DeKALB – Never bashful or without the plan to match his goals, DeKalb wrestling’s Fabian Lopez has been verbally commited to the University of Illinois wrestling program since April of his sophomore year, right after he won a state title.
Wednesday, joined by family, friends and teammates, Lopez signed his national letter of intent in the commons area of DeKalb High School, joining senior classmate Jack Paeglow, who signed a letter to play golf for Illinois State.
“I want to go in and shock everyone, kind of like how I did in high school,” Lopez said. “I want to work hard like I’ve been doing, and I want to grind it. The potential I want is I want to get up to that level of respect. That’s my goal. Later on, I will be an NCAA Champion. I will. But I want to earn respect. That’s my goal, go out there, work as hard as I can, to the point where I’m going to be puking every practice. You know what I’m saying? I want to be that hard-working.”
Lopez has been on the medal stand at state three years running, with a runner-up finish last year, a championship as a sophomore and a sixth-place finish as a junior.
“I was as confident as I could be as a sophomore in high school,” Lopez said. “When I first took my visit there, I got to know my guys more, I got to know my coaches more, and it just sort of fit.”
The now-senior Barbs wrestler has been able to establish longstanding friendships in wrestling and has cultivated those year-round. Lopez values the bond he already has established with his future teammates.
“I’m invited in group chats, and it’s awesome,” Lopez said. “Getting to see who are going to be my roommates, getting to see who’s going to be my family, going into the Illini family, I’m so excited for it.”
Paeglow, who verbally commited to be a Redbird in January, was glad to have put a pen to paper to make his college goals come closer to fruition.
“Some of my goals are to play in all of the tournaments or as many as I can, so get in the lineup, get some reps in,” Paeglow said. “I want to contribute to the team, so be a top-four scorer in most of the tournaments that I play in and really just play golf, have fun with my teammates and keep improving every year and every day.”
The cold weather won’t slow the senior in working to be ready to be competitive at the Division I level.
“August is going to be here so quickly,” Paeglow said. “I’m just trying to get prepared as best as I can for college and just keep working.”