ROCHELLE — The Rochelle Hub varsity wrestling team made the most of its unprecedented summer season earlier this year, finishing 21-8 overall and placing fourth in the Interstate 8 Conference dual tournament. With multiple starters back and several new faces in the mat room, head coach Alphonso Vruno and his staff are ready for the upcoming winter season.
“The energy in the room right now is unreal,” Vruno said. “We’ve doubled our numbers from the summer and we’re excited to have a full season this year. Our energy is really high right now… We amped our scheduled up with some 3A teams this year and our goal is always to win more than we lose. We also want our kids to build good character, discipline and work ethic.”
Rochelle returns two All-Conference First Team honorees from the summer season including senior Caleb Nadig and sophomore Tommy Tourdot. The Hubs will look for a handful of freshmen including Kaiden Morris and Xavier Villalobos to step up as Rochelle gears up for its season-opening triangular meet with Burlington Central and Dixon on Tuesday, Nov. 23.
“A large chunk of our team is made up of freshmen and sophomores,” Vruno said. “It’s going to be a really interesting dynamic this season. We’re going to be really young but we have some upperclassmen who can show them the way. A lot of our kids haven’t experienced a true wrestling season in quite some time and although we’re going to rely on our returning wrestlers, we’re also going to push ourselves as a staff to give them some guidance.”
Several wrestlers are back from the summer season including juniors Jaden Cook, Weldon Nay, Wesley Brown and Troy Papke as well as sophomores Brock Metzger, Leo Stoffel and Riley Damask could each see bigger roles with the varsity team as well. With a full season in store, Vruno said his expectations for this season are to build on what was achieved in the summer.
“I want people to associate Rochelle wrestling with B.M.O. or Big Moves Only,” Vruno said. “It’s a motto we talk about during practice and on the bench during meets. We want people to come and see us compete and we talk with the kids about building our fundamentals, but we need to be pinning people and doing some flashy things if we want people to come watch us and if we want to have success. B.M.O. is something we had success with in the summer.”