HUNTLEY – In just his third match of the season, Huntley junior Mike Walker had the fate of his team on his shoulders in a Fox Valley Conference Valley Division wrestling dual Thursday against Jacobs.
Walker entered his 195-pound match with the Red Raiders leading by nine, but with state-ranked Mark Mamola coming for the Golden Eagles in the last match at 220, it was clear that Walker’s match was the deciding one. After getting taken down in the first period by Charlie Goins, Walker controlled the rest of the match and went on to win, 11-4, to give Huntley the 33-27 win.
“I’m good under pressure,” Walker said.
The match was stopped several times as trainers attended to Goins, who looked to have a shoulder injury. Walker said it’s a tough situation where you don’t want to make the injury worse but still wrestle to win.
“I wasn’t trying to hurt [Goins],” Walker said. “(But) you have to capitalize and take advantage.”
Walker had been doing offseason conditioning for football when he got a call from Red Raiders wrestling coach B.J. Bertelsman, who wanted
him to fill a gap in the lineup.
Bertelsman said Walker is still getting into wrestling shape but hasn’t been worn down by the season.
“[Walker’s] still full of energy and likes to throw kids around,” Bertelsman said. “All we needed from him was a win.”
The match was close until Huntley put a run together in the middle weights to give it some breathing room. Chris Gamboa at 132 and Brandon Meyer at 138 both won by major decision, and Matt Kitsis had a pin at 145. A Jacobs forfeit at 152 put the Red Raiders up, 26-11.
The Golden Eagles came back with a major decision by Michael Ricks (160) and a pin by Mike Bujacz (170) to make it 26-21. Petros Mihalopoulos stopped the Golden Eagles’ run with a major at 182.
Huntley’s Josh Stenger was down, 5-0, heading into the third period in his 106-pound match against Beau Harrier. Stenger got a takedown and back points to start the third and forced overtime with a takedown at the edge of the mat at the end of the third. A takedown in overtime gave Stenger the win.
Stenger said he wasn’t discouraged being down and had some confidence with some near misses on shots in the first period.
“It’s tough to come back,” Stenger said. “I just thought I’ve got to get my points. I knew I was getting good shots in.”
Bertelsman said Stenger, a freshman, doesn’t get to wrestle a lot of matches because of forfeits caused by the lack of 106-pounders on a lot of teams. Stenger’s 15-2 record includes five forfeits and nine pins. The lack of full matches left Bertelsman wondering how Stenger would fair in the overtime match.
“[Stenger’s] only wrestled one match out,” Bertelsman said. “I really didn’t know what he’d do.”
Jacobs also got a technical fall from Cody Ferencz at 120 and a pin by Mamola. Chris Dranka won by decision at 126 for the Golden Eagles but had to erase a deficit in the third period. Dranka was down, 6-2, to Huntley’s Ricky Vigil but got a takedown and back points in the third to earn the win.
Golden Eagles coach Gary Conrad said Dranka isn’t on a lot of people’s radar but wrestles well on his feet and doesn’t wear down.
“[Dranka’s] a sleeper. He’s making his way up,” Conrad said. “He’s pretty good when it comes to those scrambles. He gets better as the match goes on.”