Wrestlers from Middle School North in Lake Zurich who qualified for the IESA Sectionals know the importance of this event. Some say it is more important who they are competing for - their coach Terry Kivisto, who will retire after this season after coaching for 25 years.
Kivisto led 14 of the 26 wrestlers on the team of sixth- to eight-graders to sectionals this year. But even more than the success in competition, parents say the coach is known for how he inspires the kids to succeed in life.
"Coach Terry started the wrestling program here, and he is all about the kids," said parent Aleyce Baca. "He pours out his heart and soul into the kids. The kids want to do well for him. He will be missed!"
Sectionals will be held this Saturday, March 2 in Wauconda where 19 schools will be competing.
Kivisto's background also includes teaching sixth- and seventh-grade math, social studies and reading for District 95 Middle School North as well as coaching boys and girls soccer teams and the wrestlers.
The team motto Kivisto instills in the wrestlers is that this is "Where the tradition begins."
Ben Baca, an 85-pound wrestler, said, "I'm excited for Sectionals, and a little nervous. I'm always nervous before a meet because you can be upset on any day."
Ben said Coach Kivisto offers a lot to the team.
"He's a great role model," Ben said. "I always want to try my best for him. We know he cares about us a lot."
The boys and the parents seemed to know that the coach was teaching bigger life lessons.
"Coach K would coach wrestling techniques to the kids, but then would always apply it to real life," said parent Karen Kapitzky. "He would make sure they understood these lessons were the same in real life. He stressed things like working hard at every thing, doing your best and never giving up."
Results from the regional tournament, showing the wrestlers who advanced to sectionals:
1st place: Eric Metzger, Ben Baca, Kyle Fleming, Eric Brown
2nd place: Kyle McCurley, Michael Bertoia
3rd place: Jake Meyer, Ian McGee, Derrick Juarez, Nathan Bass, Ian Fitzgerald
4th place: Jack Fabrinni, Nick DiMagio, Isaac Dina