It's hard to believe that at 6-foot-6, 200 pounds, Hinsdale South sophomore wrestler Josh King sneaked up on people last year.
As a freshman, King was one of the state's biggest breakout wrestlers, posting a 33-9 record and advancing to the 220-pound quarterfinal wrestlebacks at the state meet. He's picked up where he left off this season. He was 37-3 after capturing his second consecutive regional crown with a hard-fought, 3-0 win over Hinsdale Central's Matt Allen weekend at Lyons.
But one move in the regional title match caught the eye of King's coach, Steve Holland. It proved King is more than just a strong, big body on the mat.
"Allen got him in a double under hook late in the match, but Josh stood his ground, planted his back foot, and with that 7-foot wing span of his grabbed a leg and took him down," Holland said. "You don't teach something like that. I've never seen something like that. He shouldn't have been in that situation, but he was gifted enough to get out of it."
"It wasn't a quality shot at all," King said. "But my arms are long and I was able to get deep, pick him up and drive him down."
The match proved something to King, who is currently the second-ranked 220-pound wrestler in the state, according to illinoismatmen.com. Though he's been wrestling for more than half his life, he said he has a long way to go. But he's getting there.
"Last year was pretty unexpected, with the regional championship and qualifying for state," said King, who also started on the defensive line for the Hornets' football team. "This year everybody is expecting bigger things from me. I worked a lot in the offseason and I don't want to be complacent. My high school career isn't even half over yet, and I feel I can only go up from here."
King only has one loss to an in-state opponent this season, a 5-3 decision to top-ranked Emonte Logan from Oak Park. Both wrestlers head to separate sectionals this weekend and likely could meet again sometime during state competition.
"His time can be now," Holland said. "He is just starting to scratch the surface of his ability as a wrestler."
"It definitely doesn't get any easier for me at all," King added. "I've just got to go harder and harder and harder every day — stay after in the practice room and drill things that I know I need to work on."