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Alabanese aims for Feutz final

 

By Gary Larsen

Naperville North heavyweight Mike Albanese wrestled his first match at this year’s Feutz Classic tournament at Conant like he was late for an appointment somewhere.

It took Albanese all of 42 seconds to win by fall over Proviso East’s Terrence Hooker.

“I actually want to make my matches last a little longer, because last year at state I was gassed by the third period,” Albanese said. “I want to work up my stamina and endurance this year.

“In that match, the throw was there so I just capitalized on it.”

Albanese will wrestle in Saturday’s semifinal round against host Conant’s Nate Johnson for a title shot at the winner between Oak Forest’s Nate Becker and De La Salle’s Curtis Blaydes.

State qualifier Albanese went 24-4 last season, winning his opening match in Champaign before losing to eventual state runner-up Kevin Galleher of St. Rita. He went 1-for-1 in the consolation round, one win shy of a guaranteed place medal.

“When I first got down there, I was pretty overwhelmed,” Albanese said of the imposing atmosphere inside Assembly Hall. “But I was there to wrestle. I just didn’t do it as well as I wanted to.”

Huskies coach Tom Champion knows his heavyweight has the fire in his belly to get back to Champaign and take a climb onto the awards stand.

“He hates to lose,” Champion said. “Everyone hates to lose, but he hates to lose in the middle of matches. He was so mad after one match he wouldn’t even get on the bus.”

Albanese stands roughly six-feet tall but has filled out the heavyweight class since his freshman season. This year, however, he’s a different wrestler to start the year.       

“I’m lighter and quicker,” Albanese said. “I’m the lightest I’ve been since my freshman year ? I’m about 274 (lbs.) right now. I started the season at 294 last year, so I want to stay lighter this year.”

Said Champion: “He’s not that big, but he’s heavy. “I don’t think people quite knew last year what they were getting into with him. He can lock and throw, and he can take two nice shots.”

Albanese is ranked second at heavyweight in Illinois’ polls this year, behind Lincoln-Way East’s Chris Narel, who placed third in the state last season. Should Albanese and Blaydes both win their semi-final matches, Saturday’s title match will feature two heavyweights ranked in the top 10.
 

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