Things are looking up for Larkin's wrestling team this season.
After a 3-15 record in his first year in charge last season, charismatic coach Steve Hoyt has worked a miracle or two, transforming his club into an impressive bunch this winter. And now the Royals are officially winning more than they're losing after a 67-9 romp at Streamwood Wednesday night in an Upstate Eight River matchup. The Royals improved to 10-9-0 overall and 4-2-0 in the division.
"We're 60-strong in the program, we have terrific senior leadership that we lean on, and along with a nice group of younger guys making contributions and growing along the way, we're doing pretty well for ourselves," says Hoyt, whose club went 2-1 last weekend at the Deerfield Super Duels.
Hoyt's top two performers are among the conference's best. And those two, seniors Duke Bogicevic (126) and Alex Duran (152), were impressive against Streamwood in brief appearances.
Bogicevic, who earned top honors recently at the Ewoldt Tourney hosted by Wheaton Warrenville South, ran his record to 20-1 after a fall at 2:37 to push the Royals' advantage to 46-9 at the time.
"Being as close as I was to making it downstate last season was all the motivation I needed during the off-season," said Bogicevic, who in his first sectional appearance ever was two wins away from heading to Champaign. "I lifted so much during the off-season and spent 25 hours a week in the gym training, and pretty much did two months of two-a-days to get myself ready for this year."
Duran, who won 24 times a year ago, suffered the same fate as his teammate at the Maine East sectional last February. But Hoyt says he's right where he needs to be in order to put on a late push to go downstate.
"Alex has put the work in, but he never stops working in order to get better," Hoyt said. "Both should be right there when it begins to really count."
Duran needed just 1:17 to improve his record to 12-2.
Freshman Hector Perez (138, 11-4) continues to make strides in his rookie season as he joined Ramon Vargas (195) in the scorebook with a fall, while Leo Martinez added a major decision at 145 before Duran ended the night with his pin.
There were a couple of bright spots for the hosts before the night came to an end, beginning with Brandon Schockey's 3:13 pin at 106 pounds, which came moments after Alex Rader defeated heavyweight counterpart Jerry Hernandez for the second time in as many matches this season after a hard fought 7-2 decision.
"We're already short-handed, and when we found out earlier we would be without three starters for various reasons, it really put us under for good," said Streamwood coach Bill Peach. "It's difficult giving away 30, 36 points to forfeits, but the guys still battled hard all night long, and for a lineup filled with a bunch of first-time varsity guys, that says a lot about each of them.
"The wins and losses really don't matter at this point -- it's really all about how they compete, and for that, I've been really happy with their effort."
The Sabres are on the road at state-ranked St. Charles East on Thursday night for another divisional dual, then travel to Oswego on Saturday.
"It was nice to beat a Streamwood team for the second time this year after they did that to us last season," said Hoyt. "Bill is a great guy, and he and his staff do a very good job coaching -- and right now they're just a little short in their numbers, which is what we were going through last season.
"We've got some good numbers right now, and the hope is to keep them all around, while adding more next season."
The Royals host Batavia on Friday, then are at Geneva on Saturday for the Newbill Invite.