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Old 01-16-2008
Rob Sherrill Rob Sherrill is offline
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Just wins for Libertyville, Lockport

Columns like this one have their good and bad points.

On the good side, it’s an opportunity to pass along some well-deserved compliments to teams that, once again, have done more with less.

Unfortunately, it also brings the fans of teams not mentioned out of the shadows as well. You know, the “What about us?” line. I understand. Every team has many things to be happy about.

Fortunately, the good always outweighs the bad, so I’ll move on.

The elite of Illinois wrestling is always easy to spot. Outstanding individuals, sexy schedules, high profiles. Teams like Montini, Glenbard North, Providence, Carl Sandburg and Chicago Mount Carmel fit this description every year.

Then there are the programs that don’t depend on big names…or maybe some of the big names have deserted them. Yet they still win big every year and still find themselves squarely in the heart of the rankings in spite of it all.

Two programs that fit that description this year - and every year, it seems - are Libertyville and Lockport.

The Wildcats are one of those teams that never look good on paper entering a season. But by season’s end, coach Dale Eggert always puts a team on the mat that works well together. Maybe none better, from a team standpoint, than this year.

Libertyville does have two state-ranked individuals, Cadet All-American Matt Bystol (103) and state qualifier Trey Ayala (135). But a look at the team’s box scores over the course of the season shows that many wrestlers are making contributions against solid competition.

Take the Wildcats’ Jan. 5 weekend slate, when they faced fellow North Suburban Conference powerhouse Warren on Friday and a pair of ranked teams, St. Rita and Oak Park-River Forest, on Saturday.

Ayala, the team’s leader in every sense of the word, went 0-3 that weekend, losing on a slam against Warren and taking losses against two other state-ranked wrestlers, St. Rita’s John Majka and Oak Park’s Ellis Coleman, on Saturday. Even Bystol took a loss, 7-2 to St. Rita’s Cody Zimmerman.

So Libertyville was in trouble, right? Wrong. With victories of 35-23 over Warren, 43-18 over Oak Park and 37-19 over St. Rita, the Wildcats pounded three upper-tier teams by an average of 18 points – with their biggest name going winless.

That’s because every one of the Wildcats’ 14 lineup spots won at least once over the weekend, with Louis Mazzetta (112), Eric Klein (145), Joey Callen (152) and Jake Hogan (215) all going 3-0.

All four have 20 or more wins this season. So have Everett Indart (130), Logan Miller (171) and heavyweight Tom Nield.

That balance helped Libertyville finish ninth (122.5 points) – matching their state ranking – at the Al Dvorak Memorial Invitational despite just four placewinners, the fewest of any team in the top 11.

Meanwhile, Lockport coach Joe Williams has had a different problem – keeping any kind of a lineup together.

Before the season, Williams lost his team leader, two-time state placewinner Lucas Roth, for the season due to an athletic code violation. Another top returnee, junior Kevin Bialka (152), has been slowed by a knee injury and has wrestled just once. He also lost standout 103-pounder Billy Kendall to injury after the Hinsdale Central Tournament.

But every time we challenge Williams to a game of “Who can we take out of your lineup this week?” Williams always wins.

While it’s virtually impossible to replace a star like Roth, the Porters have done it with senior Nick Golob. Lance Hosman has stepped in and done a remarkable job replacing Kendall and Matt Andre has 13 wins as the new man at 152.

Standout freshman Jameson Oster (112) and Cadet National finalist Mark Stenberg (160) have been big scorers, but Hosman, Tony Tonelli (119), Abe Omar (125), Andre, Alex Rodriguez (215) and Mike Tetlow (285) aren’t names that will scare many opponents. In fact, eight members of the 14-man lineup Lockport entered at the Dvorak had never wrestled a match prior to high school – a pretty stunning number for a front-line Chicago-area program.

But Lockport still finished 13th, scoring 92.5 points. Despite all the attrition, Williams has pieced together a lineup that’s 15-5 in duals and has scored at least 20 points in every dual meet this season, including losses to four Top 10 teams – Minooka, Carl Sandburg, Neuqua Valley and Lincoln-Way Central.

So you can laugh at the list of 14 names Libertyville and Lockport put on the mat all you want. Just try beating either team eight times in a dual meet. Most likely, you won’t succeed.

Last edited by admin; 01-16-2008 at 10:49 PM. Reason: shortened title
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Old 01-16-2008
lumbergh lumbergh is offline
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Great article!

All-too-often forum talk is "if you're not #1, you're not worth mentioning". Stories like this are all about heart & mental toughness...That's what wrestling is all about.
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Old 01-17-2008
FoxesFan FoxesFan is offline
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Thanks for your insight, Rob. This is the kind of story that makes ILMatmen a website to check in on every day.

I have a question. I know that Coach Eggert has been at Libertyville, for over 20 years, building the solid program that you see there. How long has Williams been at Lockport?
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Old 01-17-2008
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funk em up funk em up is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FoxesFan View Post
Thanks for your insight, Rob. This is the kind of story that makes ILMatmen a website to check in on every day.

I have a question. I know that Coach Eggert has been at Libertyville, for over 20 years, building the solid program that you see there. How long has Williams been at Lockport?
He has been at Lockport since 1989.
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Old 01-18-2008
29857 29857 is offline
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Thumbs up Caring for the kids

Having been on the mat for a short time (10-yrs). And no disrespect to the many coaches who 'get it right' with our youths. Dale is one of the most genuine guys out there. He cares for and connects to the kids at a level that all coaches should aspire to. The success of his teams year in and year out in spite of alleged lack of tallent is proof of this. He's about changing lives. Mat wins are simply a result.
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