It's finally time for the Dixon and Sterling wrestling teams to dust off their singlets and get down to business.
The Dukes and Golden Warriors haven't had much mat time of late, but that will change tonight when they tangle at Musgrove Fieldhouse. It begins with a handful of junior varsity bouts at 6 p.m., with the varsity slated to begin at about 6:30 p.m.
The match was originally scheduled for Tuesday, but was postponed due to inclement weather.
Dixon's last action was on Dec. 19, against LaSalle-Peru, while the Golden Warriors last took to the mat on Dec. 27, against Morton, Morris and Alleman.
"Hopefully we'll respond well to the time off," Dixon coach Chris Bishop said. "We had a lot of bumps and bruises to heal up, and I think the guys are ready to go. They are refreshed, both in body and mind."
As of Tuesday night, there is only one planned forfeit, at 106 pounds, a weight class the Dukes cannot fill.
Bishop thinks one of the key bouts will be at 195 pounds, where the Dukes' Connor Sperling is slated to face the Golden Warriors' Bryant Lilly.
"They're at about the same level," he said, "and that could be a pretty intense match."
Sterling coach Charlie Bishop, Chris' brother, looks at a potential 126-pound bout between the Golden Warriors' Zach DePuy and the Dukes' Jake Johnson as being of particular importance.
"I think that's the key match of the night," Bishop said. "A lot of the matches, I think, are going to be one-sided one way or the other, but that one should be interesting."
The Golden Warriors are ranked 18th in the latest Illinois Matmen poll, while the Dukes are unranked.
"It's always a tough dual," Sterling's Bishop said. "Dixon is strong in the middle weights, and if we can hold our own there, I think our overall depth should be enough for us to get the win."
The match will serve as a springboard for both teams. The Dukes will go to the Princeton Invite on Saturday, annually one of the top Class 1A tournaments in the state. The next weekend, it's off to the Geneseo Invite, another top test.
Sterling will venture to the Sycamore Invite on Saturday, then the Batavia Invite the following weekend. After that, it's the Northern Illinois Big 12 Tournament, slated for Jan. 25 at Musgrove Fieldhouse.
"This is a good dual to start off the second half of the season," Dixon's Bishop said. "It's a rivalry match, so everybody is going to be into it. It's going to be a fun night."
An added treat will have the Bishop brothers, each accomplished wrestlers at Dixon a little more than a decade ago, taking to the mat for a post-match bout. They've split decisions the past 2 years.
Dixon at Sterling
When: 6 p.m. today
Where: Musgrove Fieldhouse
Note: The Dakota, Erie-Prophetstown at Newman triangular slated for tonight has been moved to Jan. 21 in Erie.