Marian Catholic's Nate Jackson is a young man who can think on his feet.
And he can wrestle pretty good on his feet, too.
The 170-pound senior hasn't lost a match on the mat all season and has not given up a takedown point either. Jackson is 35-1 with his only loss being a disqualification for slamming an opponent to the mat.
Today, Jackson will face Antioch's Zach Epker in a first-round match at the Class 2A state meet at the University of Illinois' Assembly Hall. Jackson knows what he wants and that is to be standing on the top step of the podium Saturday when the medals are handed out.
"I am really confident going in but not over confident," Jackson said. "I am just looking forward to wrestling and putting it all on the mat."
Jackson was fifth at 152 pounds last year in Class 3A and is a four-time state qualifier. He said he worked on some different styles during the summer, and it has come to fruition.
"I like wrestling on my feet, and I had to put some time in and work on it," Jackson said. "I got a lot of help from (assistant coach) Ken Jordan in the wrestling room. He taught me to be on the offensive and go for takedowns.
"I really like that style."
Marian head coach Dan Jordan said Jackson is one of those who has a different personality on the mat.
"He is so energized," Jordan said. "When he comes to practice, he can't wait to get on the mat and go to work. He brings that enthusiasm, and it rubs off on the other kids.
"You see him walking down the hall, carrying his books, quiet. Then you see him 15 minutes later, and he is a different person."
Jackson said that is just his style.
"I like to make that first move and get points," Jackson said. "When I take a guy down, I let him up and try to take him back down again."
The Spartans schedule has been a plus as Jackson said facing top opponents has made him tougher.
"I love that schedule, because you want to wrestle the best," Jackson said. "It is a challenge, and that is how you get better is when you are pushed."
Jackson is hoping to be the best.