Class of 2023
Highland Park/Univ of Illinois Wrestler
A native of Highwood IL, Mike Poeta competed at Highland Park High School, where he was a 4-time IHSA state place winner. He finished 3rd in both his freshman and sophomore years and won IHSA State Championships both his Junior and Senior years. He also won 2 Cadet Freestyle National Championships, and the 2004 Junior Freestyle National Championship, while also capturing 3 High School National Championships. After his senior year, he was named a USA Wrestling Dream Team member, and was recognized as the number one pound for pound High School Recruit in the Country.
Mike went on to compete at the University of Illinois, where he became one of the most decorated wrestlers in Illini Wrestling History. He compiled a 105-14 career record, the 3rd all time highest winning percentage ever at Illinois, and won 2 Midlands Tournament Championships. He won 2 Individual Big Ten Titles, and was a 3-time NCAA All American, including 2 Championship Finals appearances. Mike was also a proud member of the 2005 Big Ten Champion Fighting Illini Wrestling Team.
After College, Mike represented the United States in the 2010 World Cup in Moscow, and also competed at the U.S. Olympic Trials in 2012. He wrestled professionally for 3 years, before starting his coaching career as Owner and Head Coach of the Poeta Training Center in Lake Forest Illinois. During his 5 year tenure, Mike grew the training center from 40 wrestlers to over 200 wrestlers, and went on to train 19 Junior High and High School State Champions.
Eventually Mike landed back at U of I in 2017 serving as an assistant coach for the next 5 years. In 2021, Mike was named Head Wrestling Coach of the University of Illinois Fighting Illini Wrestling Team. In his short time as Head Coach, Mike has already enjoyed tremendous success, producing numerous NCAA Qualifiers and All Americans. Mike would like to acknowledge coaches Griff Powell, Tony Seibert, Mark Johnson and Jim Heffernan for having a tremendous influence on him as a wrestler and coach during his career.