Athlete of the week
Freimund won the Hampshire Regional at 285 pounds and helped the Hornets win a regional team championship and advance to the Antioch Dual Team Sectional Feb. 25. Heading into sectionals, Freimund is ranked No. 3 by illinoismatmen.com and undefeated this season with 34 wins.
Making up for lost time: Crystal Lake South’s Brian Pence and McHenry’s Luis Hernandez and Cam Pait missed significant time this season, including the Fox Valley Conference Tournament.
While none of them claim to be in peak physical shape, all of them were title winners at the McHenry Regional.
Pence, at 195, is ranked No. 3 and is the top-ranked wrestler at 195 in the Barrington Sectional. After placing fourth at the Dvorak tournament in December, Pence (24-3) missed about 3½ weeks to sickness.
“It definitely took a toll on my shape,” Pence said. “I’ve been hitting the cardio hard so I’m feeling good.”
Pait (23-4) said it felt great to be back on the mat at regionals after being a spectator. The time off may have impacted his conditioning but not his mental outlook.
“It’s as high as can be,” Pait said of his confidence. “But I’m going to focus on my first match.”
That confidence extends to Warriors coach Will Gaddy.
[Pait’s] getting better each week,” Gaddy said. “He’s starting to separate himself from some of the top kids.”
Hernandez (31-0) said he thought he wrestled well for a while in the championship finals of the McHenry Regional in beating Barrington’s Jack Bornhofen, 9-5. He wasn’t happy with how he finished, though.
“I wrestled real well for the first two periods,” Hernandez said. “It felt good to get the jitters out.”
Hernandez entered the season with the goal of winning state and nothing has deterred that target.
[Hernandez is] real focused,” Gaddy said. “The more time he spends on the mat in practice will benefit him.”
Hernandez, ranked No. 8, is looking forward to the possibility of facing Harlem’s Sage Hecox, ranked No. 4. If both advance, they could meet in the semifinals.
In anticipation of a match with Hecox, Hernandez has been working on his pummeling or preventing a takedown from the standing position. If he can stop Hecox there he thinks he has a good chance.
[Hecox is] a thrower,” Hernandez said. “Once we get on top and bottom I think I have the advantage.”
This week’s top meet
State finals at the University of Illinois in Champaign.
Thursday to Feb. 22
The area has not had less than three individual state champions per year since 2008. Whether that trend continues will be decided next week.