In his final Fox Valley Conference Championship wrestling meet, Woodstock High School senior Nick Sundberg took the title for the 182-pound weight class, the first individual conference win the school had seen in 10 years.
“We’ve had a dry run for conference,” said WHS varsity head coach Jon Grell. “We’ve had a lot of wrestlers get very close, but we haven’t had a champion …. Nick was in control of his match the whole time. He was the No. 1 seeded wrestler, and he certainly performed like it.”
Sundberg, who had qualified for the state meet his sophomore year but sat out his junior year due to health issues, said his biggest concern going into this year was staying healthy. He said he was excited to win the title in his weight class, and he is building toward the sectional and, hopefully, state meets.
“I never really knew it was 10 years ago,” Sundberg said regarding WHS’ last conference champion, “It wasn’t on my mind. I was confident I could control the match and I did.”
WHS took just six wrestlers to the FVC 14-class tournament at Hampshire High School Jan. 29 and 30, the final time the school would compete in the Fox Valley. The Streaks finished seventh with three athletes earning all-conference honors. Sundberg placed first in his weight class; senior Kevin Zange finished as the runner-up in the 160-pound weight class to Jacobs High School senior Dean Lane; and senior Devante Martyne claimed third place at 285. Sundberg is currently ranked No. 3 in the state by Illinois Matmen.
“Finishing seventh with six wrestlers, I think, was a nice accomplishment for us because we weren’t there to try to win the overall, but it just shows we performed pretty well,” Grell said.
Grell said he did not enter a full lineup because the Streaks did not have a wrestler in each weight class, and he wanted some wrestlers to gain confidence competing in the junior varsity tournament. Looking forward, Grell said the team is focusing on February and the regional meet at Harvard Saturday, Feb. 6.
“Fox Valley Conference was important to us,” Grell said. “It was our last time wrestling in the Fox Valley as a high school, so it was important that we performed well. But to us, it’s always most important how you perform in February. Our goal is to return wrestlers back to the state tournament.”
WHS and Woodstock North will join a new athletic conference next school year.
WNHS placed 12th in the conference with a small lineup, but did produce two runner-up performances. Senior Jake Fiorito placed just behind Hampshire High School senior Wylie Allen at 152, and WNHS senior Randy Klein finished behind McHenry High School sophomore Jake Leske.
“Being a young team and fielding a lot of freshmen and sophomores in the lineup, sometimes it’s hard to compete with the older wrestlers,” said WNHS head varsity coach Tim Creighton. “But, all in all, we are having a pretty decent season. We are 12-7 in dual action. We’re competing. It’s just sometimes at tournaments we don’t fare too well.”
Creighton said the team is slowly building, with a consistent number of incoming freshmen each year. He said he plans to fill 13 of 14 weight classes at the upcoming regional meet, gaining back sophomore Chris Flores, 220, after recovering from an injury.
Marian Central Catholic High School placed sixth at the East Suburban Catholic Conference Jan. 29 hosted by Notre Dame High School. Head coach Chris Taylor said the Hurricanes did not bring a full lineup to the tournament.
“We only sent a few wrestlers in order to rest and heal up for the regional,” he said.
Senior Joe Herff placed fourth at 152, junior Adam Konopka placed fourth, 160, and class and senior Thomas Welch clinched the runner-up title at 170.
Taylor said he expects to have a full lineup for the regional tournament at Harvard High School Feb. 6.
“We have some good, key matchups and hope that those will provide us with good seeds and a good shot at advancing.”