Undefeated: Lane’s stock rises to 12th in state

By Nader Ihmoud

Lane Tech College Prep High School’s wrestling team’s expectations are on an exponential rise. According to Head Coach Mark Miedona, the team has been building the program and making progress every year, so the outlook comes with the territory.

During the 2010–2011 state tournament, the Indians were three points away from defeating Harlem High School of Machesney Park, Ill. The victory would have guaranteed Lane Tech at least a fourth place finish in the tournament. According to 152-pound senior Max Schneider, 18, who won an individual state title in 2010 in the 145-pound weight class, this year’s team has more faith in itself.

“I feel that this year’s team has a lot less problems,” said Schneider, a two-time state placer. “Our team molds really well, [and] we all have each other’s backs. We know that no matter what happens we are all going to be here, [and] we are all happy to be on the mat and wrestling.”

As a team, the Indians have not placed at state since 2000 and have never won a state championship. This season, the team has had impressive showings against some of the state’s steepest competition. It placed second at the Wheeling High School Invitational tournament on Dec. 10 and the Glenbrook South High School tournament on Dec. 17, and finished first at the two-day Lincoln High School Invitational on Dec. 30.

“Through the course of the season, we match up with enough top teams and enough top-ranked individuals along the lines that if [the wrestlers] do what we’re asking, [they] should be ready come state [playoff] time,” Miedona said.

According to him, a state-placing team has to have certain characteristics, such as good technique, balance up and down the lineup, the ability to manage and police itself and wrestlers who understand the team aspect and don’t give up bonus points.

“This team is more focused on the team aspect than the individual goals,” Schneider said. “Last year, we had people who would be fine with just winning

by a minor. Now, if we know we need it, we want to get the major. We want to do something for the team and make sure the team wins.”

He said this year’s team does a better job of doing what the coaching staff asks of them. Miedona said he believes the reason for the change is that the team is winning.

“All of a sudden, the little things people ask you to do to get better become easier to do because the results are there,” Miedona said.

Assistant Coach Alec Lininger said this season’s team is solid from top to bottom and does not have many holes to fill.

“Kids kept getting better year in and year out,” Lininger said. “We have six or seven seniors in the lineup every day. Four years being in our program, [and] that’s what’s going to happen.”

According to Lininger, the coaching staff has not changed anything from previous years other than updating techniques. As a coach, he said he always tries to make adjustments and teach the newest and best moves.

Senior Nick Jankowski,18, ranked 17th in class 3A’s 126-pound weight class, said practices and the team’s morale have changed dramatically since last season.

“We’re all working hard against each other in practice,” Jankowski said. “We don’t let each other down. We are always scrapping with each other. We all have heart [and] we all want to win.”

According to 220-pound senior Dan Murray, 17, each member of the team believes he can defeat any opponent.

“You’ve got to have those upsets when you go into schools that are supposed to be better than you,” Murray said. “With wrestling, anyone can win on any given day.”