IN THE SPOTLIGHT
You get the feeling, while closely watching Cam Casey, that he’s only scratched the surface.
That he’s only tapped a tiny bit of his wrestling potential.
In a sport that’s all about taking people down, he’s got a huge upside.
Thus, a misstep — not advancing out of the Class 3A Glenbrook South Regional on Feb. 3 — would have been a tough deal for the Glenbrook North junior.
The kid, who wrestles with a purpose, has big plans. He didn’t want his postseason to end just as it was getting started.
Which is why it was absolutely vital for Casey — a truly intelligent kid — to come up with a short-term solution following his stunning semifinal loss to Rolling Meadows’ Rhett Dornbos.
He needed short-term memory loss.
Had to have it.
“A loss right there wasn’t part of the plan,” said Casey, who entered the tourney as the No. 1 seed.
Rhett Dornbos, with all due respect, is no Brett Favre. The Mustangs junior, who ended up getting pinned by Stevenson’s Danny Ganzman in the 182 final, came into the bout with the fourth seed and a 10-20 record.
“The hardest part for me was moving on from that loss,” Casey said. “I just kept thinking about it.”
In order to advance to this weekend’s Barrington Sectional, Casey had to take the longer route and win two matches in the consolation bracket.
And he accomplished that … with relative ease.
First, Casey beat New Trier’s Zane Albrecht 7-0. And then, he clinched a sectional berth with an 11-1 decision over Prospect’s Ryan Cooch in a win-and-move-on third-place bout.
Casey put Cooch away systematically. He led 4-1 after one period and 8-1 after two periods.
“When Cam dictates the pace and forces his will, he’s pretty tough to beat,” said Glenbrook North head coach Jason Erwinski.
That loss to Dornbos will be treated as a learning experience.
“Getting third wasn’t the desired result that he wanted,” said Erwinski. “But he lives another day [in postseason competition].
“We’ll clean up a few things and get his sights set for next weekend,” the coach added. “I think he’s pretty confident moving forward.”
Casey, who also plays football at the school, is turning into a name wrestler. Two weeks ago, he earned runner-up honors in the 182-pound weight class at the Central Suburban League Meet.
And by upping his overall record to 33-7, Casey truly believes that he can hang with the big boys.
“My goal is to get to the state meet [at the State Farm Center in Champaign],” said Casey. “That’s what I want.
“I saw one of my teammates — Jacob Weingardt — make it last year,” he added. “And I went down there with him and got a chance to be in that atmosphere. And I’ve been thinking about getting back there ever since.”
Casey, according to Erwinski, definitely has laid the groundwork.
Emphasis on work.
“Plain and simple, I love Cam’s work ethic,” said the GBN head coach. “He’s not afraid to work hard. He’s always asking me to open up the gym so that he can get extra workouts in.
“For him, regular practice between 3 and 5 p.m. is just the bare minimum,” Erwinski added.
Being a quality person also helps.
“Cam has been a phenomenal leader for us,” said Erwinski. “He sets high standards for himself. He does it right inside the wrestling room and outside of it. He’s good in the classroom, and he’s a good role model.
“I have three boys [ages 6, 4 and 1], and I would like them to grow up to be like Cam,” the GBN coach added.
Meanwhile, junior Trent Williams of the Spartans will be joining Casey at the sectional meet. Williams, seeded No. 1 at 220 pounds, cruised to a first-place finish. He pinned Wheeling’s Romel Hernandez in 4:52 in the final to finish the tourney 3-0 and raise his overall record to 33-6.
“Trent is so strong,” said Erwinski. “He’s so difficult to score on.
“And when he’s right, this is the end result: first place,” the GBN coach added.
The Spartans had some tough moments at the end of the meet. Sophomore Tim St. John missed advancing by losing to Hersey’s Sean Paton 7-3 in the 126-pound third-place match. And junior Nico Jung was eliminated from postseason by losing a rough-and-tumble 11-8 decision to Stevenson’s Ivor Gueorguiev in the third-place bout at 170.
“I’m not disappointed with Nico,” said Erwinski. “I’m disappointed for him.
“He put together a great offseason, and then he had a nice season,” the coach added.
Jung joined Casey and Williams as 30-match winners for the Spartans. With his 2-2 regional mark, he ended up 31-14 on the season.
St. John also emerge this winter. He finished two wins over .500 (17-15).
“He’s a cross country runner, so he came into the season in phenomenal shape,” said Erwinski. “He’s another leader that teammates can trust.”