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Loyola Academy's Jack Tower (right) battles Thornton Fractional South senior Joe Young in the 182lbs class match during the meet at Loyola Academy on Saturday, December 1, 2012. | Michael Jarecki ~ For Sun-Times Media
Stuck as a backup at his natural weight class last season, Loyola's Jack Tower mostly wrestled against heavier opponents.
While it wasn't a perfect situation for him, the circumstance showed the middleweight the need to add more muscle.
"That was a big issue for me," said Tower, who split time at 170 pounds as a junior, even though he was built for 152 or 160 pounds. "Those guys were not only bigger than me, but they were stronger. I needed to be able to hit harder shots."
Tower, now a senior, spent the offseason in the weight room, where he rotated sets between bench press, power clean and squat. Tower shot up a couple of weight classes and started this season at 182 pounds, where he wrestled Saturday at Loyola's tri-meet.
"Last year toughened him up," said Loyola coach Chris Stephens, whose Ramblers lost to T.F. South 36-9 and Glenbrook North 36-22. "He's absolutely and completely stronger than last year. He didn't have a lot of confidence last year, but he does now. He's more aggressive because he's stronger and more confident in taking those shots."
Tower, who lives in Glenview, got into wrestling the summer before eighth grade by attending a camp at Notre Dame in Niles. At the time, Notre Dame's youth program more developed than the one at Loyola's.
As a freshman, Tower wrestled JV before making varsity as a sophomore. He competed at 145 pounds that season and jumped another few weight classes for his junior year.
One of the school's best students, Tower is smart enough to not think too far ahead. Instead of contemplating a trip to the state meet, the National Honor Society member only is concerned with his next match. The Ramblers have one of their toughest tests to date Saturday at Prospect's invitational.
"I like to take everything week by week," said Tower, also a Dumbach Scholar, which provides academically gifted Loyola students with an accelerated academic curriculum. He's looking at Boston College, Notre Dame and Wisconsin. "I want to be ready for what is next."