Rock Island's Syler works his way to the top

Posted Online: Dec. 26, 2012, 8:44 pm
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By Daniel Makarewicz,
Among the superlative phrases thatRock Island wrestling coach Joel Stockwell uses in describing 138-pound senior Devin Syler, one easily stands out.

"He's 100 percent," Stockwell said, "no matter what."

So, if you need a reason how a career junior-varsity wrestler can start his senior season with 17 victories in 19 matches, Syler's work ethic provides the answer. Syler, this week's Metro Pacesetter for The Dispatch and The Rock Island Argus, may not have the most experience or talent on the mat, but fewoutwork him.

"I never thought my hard work would get me this far," Syler said. "It shows it pays off."

The journey to this point is more impressive than Syler's current record.In seventh grade, he started wrestling "because my friends were doing it." A year later, Syler felt this was a sport he would continue once he reached Rocky and over the next three seasons, the spotlight rarely shined on him.

Despite a blue-collar approach thatthe coaches noticed every day, he could not secure a varsity spot.

"Anywhere else in the conference," Stockwell said, "he would have been a varsity guy."

Fourteen varsity matches were all Syler could get in three years.

"He could have been selfish and quit," Stockwell said. "But, he stuck it out."

Presented with the notion of giving up, Syler displayed the character that has him where he is today.

"There were times I thought I wasn't working hard enough," Syler said. "I was wondering if the work would pay off."

A midseason stretch last year provided an answer.Aknee injury to Darius Henderson, then the 132-pound starter, meant Syler was needed at the varsity level. Fourteen matches later, he had 10 victories wrestling in Henderson's spot.

With Syler in the lineup, the Rocks won their second consecutive outright Western Big 6 Conference title.They also saw an unknown develop into a key cog for this season's state-ranked team.

"He's been a nice surprise," Stockwell said. "I knew he would be tough because of the time he's put in. There were glimpses of brightness. But there was a lot of uncertainty once he was out there as a full-time varsity wrestler. He's getting better."

Ranked 11th in the Illinois Matmen Class 2A poll, Syler is showing he can be a consistent performer. Eight of his 17 wins have come via fall and two more are major decisions.

Both losses are to ninth-ranked Dixon junior Kylian Lally. Since the second loss to Lally in the Sterling-Carson DeJarnatt Invitational championship bout, Syler has won 11 consecutive bouts.

"He's become a very important piece to the puzzle," Stockwell said.

How important a piece? In his first year as a full-time varsity starter, Syler is a captain.

"It's his work ethic," Stockwell said. "He doesn't do it by yelling. He's here every day -- first one here and last one here -- busting his butt every minute."

Syler never takes a break on the mat.

"I just have that mindset," Syler said.

Because of that, Syler is thinking big.Asked what he wants to accomplish before his prep career ends, the ultimate finish is a state medal. Up until this year, that did not seem possible.Then again, few thought he could reach the varsity lineup.

"I'm going to make it happen," Syler said.

We all know what that means.

Metro Pacesetter - Rock Island's Devin Syler

Favorite food: Honey barbecue boneless wings
Favorite movie: "Ted"
Favorite Christmas present: Video games
Favorite class: Math with Mr. Melody
Favorite team: Dallas Cowboys
Parents: Mike and Kristy Syler, Rock Island

In the running
Jessica Howell, Moline:
Bowled a 767 series to help the Maroons earn a 3,016-2,867 win over United Township.


Local events heading

  Today is Wednesday, July 30, the 211th day of 2014. There are 154 days left in the year.
1864 -- 150 years ago: After Sept. 1, every small box of matches will be required to have a 3 cent duty Lincoln stamp on it, and every large box will be one cent for every 100 matches.
1889 -- 125 years ago: Rock Island residents had contributed a total of $1,293 to the American Red Cross for the Johnstown flood relief fund.
1914 -- 100 years ago: Capt. Clark Means, new darkhorse twirler for the ARGUS staff, was in great form in his initial contest as a mound laborer. The result was that THE ARGUS trimmed the Union 6-5.
1939 -- 75 years ago: Hunter and Humprey Moody, young Decatur, Ill, brothers, lack only a few hours of establishing a new world light plane endurance record.
1964 -- 50 years ago: Gates of the 110th annual Mercer County Fair swing open tonight at Aledo for a full week of day and night activity. More that $36,000 will be paid in premiums and race purses.
1989 -- 25 years ago: The baseball field carved out of the cornfield near Dyersville, Iowa, continues to keep dreams alive for hundreds of visitors. Tourists from 26 state and France have visited Dan Lansing's farm to see the baseball diamond seen in the hit movie "Field of Dreams."

(More History)