Roberto Clemente Community Academy was made proud by the strong showing of its wrestling team during the Regional Tournament at St. Patrick High School on February 4th. Each
member of the team gave their best and when all was said and done, two wrestlers were able to qualify for next week’s Sectional Tournament at Wauconda High School on February 10th.
Although they took different paths to get there, two Wildcat wrestlers were able to overcome setbacks in order to take their place on the pedestal. First to earn his medal was senior Christopher “Mad Dog” Willis. Willis started off his tournament with a hard fought match against host team St. Patrick. Mad Dog Willis was able to score first and maintain a lead throughout the match which ended in a 10-6 victory for the Clemente Wildcats. Next up, Willis faced the top seeded wrestler from Fenwick High School. Although he gave it his all, Christopher came up short and was relegated to the wrestlebacks. The Wildcat did not let this setback derail him and Willis was able to get himself ready to wrestle for third place and a chance to qualify for the Sectional Tournament. Mad Dog Willis looked like a wrestler possessed as he took the mat. Christopher took his game to a whole new level, scoring more than 15 points in less than two rounds before pinning his adversary and extending his season.
Joining the senior next week is freshman John Martinez. Sidelined by injury for much of the season, Martinez sought to prove himself worthy of being a starter on the varsity squad. In his first match in over a month, Martinez started out strong against the wrestler from Fenwick, but a costly mistake ended in John being pinned late in the second round. Taking his cue from the senior Willis, Martinez was unfettered by his loss and was able to bounce back during his second match against the wrestler from Lakeview High School. Martinez, knowing his season would be over if he lost again, immediately took to the offensive, scoring on his opponent early and setting the tone of the match. Martinez finished off his opponent by pinning him late in the second round earning a spot in the third place match. John was faced with a daunting task if he wanted to take third place; he would have to beat the wrestler that pinned him in his first match. Much like Willis, Martinez was a different wrestler in his final match and his opponent could sense it too. John, emboldened by his teammate’s performance moments earlier, was a man on a mission and completed that mission by pinning his opponent early into the second round. He let out a scream of exhilaration after his match and nearly collapsed on the the mat having spent every bit of energy he had left. The young freshman had punched his ticket to sectionals.
Although the Regional Tournament marked the close of the season for most of the Clemente Wrestling squad, for Christopher and John, it signaled one step closer towards qualifying for the state tournament. Coaches Nathan Gavzer and Matthew Tolene are looking forward to representing Clemente at the two day tournament at Wauconda High School.
Coach Matthew Tolene says, “I am proud of this wrestling program, the adults who make it possible and the kids who have worked hard this year.”