Seven Highland Middle School students will compete on the state level [Thursday] and Saturday, the highest number of students the Libertyville school has sent to the prestigious competition.
The students are Shaun Luce, Will Bertaud, Tyler Padilla, Ryan Ledman, Jake DeBruler, Cormac Haverty-Dennis and Charlie Schmidt.
The students are on their way to state at Northern Illinois University because they captured second place at Sectionals, the highest the school team has ever reached on Sectionals, said coach and Highland physical education teacher Rob Rajcevich.
At Sectionals, Rajcevich explains, “we were behind the whole tournament until the finals. We passed up Gurnee Viking by 6.5 points in the finals to place 2nd. We are bringing home a lot of hardware.”
Here’s how the wrestlers finished for Sectionals: Shaun Luce 2nd, Will Bertaud 1st, Tyler Padilla 1st, Ryan Ledman 1st, Jake DeBruler 1st, Cormac Haverty-Dennis 3rd, and Charlie Schmidt 2nd. During Sectionals, Chase Zundel placed 4th.
“This team has worked so hard this year,” Rajcevich said. “Our season is long and grueling. he dedication this team has had is unbelievable for children of this age. As a teacher/coach/parent I am excited to be a part of it. The coaching staff is very proud to be a part of this, and the accomplishment of the student athletes.
“This has been the best season in the history of Highland wrestling. “
The team placed first in the team tournament at Hawthorn South, they won the cross- town classic at Libertyville High School, reached first in Regionals, and second n Sectionals.
“The Highland Wrestling program was brought back to life many many years ago by Adam Kimpler a Highland wrestler and graduate,” Rajcevich said. “The Highland wrestling program has a great relationship with the LHS wrestling program of (coach) Dale Eggerts. This is something that coaches dream of having for a feeder program. Coach Kimpler was a wrestler at LHS under 500 win coach Eggert.”
Coach Rajcevich was a wrestler under hall of fame coach Steve Weiss from Fenton High school who also wrestled at College of Dupage, he said. Even at 41 years old, Coach Rajcevich recently placed third at the Sterling open wrestling tournament. Coach Shane Crown was not a wrestler, but played goalie for his high school hockey team.
“He understands what hard work in training is. He is a fast learner and has helped the team greatly,” Rajcevich said.