IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Minutes before his title match, Trent Williams inserted his ear buds and promptly started boppin’ and noddin’ to the tunes of a popular hip-hopper.
Trent Williams was gettin’ in the mood.
The Glenbrook North wrestler was preppin’ for battle.
He was puttin’ on his grappler face.
While the songs in his “headset” were shuffling through his favorites’ list, Williams started pacing.
It’s what he does.
It’s how he deals.
“I don’t like sitting still [before a match]. I don’t like waiting,” said Williams. “I get antsy.
“Pacing,” he added, “is how I get pumped up.”
What awaited Williams in the 220-pound championship match at the Central Suburban League Meet at Maine West High School on Jan. 20 was Evanston’s Ramin Abraham.
The undefeated and super-athletic and highly touted Ramin Abraham.
Uphill, meet Battle?
Hardly … the case.
Williams didn’t flinch against Abraham, a ranked wrestler by Illinois Matmen, in the final.
The GBN junior managed to keep things interesting throughout — scoring on a reversal midway through the second period and coming up with a takedown with 35 seconds left in the third period — before losing the highly contested match 10-8.
Williams was not the only Spartan to advance to the championship bout. He was joined in the spotlight by junior Cam Casey.
Casey, who is now a 31-match winner, gave it his best shot before falling to Maine South standout John Halvorsen by a major decision.
Like Abraham, Halvorsen entered the league meet as a ranked wrestler.
“I know that they [Williams and Casey] aren’t happy with their outcomes,” said GBN assistant coach Blake Tomczak.
But what Williams and Casey accomplished went a long way in helping GBN to a solid fifth-place finish in the team standings (162 points).
Meanwhile, moments after standing on the podium and receiving his second-place medal, Williams talked it up with a couple of sportswriters.
He made an impression.
He made an indentation.
He’s got a pretty good grasp of life. He’s got a pretty healthy outlook on things.
And he’s got this: a very firm handshake.
Which brings us to this: wrestling has an indelible hold on Williams.
He’s undeniably gripped by the sport.
“Wrestling? I love it now,” said Williams. “I love the accountability. Win or lose, it’s all on you. You can’t blame anyone but yourself.”
He went out for the team at the urging of his dad, Scott, who works in the social studies department and coaches freshman football at the school.
“I didn’t start wrestling until freshman year,” said Williams, a two-way lineman for the GBN football team. “I heard it was good for football.
“And it has been,” he added. “It’s helped my hand fighting [in the trenches]. And it’s helped my mentality. It’s made me mentally tougher.”
By winning his first two matches at the CSL Meet — pins against Glenbrook South’s Jesse Quijada (3:15) and Highland Park’s Tate Ellis (3:21) — Williams joined the 30-win club. He’ll take a gaudy 30-6 record into the upcoming Class 3A regional at Glenbrook South on Feb. 3.
“His 30 wins might have exceeded some people’s expectations,” said GBN assistant coach Blake Tomczak. “But not his own. Trent holds a pretty high bar for himself.”
The cerebral Williams, who plans to study math and science in college, knows how to game plan and set up opponents.
“He’s real good at making adjustments,” said Tomczak. “Trent put in the time in the offseason, and it’s really paying dividends for him.”
Notable: Glenbrook North had place winners in 10 weight classes. In addition to the runner-up finishes by Trent Williams and Cam Casey, the others making their way on the podium included sophomore Raphael Galvez (3rd at 106), freshman Max Sherman (5th at 113), freshman Adrian Knyazev (5th at 120), sophomore Tim St. John (3rd at 126), junior Ben Rubin (5th at 132), junior Anthony Sherman (5th at 138), junior Kyle Williams (5th at 152) and junior Nico Jung (4th at 170).
The team’s 20-match winners are Galvez (23-15), Kyle Williams (21-15) and Jung (29-12).
The Titans ended the CSL Meet in 10th place with 45 points.
GBS’s placers were sophomore Matt Reubel (4th at 106), sophomore Nate Sullivan (6th at 113) and sophomore Cam Mercer (5th at 195).
Mercer improved his overall record to 26-11. Reubel raised his record to 21-13.
Senior Sean Cloherty was one of the standouts for Loyola Academy at the Chicago Catholic League Championships at Mt. Carmel on Jan. 19-20.
Cloherty (30-5) advanced to the 145-pound title match before losing by technical fall to Mt. Carmel’s Kendall Coleman.
Juniors Aidan McKeag and John Michael Kelly also were place-winners for LA.
McKeag pinned Providence Catholic’s Matt Pirc in the 132-pound fifth-place match to earn his 30th win of the season (30-12).
Kelly (28-11) ended up sixth at 182 pounds.
The Ramblers finished ninth in the 17-team tourney with 53 points. Montini Catholic took first with 344 ½ points.