WEST ENGLEWOOD — One of Illinois' top heavyweight wrestlers, Deuce Rachal, is named after a car his father gave away.
"Still makes me mad," said Rachal, a senior at Lindblom Math and Science Academy who's ranked fourth in the state in his weight class.
Rachal, 18, has taken out that frustration on opponents this season with a 20-0 record heading into Saturday's IHSA Class 2A regional tournament at Simeon Career Academy. He's hoping to remain unbeaten through the state finals, which would make him the second individual wrestling champion in Lindblom's history.
"The Chicago Public League is not stacked with competition at heavyweight this year, so he only gets a handful of challenging looks during the season," said Lindblom head coach Corey Morrison, a former varsity wrestler for Ohio State. "However, training in the room with him daily, I know that he has the physical ability, but, more importantly, he has the confidence that there is not a wrestling style or athlete that can surprise him."
Rachal's unusual first name is in honor of his dad Stephen's former 1969 Buick Electra convertible, which also went by the street name "Deuce and a Quarter" because it was more than 225 inches long.
Rachal, of the Grand Crossing neighborhood, is the second youngest of Stephen's six children, and all of them are gifted in the martial arts. Several have won jujitsu, karate and boxing national tournaments, learning to train at Rachal's Hapkido, the martial arts school Stephen owns in Calumet Heights.
"Deuce knows how to win, and he refuses to lose," said Stephen Rachal, a Kenwood High School graduate. "He's got an edge."
Deuce Rachal said wrestling has been the toughest sport to master, even though he's been involved with the sport since first grade and had enjoyed immense success. He won an Illinois frosh-soph state title as a sophomore even though Lindblom didn't have a team. Because Lindblom had no squad, he was allowed to compete for suburban Bloom Trail High School as a ninth- and 10th-grader.
His success caught the attention of Morrison, a math teacher at Lindblom who had wrestled in high school. At the start of last school year, he approached Rachal and said "it would be cool if we started a team."
Rachal advanced to the state finals in the 220-pound weight class as a junior, finishing 19-2. Rachal, who weighs 251 pounds, moved to heavyweight this year and said he hasn't been tested in any of his 20 victories.
Rachal said staying patient during matches will be key to claiming state.
"The idea that I'm not able to take someone down makes me frustrated," he said. "I think if I can beat that frustration and keep going, I think I'll be all right."
Morrison, of Humboldt Park, said Rachal is focused on winning a championship, but it won't come easily.
"Last year he was a true underdog since no one outside of Chicago had heard of him, but this year competition across the state is ready and prepared for him," Morrison said.
Rachal, who has a 3.3 grade point average and scored a 23 on his ACT, said he's received interest from Illinois and Purdue coaches to wrestle at the next level. Regardless of which school he attends — he's applied to Northwestern and the University of Chicago — Rachal said he wants to become an orthopedic surgeon because biology is his favorite subject and he's interested in anatomy.
Plus, he said, his father and grandmother have problems with their joints and bones, and he's always felt powerless to help them.
"So now I'm motivated to help people who have problems like that," he said.