FRANKLIN PARK – Like many other sibling rivalries, Matt Rowland is trying to one-up his brother.
The Willowbrook wrestler already accomplished something older brother Dan did not: make the state tournament as a sophomore.
Matt took second at 152 pounds at the Leyden sectional on Saturday to book his first state appearance. He still has a lot to accomplish to chase down Dan, who was a two-time state qualifier that took third as a junior in 2012 and was runner-up at 160 pounds as a senior last year.
For now he is happy to maintain the tradition associated with the Rowland name.
“Following my brothers’ foot steps,” Matt said.
Rowland lost to Oak Park-River Forest’s Matthew Rundell for the second week in a row. Rundell beat Rowland 6-2 in the sectional final after defeating him 5-4 in a regional title match the week before.
Rowland entered Thursday’s first round at state with a 42-4 record and a goal of placing in the top three. He hopes he gets another shot at Rundell somewhere along the line.
“I got a lot to improve on,” Rowland said. “I think I can get him.”
Joining Rowland at state will be senior Jake Kroeger. Kroeger was fourth at 182 pounds at the sectional to make his second state appearance.
Kroeger lost his only state match when he qualified at 152 pounds as a sophomore. That year he went with teammate Dan Rowland. This time around he will be joined by the younger Rowland.
“It definitely helps. Having a teammate there makes the whole experience more fun,” Kroeger said.
Kroeger missed the beginning of this season with an injury, but is hoping to end his career on a high note. He entered the state tournament with a 21-6 record.
“It feels good [to make it],” Kroeger said. “Winning state is the ultimate goal.”
The Warrior pair were the only two Willowbrook wrestlers that competed at the sectional. Willowbrook has had at least one state qualifying wrestler for six years in a row and has sent two for the past three years.
Willowbrook wrestlers at state
Name, year, weight class, record
• Matt Rowland, soph., 152 pounds, 42-4 • Jake Kroeger, sr., 182 pounds, 21-6