Tyler Siddles is a senior sectional qualifier for the Pekin wrestling team. He suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament injury as a junior, but has bounced back with a strong senior season that includes winning titles in his last three tournaments. Siddles won the Quincy Invitational, then claimed a title at the Mid-Illini Conference tournament before capturing a regional championship this past Saturday at the Class 3A Quincy Regional. The 195-pounder had two second-period pins and a 7-3 decision to win the regional crown and raise his record to 31-7.

Journal Star reporter Stan Morris asked Siddles five questions:

1. You come from a family that mostly played basketball, so why did you choose wrestling? And what do you like best about wrestling?

"I choose to wrestle because I wanted to do something different than everyone else in my family. I also wanted to better myself mentally and physically and I knew wrestling was hard and demanding and so that is why I am a wrestler. What I like most about wrestling is the hard work, dedication, and mental strength it can give you if you put your all into it and the feeling of accomplishment knowing you walked off the mat and had given it your all."

2. When and how did you injure your knee and what was that recovery like?

"I tore my ACL last year at the Lincoln Holiday tournament in my semifinals match. I wrestled and felt my knee twist and then pop and I thought it was just dislocated. So we popped it back in and I injury forfeited that match. Then the next day I tried to wrestle again and it did it again and I couldn't move from the mat. The recovery was a long and painful process. I had a lot of help from my mom and my girlfriend and I credit my recovery to those two. I honestly thought my wrestling career was going to be over, but I never gave up hoping."

3. Has this year surprised you, or did you expect this kind of success? What has been the main reasons for your success?

"I've wrestled varsity since my sophomore year. This year has surprised me very much because I thought my leg wasn't going to be strong enough to hold up and I thought it was going to be a bad year. My main reason for success is the coaching. They have pushed us to hell and back. If it weren't for Coach Jacobs, Coach Poole, Coach Ross, and Coach Haynes consistently pushing me throughout this year and believing in me and my leg I wouldn't be where I am."

4. What has been the highlight of your season so far, and why?

"The highlight of this year is my first tournament win at Quincy and then turning around and winning conference a week later. The reason being is it was my first and second tournament win but also because before the Quincy finals match my coach told me a joke which really made the finals less nerve racking. I accredited that to helping me win, and for conference it was my highlight as well because coming in as a freshman having no wrestling experience and then to win conference three years later was the best feeling someone could have."

5. Your favorite pro athlete, pre-match ritual and restaurant, and why?

"My favorite pro athlete is Rob Gronkowski, because I admire his work ethic and his stubbornness to never give up. My pre-match ritual just consists of thinking what I can accomplish and believing in myself. My favorite restaurant would hands down be Chick-fil-a. Going there after a long day of wrestling is probably the best feeling someone's stomach can have."