This Thursday in the East gym, the night started with the seniors of the boys wrestling team being recognized for their contributions to the team. The seniors lined up and handed a bouquet of flowers to their parents while head coach Benjamin Bertelsman said a few words.
The night was moving quickly. Through the celebration, the tension of the awaited matches was noticeable in the gym.
The focus was switched to junior Caroline Baran, who belted the National Anthem. The boys were lined up perfectly on the edge of the mat, waiting.
Their feet were tapping and as the first match began, several of the other wrestlers began pacing behind the chairs, earbuds in.
Nail biting, everyone in the gym knew this would be a meet that would either give the Red Raiders a huge lead or be a mental set back for the wrestlers and the fans.
Match by match, the Raiders racked up points. The intensity was fed by the crowd, but more noticeably, by Raider Nation. This may have been the first wrestling meet Huntley’s student section attended all season, but it was by far the most important.
The night continued and the Raiders took the lead. The scoreboard showed little chance of Crystal Lake Central catching up.
The boys continued this winning trend until the end of the meet, when they claimed their well-deserved conference championship trophy, which sat on the referee’s table the entire time, serving as a reminder to the athletes before they stepped on the mat.
“It felt so great, especially because this year the team wanted to leave our mark,” senior Juan Quiroz said. “Since the beginning of the year, we wanted to be the most dominating HHS wrestling team in the school’s history. This is one accomplishment to prove it.”
The team had been preparing for this and were mentally ready to go into these tough matches.
“Our team has been wrestling well week in and week out, so we didn’t have to make any drastic changes,” junior Gannon Kosowski said. “We had three hard days of practice before the meet. The win was a great confidence boost going into regionals.”