Head-to-head dual meets are a staple of any wrestling team’s schedule.
Yet when it comes down to getting ready for the postseason and winning a state title, which is the ultimate goal for any wrestler, nothing compares to tournament experience.
And nothing compares to the experience gained when wrestling at the top tournaments in the state. To a man, wrestlers and coaches agree that seasoning at the elite tourneys during the regular season is the best way to get ready for the grind of the postseason state series.
“You can’t wrestle every single team [out there] in a dual meet. At tournaments you see the best teams,” said Hinsdale South senior Justin Maslow, a state medalist last year. “You could wrestle a bunch of dual meets and never really wrestle anyone good, but at tournaments like the Berman [at Palatine] or the Whitlatch [at Hinsdale Central], you’ll run into good kids if you win matches.
“So it definitely prepares you because most likely you’re going to run into those kids again [in the postseason].”
While experience at any tournament can be helpful, competing in the best tournaments is the best way to gauge progress and see how the best wrestlers stack up against each other. That’s how Juwan Edmond looks at it.
“I definitely feel like I need to be in bigger tournaments and compete against the best competition to get myself ready for the state series,” said the Hinsdale Central junior, who placed second in the state last season.
Both the Red Devils and Hornets have similar tournament schedules as they both competed at Barrington’s Moore/Prettyman invite, the Whitlatch and the Berman. Hinsdale South has upgraded its tournament schedule this season to include Barrington and Hinsdale Central in addition to the Berman, which it competed in last year. That’s by design, according to first year head coach Steve Holland.
“There really are no slouches [on our schedule],” Holland said. “We started off at the Barrington tournament, then we went to the Whitlatch, and then we had the Berman. Those three tournaments are probably among the top six or seven tournaments in the state, so we’re battle tested.
“The schedule is definitely an upgrade from where it’s been in the past. We’ve taken some tough losses individually and as a team, but right now you see us from weight class to weight class winning the tight matches, having the heart and knowing you can be in there because you’ve been in some of the best wrestlers in the state. It’s starting to pay off.”