Daily Chronicle 2023 boys wrestling preview: Team-by-team capsules

Sycamore’s Cooper Bode controls Sandwich’s Bryce Decker during their 170 pound championship match Saturday Jan. 21, 2023, during the Interstate 8 Conference wrestling tournament at Sycamore High School.

DeKalb Barbs

Head coach: Sam Hiatt (eighth season)

Last season: 20-2, First place in DuPage Valley Conference

Top returners: Kaden Klapprodt, jr., 120 pounds; Sean Kolkebeck, jr., 165/175; Jacob Luce, sr., 165/175; Lamar Bradley, sr., 215; Mekhi Cave, sr., 150; Eduardo Castro, sr., 113

Top newcomers: Jaden Bradley, fr., 106

Worth noting: The Barbs have a lot of talent returning to this roster. Klapprodt, Kolkebeck and Luce are previous state qualifiers. Castro lost in the blood round at sectionals last season. Hiatt said his team is ready to establish itself as the cream of the crop this season.

“Our team had a great offseason and has been working hard so far this season,” Hiatt said. “I’m excited to see the whole team compete. I think a lot of guys on our team have made some big gains this offseason and are ready to surprise some people. Mekhi Cave didn’t make it out of regionals last season but starts the season ranked No. 5 in the state. I’m looking for a breakout season for him.”

Sycamore Spartans

Head coach: Randy Culton (second season)

Last season: 16-12

Top returning wrestlers: Michael Olson, so., 113; Tyler Lockhart, so., 120; Cooper Bode, so., 175; Gable Carrick, sr., 190

Top newcomers: Jayden Dohogne, fr.

Worth noting: Culton coached his team to a regional title last season. With a young roster for the 2023-24 campaign, he is hoping the wrestlers who went through that experience last season can step up and lead by example.

“We had several kids go to camps and offseason tournaments,” Culton said. “The more mat time you get, the better prepared you are for the grind of a wrestling season. My team will be very raw this year, but we may surprise a few teams.”

Kaneland Knights

Head coach: Kenneth Paoli (fifth season)

Last season: 23-6

Top returners: Kamron Scholl, sr., 126; Alex Gochis, jr., 132; Kyle Rogers, jr., 150; Jack Gruber, so., 138, Apollo Gochis, so., 175

Top newcomers: Angelina Gochis, fr., 113; Caden Vanik, jr., 165

Worth noting: Kaneland is coming off a successful season and looks to build on that not only for individual wrestlers, but as a team. Paoli is thrilled that his team has been committing to the grind in the past few months.

“[We are] building more of a team atmosphere in a sport that can be very individually focused,” Paoli said. “We have had more wrestlers doing offseason wrestling than we have had in the past seven years. We also have had good numbers at offseason workouts and open mats.”

Genoa-Kingston Cogs

Head coach: Stew Burke (first season)

Last year: 9-15, 3-4 Big Northern Conference

Top returners: Brady Brewick, sr., 157/165; Shayden McNew, sr., 120/126

Top newcomers: Chris Rodas, jr., 157/165; Anthony Gum, so., 126/132, Azuriah Albert, sr., 215/285

Worth noting: Burke makes his head coaching debut with the Cogs this season after 13 years as an assistant coach with the program. Although he acknowledged it may be tough to fill a lineup card this year, Burke’s outlook for the season is positive.

“Struggles with numbers across the country in sports, the dip in participants, makes it hard to fill a whole lineup, but we are very close and feel like we can actually hold our own this year as we start into our dual season,” Burke said. “Returning to the state tournament and building this program to where kids want to be a part of a winning program is the end goal.”

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