By TR HARLAN
Long-time head coach Chris Joll saw this coming. No, not the pandemic. No,
not all the new restrictions and protocols. He saw the potential. The
Chesterton wrestling team entered the season ranked No. 3 in the state and
opened the season with an impressive 57-6 victory over Kankakee Valley last
Tonight, they open Duneland Athletic Conference competition against
perennial power Portage beginning at 6:30 p.m. in the CHS Main Gym.
"This is something we've seen coming for a long time," Joll said.
"This core group has been together since they were 7th graders.
have a group of kids that likes to hang out together and doesn't want to let
each other down is special."
Trojans feature a talented senior class that has 15 Sectional titles on
their resume, including defending state champion Evan Bates.
"This senior class has given us 14-15 Sectional titles heading into this
year," Joll said. "We've got guys that should be four-time Sectional champs
and a couple that will probably be four-time Regional and Semistate champs.
Those guys know how to win.
seven guys that have been with us since they were freshmen know what to
expect from us and they have the work ethic."
Along with Bates, the class includes Brandon Bolin, Ethan Contreras, Josh
Daniels, Brock Ellis, Cade Johnson, Ethan Kaiser, Gavin Layman and Jacob
older guys accept anyone as long as they have the work ethic to compete and
get better in the room," Joll said. "Most of our younger guys have that."
Trojans' loaded lineup gets a boost from the return to the program of
sophomore Sergio Lemley. Lemley was the 113-pound State Champion in Class 3A
in Illinois as a freshman last year.
"He's really good," Joll said. "He makes things look really easy. He doesn't
change the way he wrestles. And he's really good at what he does."
every other coach, Joll knows that this isn't just any other year.
"There are so many other constraints, on top of the weight control, it's
difficult," Joll said.
are just going to wrestle who we have when its time. I'm not worried about
taking a guy out of the lineup. My best guys have to be in the Sectional
lineup when we get to LaPorte at the end of the year."
even though the schedule has changed multiple times, the Trojans are poised
for the season. "As a team, we are beyond where we should be as far as
conditioning," Joll said.
"They came in with a high expectation of what the work was going to be like.
I don't expect to lose any matches because of our conditioning."