Long before the Sun-Times website Season Pass began covering wrestling this season, Rob Sherrill (pictured right) was writing about the local wrestling scene for the Sun-Times under former prep sports editor Taylor Bell. That started in 1984 and lasted for nearly 10 years until Sherrill left Chicago for a job prospect in Tennessee.
He has remained in Nashville ever since, but Sherrill has become a one-man industry as far as high school wresting goes. He is the publisher of Illinois Best Weekly, a consultant with IllinoisMatmen.com and the national high school editor for Wrestling Insider Newsmagazine (WIN).
One of Sherrill’s biggest projects launched this week with the publication of his second book on the history of Illinois high school wrestling. Sherrill’s 500-page book, “Tales from the Mat: Illinois High School Wrestling at 75,” comes 15 years after Sherrill published “Mat Madness: 60 Glorious Years of High School Wrestling,” which went out of print years ago.
Sherrill has worked on the new book for the past three years. The H-F grad has remained a state wrestling guru through the internet and “an incredible network of sources” despite living hundreds of miles away.
“The information I get is better every year. It’s more complete,” Sherrill said about his rankings.
The book includes some new research uncovered by Joliet Central coach Pat O’Connell and Sherrill about a 1944 invitational that replaced the state meet, which was cancelled due to World War II.
Sherrill also provides a story about sharing the wrestling beat with late Tribune reporter Reid Hanley. I covered more volleyball and golf events with Hanley, who was one of the classiest people in the business.
“We had a friendly rivalry at the two papers,” Sherrill said. “We had different strengths and made each other better. We made both papers better.”
Sherrill has always had a passion for Illinois wrestling. Before living in Nashville, the only time he spent outside the Chicago area was away at college at Penn State.
“(The book) wound up being bigger than I expected this time,” Sherrill said.