Lockport’s Oster ready for next challengeLockport High School varsity wrestling returning state medalists Jameson Oster (left) works out during practice Monday afternoon February 7, 2011 at the school in Lockport, Illinois. | Art Vassy~Sun-Times Media
Updated: August 11, 2011 12:12PM
Jameson Oster certainly left his imprint on the Lockport wrestling program. Now he hopes to do the same at Northwestern.
In his four seasons as a Porter wrestler, Oster placed in the top four at state every season. That is a rare feat over the nearly 75 years of the state wrestling tournaments.
Not only that, he moves on with a school-record 153 victories.
“I feel like I left a bar that someone can look up too and compete for,” he said. “They will look up my name and say, ‘I want to beat him.’ ”
That may prove difficult. No other Lockport wrestler ever placed more than two straight seasons. Oster began his run with a fourth-place finish in Class AA at 112 pounds in 2008.
The next season, he won the Class 3A state championship at 119. His junior year of 2010, he moved to 125 and took second in 3A, and last winter he went to 130 pounds and captured third place in 3A.
“That’s pretty good,” Oster said of his accomplishments. “I was coming in wanting to place and also win multiple titles and it almost worked out.”
The title season of 2009 ranks at the top for the fourth in a line of five Oster brothers, all of whom wrestled.
“Yeah, winning the title in 2009 was the best,” he said. “That season we had three people (Kevin Bialka at 152 and Mark Stenberg at 171, who both took second) in the finals, so it was pretty exciting.”
As was last season. While Oster didn’t take home another state title, he finished his high school career on a good note with a win in the third-place match.
“Yeah, after I lost in the semifinals, I was down,” Oster said of a 5-3 loss to Lyons senior Drew Bates. “But I wanted to finish my career on a strong note (he did with a 15-1 major decision over Marist senior Sean Raddatz). We had four people down at state and we all came away with medals.”
The other Porters medalists were Shaquille McMurtry, sixth at 215; Shaun’Qae McMurtry, second at 152, and Brad Johnson, first at 189.
With all their scores combined, Lockport would have tied for the team state title under the old scoring system. But that hasn’t been in use since 1983. Under the dual team series, which started in 1984, the Porters often were paired with powerhouse Providence and never could get out of the regional — until they finally broke through to capture the school’s first regional title in 2010.
“It was an exciting time when we won the first regional for the team,” Oster said. “We had been stuck in some of the hardest regionals and to finally do it felt good.”
Oster’s three older brothers also left their stamp at Lockport. Jake (135), Chris (124) and Josh (112) rank among the program’s top eight in all-time wins. Jake Oster was the state champion in AA at 112 in 2004.
Now Josh Oster is taking over as coach of the Porters, replacing Joe Williams, who stepped down after 21 seasons as coach.
“He’s looking forward to taking over,” Jameson Oster said of his older brother. “It just happens to come the year after I graduate. But he was an assistant for my years there and was around every day.”
Jameson certainly enjoyed having Williams as a coach, though.
“I’ve known coach Williams almost all my life,” he said. “He’s a good coach and easy to get along with. My favorite memory of him is how he motivated me to win the title my sophomore year.”
Williams also appreciated what Jameson Oster did in his four years.
“Jameson obviously has been a tremendous asset to our program with his wins and state-placing situation,” Williams said. “He not only was a great wrestler but a great example setter in the room as far as work ethic, the importance of practicing hard and staying disciplined, etc. He won like a champion and lost with dignity.
“He was not only all of that but he was the academic wrestler of the year for us, which we try to stress highly in our program. He has had an amazing career and we wish him the best at Northwestern, where I’m sure he will flourish just the same.”
When making his college choice, Oster, who ranked in the top 10 percent of his class, was weighing between two Big Ten schools.
“I was going between Northwestern and University of Illinois,” he said. “But Kevin Bialka (who graduated Lockport in 2009) has always been a good friend and he’s at Northwestern. Having someone you know there helps a lot.
“Plus, I just liked Northwestern more during the process. I liked the school better and everyone on the team.”