Gustafson places 2nd in state


Stephanie Shields

Senior Tommy Gustafson faces down his opponent in a recent match. He finished 2nd in state overall.

Ah'Jenique Pinnick, Staff Writer

Tommy Gustafson, senior, placed second in the IHSA state competition.

“I was happy because it’s what I’ve been working four years for, so it’s nice to actually get it done,” Gustafson said. “There were a lot of good wrestlers there, and it was a very tough tournament.”

Three wrestlers had advanced to the IHSA state competition in Champaign by placing at the sectionals meet: Gustafson finished in third place at 220 pounds, beating the second, third, and fifth ranked wrestlers in the state.  Nick Minnito, sophomore, finished fourth place at 113 pounds, beating last year’s State Champion in the quarter-finals.  Josh Mackenzie, senior, finished fifth place at 195 pounds, and is a state alternate.

“What stood out to me was the level I was competing at, and the skill of my opponents,” Minnito said. “I felt really good when I placed because I haven’t made it in a really long time.”

The wrestling team entered their IHSA regional tournament on Saturday, Feb. 10 with five wrestlers competing.  Jamel Sheppard, junior,  and Jake Bodgan, senior did not advance.

“Some guys want to be on the podium.  For others, qualifying for state is lofty,” Coach Ryan West said.

With a lot of hard-work and time, the wrestling team has a positive attitude going into the state tournament.  They have not only grown as wrestlers, but they have grown as a team.

“We all worked hard every day at practice and when we weren’t working hard we had fun by playing games like knockout, or doing this drill called little man, big man,” Sheppard said.

“I’ve been around some of my teammates since I was younger.  We all work hard together, and we’re all friends,” Minnito said.

The team’s work ethic factors into their success.

“I tell the team to never hold anything back, also, not to be too uptight or you won’t perform well,” West said.

The team strives to improve for every match.

“I’ve been focused on getting in shape because I was injured at the beginning of the season,” Tommy Gustafson said.