There are no days off for Jack Tolin.
Out of school sick Monday, the Chesterton freshman still found a way to feed his wrestling fix, watching the Ohio State-Purdue match.
"I'm definitely all in," Tolin said. "I've always liked the one-on-one aspect, you against the other guy. It's different than basketball ... or football ... The pressure's on you."
Growing up in Cleveland, Hal Tolin wrestled in high school and passed his passion along to sons, Jack and Danny. Jack began in the Duneland Wrestling Club when he was in second grade.
"I always look up to him," Tolin said of his dad. "He's always been tough. He talks about never having had as much technique or coaching as us. I heard (club coach Keith) Davison was a great coach. I don't think there's a bigger (wrestling) fan. I had nothing to lose, having such a great guy with so much experience coach me. I know how there's so much more to the sport, so much you can do after it."
It was several years before Tolin had success, finding the drive to improve in his struggles.
"The first probably four years, I was always getting frustrated after matches," he said. "Coming up to Chesterton, I knew I had to get better, that I could surpass the guys I wanted to beat if I kept working hard. The past couple years, I started winning the close matches. I could see everything coming together."
Though he's just 15, Tolin boasts a background and mature approach that belies his age.
"Jack is the first wave of year-round wrestlers coming up," Chesterton coach Chris Joll said. "No one other than Andy St. Germain has come in with more experience. He knows what he's doing. There's not a lot you have to tell him. He works hard."
Assistant coach Jason Cook, a state champion at Valparaiso, can’t help but see a bit of himself in the 5-foot-3, 106-pounder.
"He just loves wrestling," Cook said. "I'll reference a video on Flow Wrestling, and the next day he's already watched it twice. He can name moves a college wrestler hits. He can connect the dots, put together higher-level technique. He's been doing it for a while."
It's evident in the results. With a 32-2 record and a LaPorte Sectional title, Tolin is satisfied, for now, but still looking forward.
"I've seen freshmen have success, and I didn’t think I'd be any different," Tolin said. "Realistically, I think I had to have goals (to) beat anyone, set them high, or I wouldn't have the motivation I have. The coaches do a real good job pushing me, keeping my mind focused, while creating an enjoyable atmosphere. Wrestling is so much based on reactions, and they've drilled us to where it's just muscle memory."
Joll credits Tolin for being open to coaching, incorporating different styles and moves to complement what he already does. A 4.38 student with several honors classes, Tolin watches college matches to try to expand his wrestling knowledge.
"I try to find guys who fit what I'm doing, who have the same building blocks," he said. "I see what works for them and add it to my repertoire. I just try to do what I want to do, keep it sound, not look for anything too big. I can compete cardio-wise with anybody in the state and technically; I definitely have a chance to compete with anyone."
Having been to the state finals the last three years as a spectator, Tolin plans to be a participant this time.
"Just watching, it really looks like it's something special to wrestle a match under the lights," he said. "(Winning state) has been a goal since I started the sport, but it doesn't happen overnight. I'm still learning."