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Dechow has his eyes on the prize

February 16, 2012
Richmond Burton High School

Dechow has his eyes on the prize
By BILL HUPP (@Bill_Hupp)

Weds., Feb. 15, 2012~Illinois Matmen News

There’s a video somewhere of two of Richmond-Burton’s all-time wrestling greats grappling on a couch when they were younger. In that video, 5-year-old Jordan Blanton is roughhousing with his cousin, 2-year-old Jack Dechow.

More than 15 years later, not much has changed. You can still find Blanton – now an All-American for Illinois – rolling around with Dechow when he’s home on breaks.

But for Jack Dechow to be mentioned in the same breath as his cousin – a four-time state finalist and three-time state champion – in the future, he likely needs to climb atop the podium in Champaign this weekend.


For Dechow, the trek downstate marks the culmination of what has been a very successful prep career. Leading his team deep into the playoffs every year in football, making appearances in the state title match his sophomore and junior years in wrestling. The fact is that although Dechow has piled up plenty of wins and multiple state tournament appearances, he has yet to capture that elusive state title.

“This year is different because I have a new attitude,” Dechow said after a recent meet. “I felt like I should have won [state] last year [but] I just didn’t wrestle like I should have … I learned the hard way. So now I’m just trying to kick everybody’s butt every time I step out onto the mat.”

In Dechow’s sophomore year, the Rockets lost to Geneseo in the Class 4A football semifinals and Dechow fell in the 160-pound final, 3-2, to Washington’s Dylan Reel.

As a junior, Dechow’s Rockets lost to eventual runner-up Rock Island Alleman in the second round of the playoffs, and Dechow lost a 6-5 decision to Yorkville’s AJ Messenger in the Class 2A final at 171 pounds. The Rockets wrestling team had a stellar year at 30-4, but fell to Sycamore in the team dual quarterfinals.

As a senior, Dechow missed most of the regular season in football due to a broken right ankle he suffered in July at the Junior Freestyle Nationals in Fargo. He returned just before the playoffs and sparked R-B all the way to the state final, where they lost to two-time defending state champion Rochester in a shootout, 42-39. At 30-0 this season, Dechow is the only undefeated wrestler in Class 2A at 182 pounds and is considered the odds-on favorite to take home the state title.

Another wrestler in the family who knows a thing or two about winning state titles would likely have attended this weekend had the Illini not advanced to the NWCA National Duals Final Four in Stillwater. Dechow and Blanton are very close, and talk at least a couple times a week. Blanton believes that cousin Jack has all the physical tools to be a dominant state champ – he just has to get over the mental hurdles that can creep in when you’ve fallen just short of your goal. For his part, R-B Coach Bret Wojcik believes the familial relationship has only aided Dechow’s maturity as a wrestler.

“It’s helped him tremendously,” Wojcik said. “Jordan was one of his idols growing up and he used to watch him. [Jack] is very similar to how [Jordan] wrestled – our motto is relentless and both of them embody that style. [Blanton] talks with [Dechow] and works out with him on breaks, which helps a lot, getting that experience with a [Division-I] All-American.”

Dechow signed with Old Dominion in March, spurning local schools like Illinois, Central Michigan, Missouri and Northern Iowa. He loved the campus and was looking for a school close to water. Despite being an all-state running back in football, he’ll focus solely on wrestling for the Monarchs.

Every high school wrestler who advances beyond sectionals yearns to win state, to see their hours of sweat and sacrifice result in the sport’s ultimate individual achievement. But for Jack Dechow, running the table and bringing home another state title to northwest Illinois might be a triumph that tastes a little sweeter.

“In my opinion, the only person that can stop Jack Dechow is Jack Dechow,” Blanton said. “If he goes out and wrestles hard for six minutes in [every match] his senior season, he can dominate every wrestler in the state. This is his year to do it.”

Weds., Feb. 15, 2012~Illinois Matmen News

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