it feature little interruption from the zebras.

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