Long before Demechico Spraggins put on his Belleville West singlet for the first time, he had already achieved elite status in the sport of wrestling.
After winning three Illinois Kids Wrestling Federation state titles and placing second three times, it was a foregone conclusion Spraggins would add state title No. 4 as a member of the Maroons.
He is still chasing that elusive state crown, but the Maroons senior has done just about everything else there is during his impressive career at West.
"It's the missing piece. I've achieved everything else,'' Spraggins said. "Anything less than the state title would be very disappointing. I want it so bad.
"The season has ended with me disappointed for three years. It's not going to be four.''
A two-time Class 3A state tournament runner-up and three-time state medal winner, Spraggins will look to become the Maroons' leader in career victories Thursday, when West hosts Collinsville at 6 p.m.
Spraggins tied former teammate Dylon Viglasky with 141 wins during the Maroons' 53-13 victory over Civic Memorial on Tuesday.
The owner of a 141-9 record for his career, Spraggins said he has been thinking of the record for over a year.
"Since about midway through last year I knew I had a chance,'' Spraggins said. "And I don't want to get the record by just one or two wins.
"I'm thinking about breaking it by 20 to 25. I'll have that opportunity."
Ranked third in Class 3A at 138 pounds, Spraggins is 26-1 this season with his only loss coming to Collin Cummings of Downers Grove North in the final of the Hinsdale Central Tournament last month.
In that match, Spraggins had the lead late, but was hit for three stalling calls in the final 35 seconds, giving Cummings the victory.
Cummings is ranked first at 138.
"It's been a good year. The one match I lost, I really don't look at it that way because of the three stalling calls in the last 30 seconds," Spraggins said "I've learned from it and it won't happen again.
"I have beaten him (Cummings) before. He's a good wrestler, but I can't wait to see him at the state tournament.''
Already the top Class 3A wrestler ever from Southern Illinois with second-place finishes at 103 and 119 pounds, respectively, his first two years to go with a fourth-place finish at 126 a year ago, Spraggins prepared for his senior season with his most successful summer as a high school wrestler.
Spraggins won the 138-pound title at the elite Disney Duals, where he finished 9-0 and helped Team Illinois to a second-place finish. Spraggins also placed third in the Illinois state freestyle tournament.
Spraggins entered his senior season ranked 10th in the nation by USA Wrestling.
West coach Al Sears said Spraggins' legacy is secure.
"Regardless of what happens at the state meet, Mech (pronounced MEECH) is the greatest Class 3A wrestler in Southern Illinois wrestling history,'' Sears said. "Your talking about a wrestler who will be a four-time state tournament placewinner.
"If you count what he's done in club wrestling and in high school, he's been in the state title match eight times. That's unbelievable. It's every coach's dream to have a wrestler with that kind of pedigree.''
This fall, Spraggins showed he also could shine on the football field.
Playing both cornerback and wide receiver, Spraggins was a key member of the Maroons, who finished 6-4 and advanced to the Class 7A playoffs.
"Actually football was my first love,'' Spraggins said. "The coaches told me that I would play a big role this season and fortunately we had a real good year.
"I just tried to do what I could to help us have some success.''
But wrestling is Spraggins' future.
He is going to make official NCAA visits to Iowa State and Arizona State after the season, while Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Illinois are among others who have shown interest.