Boys wrestling builds on impressive legacy

Coach celebrates 50th season coaching, prepares the team for State


Charlie Campbell ’23 locks up against Riverside-Brookfield wrestler in match on Nov. 23 in Vaughn gym (Crousore/LION)

Catherine Crousore, Reporter

Over the years, wrestling has become an integral part of LT winter sports culture. This season, varsity assistant coach Mark King returns for his 50th year of coaching, guiding his grandson through his final year on the team. 

“I enjoy the challenge of trying to get wrestlers to reach their fullest potential,” King said. “I also enjoy working with the other coaches on the staff. It keeps me active and feeling good.”

Since 2005, King has been retired from his 33-year teaching position, formerly instructing students on various subjects including biology, chemistry, environmental science, and health. During his time coaching he won many awards, such as the Illinois Wrestling Coaches Association Coach of the year in 1992, and was inducted into the Illinois Wrestling Coaches and Officials Association (IWCOA) Hall of Fame in 2002, he said. After retiring from his teaching position, King continues to influence a countless number of students, helping them carve out a better athletic career and life through his guidance and coaching.   

“I played basketball when I was younger, but I’m a short guy,” King said. “I was a football player, and wrestling and football kind of go together. My sophomore year football coach told me ‘Hey, you’ve got to go out for wrestling,’ so I did. My dad was also a coach, so all of that led me here.” 

King is not only continuing to coach with the wrestling team this winter, but also will be guiding his grandson, co-captain Cooper King ‘23, through his final season with the group. Through wrestling, their bond has grown stronger than before, Mark King said. 

“[My grandpa] probably pushes me the most out of everyone, but is also there for everyone else too,” King said. “People will come up to me during school and say ‘Man, your grandpa is really something else! He gets after us like no other business.’ He really just loves to see people improve. I absolutely love watching him do what he loves, it makes me so happy.”

This year, the team has a set goal to make it to State this upcoming February. After their first meet occurred Nov. 23 at home against Riverside Brookfield, they will start to assess strengths and weaknesses in order to further plan out the rest of the season, King said. 

“The kids really have been working their butts off in practice,” varsity head coach Griff Powell said. “It’s hard to determine where we are as a team this early on, but everything that we’re seeing as far as energy levels and work ethic is exactly where we need it to be to make for a great season.” 

During practices, the boys work on different skills and techniques through sparring, Powell said. The coaches push the team to get more time and experience on the mats in order to prepare for the intensity of real opponents, as well as refine returning athletes to get them back into the game. 

After dealing with an injury for the duration of the last season, Ricky Cavaliere ‘23 returns back to the mat for his last season with the team to help progress them to State.  

“I have been dealing with some injuries for the past year, so my goal is to just get out on the mat and let the hard work do the rest,” Cavaliere said. “As a team, I hope that each wrestler does what is necessary in practice and off the mat so the team can perform in the big duals and tournaments.”

Despite the struggles that come along with wrestling and managing injuries, Cavaliere continues his wrestling career in part due to the family that he surrounds himself with, he said. 

“Wrestling is tough and will shape you into a very strong minded human being,” Cavaliere said. “Unfortunately, people sometimes aren’t willing to put themselves through that, but trust me when I say it is worth the effort to give wrestling all that you’ve got.”

The next wrestling meet will be held Dec. 15 at York High School at 4 p.m., facing off against the Dukes.