Wrestlers at Deer Path Middle School are hoping the right amount of coaching and determination will propel them to a medal or more at the State Meet today and Saturday on the Northern Illinois University campus in DeKalb.
Nine Braves including five eighth graders in their final appearance for Deer Path will compete for honors against 23 other athletes in their weight class from around the state. Four of those eighth grade students have been to the finals before.
“It’s our last chance to do something for our school,” Marko Tupanjac, who competes in the 119-pound weight class, said. “We have a good idea (of what to expect) and we’ve all practiced for it.”
The wrestlers are providing the right kind of spirit and determination while veteran Coach Jim Troemel will be mat side during every match to offer the mentoring that may make the difference to advancing to the next round or ending the tournament.
“They’ve got the skills and limited experience,” Troemel said. “I’ve got lots of experience. They’ve practiced (the situations) and we’ll be telling them what to do. You only have to win by one point.”
Troemel wants the athletes to know what to do in certain situations to assure victory or avoid a loss. He will be within earshot of each of his charges reminding them what to do knowing the help is necessary in the heat of battle.
“They need to know what to do if they’re up a point with 10 seconds left,” Troemel said. “They need to stay close, within a point, so they can win it in the end,” he added though leading throughout is preferable.
Joining Tupanjac for the tournament are Cory Barth (215), Caleb Durbin (90), Quinn Dailey (80), Chris Wasser (100), Liam Pooler (112), Peter Kennedy (126), Alex Svigos (155) and Andrew Tuttle (90). Barth, Pooler, Svigos and Tuttle are the other eighth graders.
“Andrew (Tuttle) has been there three years,” Troemel said. “I’d like to see him place. They all have what it takes to place.”
Tuttle’s experience lets him know what to expect when he takes the mat in DeKalb. “The top wrestlers are there,” he said. “There are no easy matches.”
“There is no easy draw,” Pooler added.
Svigos is the one eighth grade wrestler making his first trip to State. His teammates have filled him in on what to expect. He also appreciates the individual aspect of the sport. “You have no one to blame but yourself (if you lose),” he said. “You’re the only one on the mat.”
Barth echoed Svigos’s attitude about the personal essence of wrestling. “It’s one person,” he said. “If you lose you can’t blame anyone else.”