MAPLE PARK – The DeKalb wrestling team defeated Kaneland, 60-8, on Jan. 4 en route to capturing the Northern Illinois Big 12 East title.
The Barbs dominated most of the evening, losing only two matches. With the regular-season title wrapped up, they now look ahead to a schedule that features dual meets with ranked opponents, as well as the NIB 12 conference tournament.
"This was one of our goals going into the season," Barbs coach Sam Hiatt said. "The conference tournament is in two weeks in Geneseo. ... Last year, when we won the conference title, we lost to Yorkville in the conference tournament. We want to make sure this year, we win them both. Yorkville is looking pretty tough, so it will be a challenge."
Barbs senior Jacobe Schmerbach has been one of the leaders for DeKalb this season. He jumped up from 160 pounds to defeat Grant Baldridge in the 170-pound weight class for this dual.
"Everyone wrestles hard," Schmerbach said of his teammates. "Everyone does their best and does what is best for the team, no matter what. Even if that means bumping up in weight or coming down in weight, whatever we gotta do, we do it."
The Knights are in a bit of a rebuild. Although they are mostly made up of underclassmen, Nathan Orosco and Calvin McDonald won matches at 120 and 220 pounds, respectively.
"We try and focus on the basics," Knights coach Joe Orosco said. "I told them to just go out and score points today. Start with one point, two points, then go from there. ... Most of our kids are freshmen. Our numbers are up from last year, but we're thick in the wrong spots. ... We're just asking the kids to come up and compete. Some are getting their tails whipped, but that is part of the process. We try to manage that, bringing them down where we can and pulling them up when we need them. ... Right now, it's just about these kids continuing to wrestle."
By the numbers: For as thin as they are, the Knights only forfeited four matches. Only three of them counted, as 106 was a double forfeit.
Beyond the stats: Kaneland was close to taking a third match against the Barbs. The heavyweight match between Alex Hoppe and Connor Park was tied at 1 with 50 seconds left in the match. Hoppe was able to score two more points in less than a minute, winning the match by a decision for the Barbs.