High school wrestling

Tom Batters
Luke Cusack

Peoria Notre Dame senior wrestler Luke Cusack owns an 83-26 career record and will end his career sixth on the school’s all-time win list.

Not bad for a kid who did not know anything about wrestling just four years ago.

Notre Dame wrestling coach Kevin Burk said Cusack’s success is a result of his skill, willingness to perfect his technique, and, most of all, his heart.

“Every coach would love to have a kid like Luke on his team,” Burk said. “He’s got a lot of heart, and he’s a really good kid. He has been our captain for the past two years. He is everything you would want your captain to be.”

Burk remembers meeting Cusack four years ago — on the football field.

“I was the freshman football coach, and I remember that he really wanted to play football.” Burk said. “But he just never grew enough, so I suggested that he give wrestling a try.”

Cusack, who is state-ranked at 112 pounds, said he was disappointed that he would not be able to pursue football, but he went into wrestling with an open mind.

“I didn’t know anything about wrestling at all,” he said. “Coach Burk helped me out a lot. Eventually, I got the hang of it. The biggest thing is to become familiar with all the situations, so you are always prepared to make your next move. Some of that comes with experience. I’ve learned a lot in four years.”

Burk said Cusack has made a lasting impression on many of the younger Notre Dame wrestlers.

At practice last week, Cusack worked with some of the underclassmen one-on-one.

“This is the JV practice. He doesn’t need to be here. But, he comes out and works with the younger kids,” Burk said. “He does all those little things. If we need mats moved, he does it without asking. He’s like another coach for us.”

Cusack said he would like to end his career at Notre Dame with a team conference title, and maybe even an individual state appearance.

“We have Woodruff and Richwoods in our conference. That’s some tough competition, but I think we can do it,” he said. “Getting to State will be tough. I’ll need to get a good draw coming out of our Regional.”

The Mid-State 6 Conference championship meet is Saturday at Richwoods.