Hot off the press: History of Illinois high school wrestling

Staff Report

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Seventy-five years in Illinois high school wrestling are in the books. Every one of them is chronicled in the newly-released book, Tales From the Mat: Illinois High School Wrestling at 75. The book went to press Nov. 5.

Written by veteran wrestling journalist and researcher Rob Sherrill, Tales From the Mat chronicles the state’s wrestling history, taking the sport from its origins in Chicago high schools through the 75 state tournaments conducted by the Illinois High School Association … all the way through the 2012 state tournament.

The 500-page book, packed with more than 200 photos, recaptures the highlights, stories, facts and figures of every state tournament, along with interviews from many of the sport’s star coaches, athletes and contributors. It traces the sport’s evolution from a winter alternative to basketball to one of the showcase high school sports in Illinois … and the exciting conclusion of each season as the state tournament convenes at the iconic Assembly Hall in Champaign. In short, the book is wrestling’s definitive reference.

Tales From the Mat: Illinois High School Wrestling at 75 retails for $37.95 and can be ordered by visiting

About the author

Rob Sherrill has covered wrestling in Illinois for nearly 35 years for a variety of publications, including the Chicago Sun-Times. He publishes The Illinois Best Weekly state rankings, which begins its 29th season this year, and is also a regular contributor to the Illinois Matmen website. Also a high school wrestling analyst at the national level, Sherrill compiled the wrestling Super 25 teams weekly for USA Today in the 1990s. Today, he is the National High School Editor for Newton, Iowa-based WIN magazine.

A native of the south Chicago suburbs, Sherrill is the author of Mat Madness: 60 Glorious Years of Illinois High School Wrestling, the original history of wrestling in the state, which was written in 1996. The recipient of many state and national awards for his reporting, Sherrill is a three-time winner of the Illinois Wrestling Coaches and Officials Association (IWCOA) Newsman of the Year Award, and was the first media member to be inducted into the IWCOA Hall of Fame. He lives in Nashville, Tenn.

For more information, visit or e-mail the author at

From the Dec. 26, 2012-Jan. 1, 2013, issue

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