Junior Joe Abu-Bakr duels against the defending state champion from Stevenson on Nov. 24. (Photo by Jenna Mastrolonardo)

Junior Joe Abu-Bakr duels against the defending state champion from Stevenson on Nov. 24. (Photo by Jenna Mastrolonardo)

By Jenna Mastrolonardo

Features Editor

The Knights’ varsity wrestling team suited up for the season opening invitational meet hosted by Stevenson High School on Wednesday, Nov. 24. Hoffman Estates and Glenbrook North were also among the schools in attendance, though Prospect and Hoffman Estates never faced off.

The four teams dueled on two mats, and for some Prospect team members, the invitational was their first chance to wrestle at the varsity level. Freshman Sam Labono, sophomore Danny Fiumetto and junior Michael Etchingham are all new to the varsity lineup this year, and each performed solidly against Glenbrook North and Stevenson. The Knights won the duel against Glenbrook North but lost to Stevenson.

During the first round against Glenbrook North, Labono won by forfeit, Fiumetto fell to his opponent, and Etchingham defeated his opponent.

However, things picked up during the second round, where Etchingham dominated his opponent 6-1, Labono wrestled a great first match with a near pin, but lost 10-7, and Fiumetto wrestled an exciting match that roused the stands, pinning his opponent.

“I think [Fiumetto] had jitters [from] being in his first varsity match,” said coach Tom Whalen. “But his next match he turned it on, and that’s the person we expected to see out there. He did an excellent job his second match. He was really coachable, he did things that we worked on in the [wrestling] room, and it was really fun to watch him out there.”

While Whalen was happy with most of the performances on the team, Labono, Fiumetto, Etchingham and junior Joe Abu-Bakr stood out to him in particular.

“[Etchingham] wrestled really well,” Whalen said. “He’s been busting his hump all season, and he deserves what he got out there.”

Senior captain Joe Randazzo notes that Labono “fights in every match” and “definitely has heart”.

Abu-Bakr’s match up with the defending state champion from Stevenson made for an intense wrestle, and Whalen was pleased with Abu-Bakr’s performance.

“[Abu-Bakr] hung with him the whole match,” Whalen said. “I think that’s a good thing.”

“Everyone definitely battled their hardest,” Randazzo said. “A lot of the mistakes we made we’ll fix up for next time.”

Though Randazzo describes the team as a “solid group of guys”, he says that each person has their own strengths and weaknesses.

“[In] wrestling there’s a thousand moves put together at once, and it’s like your brain’s firing messages at you,” Randazzo said. “You’ve just got to know what to do right away. A lot of guys weren’t thinking right away.”

Whalen says that the Stevenson invite was a good start to the season, but there’s room for improvement.

“I think we have a long ways to go,” Whalen said. “But we’re a lot further ahead this year than we were last year.”