Huntley wrestling coach B.J. Bertelsman brought his team into the gym Monday morning and pointed to the wrestling record boards.
Noticeably absent from the history books is a trip to the dual team state finals.
“I showed them all the banners on the rafter and what was missing,” Bertelsman said.
Huntley, which has had a wrestling team for only the past 18 years, can notch its first trip to state as a team with a win over Prospect on its home mat at the IHSA Class 3A Huntley Sectional at 6 p.m. Tuesday.
Huntley won’t be the only local team aiming for its first trip to dual team state. Marian Central needs to beat Niles Notre Dame at 6 p.m. at the Class 2A Fenton Sectional in order to advance to Saturday’s state quarterfinals in Bloomington.
Four teams will compete at each sectional, but teams need to win only one match to ensure a spot in the state quarterfinals.
“I mentioned to these guys that we’ve just got to stay tough, mentally tough,” Marian coach David Silva said. “We’ve got injuries and stuff going on with our team, it doesn’t matter. We’ve still got to go out there and battle.”
Huntley won its first regional title in 2017, but lost its sectional match. This year, the Red Raiders will take on a Prospect squad that Huntley went 5-0 against at individual sectionals.
That doesn’t ensure anything this time around.
“Their lineup looks similar to ours,” Bertelsman said. “They have good kids at our weight classes. … We can move some guys around. So we’re not going to get all the [same] head-to-heads. Plus, whatever movement they have could alter things a little bit.”
Huntley (22-3) advanced to sectionals by winning the Class 3A DeKalb Regional two weeks ago.
For the Hurricanes (26-2), their team title at the Class 2A Harvard Regional was their first in school history. They are looking to add to the list of firsts this week.
“It would be huge for our program,” said Silva, now in his second year coaching Marian. “We came from a team that was not very good, never had a reputation for being a good wrestling program. And in two years, to make it to the state tournament as a team would be pretty much unreal. For us it would be huge. We’re looking forward to that challenge.”
Marian beat Niles Notre Dame, 51-24, at the East Suburban Catholic Conference mega duals – a tournament the Hurricanes won – on Jan. 15. Silva noted that Notre Dame was missing a few wrestlers that day.
The Dons qualified three wrestlers for individual state, whereas the Hurricanes brought six to Champaign.
Tuesday’s sectionals come three days after Marian freshman Dylan Connell (46-2) won the Class 2A 152-pound state title. Senior Luke Silva (44-4) brought home a fifth-place medal at 160.
Huntley had two individual medalists in Class 3A, brothers Sammy Spencer (113, 43-6) and Zach Spencer (126, 45-9), out of seven state qualifiers. Like Notre Dame, Prospect had three state qualifiers. Neither had a medalist.
“I told them, we’re not Ferrantes or Spencers, we’re Huntley Red Raiders [on Tuesday] night,” Bertelsman said. “I think we’ll be OK. A couple guys are nursing their wounds physically and mentally, but I think we’ll be OK.”
For wrestlers such as Huntley’s 160-pounder David Ferrante, who missed out on an individual medal over the weekend after earning a medal last year, the dual finals are something of a shot at redemption. Same goes for some of the Hurricanes, such as 132-pound senior Anthony Randazzo, who missed on a medal a year after a runner-up finish.
“I told them, ‘You’ve been given another chance to wrestle one more match. Take full advantage of that,’ ” David Silva said. “I know those guys are hungry. They’re hungry to step out on the line again and do it all over.”