Geneva was the birthplace of 17-year-old St. Charles East senior Brad Kearbey. Due to his father being transferred to Kingston, Mass., and then back to Illinois a decade ago, Kearbey would up being a Saint.
That's nice for first-year head wrestling coach Jason Potter since Kearbey, a team co-captain with Ryan Rubino and Cameron Carlson for the 15-1 Saints, is 20-7 at 160 pounds entering the Upstate Eight Conference tournament.
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A four-year varsity wrestler, Kearbey started at 112 (that weight class is now 113) as a freshman and finished seventh in the state frosh-soph tournament at 148, he said. The middle child between two sisters (St. Charles East graduate Lauren is a sophomore at Illinois State), Kearbey started playing football in fourth grade and picked up wrestling a year later. Last football season he played outside linebacker for St. Charles East.
Definitely not a two-trick pony, with Saints baseball player Jack DelloStritto he started a school science honor society where fellow students can be tutored weekly. Kearbey plans on majoring in electrical engineering and has narrowed his college choices to Purdue, Wisconsin and Illinois. His favorite wrestling move is the single-leg takedown.
Q: You're wrestling seven weight divisions heavier than when you started as a freshman. Any thoughts on that?
A: I like the heavier weight class better. It just took me a while to get used to wrestling bigger kids. Sophomore year was kind of tough, wrestling at a heavier weight class. It was more of a different style than it was at 112, so I had to get used to that style of wrestling and make it my own, and get better at it.
Q: How did the styles differ between 112 or 148-160?
A: At 112 it's a lot faster and you're trying to give a lot more shots rather than snapping guys down. The heavier weight classes are more controlled. I feel it's closer matches at the heavier weight classes than it is at the lower levels.
Q: What kind of numbers are you putting up in the weight room?
A: During the football season I'm a lot stronger because I'm not cutting weight for wrestling. I got up to like a 265 (pound) maximum for bench and then squat and dead lift I can max like 315.
Q: To what do you credit your success this season?
A: I'd have to say this year it helped out a lot that Jason Potter, our new head coach, has been wrestling with us. Because he really knows what you need to improve and how to fix your mistakes. He forces you, when he wrestles, to wrestle differently.
Q: What's it like to wrestle a former two-time state champion?
A: It's a challenge. He's not going all-out for him, he's just wrestling in a way to make you better by forcing you to do things you normally wouldn't do.
Q: Ever hit him with a single-leg takedown?
A: I have, actually, once. I was pretty happy about that.
Q: What did you think of former Saints coach Steve Smerz?
A: He's a really nice guy, and he knew a lot of different techniques because he'd been coaching for such a long time.
Q: The football team returned to the playoffs after a couple down years. How'd that feel?
A: My senior year it was a more fun experience since we were doing a lot better. I thought our team had a lot more camaraderie than last year's, maybe. I think the juniors and seniors played well together and we kind of just meshed into a good team.
Q: You said you played on kickoff and kickoff return. That's fun stuff.
A: I enjoyed kickoff a lot because pretty much you're running as fast as you can and making big hits.
Q: When you lived in Massachusetts, did you ever visit Plymouth Rock?
A: Yeah, a lot of times. I went there like every other weekend.
Q: What's it look like?
A: It's not much. I remember it has a date carved into the rock -- not like it's that big -- and there's kind of like a hole in the ground and you just kind of look over the fence (at) a rock with the date and what year it was.
Q: What year was it?
A: I couldn't tell you.
Q: Me neither. What was your favorite movie of 2012?
A: My favorite movie this year was "The Dark Knight Rises," the Batman movie.
Q: Do you have a talent or something that people wouldn't suspect about you?
A: Maybe that I like to see myself as a pretty good cook. I enjoy cooking, at least. I think my own food tastes good, so that's all that matters to me.
Q: What's your specialty?
A: I like making breakfast skillets. That's something I'll do every Saturday after wrestling.
Q: How do you compare training for football with wrestling training?
A: In football you're just training to be able to go all-out for seven seconds of play, then have a 30-second break. Wrestling, it's like a 6-minute sprint, and you also have to be lifting another person's body weight.
Q: What's the most demanding wrestling training session you've had?
A: I think just wrestling live against opponents back to back is probably the toughest thing to do. One practice we did 90 seconds wrestling somebody and immediately after you switch, and you did that for 16 guys. That was tough. Everyone was dead by then.
McQuade masters a 'lost art'
Aurora Christian's Ryan McQuade hasn't taken one for the team. He's taken 32 for the team.
A 6-foot-4 senior forward on the Eagles' boys basketball team, through 16 games McQuade had put his cast-iron stomach, and then some, in harm's way to take 32 charges defending the basket.
McQuade probably wasn't hit as much in 14 games this fall playing quarterback for the Class 3A state football champions.
Some players crash to the court when a strong breeze blows by to draw an official's call. Aurora Christian coach Pat McNamara doesn't see McQuade as one of those.
"To be honest, most of those are legitimate. I don't think he's like a LeBron James flopper. He takes the hit," McNamara said.
"He knows that he's not a shot blocker, and our defense is like a leaky sieve sometimes. He sees guys drive in from 25 feet, he gets over there."
McNamara hopes McQuade's unselfish, masochistic defensive tendencies rub off on the rest of the team, maybe literally by osmosis. After all, the rest of the team had combined to take a total of 2 charges.
Last Thursday in practice the Eagles drilled on taking charges -- "a lost art," McNamara said -- though instead of participating McQuade was the judge.
"He needs to be the teacher, not the pupil," the coach said.
McNamara said withstanding the full force of an opposing player takes anticipation, heart and courage. McQuade quickly proved his mettle by taking 6 charges in the second game of the season against Joliet Catholic.
"Right away I knew," McNamara said, "here's a guy who wants to win."
So what's new?
Another year older without losing a step, Batavia graduate Melissa "Missy" Norville picked up where she left off last outdoor track season at Illinois College.
Norville, a senior, earned Midwest Conference women's indoor track performer of the week for the umpteenth time after winning four events at the Knox College Invitational on Jan. 12. She won the 60-meter hurdles and 200 dash, and her distances in long jump and triple jump led the nation in the early going.
A three-time national champion who continues the Norville legacy of excellence at Illinois College -- and her younger sister, Tamar, is a freshman there -- in 2012 Missy was named the United States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association DIII Midwest Region women's athlete of the year after both indoor and outdoor seasons.
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