Tom Batters
Marcus McCall

Richwoods senior wrestler Marcus McCall is undefeated in the 140-pound weight division this year, but he knows there is somebody out there who is looking to pin a loss on him.

So, he continues to put himself through a grueling practice regiment in order to be prepared for his next match, and the one after that.

“Records and rankings don’t mean much if you’re not ready to wrestle every time,” said McCall, who is ranked in the top 10 in the state. “I really want to qualify for State. I’ll have to keep working hard to do that. There’s some tough competition out there. If I don’t work hard, somebody can beat me.”

McCall qualified for State at 112 pounds as a sophomore. He is the only sophomore in school history to make the state tournament.

Last year, as a junior, he suffered a back injury and missed the state tournament. That injury, and the long road to recovery, made him even hungrier for a return to State this year.

His coach, Rob Penney, said McCall has a good shot at making it back to Champaign (where the state tournament is held in late February).

“He works so hard in practice. He really gets after it,” Penney said. “He’s a hard-nosed wrestler with good awareness on the mat. He's capable of making it to State. He’s really focused on that goal.”

Penney said McCall is also a “pleasant kid” and a “good leader” to the rest of the Richwoods wrestlers.

“He’s the type of kid that coaches like to have on their team,” he said. “He does his work and he cares a lot about his team.”

McCall started wrestling in Rock Island when he was eight years old, but quit for a short time after he lost his first match.

He came back because he missed the competition, and he has been wrestling competitively ever since.

“I like it because it’s a physical, athletic sport, but I also like the mental side of it,” he said. “I like the strategy that goes into a match. I like reacting to situations and trying to figure out my next move.”

McCall is getting interest from Southern Illinois, Elmhurst and other colleges. He said he would like to continue wrestling after he graduates from high school this summer.

“It will be tough. College wrestling is pretty competitive. But, I would like to give it a try,” he said.

The Richwoods wrestling team faces Peoria Notre Dame at home at 6 p.m. Tuesday.