Freely admitting that a state wrestling championship is an expectation and not a dream, Adarios Jones does not shy away from the pressure.|
About the only thing he avoids are rankings.
Still unranked in the Illinois Best Weekly Class 3A state poll, there is no concern in his voice as Jones, a Moline 285-pound junior wrestler, talks about the lack of statewide attention. It's nearly impossible to discuss rankings when you have not even seen them.
"I don't look at them at all," said Jones, this week's Metro Pacesetter for The Dispatch and The Rock Island Argus. "I did it a lot my freshman year because I was dreaming of being up there. I know for a fact I'll be up there."
To some, that seems like a far-fetched thought. Those who create the polls seem to feel that way.
Sensing that provides fuel in his quest.
"Being an underdog has always been a favorite of mine," Jones said. "It doesn't bother me one bit."
The big picture is Jones' lone focus, a journey that is starting strong. So far this season, he is undefeated in nine matches with four falls and a team-high 18 takedowns entering Wednesday dual against Geneseo.
Three of those nine victories are against ranked opponents.
"A pretty good start," Jones said. "I haven't looked into the significance of it yet because the big thing I'm trying to do is win state. You can't focus on individual matches. I've got to go out and wrestle how I've wrestled."
A quarter of the way through the season, Jones is rolling. Whether it be a pin or decision, he handles his business each time he takes the mat with a quiet confidence that overshadows any number.
The belief is there that a state title can be reached. During a brief chat inside the Moline wrestle room, Jones stops chatting about the season and gazes at one sign hanging above the mat honoring every state medalist in program history.
"Everyday I'm looking at that," Jones said. "A.J. Lavender is the last person (to win a state title, doing so in 2003). One day, I envision him walking in here and congratulating me because I was going to be the next person on the board."
Each time Jones takes the mat, he's thinking that way.
"He's made it clear that he thinks he can beat everybody in the state," Moline coach Todd Thompson said. "I want him to be up for every challenge put in front of him. He doesn't back down from anything."
Two reasons put that chip on Jones' shoulder.
A history of health issues have limited his career, including a concussion that knocked him out the ASICS/Vaughan Junior and Cadet National Championships in July. On top of that, he was disqualified from the sectional last year after allegedly biting his quarterfinal opponent.
Those alone serve as motivation.Being unranked adds to it as well.
"I don't believe any of them are better than me," Jones said.
The start to this season validates that statement.
"I guarantee you every heavyweight knows who he is," Thompson said. "He knows he can beat the kids who are ranked. The rankings don't mean anything at this point."
The only ranking Jones worries about is the one that comes in late February.
"First," Jones said. "That's all I have."
Metro Pacesetter - Moline's Adarios Jones
Favorite food: Chicken alfredo
Favorite movie: "Remember the Titans"
Favorite color: Maroon
Favorite TV show: "Fresh Prince of Bel-Air"
Favorite team: West Virginia Mountaineers
Parents: John and Joellyn Schott, Moline
In the running
Brandon Mizlo, Geneseo: The 182-pound junior won the Rockford East Invitational after four victories, including two pins.
Trey Sigel, Rock Island: Scored 25 points on 9-of-12 shooting during the Rocks' 74-39 Western Big 6 Conference win at Alleman.
Sherrard, IL Details
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