Book Review: Tales From the Mat: Illinois High School Wrestling at 75

Updated: October 4, 2012

Since its origins in the late 1920s in the working-class neighborhoods of Chicago, high school wrestling in Illinois has produced countless memorable moments. They’re all chronicled in the book Tales From the Mat: Illinois High School Wrestling at 75. Read all about the state’s greats from 1937, when the Illinois High School Association hosted the first state tournament underneath Memorial Stadium in Champaign, where University of Illinois football greats such as Red Grange also became legends … to 2012, when the 75th official state tournament convened at the historic Assembly Hall.

In 512 riveting pages, packed with over 200 photos, author and WIN High School Editor Rob Sherrill chronicles every one of those 75 state tournaments and the back stories which led to those historic moments.

You’ll also read about wrestling through the eyes of the sport’s pioneers, legends and luminaries, who built the foundation which made wrestling into the exciting and popular sport that packs the Assembly Hall … and gyms all across the state every season.

Originally published as Mat Madness: 60 Glorious Years of Illinois High School Wrestling, in 1996, this revised and updated edition will transport you to the Assembly Hall in February and any time of year!

To place an order of Tales From the Mat: Illinois High School Wrestling at 75, go to and click on “Products”.

About Author Rob Sherrill

A native of Chicago’s south suburbs, Rob Sherrill first covered wrestling for the Star Newspapers in 1978. He gradually expanded his focus statewide, starting The Grappler in 1981. He joined the Chicago Sun-Times in 1983, covering wrestling and other high school sports for the paper for 12 years. That same year, he started The Illinois Best Weekly, the state’s first weekly statewide rankings publication, which continues to this day. He also assists the state’s website,, in producing rankings and other content. The voice of the Class 3A state tournament on the IHSA-TV network, Sherrill was a color analyst for the first television broadcast of the state tournament in 1987, and continued in that role for more than a decade.

In 1992, Sherrill initiated the first national Super 25 Wrestling Teams run by USA Today, and produced the Super 25 for the national newspaper for six seasons. He has been the National High School Editor for WIN Magazine since 1997.

A resident of Nashville, Tenn. since 1997, Sherrill is a three-time recipient of the Illinois Wrestling Coaches and Officials Association (IWCOA) Newsman of the Year award, one of many local, state and national awards he has received. He was inducted into the IWCOA Hall of Fame in 2006.