[Gary Duncan Sr]
Hinsdale Central senior Ron Kruse secured his first trip to state with a second-place finish at 170.
He was a little boy when he first set foot in the school to take wrestling lessons at the behest of his godfather, who thought the sport would be good for him.
“I’ve been thinking about this moment since I was in first grade, when I first started wrestling in the wrestling room here,” Kruse said. “I was just super overjoyed.
“I couldn’t believe that I actually made it this year.”
Kruse(37-5) edged Naperville Central’s Shane Roth 3-2 in the quarterfinals, then secured his state berth with a 9-3 semifinal win over Marmion’s Charlie O’Connor. A 6-0 loss to Waubonsie Valley’s Antonio Torres (35-3) in the final did not tarnish the experience.
“Yesterday I had a pretty tough match against (Roth),” Kruse said. “I won 3-2 and going into that match I wasn’t thinking about winning or losing. I was just thinking about going in and scoring points.”
That was a difference from years past.
“This year I haven’t really checked the rankings or brackets or anything,” Kruse said. “I just go out there and wrestle and I’ve become a lot more confident in myself, too.”
That approach paid off for Kruse, who hasn’t thought about state yet.
“I’ve always looked up to the (Allen brothers of Hinsdale Central) and everyone that won here and are state champs or qualified for state,” Kruse said. “It just means a lot to me knowing that I’m in that group with them.
“I’m probably going to be in awe when I first see Champaign with all the mats down.”