It's worth recalling the promise Austin Macias made when he stepped into the room at Burlington Central that he would win a state title before he was his prep wrestling career was over.
The Rockets' senior did just that last February in Champaign when he captured a Class 2A state title at 126 pounds, giving BC its first championship in program history after Taylor Schuck, Omar Awad and Johnny Major each came close previously.
On Wednesday, Macias made another big step forward in his career when he officially signed on to attend and wrestle at SIU-Edwardsville next fall -- putting that important piece of business behind him for now and focusing next on winning a second consecutive state crown.
"I am really excited to about going to SIU, it's the perfect fit for me," said Macias, who also had Old Dominion, Buffalo and Maryland in his sites, until an official visit sealed the deal for the three-time state qualifier and two-time state medalist.
"I was looking around a little bit at NIU, and at the same time, emailed coach (Jeremy) Spates at SIU, but didn't hear back for awhile. When I finally did -- we went down on an official visit, and almost immediately, I knew it was the right place for me," said Macias, who is set to compete at 125 for SIU next fall.
"The guys on the team, the atmosphere in the room, campus, the coaching staff all felt great, and at that point, I told my mother you can just leave me here now -- I was that happy."
Macias' triumphant run through his bracket last season would end with a thrilling come-from-behind effort in his final with Tyler Delaware of Washington, who one week earlier had beaten Macias in the sectional final.
"Everything had gone so well leading up to the final, but once there, I fell behind 5-1, and was obviously in some trouble, but I never gave up," he said.
Macias would go on to score nine straight points to overcome the deficit to win the match 10-5.
"It was an incredible tournament and season, and one that I will never forget, but that was last year, and now the focus turns to my final year at BC, and another run at a state title."
Following his 36-2 record from a year ago, Macias will enter his final season with a dazzling 116-7 overall record, and along with junior Nick Termini, sixth last season at 132, new BC coach Jordon Bakley will have one of the best 1-2 lower-weight combos in the area.