Senior Ricky Vigil takes a deep breath, his arms pumping forward and his eyes following his opponent’s every move. He came in with an aggressive mindset, ready to put years of practice into a single move. Darting on his feet, he looks for an opportunity to go in and take his opponent down. Vigil ignores the stinging pain that follows the curve of his spine and focuses on pinning and winning.
Just pinning and winning.
Vigil was one of the few losses in the meet against Crystal Lake South, due to a stress fracture in his back that limits his movements severely. Last year, he was ranked sixth in the state and had hoped for an even better senior year. However, his unexpected back injury has become a hinderance on his wrestling career.
“I was really frustrated when he came out on on top and he got two points,” said Vigil, referring to the two points awarded to his opponent for a reversal. “I couldn’t do anything so it was frustrating.”
If it was any other year, Vigil would have taken the meet off. He would have been sitting in the sidelines and resting his back. But it isn’t just any other year. It’s his senior year. His last year.
“I’m going to fight through it,” said Vigil. “I’m just going to hope and wish for the best.”
This perseverance and dedication to wrestling was celebrated through senior night at this year’s home meet against Crystal Lake South. The meet began with a commemoration of the seniors on the wrestling team. Each senior received a rose and a framed collage of pictures and personal records from this year’s season. Their parents walked them to the wrestling mat where they posed for a picture before the match against Crystal Lake began.
“It was a good senior class,” said coach Benjamin Bertelsman. “We had three seniors, Mike Walker, Ricky Vigil, and Brandon Meyer, who had been varsity starters since their freshman year. Chris Gamboa has been varsity since his sophomore year. That’s a lot of wins in their Huntley careers.”
The Raiders will wave a bittersweet goodbye to the seniors who had helped name Huntley’s wrestling team as one of the top 25 in the state.
The match started with two points awarded to Crystal Lake South for a reversal against senior Jestoni Losbanes, but that was the only time that Crystal Lake South was in the lead for the entire meet. The Raiders caught up and held a tie at 9-9 until freshman Zach Spencer pinned his opponent with three seconds remaining on the clock.
Huntley then took the lead and did not give it back.
The varsity team finished with a score of 45-22.
“That was a good win,” said Bertelsman. “A good win by everybody.”