LANSING |The chance of a perfect season for Illiana Christian's Zach Groen ended at Saturday's Class 1A Plano Sectional when he lost in the semifinals.
Wilmington's Sean Liaromatis handed Groen his first loss, a 10-6 decision in one semifinal, but that has not stopped Groen of wanting a perfect ending to his senior year.
Illiana wrestling coach Dean Bosman said the loss may be a blessing in disguise.
"I think that does take the monkey off his back," Bosman said. "There is always in the back of your mind when you are undefeated that you might lose.
"He lost, and he can just go down and wrestle."
Groen said he learned from his loss.
"It was not so much has having a monkey on my back (about going undefeated), but as it was humbling," Groen said. "If anything, I think it has encouraged me to work a little harder this week on my weaknesses."
The Munster resident said Liaromatis got a few takedowns on him and he has to be better at not letting himself get taken down. Groen will take a 40-1 record into Thursday's IHSA Class 1A state meet at the University of Illinois' Assembly Hall. The three-class meet runs from Thursday through Saturday night, and Groen wants to be on the top step of the podium by the end. He faces Rock Island Alleman's Sean Weatherall (28-4) in a first-round match.
"I will be ready," Groen said. "I have prepared myself and a lot of it is mental and having confidence. I am not overconfident, but I am sure of myself."
He said he has to go all out.
"Everybody at state is good and like they say, you wrestle every match like it is your last," Groen said. "I am going down there and wrestle my hardest and wrestle smart. A lot of this is mental and is you are prepared, you will do well."