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By JARED BELL
Noah Surtin already got one title this season.
Now he wants the other.
After Surtin placed fifth at state last season, the 113-pound Edwardsville junior won a Cadet Freestyle National Championship this summer in Fargo and now wants to follow it up with a Class 3A state championship this winter.
“It would mean the world to me,” Surtin said. “That’s my ultimate goal right now. I won at Fargo and that was really cool, but I want to win that state title. Edwardsville High School has never had a state champion. We’ve had a bunch of talent but have just fallen short, so I really want to win it for this school, for my team and for myself.”
Given all of his success these past few months, no one would bet against him.
After a standout youth career, Surtin had a solid first two years at Edwardsville, highlighted by a fifth-place finish in Class 3A 113 pounds last season as a sophomore.
Then things really took off this summer when the University of Missouri recruit won the Cadet Freestyle National Championship. He was one of just three returning Illinois high school wrestlers to win a Cadet Freestyle national title.
“Going in, I knew I had the ability to win, but I didn’t quite understand what I could really do,” Surtin said. “After I won, I had this moment where I realized what I had just done and what I had just accomplished. It was amazing and so surreal.”
So far this season, Surtin has picked up right where he left off as he’s currently 16-0 as Edwardsville prepares for the Dvorak next weekend.
“He’s always been a talented kid and had a great big heart when he was in youth club,” Edwardsville coach Jon Wagner said. “He was truly a competitor even at a young age. Somewhere along the way growing up he decided he wanted to be the best and he was going to work hard to achieve his goals.”
In the current Illinois Matmen Premier State Rankings presented by GO EARN IT Wrestling Apparel, Surtin is ranked No. 1 in 3A 113 pounds and is also ranked No. 1 in the current Illinois Matmen POWER Rankings, which ranks the top wrestlers in the state regardless of class.
“It’s motivating to see yourself No. 1, but you have to remember that the rankings don’t really matter in the end,” Surtin said. “I could be ranked No. 1 all season and not make it to state. Or do something stupid or stop training hard. It’s a confidence-booster, but you can’t really focus on it too much.”
Surtin has mostly cruised through the season but did challenge himself last weekend in the Minooka Duals.
With Edwardsville facing St. Rita, Surtin bumped up two weights to 126 pounds to face St. Rita senior Tommy Russell – ranked No. 1 in 2A 120 pounds – in a rematch of last year’s 3A 113-pound fifth-place match. Surtin prevailed once again in his toughest match to date.
“We were on the bench and coach looked at me and asked, ‘What do you want to do?’” Surtin said. “We saw him weigh in at 126 (pounds) and I hadn’t had a tough match yet, so I told coach, ‘I want this match. I need to get ready for Dvorak. I need someone to push me.’ I wanted an idea of how I’d fair against some of the elite guys.”
Surtin and Edwardsville will face their toughest challenge yet as the Tigers will make the four-plus hour drive to the Dvorak, which starts Friday.
Surtin is ready for the challenge and his continued quest to capture both a Freestyle National Championship and a state title.
“He definitely has everything it takes to be a state champion,” Wagner said. “Does he have the drive to do it? Definitely. Does he have the skill to do it? Definitely. Someone is going to have to take it from him because he’s going to have the determination to get there.”