Ability and humility do not always mix in athletics.
With more success comes more attention. In some cases it brings a craving for even greater acclaim.
In Josh Marchok’s case, what he did on the wrestling mat for Schaumburg made attention unavoidable. Winning consecutive state titles. Piling up a 155-15 career record which also included a third-place finish. A scholarship to Stanford for a spectacular student-athlete.
All of that was achieved after spending three varsity seasons as a defensive starter on the football team.
All of it was achieved with dignity and grace.
“The coolest part about all of it is his humility,” said Schaumburg football coach Mark Stilling. “Josh is still Josh for all of the awesome things he accomplished.”
That includes Marchok’s selection as the Daily Herald’s Cook County Male Athlete of the Year for 2011-2012. He became only the sixth wrestler in Mid-Suburban League history to win back-to-back state titles.
But it was the way Marchok gave back to others that impressed Schaumburg wrestling coach Mike LeVanti, who won the Daily Herald Athlete of the Year award for 1997-98.
LeVanti, who just finished his third year at Schaumburg and first in charge of the wrestling program, saw the way Marchok helped out and led by example with his work ethic.
Not to mention the work he did in the classroom with a 4.3 weighted grade-point average on a 4.0 scale and an impressive score of 34 on the ACT.
“He’s got a great perspective, not only on sports but on life in general,” said LeVanti, who competed in football, wrestling and track and field at Hersey. “A lot of that comes from his parents (Dave and Leah).
“He understands how good he is but he understands it’s just one part of his life. He understands there is more to life than just wrestling.”
Marchok admitted he had thoughts about focusing solely on wrestling. But he wouldn’t go back and attempt a reversal and miss what he experienced on the football field.
“Wrestling and football are different,” Marchok said before getting set to watch Schaumburg win a baseball sectional title last Saturday. “Football is a complete team sport where 11 guys have to work in synch and I like that.
“I really enjoyed the team bonds in football. Coming into junior and senior year I might say I would only do wrestling, but I liked being part of the team too much.”
The feeling about having Marchok around his team was mutual from Stilling.
“Maybe most impressive, and it’s hard to pick a superlative with Josh, but as talented as he is, he still got better every year and was one of our hardest workers,” Stilling said. “It’s refreshing to see a kid that talented go to work every day. That’s the way he is.
“He’s an outstanding teammate. He’s very coachable and another impressive thing about Josh is his focus. You see it on the mat or on the field where he’s always focused on his job.”
Which was aided in a way by not focusing solely on his best sport. But now that’s what he will be doing as he will take to California what he’s learned at Schaumburg from coaches such as Matt Gruszka and LeVanti and at the Gomez Wrestling Academy in Carol Stream.
Marchok will wrestle heavyweight at Stanford and will be looking to add 10 to 20 pounds to his current weight of 230.
“College wrestling is a lot different than high school wrestling, not only in style but preparedness,” Marchok said. “It’s much more grinding and physical. (Wrestling right away) all depends on how quickly I acclimate.”
Those who know Marchok well don’t think that should take too long.
“A lot of kids who are as talented as Josh haven’t continued to improve the way he did,” Stilling said. “He’s just as talented mentally as he is physically.”
LeVanti wrestled for four years at Illinois so he has an idea of what’s ahead for Marchok. LeVanti’s college roommate, John Lockhart, was the NCAA heavyweight champion in 2001.
“I’ve never worked with a more talented guy … and he does things I’ve never seen a kid like him do,” LeVanti said. “You never know because Division I wrestling is extremely competitive and difficult, but Josh does things even (Lockhart) couldn’t do so the sky is the limit for him.
“He has a tremendous amount of talent and he’s willing to do the work.”
And Josh Marchok’s formula for success inside and outside the athletic arena would work well for almost anyone.
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