The unexpected last year has become the expected this year. 

As a junior, Leo Meyer had not been expected to earn a state medal.

As a result, Meyer has had a proverbial target on his back this season, but it did not bother him.

The way the Mattoon High School senior sees it, he knows what to expect at state and he is going to do everything in his power to return to Mattoon with another All-State finish. 

At 220 pounds, Meyer (43-5) has a tough draw in his state bracket, facing off against Connor Lorden (35-2) of LaSalle. The winner of that match will take on either Aiden Gomez (34-11) of St. Patrick or Alex Jackson (31-0) of Bremen. 

“I’m going to have a tough kid, regardless,” said Meyer. “I’ve put in the work during the summer trying to get better. I don’t give up and, if I lose a match, I will just pick myself up again. I don’t let it bring me down. Learn from your mistakes and improve for the next one.”

Meyer said coaches Brett Porter and Devin Patterson have helped preach that mentality. 

“They push us because they know we are capable of getting to state,” said Meyer. “When we lose matches, they work one on one to help us learn from our mistakes. They tell us what to do and what we need to improve.”

That has been the theme of Meyer’s postseason. Meyer was a favorite to win the Regional Championship but finished as the runner-up. At the Sectional, Meyer placed third despite looking like a favorite to make the championship round. 

“Placing third was better than last year,” said Meyer. “We had a tough sectional. Mahomet, Centennial, they are tough at 220. I’m happy with third. It’d be nice to wrestle the kid from Chatham again. I made a simple mistake at the regional that I would like to have back.”

Regardless of the opponent, Meyer just wants to give it everything he has one last time to cap off his high school career before he starts training for the collegiate level at Elmhurst next year. 

“I’ve got nothing to lose,” said Meyer. “It’s been a great year. Even last year with no plans on placing. I’ve just taken it from there and put it all out there ever since.”

Meyer said the experience last year will definitely help towards his quest of medaling this year.

“I know what’s going on,” said Meyer. “Last year, I went with the flow and got confused about what to do or where to do. This year, I know where to be. The atmosphere is great. All those fans circled up and watching you is amazing.”