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Polakowski pumped for strong state showing

02/11/2013, 8:15pm CST
By Gary Larsen

Libertyville's Steve Polakowski (40-4) will wrestle Lockport’s Shane Oster in a preliminary match on Thursday at the state finals in Champaign.

Barrington Saturday, 2/9/13 Libertyville's Steve Polakowski (Front) works to control Barrington's Miquel Camarena during their championship match at 120 lbs during Saturday's Class 3A Sectional hosted by Barrington High School.

Sometimes you have to scour the countryside when you want to be the best.

“Every weekend in the offseason I was just looking for somewhere to go and wrestle,” Libertyville sophomore Steve Polakowski said. “We’d go out of state, and every Tuesday and Thursday at a place in Lake County you can show up and wrestle other guys that are there. So I did a lot of those because the more matches you get in, the better feel you get for it.”

Wrestling coaches will tell you that 30 or 40 offseason matches are enough to help a wrestler stay sharp and improve, but Polakowski wrestled 152 matches between his freshman and sophomore seasons.

“I don’t know anyone who enjoys wrestling more than he does,” Libertyville coach Dale Eggert said. “Maybe there are some guys that like it as much, but not more. He can’t get enough of it.”

Polakowski’s hard work paid off with a 120-pound title at Saturday’s Class 3A Barrington Sectional, when he won a 4-2 decision over Barrington’s Miguel Camarena. Polakowski improved to 40-4 with his title-mat win and will wrestle Lockport’s Shane Oster in a preliminary match on Thursday at the state finals in Champaign.

Polakowski advanced downstate last season by placing fourth at sectionals, losing on the third-place mat to New Trier’s M.J. Pritchard. Pritchard also beat Polakowski in a December match this year at the Hoffman Estates tournament.

Polakowski exacted some revenge on Saturday, winning a 5-3 decision over Pritchard in the sectional semifinals. Polakowski earned the all-important first takedown of the match late in the first period.

“It felt good to win that match over Pritchard,” Polakowski said. “He’s hard to take down, and I knew I needed a first-period takedown so I could choose neutral if the choice came to me. Getting that in the last 20 seconds was big.”

Polakowski went 31-10 last year and lost his only match downstate. He’s aiming much higher this time around.

“Last year, I was just happy to be there. But this year it’s more than that,” Polakowski said. “This year, I want a medal.
“Last year I only had one good shot that I was comfortable going to. I could ride, but I struggled a little on the bottom. I’m better on the bottom now, and I’ve worked on developing many different ways to take people down on my feet.”

That’s what 152 off-season matches can do for you.

“Because of all his mat time, he has developed so many weapons, especially on his feet,” Eggert said of Polakowski. “And once the match comes he is one non-stop attack after another. It is an absolute pleasure watching him get after it out on the mat.”

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